Moving On to Live

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Have you ever seen someone do something terrible and get away without any sort of consequences? Even worse is when they may get rewarded or celebrated and we somehow reap a negative consequence, while they remain unscathed. Sorry if I’m bringing up a foul memory to mind. It’s ok to take a second to let it flare up, stew, and simmer down if you need. I’m going to attempt to help us take that foul stew off the stove and wash it down the drain, so we’re free to enjoy life more with the air cleared.

I recalled this stench of resentment mixed with justice recently as I’ve been re-reading a story. It’s a story in the Book of Mosiah about this guy named Amulon and his cronies, as I’ve come to call them. They were unjust men, who stole from the humble, murdered the innocent, and were beyond any crudeness or lewdness we’ve been seeing on the news lately. Not only that, they were supposed to be the government and religious leaders.

Thankfully, the people finally wised up and had an uprising, but they somehow managed to escape before the people could sentence any sort of just punishment. Fast-forward, and we get to a point where a group of the most humble and kind of the townsfolk are trying to re-settle themselves. Guess who barges in to desecrate the sweet-prairie life they’ve established? Amulon and his cronies not only butt in, but the ruler of the larger kingdom that the townsfolk settled in dubs Amulon king over their little settlement. To suggest that Amulon merely bullied these townsfolk would be an understatement.

Thankfully, for their well-being and sanity, these weren’t your typical townsfolk. They were praying folk. They were inspired to be patient, and obeyed. Then in due time, the Lord miraculously delivered them.

In some ways, despite the miraculous delivery, I’d find this story to be anti-climactic. No just-consequences are ever mentioned for Amulon. He seems to go by with a free pass. But as I was reading this story again, I stopped to observe myself. I realized that in the midst of my justice-nature, there was a vein of loathing, resentment, and unforgiveness. The funny thing is, I’ve been the one shouldering this, while those praying townsfolk who actually went through it merely moved on. The way they let the past drop off and instead focus on enjoying life reminded me of this stanza in one of my favorite poems, “A Psalm of Life”:

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Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,— act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

 

The example of these townsfolk humbled me to consider that maybe there’s a higher law to live than merely justice alone. Grace.

To me, grace is a state where justice and compassion are held equally. Where there’s a higher hope than just punishment, but a hope that a person can be empowered to healing and freedom from their destructive state. That a past is not necessarily a future. That instead, a person can change and rise to his or her highest self. And we can hope to celebrate their rising rather than revel in their final defeat. Grace isn’t the expectation of witnessing this change occur, but holding the hope and openness that someday they will be freed from the darkness they’re living in, to be a person of light. And in the meantime, our joy isn’t capped by justice alone. We can let the dead Past bury its dead and act in the living Present. We’re free to move on and live.

 

Be Still and Know Yourself

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I have a flood of clear thoughts that enter my mind before it gets cluttered with my own thoughts, emotions, or agendas.  I have learned to keep a journal and pen next to my bed and record these thoughts and cherish these moments. This pure information is aligned with my life’s purpose and my true nature. It seems for a small moment I am unclouded, I receive pure knowledge, and then it passes.

What if these moments didn’t have to pass?  I have come to understand that there is a key principle one must understand in order to invite these moments to stay and come with greater frequency.  It’s hard to describe in language things that are spiritually discerned, but I believe if you set an intention to be open to new knowledge and have patience for the fallibility of language, I think we can make a stab at this.

Underlying principle = our minds are fundamentally subjective

To be objective we need a source that knows us better than we know ourselves and outside of us. In other words, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are not who we truly are but only who we imagine we are through a limited lens of reality.  I love the teachings of the Apostle Paul found in the New Testament saying, “we all see through a glass darkly,” and the whole chapter speaks to the power of love or charity to help us rise above this distorted view we each hold (1 Corinthians 13: 12). It is important to recognize that it is not just some of us that see “darkly” but all of us that see “darkly”.  For one reason or another, many outside our control, we have become separated from the love that we were created to receive and give away. Separation from love leads us down false paths to seek approval, comfort, and rest from this feeling. Our bodies even keep score and we have physical effects from the emotions of self-rejection we store in our bodies. When we seek to earn love or seek approval from others separated from love as well it leads to loss of self, dependence, and sometimes slavery to those false sources of love. This type of conditional love never satisfies.  The key to restoring our true nature and wholeness is connecting to an unconditional source of love, a source outside of us, a source that knows us and accepts us right where we are and can show us new steps to take to be truer to ourselves.

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How is this practically accomplished? The idea of finding an unconditional source of love sounds great, but what does that look like as one lives in a less than ideal clouded life or perhaps has little experience feeling this type of love? I have found that while the practices are personal and diverse as we all are, there are some common elements that can help us.

