Tag Archives: Inspiration

Love and Freedom

This message from Jada Pinkett Smith broke my heart open today, and I thought I would share:

Open marriage? Let me first say this, there are far more important things to talk about in regards to what is happening in the world than whether I have an open marriage or not. I am addressing this issue because a very important subject has been born from discussions about my statement that may be worthy of addressing. The statement I made in regard to, “Will can do whatever he wants,” has illuminated the need to discuss the relationship between trust and love and how they co-exist. Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should “behave”? Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of “you better act right or else” keep one honest and true? Do we believe that we can have meaningful relationships with people who have not defined nor live by the integrity of his or her higher self? What of unconditional love? Or does love look like, feel like, and operate as enslavement? Do we believe that the more control we put on someone the safer we are? What of TRUST and LOVE? Should we be married to individuals who can not be responsible for themselves and their families within their freedom? Should we be in relationships with individuals who we can not entrust to their own values, integrity, and LOVE…for us??? Here is how I will change my statement…Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to
do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one. Siempre,       J
What a heartfelt, beautiful, and POWERFUL vision of love.  A love that deeply trusts the other person to show you all of themselves, not to hide the part that is “unacceptable” or scary.  True safety is rooted in freedom.  In that freedom, you find a love that is achingly vulnerable.   A love that is alive.
After the events of the last couple of years, I never want to revert back to the myth of a committed relationship that is afraid to let the other person be free.  That said, I struggle to find that space of freedom.  To let people go when they want to go.  To walk away when the other person can not give me what I want.  To allow that coming and going with grace, because I know and trust that I can have the type of relationship that I desire.  Thank you Jada for the inspiration.  I will continue to explore what is possible.
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Honor Your Power

Recently, someone who I went through a very difficult time with last year–breaking my trust–asked me, in all sincerity:  “Did I hurt you?”

The question struck me by surprise.  It was asked honestly.  But the answer was so obviously “Yes” that the question was strange.  I couldn’t figure it out.  How could this person not realize that they had an impact on me?

I sat with this, and realized that the reason for their question was that they had no faith in their ability to affect other people.  They were completely disconnected from their own power.  Because of that, they could not perceive when they hurt people.  And unfortunately, it also meant that they could not fathom the many ways in which they could positively affect other people’s lives.

This was an extreme case, but most of us–myself included–can forget how powerful we are.  To bring awareness to your own power, pay attention to your interactions with others.  Recognize the ways you can affect other people–big and small, positive and negative.  Be honest. 

For example, this morning in my boot camp exercise class, I was paired with a girl who was there for the first time.  I told her at the beginning of the class that she should look to the group in front of us to learn what the next exercise in the series was going to be.  But instead of paying attention, she kept on asking me to tell her.  I could feel myself withdraw and grow frustrated.  I was not as helpful as I could have been.  As a result, I could tell that she did not feel as supported in the class as she could have been, and maybe felt a bit lost.  On reflection, I realize that if I had more compassion for her, she could have had a more positive experience.  In turn, I would have felt less irritable, happy that I was helping someone.

The point here is not to judge myself for being out of sorts in the class.  The point is to recognize that I had the power to make a difference in this girl’s experience.  Because I lacked this awareness during the class, I missed an opportunity for connection and support.  Practicing this awareness (even after the fact) makes me realize that there are chances all around me to be a source of light and comfort to others.  Realizing the power I have to make a difference, I want to make more of an effort!

It is also important to be aware of and rejoice in those moments when we DO come out of our shells and positively affect people.  Even our small acts can truly lift someone else’s spirit–providing them with love, encouragement, and inspiration.  One simple example is when we make the effort to feed someone’s spirit with a smile.

I recently had a fun reminder of my own power to uplift!  As I have been blogging, I have made some great friends in the blogging world.  We read each other’s posts and support one another.  One blogger, Nicole Cody, at Cauldrons and Cupcakes, (a delicious blog about cooking, writing, and psychic adventures!) posted a very captivating story last week about a psychic reading that she did, where she discovered that a wife was poisoning her husband.  Not only was this an amazing story, but she told it beautifully, in clear and captivating prose.  I was immediately reminded of how I felt when I was a little girl, reading books from my favorite fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones.  I mentioned this in a comment, and suggested that Nicole could write a fantastic young adult psychic novel.  So . . . one of Nicole’s latest posts is about how, after reading my comment, she plans to do exactly that!  It is a thrill to realize how Diana (in England), influenced me (in the States), leading me to influence Nicole (in Australia), who is now on her way to writing a book that will reach children around the world.  What a beautiful web!

