How do you relate to Native Americans? If your upbringing was anything like mine, we grew up thinking of them as almost mythical characters that ran around hollering in feathered headdresses! Whereas of course they’re actually the original Americans, before the English came over and made themselves at home … and they’re very much alive and well and living in their own areas of the US.
The more I learn about traditional Native American philosophy, the more I warm to it. Check this link http://home.earthlink.net/~tessia/Native.html for some Native American thinking … like this for example:
American Indian Commandments
Sacred Instructions Given By The Creator To Native People At The Time Of Creation
Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.
If all of humanity were to follow such a line of thought, the world would be a very different place, don’t you think? I also really recommend the book “The Wind is My Mother” by Bear Heart and Molly Larkin.
Guess what I was doing when I should have been writing your blog last week… I was partying! To be more precise two of my kids and I were attending various fancy dress parties in honour of the Jewish festival of Purim dressed as … Native Americans 🙂 – you see I was coming to a point!
One of the themes of Purim is to get your head around the idea that the world isn’t always as you see it. That there is a reality hidden under what you might think is reality. Hence the fancy dress part, which I embrace wholeheartedly, much to the bemusement of the more staid fellow adults around me … to whom I say: Chickens!
In the pre-party scramble for costumes I ended up picking the Native American theme almost by chance, but as we were driving down, I realised that I actually felt very at home in my costume – (despite the blazing red feather tucked into my headband … and suspect wig – I’m guessing not that authentic!)
Any other grownups out there who love fancy dress? I love it because it gives you a chance to see life and be life in a different way. You get to ask yourself the question “Who would l I be if I was a witch, scarecrow, elephant, fish, rock star etc ” and then you get to answer the question. I once dressed up as a very dishevelled tramp for the day of Purim, and it was an interesting experience. People didn’t want to go near me (ok, I was sitting at a bus stop, my bags scattered around me, eating out of a can at the time, but still), even people who knew I was in costume answered the door in an edgy manner, and one woman stopped her car and tried to take me into a shelter! So fancy dress can teach you something … and it’s not just a knowledge download, it’s experiential.
As well as just learning what it feels like to be another being for the day, I think you can choose to absorb something too. Just like you are what you eat, I think you also are (or you become) how you continuously present yourself. Want to feel like a professional? Dress like a professional. Want to be true to who you are? Dress and behave like yourself – even if it doesn’t always align with the whims of society. Want to be confident? Act confident and the feeling will come. What’s on the outside can come to be what’s on the inside. Though beware of being inauthentic – because what’s on the inside also inevitably leaks to the outside too.
In my case over the course of the day I really started to feel that Native American vibe! When evening came and I had to go back to being me, it was with reluctance. In getting my kids to bed various bits of the costume had to come off out of necessity. Finally when everyone was asleep I just had on my headband with feather, plaited wig and my ceremonial paint. I looked in the mirror. “You know” I thought to myself “I still look like a Native American”. I looked into my eyes. There was a love of nature there, a certain steely resolve, respect for the world, confidence, and pride. “Good” I thought, “it’s still there”. Slowly I took off my headband and feather. Checked my face and eyes again. Yep, it was still there. I took off the wig and finally I wiped off the face paint. Again I looked deeply into my own face in the mirror. And then I smiled … I still looked and felt a little bit Native American.
Have you ever dressed up like someone or something else for the day? How did you feel? And what did you learn? Any full time Native Americans want to comment?
It was 2001. After two very difficult years, I had just emerged from university with a Masters in Psychology, and miraculously had managed to get my bank balance back up to exactly zero at the same time. I didn’t have too much else – I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life in so many arenas. It was like I was stepping off a shaky platform and … into a black hole. Then onto our doormat fell an advertising postcard for a Tony Robbins event.
Several years prior to that my NLP trained driving instructor who also doubled as my unofficial mentor at the time had put a copy of Robbins book ‘Unleash the Power Within’ in my hands. The book really spoke to me, so when I saw that this guy does events too I thought to myself “I wonder if he’s really the same guy he portrays himself as in his book”. I really didn’t know what else to do with myself at the time, so I put myself back in the red by £650 or so (which I later learnt is WAY too much to pay for one of those tickets) and went along to Unleash the Power Within – the event.
I have a principal in life that if I’m going to do something, then I do it thoroughly. I had just paid a huge sum of money for someone coming out of university to be at this gig and was investing a long weekend so I really took part! I scribbled down everything the man said, I yelled out the answers to all the questions asked from the stage and I fully engaged in every activity he lead. By the end of the event I was enlightened and exhausted.
There comes a point towards the end of these things where they try and sell you further amazing events for lots more money. So Tony had told everyone about his ‘Mastery University’ and said something like “so if you want to experience all that and you want to get it at this and this fantastic price then go, go, go!” and perhaps 3000 of the 5000 people in the auditorium streamed out of the doors to go and find out about getting on to the next stage. The stands started to empty out. There I stood, the lines of the tears I had cried in the last exercise still drying on my face, knowing I could never afford to travel all over the world to all these further events and yet desperate for more inspiration in my life. And I suddenly thought “I have to speak to this man”.
I made my way down from the stars, pushing against the crowd and to the front of the stage where Tony was talking to a few people. In just another five minutes or so crowds of people would return to the auditorium with the same idea but absolutely no hope of getting to the front. I only had to wait for a couple of people in front of me and I was talking with the man himself. I started to pour out my story. Trouble was, with all the crowd in the background I couldn’t hear a word he was saying, even though he was sitting on one of the huge speakers at the front of the stage. Like a two way mind read I reached up and he reached down and he pulled me up on to the edge of the stage so that we could talk into each others ears and have some hope of being heard. He has this story he tells about how before he started doing what he does his biggest worry was whether his car would hold together for the journey to work. I told him that my car was exactly the same! I told him that I had no money and no idea what to do with myself and was desperately unhappy. That I really wanted to go to the next series of events he was running, but there was no way I could afford it. And this is what he shouted in my ear (I might be paraphrasing a bit):
“I have a feeling that you have a problem with money. You think money is bad in some way. But actually money is very good. Look at all the things we have achieved with money. We do a lot of charity work – we wouldn’t be able to do that without money. You need to change your attitude to money and then everything will change for you. And if you really want to go to Mastery University the money will come”.
