“Wait Until You Get Older.”

Are there any common phrases in your culture that you went along with most of your life until one day you really thought about what it implied, and then you decided you actually disagreed with it?

I’ve had a few of those in recent years, but I think the best example is “Wait until you get older.”  This is usually said to me after any time I complain about any random physical pain, for example my knees.  I’ll just have run several miles, and say something like, “My knees are a little more sore than normal,” to which someone older than me replies, “Wait until you get older,” implying things are bound to get worse.  I’ve also heard this when people find out I have tattoos.  They’ll say something like, “Those are beautiful, but wait until you get older,” implying my skin is destined to sag so much I won’t be able to recognize what my tattoos were to begin with.

I’m sure you’ve heard things like this too.  There are a lot dealing with aging, but our society has many more.  Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,” is another one I’ve recently thought about.  To me this means you better drag your past around with you otherwise all the bad stuff will happen to you again.

Sometimes it not phrases, but cultural understandings.  In the Western culture we are supposed to go to college, meet the person of our dreams, graduate and marry that person, find the job we’re going to work for the next 40 years, have our 2.5 kids, retire at 65, and then sit at home and wait to die.  If you don’t follow this plan something’s wrong with you.  Thankfully, I think this idea is fading more and more with each generation, but it’s still around.  I was never pressured by family to follow this path, but because this was the message I got from society, I did think there was something wrong with me because I missed each step after “go to college.” 

There are many more phrases and understandings that we get from family, culture, community, faith, and the media.  We are bombarded by everyday. 

    • The only things certain in life are death and taxes.
    • You must have this kind of car/house/hair style/clothes/friends/partner/job/income to be complete or whole.
    • I have to do X while I am still able.
    • I’m too old to do that.
    • My doctor says there’s nothing that can be done for this, all we can do is manage it.

One limiting belief after another.  What a bummer!  And false!

“Unfortunately, most of our fellow cohorts are still “lost in space,” with virtually everything in our society telling us, reminding us and insisting that we are limited, aging “creatures,” living lives between luck and fate in a hard, unforgiving world.  The truth, however (and this will likely ring bells in your heart of hearts), is that we are infinite and powerful, fun-loving gladiators of the Universe, with eternity before us and the power of our thoughts to help shape it.

We create our own realities, our own fate, and our own luck.  That is how powerful we are, and that is how powerful you are.  And to offset all the contradictory thinking of the media and masses, you need to hear this kind of message as often as you hear all the others.”

Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams, Mike Dooley

Mike has it right.  We are limitless.  The only way we are not is when we think we are limited,  and unfortunately our society supports us in thinking this.

The good news is you don’t have to play along with society.  You can choose to know your power and limitlessness.  All it takes is to change your thinking.  That is not always as easy as it can be, so set yourself up for success.  Find the places, books, programs, friends, music, blogs, shows, art, etc., that will support and reinforce the kind of thinking that will help you claim your power.  Place sticky notes around your house, in your car, and at the office to remind you of how amazing you are and how amazing it is to be able to experience the Universe as a human being.  And when you hear something that claims we are limited and frail, don’t be afraid to declare your choice to believe differently, if not out loud, at least to yourself. 

So the next time someone tells you to “Wait until you’re older,” you can say, “I don’t need to.  I already know it just gets better from here!”

You’re Worth It!

How many self-improvement books do you have at home?  How many of those have you read all the way through?  And of those, how many did you implement and stick with the suggestions contained in the book?

If you’re anything like me the answer to those questions are: a lot, not many, and ZERO!

Maybe it’s not books for you.  Maybe it’s workshops, online courses, counseling, or any number of hundreds of self-improvement methods.  It doesn’t matter the medium, most of us don’t have a good track record when it comes to sticking with any program we begin.  I won’t even bring up diets…oh wait…sorry. 😉

There can be several reasons for this. 

    • It wasn’t working for me.
    • I couldn’t manage the time commitment.
    • I found something else that I like better.
    • I don’t particularly like the author/leader/practitioner.
    • The change/fix isn’t happening fast enough.
    • (Insert your excuse here.)

I say “excuse” because that’s what each of these are.  They are a mask for a deeper issue that we don’t think we are worthy.  We don’t think we deserve to be happy or to live at our optimum. 

So we quit.  We insert the most believable excuse and move on until we find the next book, method, or guru.

What might it look like if you started to think you were worthy, even if it didn’t really seem true at the beginning?  How would you act differently if you thought you were worth the investment of time and energy?