All of us have the ability to impact others.  It does not matter where you come from, what your social or economic status might be, or what talents you possess.  When you share yourself with others, you become part of the incredible flow of life.  Honor your power, and use it to uplift others.  

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Don’t Be Afraid to Give Unconditionally

I have a budding interest in entrepreneurship, and am beginning to educate myself in this area.  This week I decided to sit in on a call hosted by Alexis Martin Neely with George Kao about social media and marketing.  Even though I have no immediate plans to go out on my own, it was a great way to “practice” stepping in that direction and gain exposure to people daring to start their own businesses.  But the thing that really stuck with me during the call was what George said at the end.

“I love you.”

At first I was shocked.  This was a pretty straight forward business call, with terms like “events-based marketing” thrown around.  Yet at the end, Kao put that out there.  After I got done being shocked, I felt happy.  This was not a cheesy tag-line.  It was an unabashed open-hearted way to show up.   Kao did not ask our permission or make sure it was “safe” before he laid this out there.

He said it to remind us of a truth.  We are worthy of love and success.  And he is worthy of giving it. 

There is someone else in my life right now who is showing me how it is possible to show up in a really beautiful, giving way.  At my work, there is a woman who uses her own money to buy the office coffee, candy, and other types of food on a consistent basis.  She goes on trips for her anniversary and brings back presents for the office.  After I complimented her on her unconditional generosity, she bought me apples slices to snack on after a trip to the grocery store!  Again, not cheesy, and not motivated by anything other than a desire to be genuine.

Her generosity opens both her heart and mine.

It can be too easy to fall back into a small, fear-based space where we do not give freely.  Because there is no reason to be generous, like the holidays.  Because we are afraid of rejection.  Because we are afraid people will judge us for it or think we have ulterior motives.  Because we feel afraid of expressing our love and being vulnerable and shining.   Because who are we to say or do things like that?

Both of these people demonstrated small ways to move past all of these fears, and model a different way of being.  They are small actions, with one common, huge message:

Do not be afraid to give yourself unconditionally.

By their actions, these people have inspired me to pay it forward and look for opportunities to open my own heart for no reason.   And so.  I love you.  You are worth it.

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THREEDEELIFER: JOVAN DAJKOVICH

And now for the last post of my three-part series of encounters at the Com Coracao event, featuring my new friend Jovan Dagkovich.  Our entire conversation lasted like 15 minutes, but was so totally right on that I want to share it.  (Take-away: watch out next time you have a 15 minute conversation with me…:))

Jovan is a filmmaker.  One of the first things I learned about him is that he generally thinks spiritual things, self-exploration, ect. is bullshit.  I think he was wearing black when I met him.  He definitely reminded me of New York.

Despite being a self-professed skeptic, Jovan had just had an awesome week where he learned something about himself.  So he was open.  And he was nice.  So I felt inspired to tell him that I was writing a blog on spirituality and everyday life.  As I felt the words leave my mouth, I thought–alright, well, here is the part where I lose him.

Shows how much I know.  Actually, what happened was that Jovan excitedly shared something that touched him.  And the thing that he connected with beauty… and passion…and spirituality… was the scene from American Beauty where the camera just follows the plastic bag blowing in the wind.  You can watch that scene here.

I just re-watched the scene, and I am so grateful and psyched that Jovan pointed this out to me.  The scene (and the fact that it inspired a skeptic like Jovan) is a validation of exactly why I am writing this blog.  Spirituality does not always find you in a church or require faith.  It can hit you during everyday mundane life.  In fact, if you do not go to church or believe in any dogma, then everyday life is the only time spirit is going to hit you.  And hit you it will (but you will feel no pain…).  If we just pay attention and let down our guards a bit, our hearts WILL be opened by even the seemingly smallest of things.  A freaking PLASTIC BAG can be a moving experience.

The narration of this American Beauty scene captures this idea perfectly.  In the movie, the narrator (Rickie Fitts) says:  “You want to see the most beautiful thing I’ve ever filmed? It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes.  And that’s the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and… this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know.  But it helps me remember… and I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.”

God, I love that.  In fact, it reminded me of the famous Sufi poet Rumi, who wrote about how he was drunk with his love for the world as an expression of the Divine.   Rumi said:  “Observe the wonders as they occur around you.  Don’t claim them.  Feel the artistry moving through and be silent.” 

Here is to getting in touch with “the life behind things” and the “artistry moving through” our world.