  1. Seek Stillness: Emotion is energy in motion. We need outlets to release low-level emotions to clear and align our thoughts. Through those outlets we eventually arrive at a peaceful states where we capable of letting go of our distracting thoughts and low emotions.  Tools such as yoga, journaling, prayer, reading inspirational text, deep-diagram breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, listening to uplifting music, a walking in nature are a few examples.  We all need to experiment with different tools to determine for ourselves what calms our mind and body.
  2. Seek an Attitude of Humility: “Humility is the catalyst to all learning,” and putting aside one’s own thoughts, biases, and accepting one’s need for knowledge readies the mind to receive. New ways of seeing yourself and the world can then come in.
  3. Have Self-Compassion and Curiosity: “It is what it is.” Self-rejection keeps us from being able to understand and arrive at what is amiss in us and learn from it. Research shows that acceptance is the precursor to change. Be kind to yourself, you are doing the best you can according to what you understand.
  4. Unpack your Baggage with an empathic Source: For me this is generally my higher power, but to others it may manifest itself in the form of a close trusted friend, spouse, or even a journal. Shame cannot survive empathy so when we feel loved and accepted just as we are, we can begin to remove the block that shame creates. We can move forward.
  5. Ask for what you Need and Be Specific: After unpacking as indicated above, I can often begin to see steps forward or identify what is missing. I find that when I ask my Source specifically for help with these unmet needs, I get small simple steps I can take to help meet my own needs. Sometimes, in the most desperate of times, these needs are met without my involvement, often through others. However, I have found that most often I am called to be a partner in my own healing. I must act on my own behalf.
  6. Have Trust and Gratitude: As my relationship with my Source grows, and my trust in my own abilities increases, I become truly grateful for the guidance and feel more desirous to keep coming back. I am connected to Abundance and I am enough!

My goal is for you to recognize and witness who you are “Clearly” and not who you perceive yourself to be “Darkly”.  You are created perfect and worthy of love. This accurate and “Clear” you holds the keys to the healing and wholeness you seek if you can just be still and know her.

SELF COMPASSION: THE SECRET TO GROWTH

Guest Contributor – Ganel-Lyn

The way I talk to myself….

Well let’s just say I would never talk to you that way.

This isn’t just great research or therapist talk. This concept is essential to not only surviving but thriving. I am talking about practicing more gentleness and kindness. Not to your neighbor or your child but to yourself.

As the spiritual teacher, Dalai Lama says, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

A society cannot survive without compassion – but neither can the human spirit. So -how are you talking to yourself?

Have you noticed what happens when you feel like you have failed or show up less than you wanted to? Do you feel like you need to beat yourself up?

Tonight was one of those nights. I got frustrated with my family. I was so less than my best. I snapped and had an emotional break.

After taking a time out, I started to notice the guilt. It crept in ever so slowly. My self-talk sounded like, “You always do this. Your family deserves better than a stressed out momma. You are a hot mess.”

I paused and considered what had been going on. I had been sick for the previous four days and in the doctor’s office running tests. I was out of steam.

Practicing doesn’t mean perfect. So instead of sinking down the hole of shame, I considered what I would say to a dear friend in that moment. What would I say to another mother who was trying to make dinner, handle homework time all while being sick? I would show her compassion. I would be gentle and understanding and put my arm around her. I would thank her for trying and validate how difficult things had been. I would remind her that she has done so many things right and tell her to breath. And start again.

Self-compassion doesn’t mean avoiding responsibility for “bad behavior”. It just means not sinking into the shame pit. Beating yourself up never changes behavior. Back to my “mommy moment”. I walked into the kitchen after practicing self-compassion. I apologized to my family and shared my vulnerabilities. I communicated with them how hard the past few days had been and that I was really struggling but that I was sorry for not taking a time out sooner. Honesty and taking responsibility changes behavior. Not beating yourself up.

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And stop with the comparison. I know all the other mothers on your street were patient tonight and cooked an organic dinner including brussel sprouts that your kids LOVE. I know it feels like everyone else is winning at life and you – well aren’t. The truth is this we all feel like a “hot mess” sometimes. Stop with the comparing your worst with a neighbors best.

You live with you. And you will- for the rest of your life. Start practicing being your own best friend.

Try to be a little more gentle. More tender. Especially when you are less than your best because that is when it counts the most. I have come to discover that it is the quickest route to growth and change. And it is a whole lot easier than the alternative.

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BIO: Ganel-Lyn is a popular motivational speaker and best-selling author – known for inspiring others with her unique honesty, authenticity and spirit. She is dedicated to her family, faith, and inspiring others. Ganel-Lyn loves teaching others with speaking and writing. She has healed from a major chronic illness and is the mother to two miracle children. Ganel-Lyn lives with an open heart and feels passionate about sharing principles that will empower others to live life with more joy and conviction.

www.ganellyn.com

Self-Love: You are a 10!