Well I’m here to tell you you’re worth it!  If any one is worth it, you are!  And if you’re worth it, then you deserve the time and energy needed to heal.  You’re also worth the patience.  You’ve spent your whole life creating habits and patterns that don’t serve you.  So as a worthy being, you can give the next program that comes along a minute or two to start to change those habits and create new ones that will serve you and help create the life of your dreams.

And don’t stress about which program you should actually give your time and energy to.  Of course I have my preferences (I have openings for new clients now :)) but if you set the intention that you want to release limitations and start expanding your mind, you can’t make a wrong decision.  The only “wrong” decision is to give up on yourself. 

And remember, it’s a journey.  You’re never going to learn something that ends any further learning (beware of anything that makes such a claim).  You’re never going to find the one thing that “fixes” you or your life, mainly because you’re not broken!  You’re a spiritual being having a human experience, and what could be more worthy of giving your time, energy, and love too than that!

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What’s the Scariest Thing You’ve Ever Done?

Fear has been on my mind lately.  Not any one particular fear, just fear in general.  What do I fear?  How do I respond to fear?  Is my response due to what I actually fear, or the fear itself?  For so long I got caught up in the fear itself and trying to resist it that I actually never looked at what I was fearing.

Since my mind has been focused on this topic, I’ve been paying more attention to the arrival of fear in my day-to-day from the mundane like someone cutting me off in traffic, to intense fears of pain and death which have almost resulted in full blown panic attacks.  What’s different for me this time, as opposed to a couple years ago, is that each time fear arises I experience the fear, but I’m also observing myself experiencing it.  In a way, I’m gathering evidence on myself and what activates fear in me so that I can respond better the next time, and even better the time after that.

It often turns out that there is little to no danger present.  My reaction of fear is just that, a reaction, one based not in reality but on a perceived danger.  So now when fear arises, I’m curious to find if there is a actual threat or if I’m reacting to a danger that only exists in my mind.  Often it’s the latter, and each time it is, I limit my aliveness and my ability to experience this world. 

Chris Hadfield, an astronaut who spent quite a bit of time on the International Space Station, seems to share my understanding in his TED Talk entitled, “What I learned from going blind in space.”

He begins by asking, “What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?”

After waiting a few moments while people think of the things of this world that scare them, he proceeds to tell of the time he lost his eyesight while on a space walk, his only lifeline to the space station being the rope he held onto in one hand as he floated in an endless darkness.

However, Chris wasn’t scared.  But that seems terrifying, you say?  Well you’d be right if that happened to any one of us in this moment.  Chris however, had trained for months on end not only for things to go right, but also for things to go wrong.  He knew the actual danger of the situation was minimal.  He had all his other senses, plus his co-astronaut who had also trained for such situations.

Chris had reprogramed himself from what would have been a very normal reaction of panic, and instead responded with a clear head.  As a result he regained his sight and was even able to finish his spacewalk before returning unharmed to the space station.

Chris understood the actual danger and thus had no need for a fear response.  There is a difference in responding to danger and responding to fear.  When we “do the research” as Chris says, we find that we can assess any real danger.  Often the danger is a lot less than we think it is because of our fear response, and just the knowledge of this can help us conquer even our most fundamental fears.

Chris adds when we release our fears we “come back with a set of experiences, and a level of inspiration for other people that never could have been possible otherwise.”  Fear is an experience in and of itself.  However, if we stop at fear we prevent ourselves from experience all that is beyond the fear.  We limit our aliveness.

I think David Hawkins sums it up beautifully in his book Letting Go:

“We all derive great benefit from liberating ourselves out of a fearful inhibition into successful functioning, because that learning process automatically spills over into many other areas of our life.  We become more capable, freer and happier and, with that, there is an inner peace of mind.”

So what do you fear?  How does this fear limit you from experiencing the world? What knowledge/research could help you understand the situation better? How can you practice moving beyond the fear?  What experiences would open to you if you no longer had this fear?

Peace,

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Fearlessly Living Your Journey

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, aka high school, I used to described myself as a pinko commie, bleeding heart, tree-hugging, whale-saving, liberal, hippie.  I wore that label with pride and was unafraid to debate anyone on the issues that were important to me.

As I’ve gotten older I attempted to drop most labels, not because my beliefs about the issues have changed necessarily, but because labeling myself seems less and less important.  Labels don’t tell the full story, and they historically are not very flexible.  I have my beliefs and I do feel pretty strongly about them, but I like to think I’m always open to new information that can lead to change and growth in my understanding.  What hasn’t changed since high school is my confidence in my beliefs and my willingness to share them with others.