With love,

N

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THREEDEELIFER: ALLISON KUNATH

Part two of the series spotlight on threedeelifers from Sunday’s event . . . featuring Allison Kunath.  Allison is a blow-your-mind amazing graphic designer and artist.  You can check out some of her regular work at her personal website, or her professional portfolio.  She is also a total sweetheart, and a fashion maven to boot (side-swept, feminine mohawk, anyone?)

At the Com Coracao event, Allison was displaying her work next to Gary’s (these funky modern tribal/animalistic portraits).  Gary immediately told me I need to sit for one of Allison’s drawings.  Hmmmm…. sure!  No idea what was happening.  In under a minute, I was in a stool facing Allison while she whipped out her drawing journal.  She explained that she was going to do a single-line drawing of me, without once looking at the paper to see what results she was getting.  Instead, she gazed into my face and eyes as her hand moved across the page.   Very intimate, super cool.  You feel like she is studying and getting into every line of your face.

And you know me . . . I immediately went to the “heart” of what she was doing.  “Ah, you are practicing surrendering to the moment!”  Allison shot me a warm smile.  “Yes!”  She explained that her regular work was precise, polished, and very labor intensive (as you can tell from looking at her websites–wow!).  So this was her way of kicking back, giving up control, and seeing what emerged.  What came out was this lovely multi-perspective Picasso-esque rendering:

I wanted to blog about Allion’s practice because I thought it was a beautiful way for her to connect with an ever-present creative force, with her own heart, and with the spirit of the people in the chair in front of her.  I also think it is a great contrast to Gary’s work, because for him, he felt inspired to spend eight hours (and hour years) taking photos.  For Allison, she felt inspired to get out of her head and create spontaneous images.  The heart will finds what it needs to grow (its natural “counterpoint”) and to become more full.  We just have to be willing to let it do its work!   And it is so awe-some to see what each person contributes.

In fact, everyone was running around the event on Sunday talking about Allison’s drawing of themselves…and I have seen multiple re-postings of her work on Facebook.  No doubt–when you connect with your own heart, other people feel it, and it allows you to connect with them.   I have felt some of this with this blog.  My heart needed to start expressing itself in places other than my journal… and it has naturally and effortlessly given me a way to get closer to people.

Footnote:   The idea of finding your “heart-counterpoint” is a really cool one for businesses to consider.  If your normal product is somewhat rigid and perhaps upscale, what is a way to translate that product into a less rigid and relaxed format?  Or if your normal product is spur of the moment, what is a way to bring that into a more developed work?  It is all about finding the fullest expression of whatever you have to offer the world.

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THREEDEELIFER: GARY ALAN KRUEGER

My first post, I mentioned that one of the things I wanted to do with this blog was highlight the ways in which other people I meet are implementing their own version of daily spirituality.  This will be the first post along those lines, and it is going to be a three-part series highlighting three different “ThreeDeeLifers.”  !  I met all three people this past Sunday, at this very cool charity art event “Com Coracao” put on by Marilinda Rivera and TasteNation, feauturing artwork inspired by Brazil.  What better place for daily spirituality than Brazil, right?  If anyone mixes the streets with the divine, it is the Brasilieros.  Axe!!!

Alright, first person up to bat is the person who invited me to this event, the wonderful Gary Alan Krueger.  One of the reasons why I think spirituality is so important (more on this later) is because it creates a sense of CURIOSITY about your world, and makes you PASSIONATE about living in that world and contributing to it in some fashion.

Gary’s story is a perfect example of this. Gary was presenting his photographs of Brazil at the event.  He has gone on two two-year trips around the world, through 23 countries, including Brazil.  As he started to travel, he began to take pictures.  You can see his work here. 

Now, plenty of people take photographs, and it is just that.  Taking photographs.  For Gary, it was a deeper practice.  His bio on his website is very heartfelt, but this one phrase really called to me:  “I am constantly humbled by an eternally deep and profound respect for nature.”  Wow, that really nails it.  When you are humbled, you are aware that you are in the presence of something greater than yourself.  I don’t care what your mind “labels” as that larger force–God, Nature, whatever it is.  It has touched your heart, and it has moved you.  That’s what I am talking about.

As he was showing me his photos, he was explaining how each one of these photos involved an incredible investment of time and energy.  This one… shows a place that took five hours to hike to.  That one…required time lapse photography that took hours to perfect.  This one…he had to lay on his back to capture the perfect shot that avoided the crowds.