You are a 10! This a phrase I use to break my negative self-talk that has a habit of resurfacing at times. Nearly 12 years ago, a mentor of mine could see that I was struggling with self-acceptance, and like most of us struggling to love and accept ourselves, that internal criticism did not leave me feeling motivated to become better.  Instead, it paralyzed me from moving forward and being the best version of myself. I erroneously held the belief that if I loved and accepted myself as I currently was that I would stop seeking further excellence.

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Enter the mentoring that forever shifted my paradigm… my mentor asked me to rate myself in areas I was currently performing such as a young parent, wife, sister, daughter, etc from 1 to 10. 10 being the highest possible rating.  After giving a rating to each category, I gave myself an overall score. I think I gave myself a 4. She then asked me to think on my newborn child and rate my child’s worth from 1 to 10. Without hesitation I said, “She is a 10.” She asked me to ponder why my child, who had not yet performed any of the roles in life, was a 10 while I was a 4.

I thought, “Well, I guess I lost it somewhere in all my weaknesses.” She then gently said, “You have always been a 10, you have just forgotten. Perhaps, it is time to remind yourself.” Bam! That hit me to my core and I then began looking at messaging all around me.  The common messaging was that my worth was based on performance, status, comparison to others, and arrival at some determined achievement. I started to see the lies that I did not want to pass on to my infant daughter. I hoped she would always know she is a 10. I knew I would become the mirror that she looked into first to understand her value. No pressure right! I spent hours in prayer letting the spirit speak to me on my worth . Worth is not just in some of us but in all of us. I realized that if I could learn to accept and love myself and my own uniqueness, I would then be able to understand that weakness does not equal a decrease in worth.  Worth is constant.  Worth helps us use our strengths to address weaknesses with less paralyzing fear.

I share my story with you as I know it is a common story among women I know, love, and work with. Self-love really does lead to change. You don’t have to earn your worth, You were born a 10 and still are! When you can embrace that, perhaps even identify the source of the voices that told you that you were less then a 10 and speak back to those voices with the truth, you will free yourself and have the confidence to align your choices with your true identity and what truly represents you. Love really does set us free.

I conclude with some of my favorite quotes by 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”

-“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are”

-“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here”

I cannot agree more.

The Leaves are Changing

by Christie Gardiner, Author & Guest Contributor

I love autumn.  I feel like the trees have waited all spring and summer in anticipation.  They’ve grown, sometimes painfully, and now they shine the brilliant colors of themselves as if to say, “You thought I was pretty before?  Well check this out!  This is who I really am.”  I type this over my morning cup of herbal tea with the sun and the leaves beginning to yellow on the very tops of my honey locust trees.  I’m so excited to see them a week from now, shining in the golden glow of who they really are.

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I am an actor.  It’s one of my leaf colors.  I love live theatre.  There is something magical about it; something electrifying.  I see it.  I perform in it.  I read about it.  I listen to music from it.  I teach it.  I swim in it.

And yet, there was a time that I used to spend intermission of plays in the bathroom stalls of the theatre crying.  It was a decade in to my motherhood journey. Years before, I had told myself that I was now a wife and mother and as such, needed to put all of the juicy pieces of myself away in the name of mothering.  I cried because I loved acting, was exceptional at it, and missed it desperately.  That part of my life was over.  At the end of intermission, I’d drag my sorry self dramatically out of the stall and take a dejected seat to watch the rest of the play.  As there are few things more buzz-killing than to sit next to a swollen-eyed-has-been of an actress who sniffles her way through the second act of a comedy, I eventually stopped going to the theatre all together.

What a lie I was telling myself.

I’m not unique.  As women, we all give up parts of ourselves in the name of our excuse of choice (motherhood, career, education etc.); as if our sacrificial offering of self is in some way hollowed or noble.  Nothing is actually further from the truth and our “playing small does not serve the world.”[1]

I eventually found my way to theatre again.  Once I gave myself permission to be who I really was, (not the caricature I had created about what a mom is “supposed” to be) the world opened up for me and that color came back to life.  I won’t pretend it was easy to find myself again.  I have to constantly take care that the pendulum of sacrifice doesn’t swing too far to the opposite side of self-indulgence.  But when I found myself again, I was excited to see that I was just as colorful as I remembered.  I was still talented, still beautiful…and guess what?  I am still an excellent mother.  Maybe even a better mother.  Putting my own priorities back into the equation definitely added extra dance steps to the waltz that is our family life.  But oh, oh, OH how the dance is worth it.

If these words have traveled through my fingers and somehow found their way to you, wherever you are, I hope you let them soak inside of you like the autumn leaves on my trees.  Let these words change and color you.

If you are a painter…paint.  A runner…run.  An accountant…crunch numbers.  And if you are a mother, take your children with you!  Let them see the color of your true self and it will inspire them to keep the core parts of themselves always with them.  It’s time to put down the burden of self-sacrifice and be free.  You are worthy.  You are enough.  You have gifts, talents and abilities that only you can bring to this world.

What are you waiting for?

[1] Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, 1992

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Christie Gardiner, Author & Guest Contributor