How To Love Yourself

“I do not know where to begin.”

Those are the honest words spoken to me by a brave cosmic conversant today.

We all hear that it’s good for the people around us — as well as for us — if we love our own selves in a healthy way. Fishing trips, manicures, and me-time aside (not to say they’re not wonderful but if they really helped everyone at a cellular level, this question would not be so prevalent), how can you love yourself?

What would that even feel like?

It feels tricky.

I developed this graphic sheet as a hybrid of an active imagination practice Martha Beck has used for people with chronic pain + a reflection by Roger Housden on the poem The Dark Night by St. John of the Cross. (You can click on the image to access a .jpg to print.) Try reading the poem somewhere safe and cozy — say under the covers just before you go to sleep — then exploring the rest of the practice. For me, it is dis-orientingly peaceful. Or peacefully disorienting.
Be Loved-1I would very much like hearing from you (via my gmail account, which is betsypearsonpe, or private FB message if you prefer not to comment below) as to whether or not it felt accessible to you, if it affected you, and how. And if you have any how-to-love-yourself techniques to share, my fellow cosmic ponderer and I would appreciate them.

Sweet dreams.

Posted in Love and Soul Mates, poetry practices, Worksheets | Leave a comment

How To Get Everybody On Your Side

Yes we do need everybody’s approval — especially in order to proceed with something new or scary. We are humans, and humans are social creatures.

Back when we were cave people, it was downright dangerous to get excluded by the other members of the tribe  — it left us vulnerable to getting attacked by saber-tooth tigers and cave bears, getting lost, and getting only the tough, leftover bits of mammoth meat. Caring about what others think is deep in our cellular memory.

As Martha Beck points out in Finding Your Own North Star, we can’t succeed in not caring what other people think (only sociopaths can do that), but we can choose who we see as our generalized other — our “Everybody.” Here’s a worksheet for doing just that — a hybrid of several of Beck’s tools — along with a description of how to use it (allot about 20 minutes). A file is available here for downloading and printing the worksheet.Everybody worksheet0001

1. Calibrate Your Body Compass

Imagine a linear scale running from -10 to +10, describing your happiness and well-being. At the extremes, -10 is when you feel awful, and a +10 is when you feel wonderful. In the middle at zero is a rather neutral state of being.

a. Remember a fairly bad memory, something on the order of a -8 (no need to revisit total despair!). Close your eyes, relive the bad time, AND notice exactly what you feel in your body. I don’t mean emotions like sadness, fear, or anger, but rather sensations such as tightness, heaviness, heat/cold, numbness, or pain. Where in your body do you feel what?

I want you to be able to remember this state without having to relive it, so assign this cluster of sensations a nickname like “ick” or “the burning weight” or whatever captures the fundamental tone.

b. Open your eyes, stand up for a minute, and let that ickiness go. Shake both hands, arms, legs. Take a deep breath in and release the unpleasantness as you exhale.

c. Now remember a wonderful time. A full on +10. It could be a brief second or a whole era. If you find it hard to recall a good memory right after a bad one, no problem — pretend you are breathing perfectly fresh air under a sunny, blue sky. Note each body sensation. As before, name this sensory experience (something like “ahh…” or “lightness”) so you have a personal shorthand for the physical sensation of joy.

2. Feel Your Future

 a. In the first column of the worksheet, write a To-Do list — six tasks you’ve planned for the next few days.

b. For each task on the list, close your eyes, and imagine you’re doing the task. At the same time, notice your body sensations. Rank that feeling with your Body Compass. Take some time. Really FEEL each task — then write the Body Compass reading in the second column.

3 and 4. Name Every- and Any-body

  • For the lowest-ranking items on your To-Do list, ask yourself:

“Who would I be pleasing if I did this thing that feels rather unpleasant to me?”

Write their names in the third column: “Everybody Behind Door #1.”

“Who would think I was crazy to do this thing that does not feel good to me?”

