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What A Day For A Daydream!

Of all the tools in my writer’s toolbox, the most important one, and the one without which I could not write a word is … daydreaming! What? You heard it correctly … daydreaming. After years of reading books, attending workshops, taking classes, and listening with rapt attention at the feet of the masters, the one tool that has proved the most useful and has provided me with the most inspiration is daydreaming.

Daydreaming is not to be confused with visualization. When we use visualization, we are picturing what we wish to manifest – in our case, our authentic lives – the way we wish them to be. When we daydream, we don’t try to manipulate what we see. We let go of preconceived ideas and beliefs and simply let things unfold. Think of it like meditating on the sky. For example, a few years ago I was sitting on the porch of my old apartment watching the clouds float by on a breezy day, wondering how the birds manage to not only maneuver in the wind, but land on a swaying branch with absolutely accuracy. I wondered what it would be like to soar like that, with the sound of the leaves waving in the wind like a symphony. I sat and daydreamed about what I was seeing, hearing, and feeling. What came out of it was the opening to my book: “Song Of An Extraordinary Life.” It wasn’t something I planned. I knew I needed an opening, so I went and sat on the porch and let my mind wave in the wind with the birds and the trees. Life “sang” my opening right into my mind.

I have a drawer-full of story plots, concepts and outlines for fiction, non-fiction, blog posts and ideas for magazine articles, all of which came to me while I was daydreaming. Remember sitting in the classroom as a child while the teacher droned on and on, all the while staring out the window daydreaming of playing outside? That’s where you need to return, to the kid who daydreamed of adventures and magic. In a daydream, anything is possible. Instead of visualizing what you want your life to look like, let the little child inside stare out of the window of your soul and daydream without restriction or direction. You would be amazed at all the magical places it can take you, including to your authentic life.

This week over on the Home Page, we are going to use this week’s writing assignment to see what “floats” by the window of our minds. I shouldn’t have to remind you to have fun with this one – the fun is built-in, but I will remind you to always, always, keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

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What I Know For Sure

From the very first issue of her successful “O Magazine,” Oprah Winfrey included a column in each issue called “What I Know For Sure.” I have always thought that was a courageous and empowering thing for her to do, not just for her self, but for her readers. In this ever-changing, and always challenging, world that we live in, we all need something to hold on to, truths we can stand on to keep us grounded and help us to navigate through the daily choices we need to make in order to create, and live, our authentic lives. So I thought I would share a few of my own “What I Know For Sure” beliefs that keep me headed in the right direction.

I’m Okay, You’re Ok

I think the most important truth I have come to embrace, and which has done me the most good, is the idea that we are not broken. There is nothing to fix. There is nothing wrong with us. We were all born perfect, whole and complete. We did not come in to this world with an agenda of suffering, insecurity, screw-ups, and heartache. Yes, life may have handed us painful experiences, or brainwashed us into following a path that we might never have chosen on our own, but that doesn’t mean we’re broken, and it also doesn’t mean that we can’t make different choices and step on to a new and better path. You can own the painful experiences, grieve for them, and then surrender them to the past and take that first, new step.

I’m Free To Be Me

There is no set of rules written anywhere that says you have to be a certain way, look a certain way, behave a certain way, or embrace someone else’s beliefs and preferences. You are free to be who you believe is the truest and most authentic version of yourself. No one, not your parents, your friends, your boss, your partner, or anyone else can tell you otherwise. In fact anyone who tries to keep you from living the life you dream of is not, and should not be in your front row. You, and only you, are the author of your story, the captain of your ship, the creator of your life.

Just Be

From the age of 5 I always answered that annoying question, What do you want to be when you grow up?, with the same answer: a writer. The response was either a condescending pat on the head, or a litany of reasons why that was not a great choice, especially for a woman. It seemed that before I could be a writer, I had to be a host of other things including a wife, a mother, a daughter, and card-carrying member of the PTA. In the words of David Hawkins, consciousness researcher and author of the international bestseller “Power vs Force:”

“The true Self is invisible and has no characteristics by which it can be judged. It has no describable qualities, nor can it be the subject of any adjectives at all. The Self merely is and is beyond verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. It does not even “do” anything.”

In other words, you don’t have to be anything or anyone except who you are, a divine and perfect creation who is here to love and be loved. Your job is to just be. The rest is simply whatever you choose to do that makes you happy.

Perspective is Everything

Wayne Dyer was always fond of using this quote:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

For example, it’s not a “miserable” day if it’s raining, it’s just a wet day. Or, you’re not hopeless because you misplaced your keys again, you just need to create a specific place to put them at the end of the day. Some other perspective changing ideas I’ve adopted are:

Bloom where you’re planted.