I thanked him and got down from the stage. I did actually go to Mastery University, which involved a lot of world travel and sleeping in cars etc and it was paid for by a whiplash injury I got, but that is another story in itself! Tony Robbins is one of the reasons I got into what I do, and I don’t know who gets more out of it, my clients or I.
He was absolutely right about the money thing. I had grown up skint. And it seemed to me that anyone around me who had money was full of themselves, and lorded it over the rest of us peasants. In my community I felt like a little nothing because I had nothing to show for myself. That people didn’t talk to me because I wasn’t wealthy enough for them. Indeed there was a big part of me that felt that ever getting money and any form of financial stability would make me into a horrible person. I think I mentally chose rather to be poor than horrible.
I am happy to say that over the years my attitude to money and people with money has changed considerably. As I traveled and widened my horizons I met many people who had loads of money and were still really nice! I learnt that money is far more of a blessing than a curse – if you know what do to with it. My bank balance has also changed somewhat though there is still plenty of room for improvement 🙂
Back to now … I’ve been having a financial sort out in the last few weeks. An old school teacher of mine once compared what you have in your life to the water inside a big tea urn. He said “if you want more to be poured in from the top, you have to let water out from the tap at the bottom.” I truly think he was on to something there. For the last few years every time someone gave one of my children a tenner or whatever for a birthday present I was lazy to put it in their account for them, and have been stockpiling the envelopes. Then every time I didn’t have cash to pay the cleaner or whatever I’d end up borrowing the birthday money, so these envelopes had IOU’s written all over them. Well I’ve sorted it all out. I worked out what I owed and I’ve paid everybody back, or will do shortly. Also, being Jewish, I have a law (or maybe a custom) that tells me to give 10% of everything I earn to charity. I owe a bit of money that way too. Now I’ve worked out exactly what I owe, and I’m going to pay that back as well. You see if you want it to flow in from the top you do have to let it out at the bottom! The two other things I remember that teacher saying was that he reckoned I’d hold some form of communal responsibility when I grew up (right again, Sir) and some reference to receiving a giraffe-shaped jumper as a gift!
So how are your finances? What is your attitude to money like? – be honest now. These are tough financial times for all. The rich are suffering along with the poor – some of the wealthiest individuals have taken some of the biggest tumbles. It isn’t easy for many people. In the midst of all this, changing your attitude to money can be challenging … and yet it’s essential if you want more to flow your way.
All together now (in the words of The Secret, I believe): “Money flows freely and abundantly into my life” say it like you mean it and say it often. Think rich, feel rich, act rich and talk rich. Remember, your reality follows your FEELINGS. Do what it takes to feel great and feel abundant and your reality is obliged to match that. If all else fails, remember the best things in life really are free, so we’re all rich anyway.
Here’s to your wealth and mine!
I am currently emerging from one heck of a flu. The shakes have gone, my head has pretty much stopped continuously rotating, and I can even more or less hear properly. All that’s left is a really annoying cough and phlegm in pretty 1970’s bathroom suite green … cos you really wanted to know that. Oh yes and my memory’s completely gone. Forgetting people’s names, faces, forgetting which section is which in my new meticulously organised but as yet unlabeled paperwork filing system … argh. I feel like someone’s wiped my hard drive. Thankfully I still remember my children, where the kitchen is and what it’s for, so I guess that covers the important things in life. Onward!
Yesterday morning I stopped the car opposite a park so that I could have a phone conversation. In the summer the place would be buzzing with people, but in the cold of winter only one or two determined dog owners were to be seen, battling the blustering wind and hanging on to their leads for dear life as their pooches took them for a walk. The playground lay empty. I briefly flirted with the idea of having a few goes on the zip wire (yes, I have a bit of a mad streak) as for once I wouldn’t have to stand in line and wait with a bunch of 8 year olds whilst pretending I was just there to help my son, but then decided against it as my car was much warmer.
At this time of year all the trees are naked, and you can see their ‘bones’. I like trees. To me they represent how energy/matter is distributed in this existence. If the trunk represents the whole, then each major branch would be a group of things, say celestial bodies, or all carbon based life, and then the smaller branches would be the divisions of those things, eg; plants, animals. At some point you’d get to all the little twigs, leaves and flowers at the end, and each of those represent each individual instance of something, say a particular star or animal or human. I know the analogy needs a little work, and it would have to be a gigantic tree, but it does really help you grasp the idea of ‘the interconnectedness of all things’. We are all connected, not just every human being, but also every animal, every plant, every mountain, every star and every planet. The connection comes from within – we are connected via our very essence, by the fact that we are all made of the same floaty frozen energetic ‘stuff’, bits of which migrate between us all with regularity, and thereby connected to the same trunk/source. If this paragraph strikes a chord with you, wooohooo, I am not alone. If it doesn’t, sorry, I just had the flu 😉
That wasn’t even what I was thinking about the trees yesterday though. I was looking at their skeletons. In front of me were three types of trees. One type had knotted twisted branches that somehow still made their way outward and skyward, so that when clothed in leaves the tree would still have a classic tree shape. Another type had fine delicate branches that seemed to have grown effortlessly. The outer branches of these trees swayed gently in the wind. The third type of tree reminded me of my old school sports teacher. Even then she looked about 80, yet her back was ramrod straight, and she held herself with pride. The spines of these trees reached to the sky and the further branches seemed almost an afterthought.
‘I want to be the middle type of tree’ I thought to myself. Why fight life and be all knotted and twisted inside? Or why be so obsessed with perfection that you don’t even have time for proper branches? The middle trees were beautiful, elegant and effortless. All the trees were growing in the same soil within meters of each other. They all had the same conditions to work with. Yet each grew differently, according to its nature.
Trees don’t have a choice – they just obey their genes and grow as they are designed to. Animals are the same – granted they have a greater ability to discriminate, but at the end of the day they just obey their ‘programming’. We humans are gifted with something no other animal has. The ability to choose.