Write their names in the fourth column: Everybody Behind Door #2.

(Likely there will be some names that keep cropping up over and over for different tasks – that’s fine. And maybe you are thinking of not an individual person but a media outlet, religion, political party, profession, fictional character, historic personage, celebrity you’ve never met, etc. Just go ahead and write that down.)

  • For the highest- ranking, most pleasant tasks, ask yourself:

“Who would prefer I not do this thing although I feel good about it?”

Write their names in the third column: “Everybody Behind Door #1.”

“Who would be delighted if I did this thing that feels great to me?”             

      Write their names in the fourth column: “Everybody Behind Door #2.”

(Again, you’ll likely see some names repeating themselves – no problem, and feel free to list a media outlet, religion, political party, profession, fictional character, historic personage, celebrity you’ve never met, etc.)

If you don’t have many positive tasks, don’t worry – your life will FILL with more and more delight-filled activities as you start to get Everybody on your side!

5. Tally

Now consider every person you named on the worksheet and draw one smiley face in the banana-tally column for each of the following statements that applies to them:

~ I truly respect this person

~ I trust this person

~ This person seems genuinely happy

~ If I were unable to raise my own child/pet, I would love for this person to do it.

Tabulate the number of smiley faces.

~ Consider the people with the most smiley faces: I am guessing they are living freely, finding their own heart’s desires, and therefore are free to see the world as it is; to see the real you, love you, and be all-for whatever your heart desires! And I am guessing they are the people behind Door #2.

~ Consider those with the least number of smiley faces. I am guessing they are NOT living the dream and — consciously or not, and perhaps for well-intentioned but misguided reasons — they want others to live as shackled as they are. Usually these folks reside behind Door #1.

[Note: If Everybody Behind Door #1 — in other words those people who want you to do things that feel icky to you — have more smiley faces than the people who want you to do things that feel good to you, then likely there are some untrue beliefs being repeated by your mind. Check out thought work or some outside support from a coach or therapist to talk through what you are thinking.]

6. Increase exposure to Everybody Behind Door #2, and decrease exposure to Everybody Behind Door #1.

Either one of the two Everybodies is a viable candidate for your Everybody, so choose the Everybody that wants you to be happy and healthy and free. This does not mean you have to stop loving anyone behind Door #1. Love does not require anything from the other person – not their approval nor their agreement with your values. So of course you can continue to love them. Just limit your exposure to them in these ways (and remember these steps apply even/especially if the person is fictional, historic, or someone you’ve never met!):

  • Reminders of Everybody – Pictures of them, mementos, gifts they gave you.. anything that conjures up their energy.

Add more and more of those from behind Door #2 and decrease those from behind Door #1.

  • Everybody’s Words –

Write down every piece of positive feedback, every compliment, every ounce of support you’ve received from anybody (including the folks behind Door #2). Keep this list and re-read it every day

  • Time with Everybody –

Seek out people behind Door #2. Just say no to Door #1.

With Everybody’s approval, it’s much easier to live as your heart’s desire. And that’s good for you AND all the Everybodies in the whole world.

Posted in "Everybody", Body Compass, Thought work, Worksheets | 2 Comments

All the love you want

How is it going with your soul mate – that glorious other with whom you have cosmic discussions as well as easy silence and light chats; silly jokes, fun, games, happy sex; mind-body-and-soul-altering sex; functional, practical cooperation on the logistics of life regarding money, parenting (or not), leisure time (or not), sleeping conditions, and what to do with dirty socks; PLUS deep, unconditional goodwill and hence true love? Yeah, that person!

I know only two couples that seem to have found and maintained such a relationship.

So. My questions:

  • What are those soul couples’ secrets? (How did they find each other? How do they keep their relationship so luminous?)
  • And why is their number seemingly so small?

Maria Popova – my personal hero and the genius behind brainpickings.org, a site you should visit, bookmark, and send money to because she is THAT awesome – recently reviewed the newest book by cultural historian and philosopher Roman Krznaric.

