New Understanding

It’s strange, but I am understanding new things about the world all the time. I now understand why some middle-aged women cut their hair short (or shorter) — it’s the awkwardness of grey hairs growing in. Another one: some people become alcoholics because they are punishing themselves for something, and are actually slowly committing suicide. One more: when we think of aliens, we think of “the greys,” but they aren’t necessarily real. They became well-known after the TV show “The X Files,” which is just a show, not a documentary!

Freakonomics coverI’ve been reading Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner lately. In it, they look at all kinds of trends and statistics to try and figure out why the world is the way it is. No subject is taboo, and they are careful not to confuse morality with causality; just because something ought not to happen, doesn’t mean it doesn’t. As a result, I have a much better understanding of how urban street-life and drug culture work. The authors actually got financial records from a gang in Chicago, and a sociology student hung out with the gang members and made notes on what he learned. The over-arching theme in Freakonomics is incentive — what makes people do the things they do — and it’s becoming terribly interesting to me. (With my introverted nature, I never really thought about this much before.) The incentive to be a drug dealer? To be recognized, to be popular, to get rich — very similar to an aspiring actor: to be one of the very few to make it big.

Sometimes, I get a new flash of understanding by reading/learning something, and other times it comes as a flash of insight — something more akin to intuition. I had a truly startling flash-revelation when I was in Wrigley. One morning, in that state between sleep and wakefulness, an image and a sentence came to mind: “If I get big enough, maybe they will leave me alone.” The really big girl I had met recently was obese because she was trying to keep men from bothering her. She had been abused and the thought that came through to me was crystal clear. It is sad, but I guess that is her coping strategy… I just don’t know if it’s working.

That flash of insight lead to this:

When you hate yourself, you are less healthy (which includes being overweight).

Many people would say I have it backwards: they hate themselves when they are overweight. But I believe it goes the other way. Why? Because the reverse is true:

When I like myself the most, I am naturally thin and healthy.

It is easy, and it doesn’t seem to matter much what I eat. The “work,” if you want to call it that, is in liking myself, because I’m human too, and sometimes I get into a habit of complaining about myself more than appreciating.

The thing is, you can’t fake liking yourself. Remember how Freakonomics is all about incentives? You can’t ask “what’s my incentive to like myself more? To be THIN!” That just reinforces the idea that you are not okay unless you are thin — a message that has saturated the media, although I am happy to see more normal body images popping up all the time.

But this blog post is not about being thin. It’s about understanding things, and how a new perspective changes everything. So let me summarize a few of my latest revelations:

  • When I tell myself “I don’t feel like being grumpy today. I want to be happy!” I am well on the way to being happy.
  • When I focus on what I have to work with, rather than what I am lacking, I become like MacGyver — solving problems, coming up with innovative solutions, and being a hero (at least to myself)!
  • When I am grateful for everything around me, I am overwhelmed with contentment.
  • When I am happy about who I am, health comes easily.
  • If you’re after fame and fortune, choose acting rather than dealing drugs (it’s a lot safer).
  • No matter the hair style, grey hairs happen!

less grumpy people

Loved and Lost, Left and Laughed

Have you heard the expression

It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Although this can be a great way to think about past relationships — appreciating love in all its forms — it can also make us feel melancholy, miss “the good old days” or regret things we did.

I recently stumbled on a new musical artist, Leif Vollebekk. In his song When the Subway Comes Above the Ground he twists that well-known homily like this:

“It is better to have left and laughed than never to have left at all.”
– Leif Vollebekk When the Subway Comes Above the Ground

For some of us, this is all too true! It is better to have left unhappy or abusive relationships and learned to laugh again. It is better that we found our inner, hidden strength, that we learned to respect and love ourselves… It is so much better to be alone and happy than attached to someone who hates himself so much, he seems intent on making you miserable.

yellow rose

It has been over twelve years since I left and laughed. If you are on the threshold of doing the same, considering leaving an unkind mate, let me tell you there is life after an ugly relationship — there is laughter after leaving.

International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies

Listen to Leif Vollebekk’s song here:

Loved and Lost, Left and Laughed

Have you heard the expression

It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Although this can be a great way to think about past relationships — appreciating love in all its forms — it can also make us feel melancholy, miss “the good old days” or regret things we did.

I recently stumbled on a new musical artist, Leif Vollebekk. In his song When the Subway Comes Above the Ground he twists that well-known homily like this:

“It is better to have left and laughed than never to have left at all.”