Many people just go with the flow, and let their conditions decide their life for them. Many people waste that gift that elevates them from the other animals. After all we have animal bodies and we too are awash in a sea of social conditioning. So you can get through life hardly having to think for yourself at all, and many do. Isn’t that a waste though? We get to choose what we do with the conditions around us. We get to choose what we do with what comes to us. Do you really want to leave that choice to the herd? I don’t. I choose. I choose to be the middle tree for a start, beautiful, relaxed, elegant, graceful. And I choose to keep on choosing. It may be harder work, and I’ll only have myself to blame if something goes wrong, but then on the other hand I’ll be able to take credit too when things go right! And I know that I’ll be the creator of my own life … I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How about you? Do you choose to choose? And if so which tree are you? And which would you be?
I think I may go on that zip line today…
Anybody miss me last week? My apologies for vanishing. We ran our fantastic event ‘Cocktails and Consciousness’ on Thursday – recording should be available soon – and suffice it to say that preparing for it occupied so much of my non-family time that I didn’t get to change my clothes for 3 days prior. Ugh I know, but that’s dedication for you! I just worked till I fell asleep each day, then got up at 4am and worked some more. Then I had a shower, stepped out, got my hair done and looking gorgeous did my best to entertain and educate – see how much I love my ‘job’?
And my computer died. Astonishing how much a part of life these little purring electronic beasties have become, isn’t it? This happened an hour before I had to leave for the event, which was a real pain and also put paid to any thoughts of me putting out my blog on Thursday evening. So now you know.
Well anyway I had to replace the thing. Now generally I’m pretty good at traditional boys stuff – I can hang light fittings, confidently and usefully handle a variety of power tools and singlehandedly monkey strap 4 fencing panels to my roof rack if the situation calls for it. I once even changed the points in my car. Back in my student days I drove a succession of ‘old bangers’ which broke down with such frequency that I got warned I was using the AA too much (that’s AAA to the Americans) and would have to pay next time I was rescued. I even got to know the local AA rescue guys! I would stand with them as they tinkered under the bonnet and annoyingly ask question after question, so that over time I got pretty familiar with the workings of my various vehicles. When one of these vehicles took longer and longer to start and eventually wouldn’t start at all, I reluctantly called a local mechanic. They wanted £50 just to tow it to the garage and couldn’t tell me how long they would have it or how much it would cost to fix it. “It might be something really simple” I said “couldn’t you just take a look?” “Oh it could be anything” said Mr Know-It-All Mechanic Man “It could be the engine, the tyres, the brakes … we’d have to bring it in and take a proper look”. This comment incensed me so much I just said thank you and hung up. How thick did he think I was that I would buy the idea the car might not be starting because the tyres or brakes were faulty! Steaming, I stomped over to the local auto spares shop, described the situation and what I had done so far and said that I wanted to have a go at fixing it myself. Did he know what the problem was? “Well it could be your points” he said. He told me where the distributor cap was, described what the points looked like and sold me a new set for £4.34. “It might or might not work” he said. Well it wasn’t working at the moment and I wasn’t going to pay the con-artists down the road several months budget to fleece me, so I would have to have a go. It took me an hour and a half under the bonnet and the car sprung to life. Hah!
So as I say I’m generally pretty good at boys stuff. One of the exceptions is computers though. I’m not talking about using them – I’m great at that. But once you start talking specifications my eyes glaze over. You say “500 Megabytes of RAM with a Pentium Dual-Core Processor” and I hear “nya nya nya ga ga ga ga ga”. I go to my happy place. If you could see inside my head I’d be sitting by a lake watching the swans. If you keep talking about it, eventually the top of my head creaks open, and a bird boings out on a spring saying “coo coo, coo coo”!
Which is why I decided that I would have to do this myself. Armed with the information that I currently had 4 Gig of one thing and 250 Gig of another, off I toddled to Costco, 3 kids in tow. Costco was ridiculously busy, so much so that I had to approach someone who was leaving just to get a trolley, in which I safely installed the kids. They gave me the coupon book and leafing through I noticed that there was an offer on an Acer. I had to visit the membership desk first because I’d lost my membership card and (after an hour’s wait) happened to get a computer geek as an assistant. In chatting I told him I had come for a laptop. “Oh are you getting the Acer?” he said “I just got one for my mum”.
Card sorted, we plunged through the crowds to the computer section. There were two in my price range. The cheaper one was barely better than what I had in that it also had 4 Gig of whatever and about 350 Gig of whatever else. A little beyond my budget, the Acer was the next one up and crowds were buzzing round it like flies. There were so many people there I couldn’t even get my hands on the thing. By now my son had worked out that you can pull up the wall of one side of the trolley from the bottom and was masterminding the escape of all three children. I plunked them back in, gave them sweets to keep them quiet (yes, I do it too) and looked at the specifications again. Nya nya nya. But it looked a lot better than the other one. To stop any further escapes and give me a little thinking time I set off ‘around the block’ of printers, DVD players etc. What to do?
Well, computer geek at the front had bought the Acer. The crowds were buzzing round it which meant it had to be worth considering (read ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ by James Surowiecki) and Costco have a habit of finding something great and discounting it so that they’re far cheaper than anyone else. I chose the Acer.
Later that evening computer geek hubby, who had desperately wanted to help me make the purchase, asked me what I’d got. I showed him, saying “I think you’ll find I’ve done well!” with a lot more confidence than I felt. He looked and was actually impressed. “Do you know it has a nya nya nya processor?” He said. “I don’t know what that means” I smiled “I bought on psychological principals, you know.” It took him several hours of research to find a comparable Dell computer at the same price, online. Bare-faced cheek and a little right-brained thinking won the day!
The moral of the story? Well sometimes I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and do something you previously thought you couldn’t. If you can’t do it the conventional way, just do what it takes. It’s very easy to get stuck in your beliefs about what you can and can’t do, but where’s the fun in that? Pushing your limits isn’t always easy or comfortable, but in the words of Peter Mc Williams, a self help author:
Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.
You never know what you can achieve till you give it a go, so this week push some boundaries!
