Tag Archive | belief

Hope Heals The Way…

Hope-is-like-the-sun

Never give up on hope. I’ve heard people eschew this often overused word as unworthy of attention. A word that only gives false hope, which leads to continued feelings of rejection, loss, and disappointment. But, Hope doesn’t guarantee that life will suddenly become filled with rainbows, leprechauns and unicorns. What it does do, though, is pave the way for possibilities!

Possibilities of a life lived better than the one today. Possibilities for answers to our problems; for solution-oriented thinking.

Because when we have hope, we encourage others to do the same. To not give up… on us. On the situations at hand. On whatever obstacle is currently in front of us.

If I had given up hope 8 years ago today because the doctors told me I had a 10% chance of making it through the night, burning_candleI am 100% positive I would not have made it through that night. But the doctors, the nurses, all the caregivers saw that hope within me. Because hope burns like the brightest candle in your soul. And it fueled them to work through the night to save me. It is undeniable; a hard to ignore source of personal power.

But I also think that’s what scares people most about hope. Why they begin to shy aware from it, call it out as being “cheesy” or setting oneself up with false expectations. Because they are afraid of their own burning flame… we all have the gift of this, if we stoke it, feed it, let it grow.

But with hope, brings responsibility. Because with hope, you are saying: “I am worthy.” And: “I am worth it… worth the effort.” You are taking responsibility for yourself. You are saying, “I am not ready to give up yet.”

I saw a woman (Cheryl L. Broyles) share her story of hope last week on a daytime talk show. A story wherein 15 years ago she was given 6 months to live as she battled terminal, incurable cancer. But, she said, “NO. I am not giving up hope for survival, for myself, for my life, for my family. And I refuse to let you give up hope on me either.” And here she is, 14 years later, sharing her story. She talks that what keep hope alive for her is making “deals” with herself; “when I reach my 1 year, 5 year, 12 year anniversary marks, I will do the following feat. Or, I am going to stay alive to see my children enter kindergarten, then it was high school, college, and now, have their first child.” And she now helps other people keep their hope alive.

And that’s when it hit me; I’ve stalled out on spreading my hope out to the world. It was the greatest gift that came from my survival; it was my mission statement when I started this blog. It was my goal when I planned to publish my story. And I have done many of those things. And I certainly make an effort to “practice hope” in my individual actions. But there still is a lot to do; there is still a lot a want to share. And that is where I lost my hope.

Because Hope doesn’t mean that life becomes easier. If anything, my life has become, and continues to become, more and more challenging. But what if that’s all part of my story? Who am I to define what hope looks like for me, or for anyone else?

All I do know is that hope means to keep moving forward. To push outside the boundaries of conventional thinking. To look at things in new and different lights. Because it’s not just us with chronic or terminal illnesses, that benefit from this hope. IT IS EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US!

From the smallest daily conundrums to the bigger challenges in relationships with our partners (current and ex!), children, and co-workers. And on to our inner desires and dreams. There are always ways to achieve what we want and need; it’s just not always gained by the conventional route. And that’s where hope comes in to play! Because once you give yourself fully over to the idea of hope (of worthiness), then you can’t help but say, “Well, then, how I am going to make the seemingly impossible, possible?” Once you open the door to new possibilities, you open the door to light.

I often hear hope and faith lumped together. And this, too, can turn some people off to the idea of fully embracing “hope.” Because they equate faith with religion, and that’s not the space they find their hope in. Many people do, and that’s a gift.

But I also want to point out that faith is defined as “belief in, trust in, loyalty to, strong conviction of…” Couldn’t you fill in that blank with so many other verbs and adjectives? “Belief in Hope;” “Trust in something greater than myself;” “Loyalty to myself and my own well-being;” or “A strong conviction in the fact that I am worthy of living a full life.”

My faith lies both in the power of actively practicing Hope, but also in the belief that I am not the one directing what that hope looks like. I may still die tomorrow; but at least I know that I didn’t go down without a fight. That I didn’t live every moment as fully as I could, in that moment. And that I didn’t let others give up on me. Even more importantly, I didn’t give up on myself.

So open your heart to a little bit of hope today. Feel that candle of life, love and energy burn within. You truly are worthy of it… all.

Advertisements

Practicing Being Myself

Today’s quote on my Zen calendar: “The purpose of our practice is to just be yourself.” (Shunryu Suzuki).

Another gentle reminder that we do not need to practice, practice, practice… to make (ourselves) perfect.  Our perfection already lies within in.  It is our job to discover it and bring it out into the light.

Imagine if each one of us stopped trying to be someone else; or some different version of ourselves; and just practiced being our best selves.  The traits we each possess create the unique tapestry of the fabric of life.

But when we ignore these inborn traits, just lying in wait, we turn our backs on our birthrights. We walk around as masked versions of ourselves.  Sometimes to the point where we even forget who we truly are inside.

So what if we changed our daily practice?

To one of centering the mind and the body, searching along our inner labyrinths to find our centers, the core of our beings.  And what if we looked among the muck and mud that only we can see (all our defaults; the things we so, so wish we could change… if we just tried hard enough), and found the tight bud of the lotus flower, hiding in the deep, dark crevice of our soul?

The lotus: one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, whose delicate appearance belies its inner strength. For it can grow in the harshest, and ugliest of environments. Because it believes in its true nature: it knows that it is a flower and its only job is to open its bloom wide to the sun and seas of adoring faces.

You are the flower.  Find your roots. Pick up that fragile, withering bud deep inside of you and sing to it.  Bathe it in light and love. Coax it open.

Do not try to make it contain certain qualities that you find appealing.  Discover the natural treasure trove of characteristics that lies hidden within, and start to honor, respect and celebrate them one by one.

Do this meditation daily until you start to feel your whole self open like that shy bloom.