– Leif Vollebekk, When the Subway Comes Above the Ground

For some of us, this is all too true! It is better to have left unhappy or abusive relationships and learned to laugh again. It is better that we found our inner, hidden strength, that we learned to respect and love ourselves… It is so much better to be alone and happy than attached to someone who hates himself so much, he is intent on making you miserable. He probably does love you, but he is so unhealthy he doesn’t know how to treat you with love and respect. Let him be the one one saying “it is better to have loved and lost…” Many people who love each other can’t live together peacefully, and that’s just the way it is.

It has been over twelve years since I left and laughed. If you are on the threshold of doing the same, considering leaving an unkind mate, let me tell you there is life after an ugly relationship, there is laughter after leaving.

International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies
yellow rose

“Leaving” could apply to other things, too. Maybe for you, it’s about leaving a job that isn’t good for you, or maybe you are thinking about leaving the place you are living. If you really can’t find a way to laugh — enjoy yourself, be happy — then maybe it is time to move. Sometimes we outgrow a place (or job), and the only solution is to leave and accept our “bigger good” somewhere else. Just keep in mind that if you are trying to run from your problems, they have an uncanny way of following you!

But sometimes, you just have to leave that drab apartment for a nicer place. Have you ever ridden a subway that came above ground? It is an interesting experience, and Leif Vollebekk’s song captures it beautifully (video below).


Thanks to CBC Radio, Q with Jian Ghomeshi for introducing me to this great music.

We’re All Killing Something…

I’ve been writing quite a bit, but I wasn’t keen to post any of my articles until today. This blog post practically wrote itself after listening to this podcast.)

We’re all killing something.

We are all murderers of something — killing time, for example — and we could even expand this to things we hate. We hate getting more snow (especially in April). We hate traffic, bad drivers, and road construction. Some of us hate our jobs, or where we are at in life.

Hate is really the first step to murder. We’re all killing something. The root of what we are doing, though, comes back to how we feel about ourselves. Most of us are trying to kill something within us — some part of us we don’t like. Instead of killing it, we may choose to fill our lives with trivialities and materialism to avoid taking responsibility for wielding our real power. We definitely would like to kill an obsession or an addictive personality, our dark sides or flaws. Yet, it takes the dark to make the light… and admitting our imperfections is so very freeing.

Sometimes, we want to kill lovely things, good things around us. Sometimes, we hate ourselves so much, we hate everything positive. We want to dirty goodness, smother kindness, kill peace. We hate ourselves so we abuse and mistreat those around us. Ultimately, there were men who hated themselves so much, the killed a really good guy, Jesus. He epitomized goodness and freedom and healing and happiness, and they just couldn’t take it, so they killed him.

You know what’s amazing about Jesus, though? Even though he was the ultimate victim — was killed even though he was perfectly innocent — he didn’t die with a victim mentality. He died simply. He didn’t whine. He didn’t blame anyone or want to get them back for what they did. He didn’t dwell in self-pity for one second.

In the podcast which inspired this post, Jesus’ entire message is boiled down to this

We are killing the things we should love.

So… what are you killing? Could you possibly learn to love it instead?

Anything is possible. 🙂

Two in One — Our Dual Nature

Good versus evil. Black and white. High and low. Manic and depressed.

The cartoon of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other sums it up nicely — don’t you just feel torn in two sometimes? We are all plagued by a great schism — an unexplainable but nonetheless real feeling of duality. We feel like two beings bottled up into one. We feel like we are battling ourselves. We feel, sometimes, like we can’t trust ourselves — we might go and do something we didn’t mean to do.

Many a philosopher, scientist and physician has studied this dual nature. Why do we have two sides? Why are we bi-polar? What makes us doubt ourselves? Why do we have such powerful internal conflicts?

I have noticed that I’ve been feeling less “dual-natured” these days, but this is pretty new for me, so I started wondering why, now, I am feeling more unified.

I love how Abraham-Hicks explains it. We are two beings in one — a physical being and a non-physical being, which together make up the “total you.” We have an undeniable link to our higher selves, and so we feel a disconnect — a dis-ease, anxiety, fear or frustration — whenever the two sides of us are not in harmony.

Our higher self, or as Abe would say, our “broader inner you,” dwells in a place of complete appreciation — of our selves and people/things around us. When we are having fun, feeling good about ourselves and grateful for the things in our lives, our physical self is in alignment with our higher self.