Do what you can, from where you are, with what you have. (I borrowed that from Mike Dooley, creator of Notes From The Universe).

If life hands you lemons, don’t just make lemonade …  make the best damn lemonade in the world, sell it for a fortune, and plant a whole grove of lemon trees!

Nothing is good or bad until we make it so. Why grow weeds when you can grow roses?

So that’s just a few of the things on my “What I Know For Sure” list. As you might have guessed (because you are all brilliant and talented writers), your assignment for this week on the Home Page is going to ask you to create your very own list. As always, have fun with it and, whatever else you do, keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

 

It’s Just A Matter Of Time

“I don’t have time to create an authentic life.”

At first I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard come out of this person’s mouth during a casual conversation with some friends and family.  On reflection, however, I realized that this has got to be one of the top 10 reasons why people, and women especially, are so busy living the lives that no longer serve them, they feel they have no time or energy to create the ones that do. So I’m here to help you connect to the truth of this excuse:

Time is a man-made illusion. You have all the time in the world.

The concept of measuring time is a human creation. In reality, time is … “timeless!” Each moment connects to the next moment, and the next, and the next, into infinity, and you have the power to use this very moment in any way you choose. If you want to use it to check off one more thing on your to-do list, you are free to do so. If you want this moment to reflect joy, peace, happiness and passion, you are free to choose those as well. It’s your choice. It’s always been your choice, regardless of what the clock on the wall or the date on the calendar tells you.

I have found that the people who have adopted this belief the most are those over 50 and, especially, those over 60. It reminds me of something that Julia Cameron, author of “The Artists Way” said to someone who exclaimed: “Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I finish writing a whole book?” to which she replied, “The same age you’ll be in you don’t.” Every day that you wake up to another day is another 24 hours at your disposal to live authentically, with joy and passion. That, and only that, should be the only thing on your To-Do List. Everything else is just a challenge for you to find a creative way to live which includes doing the laundry, cooking the meals, cleaning the house, and all the other things that go into living. Every minute offers you a choice between an authentic way to accomplish a task, one that comes from that place of wisdom that resides in all of us, or the way that our culture and our upbringing tells us is the right way to accomplish it.  For those of us committed to living an authentic life, the only right way is the one that resonates as true for us.

Time is on your side. To prove it, this week’s writing assignment on the Home Page is going to give you a chance to use it any way you want. As always, have lots of fun with it, let it take your imagination into the unknown and, as always, just keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

P.S. I will be taking some time off next week to spend it with my grandkids who are on Easter vacation. I suggest that you go back over previous writing assignments, find one that really challenged you, and do it again just to see if you get a different outcome. It’s a great opportunity to dig a little deeper and soar a little higher. I’ll see you back here in two weeks. Happy Easter!

An Invitation To The Feast

I was enjoying a cup of chai tea after having treated myself to some delicious Chinese veggie fried rice with steamed vegetables when I finally opened up my fortune cookie. This is what it said:

“The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get less than you settled for.”

For some people, the biggest block they have to creating and living the authentic life they dream of is believing that they don’t deserve it. They look at all the mistakes and bad decisions they made in the past, they look at how dismal their life is now. and they replay in their minds the tapes of all the criticisms and judgements poured on them by those around them. How can they dare to want, and even worse, manifest, the authentic life they dream of when they are so undeserving of it. It’s like coming to a banquet and settling for the crumbs that are dropped from the table by others. Life coach and author Cheryl Richardson even used that same analogy during a workshop she did with The Goddess of Affirmations, Louise Hay, based on their book, “You Can Create An Exceptional Life:”

There was a time in my life when I settled for crumbs. Then one day my therapist asked me why I was settling for crumbs when I could have the whole meal.”

So here and now, before we go any further in our quest for our authentic lives, let’s brush away those crumbs and clear the table:  your are worthy and all deserving of a life that you love. There is nothing you could have done, or could do, to be unworthy of that life. At the center of your being, call it soul, spirit, authentic self, or any other title you want to give it, is the one and only thing that matters – you are loved. I once heard a minister say in a sermon: “God doesn’t make junk.” When you look at the beauty of the natural world around you, and you understand that you are part of that creation, why would you think that you were any less deserving of a beautiful life than the birds, the bees, the trees, and everything else. Whether you call it God, Creator, Source or Fred, someone loved you enough to create you and put you out here in the world to love and share that love.