I am soooo excited!!!! My good friend has just gone into labour 🙂 This will be a friend’s birth with a difference though, because she’s asked me to be there … crumbs! I’ve never been at anyone else’s birth except my own 3 children … and myself of course, though I can’t remember very much about that … childcare has been suitably rearranged, clients put on hold and I’ve made sure to have a good healthy lunch – anyone would think I was preparing to give birth myself! Now I’m sitting here ‘on call’, and whilst waiting what else would I be doing but blathering away at the keyboard – I guess I’m a true blogger at heart.
Now anyone who knows me well will know that I could go on forever about my beliefs regarding the intricate details of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding etc etc but never fear, I will hold off, for the sake of those who have a problem with anything blood or bodily fluid related, and of course for any gentlemen reading this, a percentage of whom would scurry quickly in a different direction or faint gallantly at the thought – you’re safe! You may read on indignantly and then put me right in the comments section below with your incredible stories of the fastest drive of your life to the hospital delivery room, or how you videoed the whole thing from up close right until the moment you got kicked in the face, ok? (I know, I know, I’ve set myself up for it now )
Now where was I … ah yes, birth. You know, in the personal development field we tend to make a big deal out of the idea that each of us needs to be in charge of our lives. Oft repeated phrases come to mind such as- ‘If you don’t make a plan for your life, someone else will’ or of course ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. As a life coach I routinely encourage my clients (and anyone else who will listen) to live with forethought and act with deliberation. Somewhat like James Bond to take calculated risks as opposed to irrational ones. To ‘begin with the end in mind’. To do yearly planning and weekly planning, and to take time to decide on three things you want to achieve each morning. And I strive to do each of these things myself. So it may come as a surprise when I wholeheartedly suggest there are occasions when you might be best off chucking your planning in the nearest river and going with the flow. Giving birth can be one of them. A wise woman friend of mine, Chamutal – and I’m giving her a shout-out here because I think she’s brilliant – see below – has often said to me that “you give birth how you live life”. I think that is true on many levels. I think that in both it is important to plan for what you want, to point yourself in the right direction for getting what you want, and to make sure you set up your environment so that what you want is possible and can get to you. After that there comes a point where you just have to let go.
Control freaks will be tearing their hair out at the thought … ‘What?’ you might say ‘You mean I can’t control every little detail all the way to the end?’ Nope. You see life is rather like giving birth, too. You can plan till the cows come home but at the end of the day you can’t control the weather, or other people, or chance itself. You can maybe guide life, funnel or magnetise it along a certain route, to a certain degree, but at the end of the day the world around you is going to do its thing, and blow you off course on occasion. At that point you could waste your energy yelling at the wind or you could just get back on course. Sometimes you do your best, and you still can’t go in the direction you think you need to. Sometimes the only thing left in your control is your decision as to how you are going to react and what meaning you are going to give events.
It all sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it. So let me tell you a little secret … sometimes letting go of what you think needs to happen is the one key that unlocks progress again. For example if you want to get into a certain training course and you fail to get in every time you apply, the point at which you eventually let go and say ‘you know what I’ll do that other course instead’ might be the defining moment of your life. Maybe you wanted to be a teacher, and you ended up being a plumber … you could find that you’re a jolly good plumber, get amazing job satisfaction, very little homework, and will almost certainly be richer too!
Sometimes you might not even have a plan B. Sometimes you just need to let go and forget about the thing entirely. Not even wait for it. Sometimes, dare I say it, I think you need to give up. Give up trying to direct the course of events at all, and just surrender to chance or a force bigger than yourself. Let’s be clear, I’m not advocating this as a general attitude to life. I mean once you’ve done all you can and can go no further under your own steam, once you’ve really, deeply and completely exhausted all your options, I think in those cases it is not only ok to give up, I would say it is required. And then something incredible happens. It’s as though existence steps in saying ‘Phew! She finally got out of the way! Now let’s give her what she really needed all along.’ And you suddenly find that things start working again. Like a creaky old cartwheel that has finally got some grease, life starts to move forward again, and you get everything you ever needed, almost effortlessly.
Without quite getting on my soapbox, birth-wise, I can tell you that I think a lot of the work of Michel Odent, a well known voice in the natural childbirth movement. I heard him speak once, well before I gave birth to any of my children, and remember him saying something to the effect that childbirth is something the animal body does pretty much by itself if you give it half a chance. His suggestion was to surrender to the animal side of things, and let your body do what it needs to do, and whatever it needs to do, without letting your mind get in the way.
I think life is the same – sometimes you just have to surrender and let things happen. Sometimes you have to get out of your own way. When you let go, a beautiful healthy baby pops out!
So this week, here’s to surrender and letting go –
Now I’m off to go give birth with my friend – wish us luck!
Update: … and we have a lovely baby boy, Thank Gd! My inspirational friend made light work of the whole thing. It was a privilege to be by her side, and I am profoundly grateful for the experience.
Quick event plug: www.dashofsparkle.com/cocktails_and_consciousness.html
If you are considering joining us for our inspirational ‘girls night out’ event, Cocktails and Consciousness on Thursday evening 9th February- there’s no time like the present! Please follow the link above for more information and to book. Tickets are £15 each, and include one cocktail. If you let me know you have booked as a result of reading this blog, you can claim your complementary life coaching session with me too – 30 mins by phone or skype.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Odent – about Michel Odent
Chamutal Isaacs – is a seasoned doula, teaches natural fertility awareness, natural gender selection and provides coaching sessions on all things fertility, birth and breastfeeding related. She is a well-spring of knowledge in my very personal opinion and you can reach her on 0044 (0)7903 268 551 or at email@example.com .
This week my nephew becomes a man. At the tender age of 13, his reading of a portion of the Torah marks the beginning of his responsibility as an adult in the Jewish religion. You might think 13 is quite young to suddenly be considered an adult, but some youngsters are out there making babies at that age, so perhaps it’s appropriate after all! “What’s the point?” You might ask? So there will be a great hoo-hah, everyone will be looking even more young and beautiful than usual, you know who you are ;-), and we’ll all mark the occasion with the solemnity it deserves and then party on afterwards, but so what?