Of course, life is like a multi-coloured messy ball of yarn, and our thoughts are rarely uniform — they are a mix of positive and negative, self-loathing and self-acceptance. However, when the balance of our thoughts is negative, such as it is when we consistently don’t like ourselves much, we are in disharmony with our higher self and that ever-present dual nature is strong. But when you can find a way to appreciate yourself, your “lower self” is in harmony with your higher self, and you feel more unified and less schizophrenic. I guess I’ve been liking myself fairly consistently, and having fun with friends lately, so that’s why I am feeling so peaceful/at one with myself.

Another way to think of it is ego. The ego is the voice of the disconnected self — the physical part that doesn’t like itself. If you can find ways to quiet the ego, then you’ll feel much more at-ease and healthy. Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth is a fantastic book to read for help with that.

You know, I think that’s why being in love feels so great. When we are newly in love, we are full of appreciation for our lover, and they for us. Appreciation flows back and forth freely and we also, without realizing it, are appreciating ourselves. What you do to another, you do to yourself. Self-appreciation feels great and everything is looking up. However, if your self-esteem was low (before you fell in love), then you will eventually slip back into your pattern of not loving yourself, which causes you to stop loving your mate, and the feedback loop of appreciation is broken. The only way to fix it is to spend some time with yourself, liking yourself, and do whatever you can to accept and appreciate yourself more.

This is what I mean when I say it’s important to be self-centered. That’s not the same as being selfish; it is in fact, serving everyone in your life to be self-centered enough to love yourself and therefore be capable of loving others.

Self-appreciation is central to everything in our lives. If you can, catch yourself when you are critical and change your thoughts to more positive ones. Why not decide that you’re okay just as you are?! Celebrate your quirks and appreciate your body. The more you can appreciate yourself, the happier you’ll be!

Friend Love, Romantic Love

I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between romantic love and friend love. Both are wonderful, and although they are both forms of love, they have quite different feelings.

In romantic love, we feel more excited, thrilled and “on a high.” But romantic love is also prone to some pretty ugly feelings, like jealousy, feelings of owning the other person (or being owned), being judgmental, worry, and insecurity.

Friend love doesn’t usually have those ugly sides, and I am wondering why. We are much more likely to accept our friends fully, to embrace their differences or quirks, to look forward to time together with a calmer, less-emotionally-fragile vibe.

When you love your friends deeply, it is a beautiful, wonderful thing! The same is true for romantic love, but only if you can keep ownership and jealousy out of the way. I think that’s why friend love is so powerful — we have no illusions that we “own” the other person or that he or she should give something exclusively to us and no one else. Because we accept them fully and they us, we feel more comfortable and free to be ourselves. In the early stages of romantic love, we feel so much pressure to impress and perform, but if we instead focused on openly accepting the other person, the relationship would evolve into an amazing-friend level of love. However, in order to accept another, we need to first focus on being our true selves and accepting ourselves fully.

In many ways, this is how it is with my husband and I. Our friendship since getting married has grown to amazing-level, in large part because we accept each other. We are friends first, and I know he can tell me anything and I will listen without judging, feeling insecure or taking it personally. He does the same for me — listening and accepting me, and I feel so incredibly comfortable. It makes me think that acceptance is an essential ingredient in love — whether friend love or romantic love — and without it, the ugly feelings can creep in.

Of course, to accept another, you must accept yourself. Get over your hangups! 🙂 Love your body as it is, and celebrate its amazingness — there are hundred of chemical reactions going on every minute. Cheezies make you think, and soda pop makes your heart beat. Healthy food makes your muscles, nerves, and blood vessels strong. Whatever shape your body is, it is amazing!

Accept your quirks, too. Everyone has their little obsessions or particular ways of doing things, and yours make you unique and cool. Before conveyor belts and assembly lines were invented, everything made in the world was unique and individual, but in today’s society, we can get a little too interested in conforming — in being like everyone else. We wear clothes that are mass-produced, but make no mistake — you are one-of-a-kind, so feel free to stop applying other people’s standards and ideas to yourself.

Every relationship is one-of-a-kind too. It doesn’t have to fit in a box or be easy to explain. Every friendship is unique and special, and when we take care of ourselves and accept ourselves, we are able to be more present, uplifting and loving.