How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life includes a game-changing chapter on love. Popova describes the chapter in detail:

“…Krznaric contends that our modern definition of love is too narrow, which both deprives us of the breadth of this grand human capacity and sets us up for disappointment.

We can navigate these difficulties of love — and enhance its joys — by grasping the significance of two great tragedies in the history of the emotions. The first is that we have lost knowledge of the different varieties of love that existed in the past, especially those familiar to the ancient Greeks, who knew love could be discovered not just with a sexual partner, but also in friendships, amongst strangers, and with themselves. The second tragedy is that over the last thousand years, these varieties have been incorporated into a mythical notion of romantic love, which compels us to believe that they can all be found in one person, a unique soulmate. We can escape the confines of this inheritance by looking for love outside the realm of romantic attachments, and cultivating its many forms.” [emphasis mine]

The Greeks identified six love flavors. We wrap all six of them up in the idea of one ideal person. Use the following worksheet (based on Popova’s and Krznaric’s ideas) to:

  • Consider how you currently engage in each kind of love. Which loves do you expect from your current/ideal sweetheart? How many different kinds of people – and how many individuals within each category – do you love in each way?
  • Brain-storm as to how can you expand your loving.

Current Loving: A Worksheet

Kind of Love

Quality

Typically toward/between

With whom do you now experience this love? From whom do you “expect” it?

Random, brain-stormy ideas of many new ways to experience each love. Think out of the box!

Eros

Sexual passion

 

Lovers

 

 

Phila

Intimate, familiar, loyal; camaraderie

Friends

 

 

Ludus

Playful affection

 

Children; casual lovers

 

 

Pragma

Deep understanding

 

Couples in long-term relationship

 

 

Agape

Unconditional, selfless caring

 

All humanity

 

 

Philautia

Self-love

Positive: Nourishes your capacity for all love, beginning from within.

Negative: Narcissism

Self

Current examples:

 

Click here for .pdf to download and print

Instead of trying to find our one true love, Krznaric advocates (according to Popova, that is!) asking ourselves:

“How can I cultivate the different varieties of love in my life?

[…] The varieties of love invented by the ancient Greeks […] are what we should be striving to cultivate, and with a range of people rather than just one person. I am not saying that you should get your pragma from a steady marriage but then satisfy your eros in a series of lustful affairs. That is bound to be a destructive strategy, for sexual jealousy is part of our natures and few people can tolerate open relationships. What I mean is that we ought to acknowledge that we may only be fulfilled in love if we can nurture it in a multitude of ways and tap into its many sources. So we should foster our philia through having profound friendships outside our main relationship, and make space for our lover to do the same without resenting the time they spend apart from us. We can seek the joys of ludus not just in sex but in other forms of play, from tango dancing and performing in amateur theatre to laughing with children around the family dining table. And we must recognize that being drawn too far into self-love, or limiting our love to only a small circle of people, will not be enough to meet our inner need to feel part of a larger whole. So we should all make a place for agape in our lives, and transform love into a gift for strangers. That is how we can reach a point where our lives feel abundant with love.” [emphasis mine]

Aha. This answers BOTH my questions.

    • The soulful folks’ secrets: All four members of those soul couples are wildly, generously adept at loving so many people in so many ways (while keeping actual sex between the two of them – and happily so). I also know crazily vital single souls living this same way (which explains their lack of sadness over not being paired up).
    • The reason so few of us find a soul mate: We think one person has to do ALL of all of this for us. They don’t. But don’t worry; you still (or maybe “therefore?!”) can get all the love you want.
    • One reason why some originally soulmate-y relationships may sour: We may find all kinds of love with one person. It is so so nice. But then we may narrow ourselves and start expecting those loves only or mostly from that person. Then we are no longer the people we were at the beginning of the relationship. Soul relationships that last seem to expand each person’s experience of loving others, not contract it to just the sweetheart realm.