Actually I think these things are really important, and I’ll tell you why. You know in the old days when pretty much everyone had some form of religion or at least some form of superstition, don’t you think that life’s events were marked a little better? Important occasions in a person’s life were always communal occasions- be they births, marriages, deaths or anywhere in between. You had some form of support and acknowledgement as you passed from one stage to another – and you had living proof around you that other people had done the same and survived it. Except death of course – and even then many traditions had it that your deceased relatives would come out and accompany you to heaven, if you were lucky enough to get there. So what could potentially be a scary event if you did it alone became a celebration of moving on and moving up. A celebration of becoming more than you were. Religion has done harm as well as good of course and hence been ditched by many, but sadly I think a number of bathing babies have been thrown out with the bath water, one of them being that we don’t have the same sense of community as we used to and sometimes have to navigate life’s passages alone.
I’m glad my nephew has his loving family around him as he begins to move away from being a child and starts to take more responsibility for his world – I wish him Mazal Tov (congratulations) and would like to reassure him that whilst adulthood brings responsibility, it also brings you the power and resources to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do. Just as having power gives you responsibility, taking responsibility gives you power … use it wisely!
Ritual isn’t only found in religion of course. When you think of ritual as something you oblige yourself to make a habit out of, or something you engage in ‘religiously’ until it becomes an action you almost can’t stop yourself doing, in it’s looser sense we engage in ritual quite a lot. There are global rituals e.g. taking a bath every now and then and personal rituals – e.g. the time you choose to wake up each day. I have a road ritual, to do with what I think is called ‘lane discipline’. I make sure I ALWAYS stay cleanly in whatever road lane I’m in, or if I’m changing lanes that I do so tidily and having indicated, instead of making free with the road as some drivers do when there are no other cars around. I do that because I want it to be such an ingrained habit that I’ll drive safely even if I’m exhausted, or if my concentration is low that day.
That particular ritual has served me well (so far at least!). Which brings me to my point. Rituals are there to serve us. What you do repeatedly and with focus becomes who you are. What you practice when you have energy to spare can save you when you are low on gumption. So here are my questions to you:
*What rituals do you have that serve you? Do you regularly get enough sleep and wake up at a sensible hour? Do you make a ritual out of regular exercise? Do you have a group of positive people that you regularly spend time with. so much so that you’re almost obliged to touch base with inspiration, no matter what mood you’re in?
*Are there any rituals you have that don’t serve you? Destructive eating habits? Smoking? Watching the same TV programme each week that you know is going to annoy you, just because everyone else is? Renewed awareness is the first step to making a change!
*And finally, what rituals can you install? Remember, what you do repeatedly becomes who you are. So who are you now, and who do you want to be?
Want to be healthy and fit? Get thee to a gym, or find what else works for you. Make a habit of buying the right foods. Make time to prepare the right foods – very few healthy things come plopping out of a tin, so if you want healthy food you’re going to have to make time for that. Want to be inspired and inspiring? Hang out with those kinds of people regularly, and read and watch things that inspire you … on a regular basis. Want to be a giving person? Sign up for volunteer work, or perhaps set regular charity payments on your account even if it’s only a small amount of money a month. Maybe make a habit of considering the well being of strangers around you to be your partial responsibility. This is something I’m personally working on at the moment. To be honest it doesn’t come naturally to pick up other people’s litter when I’m walking out in nature, or stop my car in the middle of the road to move the stray road cone out of other people’s way, instead of just driving round it. I’m doing those sorts of things anyway when I can – because that is the kind of person I want to be.
I find a diary helps with installing regular habits, and if you can set alerts on your phone and actually schedule in time for the habits you want to take on, you’re on to a winner. You can also use NLP to install triggers that remind you to do a certain action, when a particular event occurs – ask me how – it’s a pet subject! However you do it, make sure you do it – and you WILL change your life for the better, guaranteed.
Take on great rituals and celebrate the great rituals you already have … in fact why not go forth, get your rain dance on (or whatever those guys in that fantastic picture are doing) and have a ritualistic week!
Ever noticed how dogs and their masters often really do look alike? The same applies to older couples, who often take on a similar look and manner as the years go by. In the same vein if you had to play ‘match the living room/bedroom/office’ in which you were given a bunch of pictures of peoples personal spaces and then some pictures of people who might own them you could probably match them up.
Why is this? Well it turns out your granny was right when she told you to hang out with a good crowd, in nice places. Because we humans we’re pretty porous beings. You are not only what you eat, you are also where you spend your time and who you spend it with. You are even what you spend your time doing, as well as what you see, hear and say. Surround yourself with toxicity and eventually you have to breathe it in. On the other hand if you surround yourself with enlivening and enlightening people and things, well, you can’t help but be affected.
Let’s take a look at some of those elements:
You are what you eat – purely in a physical sense if you eat trash, guess what building blocks you’re giving your body to build itself up with? Take a look at your diet. If you’re living on chips and fizzy drinks it isn’t doing you any favours. This is one of my personal soapbox topics, so I’ll resist the temptation to go on about it for days, except to say that if you know your diet is less than healthy, perhaps now is the time to take an audit, and see what you can cut out or reduce and which healthy elements you can bring in instead. I’ll always remember a video clip that we saw at a Tony Robbins Event – I think it was ‘Unleash the Power Within’, where this guy had had a heart attack. The heart surgeon had to go in and try to clear some of the tubes, and he found them to be full of what looked and smelled exactly like white greasy meat fat. On a whim he asked the man what he’d had for dinner. Burger and fries. If you don’t want that stuff kicking around inside you, don’t eat it!
Oh and by the way, have you ever played this game? At the supermarket look at what people are buying and then look at the people themselves. It almost always matches! The people with conveyor belts full of snacks and fatty meats, and neon coloured fizzy drinks etc etc, are almost always overweight, pale and exhausted, whilst those who load up on the fruit and veg, a little fish, whole grains etc etc are light on their feet and full of energy. See, now you have something to do when stuck in a long supermarket line!!!