Or so I thought…

Imagine my shock when I recently became conscious of the fact that when referencing the work I do, and even my understanding of the Universe (including my spirituality) I referred to it as “hippie stuff”.  I was using this term not with the pride of my younger years, but as if to say “Oh this is just hippie stuff.  Feel free to think it’s not important, serious, or effective.”  I was giving others permission to dismiss my work, my experience, my beliefs, and the amazing changes I’ve had in that past few years. 

Why?

I realized I assumed people would think it was weird, silly, or unbelievable.  If they’re going to dismiss it any way, why don’t I just save them the trouble and dismiss it before they can so I can spare myself the embarrassment?

Which lead me to the realization that I was unconsciously dismissing it myself.  My unconscious mind was saying that this work couldn’t have possibly made such great changes in my life.  The changes I think I’ve had aren’t real, and even if they were real they’re only temporary.

I’m grateful I caught this type of thinking.  It was preventing me from being myself, from telling my story, from making this work available to others. 

Well I tell you what…that kind of thinking and talk stops now.  I do believe in this work, I do believe in the changes I’ve created in myself and that I’ve seen in others, and I do believe it will help me continue to grow for the rest of my life.

When we censor ourselves, or downplay our experience we not only do ourselves and injustice, but also those who seek a new path or look to us as role models.

There are an abundance of paths available to us.  Each of us chooses which path is right in each moment.  Your path is right for you and my path is right for me.

If the path you’ve chosen is serving you, own it, wholeheartedly.  Never apologize for where you are on your journey, to your family, friends, coworkers, and especially not to yourself.

It’s also important to know that once on a path you don’t have to stay there forever.  In each moment you get to choose you path.  Choose the one that makes you feel more alive and be fearless about living it.  Share your experience with others.  Someone out there may be looking for a new path, and yours might just be the one that helps them live into their full potential.  You don’t need to waste time and energy trying to convince others that you are right and they are wrong, but you can live your belief, show others how greatly you’ve been impacted, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown.  If there is a piece of your journey that can serve another, Great!  If not, let them find what does work for them.

But under no circumstances should you ever disrespect your journey, put it down, or apologize for it.  You are on your own unique journey.  You are the only one it needs to serve, to make sense to, to feel good to.  If it makes you feel more alive, it’s the right path for you, even if us hippies like it too.

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A New Year in Each Moment

We often look to the New Year as a special time to begin again.  We give ourselves the chance to revisit the places where we’ve failed or fallen short, and we set new goals and dream new dreams.

We typically call these our New Year’s Resolutions.  They are always well-intentioned and designed to make us more of who we want to be.  Yet it’s very typical for us to start off the year with momentum and then slow to a crawl or even completely stop within a few weeks.  This is such a prominent pattern that the internet is often bursting around this time of year with articles, videos, and blogs telling us how we can finally make it work this year, encouraging us as to how this year will be different, or showing us how to set the right resolutions so we don’t fail.  And yet somehow we seem to revisit this story year after year.

So what is so special about this particular time of year?  Why is this time seemingly more important for new beginnings than any other time throughout the year?  The beginning of the year on January 1 is based on a calendar that was first introduced about 500 years ago, but the date is fairly insignificant and has changed over time.  It really only signifies that we have traveled one more time around the sun.  But this is true of any moment throughout the year.  We are always completing a yearly cycle around the sun from where we were a year prior.  We each celebrate this on our Birthdays, whatever date they may be on.

No matter the date or time we are always in the same spot we were a year ago.  This can often seem to be true as we start to falter on our New Year’s Resolutions.  We can be thinking to ourselves, we’re right back where we started.

But is this true?  That depends on your perspective.

The earth spins at around 1,000 miles per hour.

We travel around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour.

Our galaxy spins at 490,000 miles per hour.

And our corner of the universe is expanding toward the Great Attractor at about 621 miles/SECOND!  (Source.)

We may be in the same place in relationship to our sun as we were a year ago, but we are far, far, far (far, far, far) away from where we were in relationship to the center of our galaxy, or from where we were in the universe last year.  Just think, we are 621 miles away from where we were when you started reading this sentence!

We are never back to where we started.  We have never been in the same place more than once, never in our lifetime.  We are always growing, expanding, moving.  We may feel static at times, but the signs of change are there. They may be subtle and hard to notice, but if you think about it we don’t notice that we are moving at 621 miles/second (thank goodness!).