You can have it all with another person — just not ONLY that person!

Abundant love.

It may take time to readjust our way of thinking about love(s). But what fun practice. Here’s a daily deal you can use to remind yourself to expand and mash-up love in your life. Not that you will plan every single different way to love every single person for each day, but it’s fun to think about. (Click here for .pdf to download and print.) Let me know what happens!

Daily Love: A Planner

The people in my life.

Love flavors + just a few ways to try them

Ways to love my people in different ways today

Lover(s):

Agape: Smile, really look at person and see them, listen without offering opinion, beam goodwill from your heart to theirs…

 

Pragma: Share a project, ask for help, offer help…

 

Ludus: Arrange a play date, join in a game, be goofy, email a joke…

 

Phila: Have a talk, share a hobby, ask for advice, confide…

 

Eros: Be sexy. (Think out of the box — it doesn’t mean just having sex, right? But do be safe and careful with this one.)

 

Real friends

Agape: Smile, really look at person and see them, listen without offering opinion, beam goodwill from your heart to theirs…

 

Pragma: Share a project, ask for help, offer help…

 

Ludus: Arrange a play date, join in a game, be goofy, email a joke…

 

Phila: Have a talk, share a hobby, ask for advice, confide…

 

Eros: Be sexy. (Think out of the box — it doesn’t mean just having sex, right? But do be safe and careful with this one.)

 

Playful people

Agape: Smile, really look at person and see them, listen without offering opinion, beam goodwill from your heart to theirs…

 

Pragma: Share a project, ask for help, offer help…

 

Ludus: Arrange a play date, join in a game, be goofy, email a joke…

 

Phila: Have a talk, share a hobby, ask for advice, confide…

 

Eros: Be sexy. (Think out of the box — it doesn’t mean just having sex, right? But do be safe and careful with this one.)

 

Practical, reliable, logistically developed partners or colleagues

Agape: Smile, really look at person and see them, listen without offering opinion, beam goodwill from your heart to theirs…

 

Pragma: Share a project, ask for help, offer help…

 

Ludus: Arrange a play date, join in a game, be goofy, email a joke…

 

Phila: Have a talk, share a hobby, ask for advice, confide…

 

Eros: Be sexy. (Think out of the box — it doesn’t mean just having sex, right? But do be safe and careful with this one.)

 

Everyone. Including strangers and enemies. (Well you don’t have to list them, but they’re here.)

Agape: Smile, really look at person and see them, listen without offering opinion, beam goodwill from your heart to theirs…

 

Pragma: Share a project, ask for help, offer help…

 

Ludus: Arrange a play date, join in a game, be goofy, email a joke…

 

Phila: Have a talk, share a hobby, ask for advice, confide…

 

Eros: Be sexy. (Think out of the box — it doesn’t mean just having sex, right? But do be safe and careful with this one.)

 

You

Agape: Smile, really look at person and see them, listen without offering opinion, beam goodwill from your heart to theirs…

 

Pragma: Share a project, ask for help, offer help…

 

Ludus: Arrange a play date, join in a game, be goofy, email a joke…

 

Phila: Have a talk, share a hobby, ask for advice, confide…

 

Eros: Be sexy. (Think out of the box — it doesn’t mean just having sex, right? But do be safe and careful with this one.)

 

Philautia: Practice real self-kindness. Care for your self, stand up for yourself, notice how you think about yourself.

 

Posted in Love and Soul Mates, Worksheets | 1 Comment

My Favorite Way of Looking at Your Desire

Seeing people hyper-accelerate into what they want is one of my greatest thrills — not only does it make them happy, but it always ends up improving the world for all of us. So please…

Have fun with this worksheet, my favorite tool for joyfully handling desire!

Please do do it in writing — it makes a huge difference.  And please email me your results or questions!