But the one that affected him the most was a shot of Iguazu Falls, visible on his blog as the sixth photo in the oceanscapes category.  He told me that he spent two weeks at Iguazu Falls, and over eight hours trying to get this shot.  When it finally came got the shot he wanted, there was a cloud that looked like an angel overhead.  And this photo helped him celebrate and mourn his dear friend who had just passed.  What a beautiful story of curiosity, passion, and heart.

Recognizing spirit around us humbles us.  It makes us passionate.  It inspires us to invest hours of loving care into a practice that connects us more deeply with that spirit.  And ultimately, it can help us heal when there is pain, and find beauty around us even when we are alone.  This doesn’t happen in a church, it happens whenever and however we are willing to let it in.

Thank you for sharing Gary.

Love,

N

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What It Takes to Come Alive…

Yes, the title of this post is from the Rihanna song.  Sing it!

Today, I did two of my favorite things: meditating and surfing.  Even though one of them is externally very active and the other appears to be very still, the two have a shared flavor for me.  Both of them are a way to connect with a larger, moving, current of life.  In surfing, you have to tune into the rhythm and speed of the waves.  There is technical skill involved in getting  it right, but a lot of it is just connecting with the ocean and the moment.  When you get it right and harmonize with a waves, you fall into synch with this larger power and allow yourself to become part of its force.  I love watching really good surfers and seeing how quickly and naturally they drop into waves.  It hits me someplace deep in my heart and I feel a deep love for life and the total fucking amazingness of it.

Meditating is similar.  Most of the times, are minds are so full of chatter that we don’t drop down into the larger feeling of just being alive.  When you meditate, you pause for a bit and clear away enough room to connect with what it feels like to be…breathing…right now…right here….Sometimes when I meditate I notice myself pulling away from the experience.  That pulling away takes many forms:  I am bored.  I am not doing this right.  What time is it?  Hmm, I should be feeling “more.”  I have realized that the way to get back to the moment is not to push those feelings away.  Instead, I have to accept all of those and bring them into the meditative experience by saying yes to them.  I have to say, yup, that is part of being alive too.  Yes, this anxiety I feel, or restlessness is exactly what is going on with me right now.  You keep on widening and widening yourself to keep on accepting ANYTHING that comes up.  And after a while, you are surfing the moment, in synch with whatever arises and just feeling the power behind it.  The deep, insistent power of breath, and aliveness, and you realize that the initial anxiety has turned into kind of a thrill.

There are many ways to connect with this power of being alive…like singing along to Rihanna in your car for the hell of it.  Whatever it is, let that energy rip through you!  What it takes to come alive….Let me know in the comments what brings you alive.

Love,

N

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Wisdom From a Bartender

I have had a great week so far.   Major highlights: new friends, local dinner parties, and of course, attending the Watch the Throne Tour.  Nothing gets me excited and alive like dancing to some music that goes HAM.   And yes, musings about dance parties belong on this blog.  As do poems about walking home at night.  This is all about finding the light in the daily.

But I want to bring it back a bit to my post about Letting Go.  When I wrote that post I was in a local restaurant/bar down the street from my house called Fishbar.   While I was there, the bartender asked me what I was writing about.   Now, not only was this guy a bartender, he also had a striking resemblance to Paul Bunyon.  Full facial beard, stalwart disposition, tall, strapping.  So I had my misgivings as I took a leap of faith and told him I was blogging about spirituality and daily life, and described my post about Letting Go.  Turns out that beneath his mountain man exterior was an open heart.  When I finished, he nodded, and said, “Yup, that sounds about right.  But you also have to remember that it is okay to have that feeling of need in the first place.”

WHAT!  Bunyon the Bartender broke. it. down.   He actually hit on one of the key parts of Letting Go.  See, the thing is that you can not force yourself to Let Go.  Like, I cannot say, “Nicole, you are being stupid, how could you have been so foolish at to have these needs, stop it immediately.”  I am not a robot.  I am not trying to be hard.

We are vulnerable people who want love.  We have to love and forgive and have compassion for that part of us that wants connection.  And the moment we forgive ourselves for having those feelings, we actually see them for what they are: a very sweet part of ourselves that wants and needs our own love.  In loving ourselves, we stop demanding things from the outside world that are not realistic.  This is not a one-time deal.  When I am going through something where I have to let go, I sometimes feel like I am walking around just cradling my heart in my hands, going “It’s okay.  I love you.”  Over and over and over until I regain my power.

Alright people, that is it for this post.  And remember: don’t be afraid to get deep with your local bartender.   They might have some real-life wisdom to share.

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