In those areas of your life where you feel you aren’t changing, take the time to look again.  What was different than it was a year ago?  How has my experience of the world changed?  Has my behavior changed, even just a little?  Have my thoughts changed, if only subtly?  You can’t help but move forward.  That is the nature of the universe, and you are not separate from that universe.  You are OF the universe.  Just hang on, go with the flow, and enjoy the ride!

So if you soon find that you’re falling behind on those resolutions, or feel like your stuck and life is going nowhere, just remember that you’re 621 miles away from where you were a second ago, and 621 x 60 x 60 X 24 X 365 miles away from where you were last year (that’s 19,583,856,000 miles!).

And this is true in every moment, no matter the time of year or the date assigned to it.  And regardless of whether you set resolutions or not, or “succeed” at them or not, each moment is an opportunity to recognize you’re in constant motion forward.
Peace,
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Thinking and Acting from Spirit

My thoughts and beliefs on who we are and where we came from seem to be ever-evolving.  At the moment part of that answer for me is that we are not “in” the Universe, we are the Universe.  The atoms that make up me and you, trees and rocks, this chair I’m sitting on and the air we breathe, all were forged in the heart of the stars millions and millions of years ago. We, as humans, are simply and wonderfully the way the Universe becomes conscious of itself.  But we are not separate from the Universe, just as we are not separate from one another, or the trees and rocks, or anything else.  There is a connection between all things, a source from which all things come.  This is what I think…today.  Tomorrow may be another story. 🙂

Having an understanding that there is a common source and connection can mean a lot of things for how we live our lives.  One thing that has been serving me lately comes from Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book “The Shift.”  He writes:

“If our true essence is Spirit, and we believe that is where we come from, it seems to me a simple task to reconnect to this authentic part of ourselves.  One way to do this is to shift our thoughts and actions to the ways in which we imagine creative energy thinks and acts when its energy materializes in form.  We need to be more like Spirit appears to be.  Since this is what we came from, our Divinity is our destiny, regardless of how we’ve neglected it over the years.  God or the great Tao, which we are all a part of, simply waits patiently for us to be like it is.  I imagine that the all-creating Spirit, if indeed it had any wants for us, would want us to realize that.”

We all can easily get caught up in our physical existence and our identity as a separate self, the ego, but this is the most limited part of ourselves. What might it be like if we all ceased thinking and acting from our limited selves and tapped into our Spirit, the Universe, Source, God, the Tao, or the Creative  Energy more often?  What if we asked ourselves in any given moment how would Spirit think and act in this situation?

When I, Jessica, tell myself I’m not good enough to accomplish my goals, what if I stopped and checked in with what Spirit would say about my abilities and worth?

When I, Jessica, catch myself judging someone for how they look, drive, or behave, what if I instead invited my Spirit response to that person?

When I, Jessica, am struggling with a decision, what if I looked to Spirit for guidance and answers?

The best part of this we don’t have to go far to check in with Spirit.  It’s always there within each of us.  It is ever-present, unchanging, and always loving.  It doesn’t care when we make mistakes or how long or how often we have forgotten about it.  Instead it waits patiently for us to realize our true nature and begin to claim our destiny, our Divinity.

How might your life be different if you were to think and act from Spirit more often?

Peace,

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How Can I Serve?

We all have those moments.  One minute you’re going with the flow of the Universe and then the next moment, Wham!, you’re not.

I’m in the middle of one of those moments now.

The last few weeks have been pretty wonderful.  I’ve been feeling great, choosing mostly creative thoughts, manifesting success for myself in my business, and achieving my goals.

And then this morning, Wham!  While walking my dog Molly, another dog got loose from his house and ran a block to us, picked up Molly by the neck, and would not let go.  Molly and I were both terrified.  I screamed and screamed at the dog and eventually pried his jaws off of her, and I got bit in the process as well, and at some point I fell hard to the ground.  The whole event lasted just seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

Molly and I are both okay.  She was checked out at the doggie ER and just has some abrasions on her neck.  I’ve got sore arm and elbow and some scraped fingers.  We are both tired and a bit shaken, and will probably be pretty sore tomorrow.

The whole day has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  From the terrifying events on the walk, to the fear of the injuries to Molly, to worry about my own health, to anger at the other dog’s owners, mixed with sympathy for them and the struggles I know they are having in their life right now, to guilt about the thought of having their dog taken away.