Create Your Own Universe

The Traveler

I love Star Trek, especially The Next Generation. As I rewatched one of my favourite episodes, ‘Remember Me’ (from the fourth season) I was struck again by the profound truths within that story.

The plot begins with Dr. Crusher being mystified by the sudden disappearances of people on the Enterprise. But they haven’t just gone missing — all proof they ever existed is gone. They were never even born. Soon, even the main crew members disappear, and it’s just her and Piccard left on the whole ship. When he disappears, her focus shifts — she is going to tackle this problem methodically and figure out what is going on. She guides the computer through a logical analysis and gradually, she begins to realize that she is stuck in a universe all her own. People are disappearing because that’s what she was thinking about when she became enveloped by the warp bubble universe (another of Wesley’s experiments gone awry). Luckily, Wesley and Beverley, in their separate universes, somehow call the Traveler from Tau Alpha C. He helps Wesley to open a portal to save his mom, which he can only do if he lets go of the past. The Traveler says:

“It is time. Let it go. Let go of the anticipation, the expectations, the demands upon yourself. Let it all go. Leave it behind. Yes… The ability is there inside of you. You do not need to look for it.” – The Traveler

We create our own reality with our thoughts. It takes shape according to what we think, but unlike the Star Trek episode, we can’t track it back to an exact moment when we had a certain thought, but we can change the direction it is taking at any time by simply thinking about something new. It is no experiment — it is life, and we are living it according to our own self-imposed boundaries, limits, definitions and rules, all of which we can change at any time.

Our universes overlap to the extent that we have things in common with others. For example, my universe doesn’t overlap with Donald Trump’s, that is, I don’t interact with him, because I don’t have much in common with him. However, if I think more abundantly, I will start to meet and interact with more abundant, thriving people (which I do already, just not so much with the ridiculously rich folks). The type of people in my life are an indication of where I’m at with my thoughts and vibration.

So if I am unhappy with someone in my life and I “kick them out,” someone new and similar will come along and take their place if I don’t change the way I think. The people closest to me are an indication of my inner workings. When I abuse myself, so do others. When I take care of myself, those around me treat me better too, and I find I have all sorts of great friends and lovely people around me, even in minor interactions with grocery store clerks. My thoughts and relationship with myself are quite clearly visible, once I realized this is how the world works. I think we all secretly know this, which is why we try to fool others and get so concerned about appearances — we feel like we don’t like ourselves and everybody knows it and it makes us uncomfortable. The solution, of course, is to learn to like ourselves more.

The overall direction in our lives is sort of a sum of our thoughts and feelings. Experiences that are more intense hold more weight, so if you want to be happier, try to recall a time when you were *really* extremely happy. By recalling/re-experiencing that feeling, your life will head in that direction. This is the Law of Attraction in a nutshell, so if you were unfamiliar with it, you’re not any more!

We each create our own universe. We are either moving toward more love or more hate, more compassion or more antagonism, more freedom or more fear. Choosing what way to go is as easy as changing lanes in a wide, multi-lane freeway — think about which way you want to go, wait for a space in the traffic and do it! In this analogy, the “waiting for the space” is just living in the present moment as much as possible and being aware of your thoughts. As you choose the direction and make the lane changes, some of the people in your life may change, and that’s a good thing. There are always more lanes on your left or right — the freeway is infinitely wide — because our growth is never finished. It is all about the journey!

Once more, take the advice of the Traveler:

“It is time. Let it go. Let go of the anticipation, the expectations, the demands upon yourself. Let it all go. Leave it behind. Yes… The ability is there inside of you. You do not need to look for it.” – The Traveler

It is time. Let it go.

Here is a link to the Star Trek episode, if you’re interested! Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the inspirational speech by the Traveler. 🙂

Affirmations to Try

I just thought I would take a quick minute to share some of my favourite affirmations with you! Although some are “deeper” than others, they have all been very helpful and powerful. Give them a try or make your own!

“I am surrounded by people who love and support me.”

“Everything I eat goes into the building blocks for healthy cells.”

“Every time I brush my teeth, they get healthier and healthier.”

“I have all the money I could possibly need for anything and everything I could possibly want or need to pay for!”

“Nothing can harm my eternal spirit.”

“I love my job and I’m really good at it!”

“My car is awesome; it cruises along so smoothly and operates perfectly.”

“Good things are coming my way!”

And the one I use most frequently: “Everything always goes smoothly for me.”