You are where you are – your physical environment affects you. Just as the earth seems to shape its inhabitants depending on which part of the globe you occupy, every environment you’re a part of will affect you. Do you live in clutter (embarrassed cough)? Maybe it’s time we had a clear out! Do you live in a beautiful, natural place? When you look out of the window do you see concrete and graffiti … if you do, is it at least good graffiti?!?
Many people don’t realise just how important environment is. If you set up the physical world you occupy so that it supports and nurtures you, life suddenly becomes easier and your goals get closer. If you study or work from home, do you have a desk to do that at? Do you have places for all the important things in your life? What do you decorate your home with? Why not surround yourself with reminders of the good people and things in your life!
You are who you are with – sorry, but ‘fraid so! You are, or you become who you hang out with. Ever noticed how people who work or spend time with kids are often younger at heart than those who never see a child? There’s a reason for that. Take a look at your friends. Can you respect them? Is there something about each one of them that inspires you? Would you like it if you had to take responsibility for some of the things they do? We’re not looking for perfection here – there’s no such thing – we just want to make sure that the people around us represent different elements of who we want to be … because over time we become those things. I have a theory that this doesn’t just apply to the people you physically hang out with, or even just those you hang out with online. I also truly believe that the people you hang out with by watching them on TV affect you too! So, do you really want to be one of the people in the Big Brother house? Or maybe one of those incredible people that they find from who knows where on those daytime shows where they tell the world about their problems and then try to thump each other and have to be held back by security guards …? Don’t kid yourself that you’re just watching them out of curiosity. If you spend a long time with these guys, there’s a part of them that reflects who you are – or who you’re going to be. So pick what you watch based on what you want for yourself … you want to be funny, happy and light, watch those shows. You want to be inspired and inspiring? Watch those shows and hang out with those kinds of people. You want to be strong, understanding, emotionally stable and well developed? Make sure those people are in your life. With the power of the internet you can bring anyone you like into your life on a daily basis – use the power!
You are what you do – our daily habits and practices shape us. Physically if you choose to work out regularly, that shapes your body. If you choose to wake up at a productive hour and do something that adds value to the world, and you do that regularly, then that’s who you are, or who you become. If you occasionally go the extra mile to help out a friend or stranger, that’s who you become! If you want to be creative, productive, rich, beautiful, happy, healthy etc etc etc, it’s no good just wishing for it, DO what you want to be!
You are what you think and say – and this is where the magic really happens. Sometimes I talk about the things we say as ‘your magic word’. Because what you continually and consistently think about and talk about, will eventually materialise for you, good or bad. I used to have this fear that I’d get out of the car one day and my car keys would fall off my lap into one of the street drains. The fear continued until one day I did exactly that! I had to laugh at myself… and spend a long time fishing around in said drain with two kind builders who happened to be parked there till I got my keys back! So if you spend large portions of your day thinking dark thoughts, or moaning about all the thing that are wrong with the world, or the things that you haven’t got… guess what? Your thoughts and your magic word will create that for you. So think positive thoughts, focus on the good stuff and talk positively whenever you can … and your magic word will create THAT for you, instead!
I can imagine there are a number of people reading this who are a little grumpy with me right now. They’re saying things like “don’t you think you’re taking this a little far? What do you mean I’m the product of my environment and of who I hang out with? You’re saying I have no choice. I’m more intelligent than that, I’m not a puppet on a string!!” And I’m here to tell you that …. YOU’RE RIGHT! Phew, thank goodness for that! Here comes a huge dollop of good news, are you ready?
When all is said and done, we still have choice. Humans are unique in this world in that we are not condemned to just react to the environment around us – we have the capability of shaping the world around us too. You see, the porosity works both ways! The rest of the world is as dependent, as malleable, as vulnerable to being shifted as we are! What are the telling factors? Strength. Intensity. Determination. Single-mindedness. In the interplay between us and the world, the most committed contestant will win. End of story.
So how can we each become the element that influences the world around us, instead of being at its mercy? I believe that if we set up our environment, our habits, our thoughts and all those other things as best we can so that they reflect who we want to become, then we get stronger. If we push past the limits of what we thought we could achieve and go one step further, we are ever growing. There will always be things or people around you that you can’t change. That produce a heavy negative aura and influence. But if you get the rest of your world right, then you become far stronger, and you become the influencing factor. The rest of your environment will start to be affected by YOU. Magical, Beautiful, Integral YOU. Now isn’t that worth getting up in the morning for?
This week, clarify WHO and WHAT you want to be … and then start to shape the things that influence you, so that you become YOU!
Plug for upcoming event:
For the ladies: Here’s a positive thing you could add to your environment … come hang out with my colleague Ronit Gerber and I as we provide you with a cocktail, motivate you to break through your limitations, and give you the opportunity to do a little shopping … it’s all wrapped up in a girl’s night out with a difference!
See here for more details:
For a limited number of applicants I will also provide a complementary half hour telephone or skype life coaching session for those that book through me … see how much I love my blog readers 🙂
Email me to change your life for the better: firstname.lastname@example.org
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Ghandi
March 12th 1930. An unassuming man sets out on a 240 mile march that takes 24 days. He is heading for the sea near the village of Dandi in India. He is going there to break the law. As he walks growing numbers of people join him and walk peacefully with him, so that by the time they get there the group is big enough to be drawing serious attention. At 6.30am on April 6th, the man takes sea water and dries it to make salt, in direct contravention to the laws of the British colonists who insist on taxing all salt production. This one act sparks off large scale civil disobedience against the British Raj Salt Laws by millions of India’s poor, who are tired of being taxed to death. The man and his group continue south along the coast, making salt along the way until he is at last arrested at midnight on May 4th. The nationwide civil disobedience results in the jailing of another 80 000 citizens. Although the action does not result in major concessions immediately, it becomes a big part of India’s break for independence from the British, and teaches the world that ‘passive resistance’, in this case in the form of civil disobedience, is a powerful method for bringing about change.