Three of my biggest values seem to be at odds in this one situation.  I love my dog so deeply and would do anything to protect her.  I have a strong connection to animals and never want to see them needlessly suffer.  I care about my fellow human beings and do not want to add to their struggles.

With this seeming opposition in mind I can feel the swirl of melancholy in my body, the mind’s attempts to get me to “check-out” and return to thinking this is all hard work, and the ego’s pull to drag be back out of the flow of the Universe.

I can feel it deeply, but I’m also watching it from afar as my true self and not buying what the ego would like me to believe.  Yes, I’m allowing my feelings and trying to understand what the core issue is for me here, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll allow my ego to use this situation to take control of my thoughts, my choices, and my life again.

Today I remembered a quote I heard from Wayne Dyer recently, one I’ve been using a lot the last few weeks.  He said the ego’s mantra is “What’s in it for me?” and the true self’s mantra is “How can I serve?”  This in a way seemed a silly question to ask while driving my dog to the ER, and at the same time was perfect the perfect question.  I can serve Molly by caring for her the best I can and by utilizing persons trained to help her in these kinds of situations.  I can serve my neighbor and her family, including her dog, by talking with them and not being afraid of asking for what I need.  And I can serve myself by being gentle and allowing myself to grieve this morning’s events, and by remembering that I’m still in the flow of the Universe.  I can still create what I want to create.  I can create a situation where all involved come out at a higher vibration than where we started this morning.

Peace,

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Can? vs. How Can?

If you haven’t listened to On Being with Krista Tippett before, I highly recommend that you do.  It is a brilliant podcast that consistently delivers intriguing guests and interesting topics of conversation.

A recent interview was with Ellen Langer, a social psychologist, author, and professor at Harvard University.  Langer is also known as the “Mother of Mindfulness.”  Check out her interview to learn more about her and her decades of research on mindfulness.

As a former student and forever lover of semantics, her discussion in this interview of “Can?” versus “How can?” caught my attention.  Langer says that in life when we ask ourselves “can” we do something, we are only appealing to the past and what we’ve been able to do or not do previously.  However, if we instead ask “how can” we do something, we are appealing to our potential.

For example if I ask myself in this moment, “Can I run a mile in under 8 minutes?” the answer is no.  If I instead ask, “How can I run a mile in under 8 minutes?” now I get to look at all the ways I can make that a reality.  I can run every day until I get under 8 minutes.  I can hire a trainer.  I can buy better shoes.  I can choose to run in ideal weather.  I can enlist the support of a running partner.  The list of possibilities is endless when we ask the right question.

If I’m suffering from a broken heart, it’s easy for me to say I’ll never heal from it.  I could ask the question, “Can I heal from this heartache?” and the possible answers are “yes” and “no.”  However, if I ask “How can I heal from this heartache?” the question first implies that yes I can heal, and then opens the door to countless possibilities of how that healing can become a reality.

Other questions we may ask ourselves are:

  • Can I find a job I love? vs. How can I find a job I love?
  • Can I have financial stability? vs. How can I have financial stability?
  • Can I be healthy? vs. How can I create health in my life?
  • Can I find purpose/meaning in this life? vs. How can I find my purpose/meaning in this life?
  • Can I have a connection to God/Source/the Universe? vs. How can I have a connection to God/Source/the Universe?
  • Can I achieve my goals/dreams? vs. How can I achieve my goals/dreams?
Try out these questions in your own mind and create others that have meaning in your current experiences.  See if you feel a difference when you ask yourself “Can?” and when you ask “How can?”.  See how changing the question can open up the possibilities.

I’d love to hear what other kinds of questions you come up with, and how you experience the difference between “Can?” and “How Can?”.  Please share your thoughts and comments by clicking “Leave on Comment” on the left.

Peace,

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Welcome to Jessica’s Journal!

Hello!  And welcome to my journal.  As you can imagine, this is not a typical journal of me conversing with myself about the day and my thoughts and feelings about it.

The purpose of this journal is to invite you into conversation with me.

Every day through conversations, readings, radio programs, my own musings, and the like, I encounter interesting ideas, comments, and stories that I find can help expand the mind, release limitations, and open up a whole new world of possibility.  I invite you to read what I have shared and then add your own thoughts, whether you share my perspective, wish to add to it, or have a different one.  Also, if you find interesting readings or programs that you think I might be interested in, please feel free to send them along.

The vision is that through our conversation we can inspire each other and expand our minds together.