Leaning Into/Letting Go Of

Example: Elle: weight

1. Elle wanted to lose weight

Clients almost always do. So I asked her, “why?” (Coaches almost always do!)

Elle looked at me, speechless. She couldn’t begin to understand that such a desire might not be universally understandable. But the truth is, people I’ve talked to all have different pictures of how life will play out once they have lost weight. I walked her through the worksheet:

2. I asked Elle to close her eyes and imagine she was her ideal weight — imagine it in as much detail as possible.

3. While she stayed in that place, I asked her how she felt. Emotions (happy, proud, confident, and free) are important, but then I asked her to notice the exact physical sensations in her body. She felt light. Where? Everywhere. When pushed for more specific physical details, Elle reported that her brain felt clear and clean.

4. I asked Elle: “now that you have reached your ideal weight, what will you do/have that you could not, would not, did not do or have before you lost weight?” Her answer was immediate: buy new clothes and do more physical activities including but not limited to working out (because she’d not be embarrassed to do it around other people).

5. I asked her to check in with her feelings once more. Her emotions and physical sensations mirrored those of step #3 with a few additions:  strong in her muscles, attractive, fashionable, daring,

6. “And THEN,” I asked, “what would you do/have/be — after you’d done all the stuff in #4?” Elle giggled that she’d wear a bathing suit in front of people without always covering up and she’d be naked in front of her husband with the lights on.

7. How did #6 make her feel? Wow. More of the same but more so plus sexy, confident, fun.

8 and 9. Repeating the digging process process one more time really requires imagination. With her new clothes, Elle decided she’d be able to meet her old college friends in Denver and  lunch at Cherry Creek. Bathing suit confidence meant she’d take surf lessons. Spousal nudity allowed for spontaneous, intimate daytime play. Fitness meant she’d climb Cloud Peak. She added in new resulting feelings: warmth in her pelvis, strong connection between her feet and the ground.

10. Elle had assembled a lengthy list of emotions and physical sensations that result from achieving her desire. And those feelings are what she really wants.

Think about it: whatever you want, you want it because it will make you feel a certain way. If you could feel that exact same way through another means, you would. You just likely don’t think that anything else can make you feel the way your desire will. But is that true?

I asked Elle to look at that assembly of feelings and circle the physical sensations she loved most. I asked her what else makes her feel this way? She had answers. So will you.

Elle’s answers included:  dancing around her kitchen by herself; snuggling with her husband on the couch when he watches football; walking outside and breathing fresh air… especially in the dark!; learning completely new things like Spanish; and lots and lots more.

11. a) I gave Elle an assignment: fill her days with as many of the activities from Step 10 as possible. The rationale for this step is super important, true, and exciting. When you do things that make you feel the way your desired outcome would make you feel, then:

    • You’ve accomplished your real goal: which is: feeling that way. And,
    • You are teaching your brain how you want to feel. The human brain is biased to select and create experiences that recreate familiar feelings. While this is not good news while you are stuck on an unpleasant childhood emotion (e.g., feeling abandoned or abused), it is extremely good news once you understand the process and how to make it work for you.

The more you make yourself feel the way your original desire would make you feel, the more quickly your brain guides you to your original desire — without your evenly consciously attending to it.

[SECRET MASTER TRICK: Perhaps you’ve noticed a “hack” here: you can just feel like how you want to feel any time, most easily by imagining as we’ve done here. But with practice, since you now have done it a lot, you can just drop in. Do that over and over and over. It doesn’t hurt anything. And coincidentally your life gets magical. It won’t seem related. That’s okay — but do keep feeling how you desire to feel anyway.]

11. b) Elle believed that she could only accomplish the activities that she listed in Steps 4, 6, 8, and 10 IF she achieved her original desire. But I asked her “Is that true?” It seemed definitely true to her… that she could only disrobe in daylight in front of her husband if she lost weight, for example. We did “The Work” (described in my post here or on Byron Katie’s website) on all these beliefs, turning them around and finding concrete examples of how those opposite statements are true. I urge you to do the same with your answers on the worksheet. (Understatement! PLEASE do it. If you get stuck really unable to do any of the things on your worksheet, try getting a coach to help you with this step. An outside perspective can help you identify and dissolve barriers.)