The man of course was Mahatma Gandhi, who, according to Wikipedia “was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement. A pioneer of resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience—a philosophy firmly founded upon total nonviolence—Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. He is internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest to achieve political and social progress.” Gandhi was definitely one of my heroes. Regardless of his political importance he chose a simple life existing with no more than he needed, and focusing on the important things. You might have passed him in the street and not even seen him. Despite his simplistic lifestyle, he taught the world a lot about standing up to the ‘big guy’ in a peaceful manner … and yet winning.
Here’s another ‘simple person’. Mother Teresa. Again according to Wikipedia, Mother Teresa “was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.” Another person who lived sparsely and dedicated themselves to a higher mission, helping the disadvantaged even though in the end her efforts probably cost her her health and her life. I remember that she died a day after Princess Diana, and you barely heard anything about her death because of all the hype over Diana. Probably just the way she would have wanted it.
Then there was the David and Goliath story, and if you look for them there are a hundred and one examples of the smallest, simplest person having a massive effect on the world around them. How is that? Is it possible that the smallest and simplest person isn’t always the weakest competitor?
I think the little people in this world, physically and lifestyle-wise have the edge. For a start others often don’t expect anything much from them, so they’re taken by surprise. You don’t expect the smallest mountain to produce the biggest volcanic eruption. Then there’s the idea that ‘still waters run deep’. In other words, quiet people often have a lot of gumption within that isn’t always visible on the outside. Just think, if someone isn’t spending all their energy waving a stick about and looking big, what are they spending their energy on? Sometimes they’re spending it on actually getting bigger – on the inside. They are often focussing on the important stuff instead of wasting time with external appearances. Not that I’m advocating physical violence or anything but this video on YouTube – in which a school girl defends herself against a would-be mugger – made me smile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuHHB-uF-UEn why don’t you pick on someone your own size, buddy?
Additionally, I remember reading in Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’ or it might have been ‘A New Earth’ something to the effect that the most spiritually or metaphysically effective people are very often those that you would pass in the street and not notice, due to their unassuming nature. And that if you are a more metaphysically/spiritually aware person you’re more likely to see them and appreciate their degree of connection, whereas those of us more physical and wrapped up in life’s irrelevancies won’t even notice them, or would probably dismiss them as unworthy of attention.
So how do you see yourself? Do you ever quietly feel that you’re nothing much? You might be bigger than you allow yourself to realise. What hidden skills do you have? Who are you really? You may be small fry on the outside, but as long as you’re mighty big on the inside … well that’s what matters isn’t it? If you’ve ever day-dreamed of changing the world for the better, now’s your time!
There’s a fantastic quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
When would now be a good time to shine out, and do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing? You don’t need to get a fancy shmancy sports car or wear big brand labels to change the world, though if those things give you a kick and you can have them, that’s good too! Why waste energy trying to be what other people want, when you are amazing just the way you are? Be yourself. All of yourself, undiluted. Big or little, it’s time each of us found our own personal brilliance and set it free to soar.
I’m going forth to have a brilliant week – you have one too!
Doesn’t life sometimes feel like one long course in self improvement? I might be a life coach/hypnotherapist (and a jolly good one too- wink, wink) but that doesn’t mean I have all the answers, just that I’m good at finding answers 🙂
This week I’m learning … to stay with myself. Some people are naturally good at this. They always know who they are, what they stand for, what they want. They’re always able to work in their own best interest, or according to their own moral standards. They begin with the premise ‘This is my stance. I may change my mind if I think it’s appropriate, but only if it makes sense to me. Now how can I help you?’
For those who have to work hard to stay with themselves, it can be very easy to forget who you are and your highest priorities and unintentionally fall into someone else’s agenda. You start seeing yourself as the other person sees you, and even being as the other person sees you. It’s a way of losing yourself. Some people are so lost, they always see themselves as other people see them. If they had to look through their own eyes at themselves or better yet feel what it’s like to be themselves from inside, they wouldn’t know where to start.
Do you know who you really are? And once you’ve found yourself, do you know what it means to stay with yourself?
As far as knowing who you are, it helps a great deal to sit down for a little while with pen and paper, think about all the different things you do in your life and ask yourself who you are in each context. So for example one of the things I do is mothering. Who am I as a mother? Who am I as a professional? Etc etc. You might not have done this before, and some of the answers might not come easily – that’s ok, nothing’s set in stone, you can always go back and change it later, just write down what you get. That process gives you who you are in a physical sense. Then if you like, you can do a hypnotic or meditative process to discover who you are in a deeper metaphysical sense. You’ll find that’s harder to capture in words – it’s a more experiential thing, and it’s something everyone should do, as a way of connecting to their source of power. I might run a workshop on this one day – it’s something I frequently do with clients and they find it very transformative.
I think part of life’s lesson is to find that source of power – that inner light if you will – and then learn to stick with it and to bring it through into our everyday living.
So to stay with yourself find your inner light and connect to it. You will feel a sense of peace and coming home. You will feel a sense of empowerment, as though you’re a light bulb and electricity is finally flowing through you, and you can light up and shine out to the world. You will feel a sense of rightness. Then all you have to do is maintain those feelings. Carry on through life, and if those feelings start to lessen, connect again. The tension falls away and you feel at peace again.
The same is true in a physical sense too. If you’re starting to lose yourself, you can remind yourself of who you are and what you stand for in each part of your life.
Why bother to connect back to yourself each time? Because then your every thought and every action will come from a place of integrity. You will be acting on your morals and your principals, and not dancing to someone else’s tune or to the general world hypnosis. I think it’s worth the effort, don’t you?
It’s -Very Important- in this process to have people to support you, people who know who you really are, people who are on the same path themselves. Your circle of support will help you to stay with yourself when you are temporarily weaker. They know who you are, even when you forget. If you lose your way they help you come back to yourself, and you can often do the same for them, in their times of weakness. With them you can be yourself. The more often you are yourself, the stronger yourself becomes. The stronger you get connected to yourself, the less likely you are to lose yourself in the tough times.