Practice it every day.

Practice being yourself… your whole self.

And nothing more.

A more specified application:

Perhaps you are struggling with a daily practice of self-improvement.  You want to become a writer, an instrument player, a mother, a student, a yogi, etc…  This daily practice of “being yourself” does not mean that you cannot choose to learn a new skill or talent.

But try and apply the same principles from above to this practice as well.

I have found that when I stop trying so hard to be the “perfect” artist or “perfect” wife, I leave the door open for my true self to walk through.  I stop defining what “perfect” means, or looks like, or sounds like, and I just practice at being myself while engaging in each activity.

I am already that musician, that artist, that teacher, that student.  I just need to focus my mind on using that skill each day, and let the rest of it open naturally like the budding learner within.

Ever heard the term, “She’s such a natural at…”

I believe this is what “being a natural” means.  It means not forcing yourself to be any one thing or another.  Perhaps you won’t be a concert-hall worthy musician.  But, at the same time, perhaps you excel at engineering new and innovative ways to implement an idea. We all have different strengths and talents.

We can all practice at any activity we want.

Just practice at being yourself at that activity and watch the garden of your soul bloom. Some flowers will grow taller and stronger than others, and that’s okay. You won’t know until you practice at just being yourself and then seeing what naturally grows and develops.

Try and stop defining how your perfect self looks like (and all the talents this perfect being has) and start nurturing the in-born talents you uniquely possess.

The world would be a mighty boring place if we all excelled at the same things!

Embrace the Journey, Not the Destination

forest pathThe Journey is Your Future… Your Have Already Arrived

So often we have our eyes firmly affixed on the “prize.”  We spend hours, days even, imagining what it will look like, what it will feel like, what it will be like to achieve whatever goal is in our future.   The goal becomes the sole destination:  Welcome to “Pie in the Sky,” U.S.A! 

Yet, what truly happens when we focus all of our energy, thoughts and actions on reaching for this, many times elusive, destination?  We completely lose sight of the journey unfolding right in front of us; blossoming and growing with each step and action we take.  We get so focused on the product of all our hard work, that we can feel depressed by the end result. 

We try to manipulate our lives, our surroundings, people, time; anything that will hopefully contribute to a satisfactory outcome.  We can over analyze ever aspect: if only I had done x, y and z, it would have been better!   We can live in fear of what may happen; setting up contingency plans for all the “possible” outcomes: if A happens, then I’ll do B; but if C happens, I’ll do a combination of B and E; and if P happens, then…  We may feel shame over what happens; falling into the mental trap of the “should ofs,” the “could ofs” and the “wish I hads.”

But what if we decide to do differently?  To stop right now.  Try and focus solely on what is in front of you at this very moment.  So, you’re reading my blog.  Embrace it.  Don’t think about what you’re going to do next, how this blog will serve you in your future, how you would have written it differently, etc.  Just embrace each word and let them settle into your mind and spirit in whatever way they may.

Our one true purpose on this earth is to go with the flow of the process of living… fully: to be completely in the now.  This is what brings true peace.  For most of my life, I spent (and wasted) so much time thinking about the future.  I was always waiting for the other shoe drop, and when it did, I was determined to be prepared!  Then I couldn’t get hurt, right?  Then I would avoid fear and uncomfortable situations.  Then I would I have the power and be in control of my own destiny.  But no one knows their own destiny.  None of us have control over the outcome.

Our futures are already written in the stars!

And instead of feeling a sense over loss over this, look at this as the greatest gift of all.  The gift of freedom.  The gift of letting go.  Permission granted to just live your life and be.

And if this is the case, then why do we expend so much energy trying to manipulate the future?  For me, it started way back in childhood, when I thought my “little self” had the power to make my dad angry or to keep him calm.  So I tipped toed around and tried to constantly be on guard for whatever the future would bring.  And I kept on tip-toeing right into my adulthood.  I measured my actions and behaviors to the people around me, thinking I knew what their reactions were going to be.  I prepared myself for whatever next health challenge would come my way.  I had contingency plans for every “possible” scenario (emphasis on possible!).  I was armed for anything; I was a Girl Scout, after all!

But, all this created was an internal state of constant anxiety.  And when you’re anxious, there is no way to just be… in the moment or with yourself.   Then I was blessed with being shown a different way of living and I decided to do differently.  This has changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined!  I now feel truly at peace.  I don’t have to worry about the future, that’s already taken care of.  For me, I know the loving energy of the Universe is guiding me in the direction I am meant to go.  For, you, it may be trust in God’s hands.  Just as long as you believe in some power or force greater than your own.  It’s called “turning your will over.”  When we hold onto to our will, we make ourselves into God.  We think we can control the outcomes, the end product of our hard work.  That’s exhausting!

I read recently that you can think of the word “will” as “faith.”  And in that context, if you think of the phrase “Thy will be done,” it is now transformed into “They faith be done.”  Let go… have faith.  Your life will turn out exactly as it is meant to be.  Stop keeping your eyes on the prize, and instead realize you’ve already received the prize. The gift of life is right here, right now, unfolding before your very eyes.  Each step you take on your journey presents you with an opportunity to be fully present (hmm…sounds a lot like “gift,” doesn’t it?). 

Once you take your foot off the pedal and turn on the cruise control, you are still moving in a forward direction, heading to your life’s goals.  But you can now enjoy the scenery as you drive past it, be focused on the conversation that is occurring with your loved one right in that moment, feel the energy of the radio’s music pouring into your soul.  You are now completely embracing the JOURNEY.

You’re alive… believe in that.  Let go of the idea that the path will lead you to your goal.  The truth is that with each step we take, we arrive.  Repeat that to yourself every morning:

I’ve arrived.

(Excerpt from The Witch of Portabello, by Paula Coehlo)