And I gave her a second assignment: just go ahead and do the activities listed in those steps. It took bravery, but Elle really did want to feel those wonderful feelings, so she took some risks like getting naked in front of her husband (who was delighted!), hiking with some friends (who obviously didn’t care how much she weighed); buying new clothes now (basics that she could get tailored when she lost weight since she was concerned about “wasting money”); and putting together cool outfits by drawing on her accessories (acting like she thought she looked great was a big step for her!).

In two months, Elle had lost 15 pounds. This is faster than is recommended by diet experts (because it would take draconian caloric changes to achieve it), but she wasn’t dieting. All she did was get brave and vulnerable and then reap the benefits.

[The above worksheet is a .jpeg, so right click (or ctrl-click on an Apple) to download and then use your usual techniques to tell your computer to print it, OR click here for a .pdf version.]

Posted in Desire, Problem Solving, Worksheets | Leave a comment

Introducing (proudly!): Your HOW-To-Do List

“Adverb in your legs.” Or so I wrote on a piece of paper 13 years ago. To AdverbUm. Yeah. The first take-home point is:

*Think twice before cleaning out your files.*

The second point came to me after a week of my mind inexplicably drifting back to this sentence. It IS, in fact, a sentence because:

*Adverb is a verb.*

Maybe the most important verb ever.

Adverb = HOW you do what you do

“People will forget what you saidPeople will forget what you didBut people will 

never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

The spirit of what you do and say is what people feel.

And “people” includes you, above all.

Adverb-ing is doing things in the way that feels best to you.

How to adverb:

    • Double your To-Do list. (Gratefully!)

Draw a vertical line line down the middle of your planner. Label the left column: What I Want to Do. Label the right column: How I Want to Do It.

If you determinedly go to the post office, write an essay, or deliver soup to a sick friend it will be different than if you do it colorfully. Or peacefully. Or expectantly. Or goofily.

How do you want to feel? What kind of feeling do you want to carry into the world?

    • Generate strange new adverbs. (Unabandonedly?!)

Add “-ly” to the end of all kinds of words:

Not just to emotions but to any adjective and even to places, nouns, and people. (I am going to this party Beyonce-ly OR I am going to this party Pema-ly. Either would be nice. But very different.)

    • And — of course — let those adverbs flow into and out of your legs, your face, your hips.

How you do something is physical. Adverbs manifest via your body. Let them. Freely.

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Leaning in and letting go (hint: they’re the same thing)

If you can’t let go of wanting something you’re not getting, lean right on in and examine why you want it and.. you’ll see. (I know you’re skeptical, but trying to talk yourself out of it isn’t working is it? So just try this and see.)

Leaning in and letting go

Details on theory, lots of examples, and a gussied up, printable worksheet are here! Meanwhile, grab a pencil and go for it! X

Posted in Desire, letting go, Problem Solving, Worksheets | Leave a comment

Compare without despair: prepare a feast

If you want to access hope — of the deepest and most imaginative sort — then start comparing. 

“Self-help heresy!” you cry? Believe me, I know how you feel. As my mother likes to say:

“Never compare yourself to someone else because you’re comparing your insides to their outsides.”

Mom’s aphorism definitely got me through high school intact, but that’s because I interpreted comparing to mean finding the differences between things — “what does that person/situation/thing have that I lack?”

The true meaning of compare is more neutral and simple: “to prepare with.” 

(For my fellow etymology-philes: com “with”+ parare “make ready, furnish, provide, arrange, order.”)

Arrange something from Column A with something from Column B.

Placing two dissimilar things together is one of the coolest games — and most powerful advantages — our human brains allow us.