Then an interesting thing happens. When you are truly with yourself, and you ain’t budging, people who were working intentionally or unintentionally to draw you into their agenda are often drawn into your agenda instead! You don’t have to misuse this. Your agenda can be to help them regain their self respect or help them see a better path. And you know those people or situations that keep popping up in your life in one guise or another? Being with yourself gives you another perspective. It’s like you suddenly zoom out and you can see the patterns that you keep getting sucked into. Then you have the option to change your approach and do something different.
Most importantly, as I’ve said above, you then get to carry out your life from your own perspective and according to your own standards. You start to get much more of what you want, and you get to create your world as you want it. And you get to be truly, madly and deeply … happy!
This week find yourself and stay with yourself!
How do you explain friendship to someone who doesn’t believe in the soul? Pairing up to procreate makes sense to cold, old fashioned evolution, as does having a working buddy – someone you hunt with. But plain, no strings attached friendship? Where does that need for simple companionship come from and why is it sometimes soothed by some individuals that you ‘just feel a link’ with? You can’t tell me that consciousness is just a state emerging from the complexity of the connections in the human mind, and then try to sell me the idea that that consciousness requires friendship. Sorry, I don’t buy it. I think true friendship is a soul thing.
Right, philosopher’s hat off, life coach’s hat on. Friendship was gifted to us, so let’s allow it to serve us and our friends both, as it should. I think we should be giving and receiving things like this:
Just plain fun
Obviously friends are the people to have fun with – if you Google ‘things to do with your friends’ you get a host of silly and fun activities, just for a laugh. Fun and laughter makes the world a happier lighter place, and it is seriously good for your health (I’m not kidding http://www.squidoo.com/normancousins#module12601876) so are you getting enough Vitamin F, and do you have the right people to share it with? Don’t be too groan up now (the spelling error is intentional) get out there and have some fun!
A sense of connection
We humans, we like to feel that we’re a part of something. We like to feel like it matters that we exist, that we hold a piece of being that no one else can hold. That we’re valued for that. How’s your sense of connection with your group of friends? Do your friends ‘get you’? Do you have that link? Or do you need to find more people that you can feel that connection with? If so, where might you find them?
Loving help and protection
Friends look after each other. They’ll drive out in the pouring rain, dragging their kids with them if necessary, if your car breaks down and there’s no one else to rescue you. They’ll bring you a hot soup if you’re down with the flu, or find a few minutes in their crazy busy day to say hi. And if they are so overwhelmed with life they can’t even call you, they still think about you, and smile. A friend stands up for you when everyone else is against you – even if you’re wrong. Doesn’t mean they agree with you, but they will do their best not to let anyone hurt you, even so. How well do you take care of your friends?
Whilst having a laugh is important, feeling a part of something also worthy, and giving/receiving protection can change a life, I think these last 3 points are not to be underestimated:
An experience of reflection
The closest people to us are in a way our greatest therapists. What do I mean by that? Well what does a therapist do? Part of the job of a good therapist is to reflect back to us or help us to see the way we relate to the world, so that we can change what doesn’t serve us. And if you look at the closest people around you, don’t they do the same thing? Our family and our friends constantly hold up a mirror for us so we can see ourselves. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsGl-XIWM5Y) If you practice anger you will often find angry friends who reveal you to yourself. If you’re a loving caring person don’t you always see that in the friends around you? If you will ‘do anything for anyone’ don’t you have friends who do that for you? What are your friends reflecting back to you these days?
Safe arms in which to have a revelation
Oh those safe arms of friendship! Someone that you can trust never to desert you, never to intentionally hurt you, someone who deeply cares about you … what a safe place to face your deepest pains and find your way to a solution! What a safe place to reveal those little shards and splinters of your truest self as you discover them and piece them together, knowing that your friend will still accept you as you grow and change, and will delight in your discoveries as much as you do. Do you have a friend that could do this for you? If not, are you being this type of friend?
Someone to hold you to account
A real friend … doesn’t let you get away with self destruction. They will love you and support you whatever you do, but if you truly start to lose yourself they are the ones who will smack your face if they have to and help you get back on track. If you tell your true friend you’re seriously dieting they will wrestle the cookie jar from you. If you tell your true friend that you never, ever want to go out with that kind of girl again, and you mean it, they are the one who will get you by the scruff of the neck and drag you out of there so you don’t get yourself in trouble again. Sometimes your true friend won’t rescue you, because the value of the lesson learnt in a losing pattern repeated would help you more. But they also don’t abandon you. When the house of cards eventually falls down they’re there to help you pick up the pieces and start again, and there to help you build a better house this time. They might even bite their tongue and avoid saying “I told you so!” Held anyone to account lately?
When you think deeply about the blessing of friendship don’t you just feel lucky to be given that? Where would we be without our friends? Let’s take a moment of gratitude for friendship now. When you think of everything your friends have given you, it’s hard not to be grateful. Poet’s hat on (I wish!!!) This has been going round and round in my head for the last few days so I had to chuck it onto the keyboard for you…
To friends past:
friends that have come and gone,
friends lost, friends missed,
friends from the old days,
friends who left a hole in our hearts,
friends who taught us something,
friends who were like family,
friends who were brothers and sisters to us,
friends who never let us down,
friends who left a bit of themselves with us always,
and with whom we left a bit of ourselves.
To friends present:
friends we laugh with,
friends who guide us and we guide,
friends we trust with our deepest pains and joys,
friends we learn from and friends we teach.
Friends we have fun with,
friends who are soul mates,
friends who make life a delight,
friends we pledge ourselves to forever.
To friends future:
to the friends we yearn for,
friends not yet met,
friends that would fill the gap,
friends like a piece of soul missing,
friends we would do anything for,
the friends we wait for,
friends we know are already ours,
even though they are not yet there.
The friends we daydream of having
and so draw closer to ourselves.
To all these friends thank you, bless you and much love to you.
May you always bask in pleasant sunshine,
may your path be easy,
may your rewards be plentiful.
May you reach the heights you aspire to,
may you easily recall your life’s desires
and accomplish them with flair.
May love, fulfilment and abundance be your territory,
and may you be happy always.
This blog is for all my friends, past, present and future, and for friends everywhere, with a great deal of gratitude and love.
This week, nurture your friends!