May these affirmations help you be kind to yourself, love yourself more, and overcome your past. Do you have any affirmations you’d like to share?

Relating to the Future

Although the skeletons in your closet are all about the past, it is very important to consider how you relate to the future. As I talk about in the last chapter of Love Your Skeletons, finding a way to have hope is crucial.

Even if your past is a mess of mistakes, abuse, bad parents, crazy friends and terrible relationships, the future isn’t written yet. Life can be anything you make it. But you have to learn to leave the past behind and look forward with hope — make plans, imagine the best, think kind thoughts about yourself — in order to make a new future.

How can you actually do this? It’s not as hard as you think. Here are a few ideas:

-Think of someone who is successful, and imagine that she had a messed-up past too. She found a way to overcome whatever happened, love herself and allow her abundance and success to come in! Now imagine that you can do the same!

– Whenever you feel tempted to deny yourself something you enjoy, or punish yourself, take a deep breath and say “I am not going to be mean to myself. I am a good person. I deserve good things in my life.”

– Sit down in the morning with a hot cup of coffee or tea and watch the sun rise. As its rays lighten the sky and then break over the horizon, hopefulness comes naturally.


Photo by Mary Klassen

Live and Let Live

Sometimes, I wish the world was more of a “live and let live” kind of place. It occurred to me that there are two aspects of this: “Live” and, of course, “let live.”

Live

You gotta live! When we don’t live our life to its fullest, that’s when we get grumpy, snarky, and we stop accepting others around us. If we “settle,” give in, or just play it safe all the time, we cheat ourselves out of all the best life has to offer and deep down, we know it. So we feel unhappy, because being unhappy is a signal — sort of a neon sign! — that we need to change something in our lives, and quickly!

So, if you’d like to join me on this planet of Live and Let Live, please make sure you do the first part thoroughly! Go on that vacation you’ve always wanted, or at least start planning it! Spend time with your favourite people in the world. Go to the park, the beach or the bookstore — whatever you enjoy most. Go to your favourite restaurant or listen to your fav band play. Take time out to visit a friend. Leave work early. Live it up!

Let Live

What does it mean “to let live?” It means to accept others as they are and not have any great desire to change them. It’s not about tolerating people who are different — it means celebrating each and every person exactly as they are!

photo from http://eatsleepquilt.blogspot.ca/2011/06/my-mid-morning-walk.htmlHave you ever watched a child play? Didn’t you feel joy or fascination at their freedom, playfulness and exploring spirit? Imagine watching a couple of little children splashing in a kiddie pool or public fountain on a hot summer day. They are having fun and living in the moment, and you can’t help but smile as you see the joy on their faces. That feeling (what you feel while watching them) is pure acceptance. You don’t have any desire to prevent them from splashing, or to make them conform to your way of splashing. You feel happy just watching them do what they do. That’s what it feels like to accept others as they are and to “let live.” You don’t need them to be more like you, to agree with you, or to stop doing something they are doing. You simply accept and love them as they are!

Another aspect of accepting others relates back to accepting ourselves. If we don’t accept ourselves, we will find it very hard to accept others. The aspects of another that irritate you the most are probably aspects that you are not proud of in yourself. Why not look at yourself like you look at those playing children — in wonder and amazement at your growth and how far you’ve come.

Let me know your experiences with “live and let live.” Is this easy for you? Do you struggle with it? Or do you think it’s not even very important these days?

More Than Meets the Eye

There is always more going on than is on the surface.

Whatever physical symptoms you are experiencing, they are only the tip of the iceberg. If you get quiet for a moment and breathe, it will be come apparent to you whatever the real underlying “problem” is – whatever is really going on in the physio-spiritual realm. This might be a strictly spiritual problem or issue, or it may be an emotional thing you are dealing with, or you may have dis-ease in your thinking.

This third one is the most likely and luckily, the easiest one to change. If you are thinking thoughts of struggle, difficulty or unhealthiness, then your body will manifest a physical symptom to match. It might be a sore throat. It might be a chronic illness or long-term disease. It might be excess pounds. Whatever you are experiencing, there is a spiritual solution, and it mostly likely, when you really distill it down, is due to a lack of self-love. Take some time to connect to your higher self, your sleep angels or your inner spirit, and you will see yourself the way Spirit sees you. That is the one of the best ways to connect with self-love, and the solution to any “problem.”