I love Portland

When the dissimilar things are food and you arrange them in a kitchen, then you get any of the glorious menus I recently encountered in Portland, Oregon!

When the dissimilar things are ideas and you arrange them in your mind, then you get metaphor. And an infinite world of possibility.

Here’s one simple way to play:

1. Think of THIS problem with no apparent solution.

2. Look at THAT thing over there (whatever grabs your attention when you look away from the screen… or maybe you want to consider a particular idea, activity, era) and write a brief description of it.

3. Ask “How is THIS like THAT?”

Martha Beck once pointed out that the ability and desire to ask this question is what makes us humans such wonderful inventors. Other ways to pose this question and create solutions that don’t exist until you come up with them: analyze your dreams, draw a random picture, delve into an animal totem, or invent your own new ways for using connection to spark imagination. As I like to say:

“Always compare something to anything else because connecting your insides to their outsides is like topping sweet potato sausage hash with fig-infused cream cheese — crunchy, gooey, and delicious.”

Posted in Metaphor as a personal transformation tool for you, Problem Solving | Leave a comment

All love is at first sight…

… And if you don’t love someone, you haven’t seen them (no matter how many times you’ve looked at them). Does these two ideas sound radical and even dangerous?

Try the one-way love experiment

Next time someone is talking to you, watch them. And try seeing them.

Look for what’s essential in their face, voice, gestures, ideas. And then brace yourself. Here’s  what happened when Jesus really looked at a rich man who wouldn’t give up his possessions to go to heaven:

“Jesus, seeing him, loved him.”

Yes, you will find yourself falling in love with everyone.

(Here are 350 new faces for you to fall in love with in The Paper Kites’ 3.5 minute video. But it’s mind-blowing to try it with people you already love as well.)

You don’t have to say anything about it to them. Just enjoy the feeling.

Safety/self-care sidebar:

You’ll fall in love not only with  glorious folks but also with some icky people. And that’s okay and wise as long as you trust your gut. Just because you can see and love someone doesn’t mean you DON’T see the parts of them that are toxic to you, to them, to others.  Generally you can see the ick more clearly. It doesn’t mean you sugar-coat the truth or hang around icky people. But maybe now you don’t have to hate those people and in fact are able to send them goodwill — from a safe distance. Why bother? Because it feels good — to you. (If there is indeed power in prayer, intentions, and/or mirror neurons, then your safe-distance-love may help the other person too. But either way, it’s unlikely to hurt them.)

Notice the two-way phenomenon!

Folks who go around seeing and loving others develop a lot of presence. It starts to build up and waft around them. And if two people with habitual seeing and palpable presence look at one another in a moment when they both have their hearts open — ker pow. Mutual love at first sight. (When this happens to happen in the first moment that two people meet, it feels especially magical and so inexplicable.)

Think of the times this has happened to you with a friend, colleague, sweetheart, creative collaborator. Or an animal. Even a plant or a place!

Think of the times you’ve been witness to it happening between others.

It is an ineffable way of beauty. Watch for it. Take a deep whiff. Ah.

Posted in Essential Self, Love and Soul Mates, Tending | Leave a comment

Strangely freeing ponderings about your success. And mine.

From one of my favorite, most accessible, Myers-Briggs resources, I learned that — depending on your nature — your idea of success may depend on:

      • Your ability to improve situations — using common sense to make the most of situations;
      • The aesthetics of your environment;
      • A level of structure that keeps chaos at bay;
      • Making things happen for other people — and enjoying the accomplishment and satisfaction of those you’ve helped;
      • Developing your creative abilities;
      • Opportunities to increase your understanding of the world around you;
      • Increasing your personal level of understanding, accomplishment, competence;
      • Exercising your active mind by using logic to uncover Truths;
      • An open road — full opportunities and free space and time — to use your intuition to think about all aspects and angles of subjects that interest you.
      • The condition of your closest relationships;
      • Staying true to your personal value system;
      • Feeling valued for your personal contribution;
      • Exuberant, full, open, outward engagement with other people;
      • Mastery in/of aspects of the physical world;
      • Caring for and about others and feeling their reflected happiness and gratitude;
      • Ordering the world in a way which is safe and secure while also balanced against genuine respect for aesthetics and quality of life;
      • Outwardly expressing what grips you — your talents, appreciations, joys — before the world;
      • Providing value for others;
      • Moments of achievement — of feeling you’ve won the day;
      • Creating, sustaining, and/or living within defined principles;
      • The health and welfare of family, work, and/or church — and your ability to use your experience to benefit family, work, or church; and/or
      • Serving people in need, fighting injustice, or otherwise making the world a better place to be.

I am finding that it’s important for me to consciously remember that:

ALL of those conditions of success — and their many combinations — are great.

I do not have to have the same idea of success for myself that other people have for themselves.

Other people may not and do not need to have the same idea of success that I have. I want others to feel success on their terms — not on mine.

All this is especially true for those I love. And especially hard to remember. What if our ideas of success seem to clash? What if — hypothetically! —  my thirst for ever deeper exploration of meaning seems to interfere with a beloved’s desire for a safe and beautiful life?

I am liking the theory that all of our success ideas can exist mutually.

 Likely the world is this gorgeous only because they all DO exist and thrive together.

But on the most practical level, I realize that I do indeed want you to pursue your idea of success. I will pursue mine, I will be thrilled as I am achieving my successes, and I will be so thoroughly happy as you are achieving yours because I love you.

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Beading what matters

All new habits need help. But my new habits (especially those that require breaking some old habit) need A LOT of help which is why I had to get hard core and hybridize my two favorite helpers: immediate gratification and counting what matters. No matter whether you are trying to de-clutter your house, refrain from calling you-know-who, give up Diet Coke, or run/bike/hike regularly, it’s vital to master:

1. Immediate Gratification

You can not only train other people using Sea World’s techniques but also — and more importantly — you can train your own self. ALWAYS give yourself a very real, wonderful treat EACH time you perform your new desired behavior. It doesn’t have to be fish — or even food of any kind — and it can be small, but do not skip a chance to mold and shape your inner beast or it won’t trust you and will sabotage any attempts at change.

2. Counting What Matters

Keep track of your effort very specifically. How many boxes or bags did you remove from your house today? How many days — or hours– since you re-dialed you-know-who’s number?

Consider carefully WHAT you count. Does it matter how many miles you logged today OR will you give yourself a point just for getting on your shoes and hitting the trail even for a minute?

If one reinforcement is good, layering two together is better!

Try making your treat something that can double as a fun counting mechanism. For example, each time you meet your mini-goal, treat yourself by adding:

  • An inexpensive bead to a string of leather you can wear or hang in your car, or
  • A whole new bracelet for stacking on your wrist, or
  • A fancy charm bead to a bracelet or necklace you already you already have.

(This strategy is perfect for matching different budgets).

Watch the string of beads, layers of bracelets, or jangle of charms grow along with your new habit and your resolve. Certain beads may even remind you of the particular demands of persevering on specific days.

The red and black bead might represent the time you backed away from the Diet Coke even though it was 100 degrees and someone handed you one in a glass — a real glass glass — with crushed ice and little sweat beads on the outside of the glass.

The blue bracelet comes from the midnight crying jag where you realized the PERFECT text you could send in order to win back you-know-who’s heart. And you didn’t send it.

The diamond studded sneaker charm commemorates the day you ran your first marathon — or your first three miles in a row.

What other kinds of “abacus”-style treats might count and reinforce your own good behavior? Lining up Sharpies in your top drawer?! African violets on your window ledge? Let me know! Please — I’ve got a ways to go and may end up faltering under the weight of my treat beads before I completely integrate a couple new behaviors. Thank you my friends!

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