“But you don’t know what I’ve done. I’m a horrible person, the worst person on the face of the earth,” you might say. I hardly think so. We all make mistakes. We all have lapses in judgement. We all look for something or someone outside of ourselves to put the blame on for how unhappy we are. At some point we have to stop looking for blame and start looking for forgiveness, especially for ourselves. At no point did we come into this world with an agenda that said we would grow up to be the most horrible person on the planet. By forgiving ourselves and claiming the life we were meant to live, we fulfill the purpose for which we were put here – to love and be loved. That’s all, that’s it, no strings attached or conditions to be met. Just that, and that’s more than crumbs, that’s the whole meal.

This week over on the Home Page, our assignment for this week is going to invite you to the banquet, and you get to choose the kind of meal you are going to have. I’m not going to ask you to have fun with this one as I suspect that for many of you it will be more like a meal of cleansing. What I do wish for you is that you come away from this nourished, fulfilled and open to all the joy and goodness that you deserve. And remember, always, keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

Being Good Ancestors

Hi, my name is Barb, and I’m a “quote-aholic.” I collect quotes like some people collect stamps, or coins, or teddy bears (did I mention I am also a “teddy bear-aholic? I guess that’s a subject for an other blog post). I have notebooks filled with quotes I’ve found while reading, or on Facebook, or that I hear from someone at a webinar or workshop. I have several notebooks filled with quotes. I think the reason I do this is because some quotes stop me in my tracks and hold my attention. They challenge me to think about my life, who I am, where I’m going, and what really matters. To make it into one of my quotebooks, they must have deep meaning for me. Is it any wonder, then, that I was drawn to this beautiful quote by Native American writer, Linda Hogan:

Walking

“I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”

“You are the result of the love of thousands.” Wow! Sit and think about that for a minute. Before you arrived in human form on this planet, thousands in your lineage came before you. They lived, they loved, they knew both joy and sorrow, challenge and abundance. Then they brought forth new life, and so it continued down the line until they got to you. I read somewhere that we carry the experiences and memories of our ancestors with us in our blood. In his beautiful autobiography, “The Measure of a Man,” actor Sidney Poitier refers to it as “blood memories.” This concept came to have an even more profound meaning for me this morning as I was searching for a quote to post for Flower Bear’s Thought for the Day, my daily dose of wisdom on my Flower Bear’s Garden Facebook Fan Page (link below). This quote leapt off the page:

“Are we being good ancestors? ” ~ Jonas Salk

If we carry the love and the lives of our ancestors with us, it would follow that those that come after us will be doing the same, including carrying our love and experiences with them as well. It would seem to me that living an authentic life, a life that we love and that ripples that love out to everyone whose paths we cross, is the best legacy we can leave our descendants. It gives creating authentic lives for ourselves even more validity … it gives us purpose. It is, most likely, the best memory we can give those who come after us.

This week for our writing assignment on the Home Page, we are going to share a piece of advice for our descendants to carry with them. We can really get creative and authentic with this one. As always, have fun with it and, always, keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

P.S. Here is the link to your daily dose of wisdom: http://www.facebook.com/FlowerBearsGarden.

 

Answering The Big Questions

The inspiration for creating an authentic life can come from anywhere, anytime. It may be a life-long dream that can no longer be ignored. It could be a book or workshop that leaves a spark. Or, it could be a significant event, or series of events, that turns your world upside down and sets you back down heading in a completely different direction.

One story of just such a series of events comes from best-selling author, meditation teacher, and all around Great Dude (I add that last one because we both hail from the same hometown, Queens, New York), Davidji. Prior to his personal and spiritual transformation, Davidji, known then as David Greenspan, worked high up on the corporate ladder on Wall Street. He had dabbled in meditation and Eastern spiritual studies in the past, but had not found a way to quell that still, small voice inside that told him he was traveling on the wrong path even though to all outward appearances he was the poster boy for success. Then came 9/11. Afterwards, as he was walking down the dusty, grief-filled streets of Manhattan, the hand of a man cowering inside a cardboard box reached out and grabbed his pant leg. The man looked up into Davidji’s face and asked: “What will they write on YOUR tombstone?” Needless to say, Davidji took up the challenge to answer that question, for which I am personally immensely grateful.

I was moved beyond words when I heard him tell that story for the first time. I thought of it again last week when I was reading the newsletter from Robert Holden, Ph.D., about finding your passion from which I took last week’s assignment. Another item on Robert’s list is this one: “What would you like the greatest accomplishment of your life to be?”  It’s a slightly different take on Davidji’s challenge, but if you think about it, they go hand-in-hand. If we define accomplishment as something we achieve, like wealth, stardom, making the best-seller list, or finding Mr. Perfect, that doesn’t say anything to those that come after us about what kind of person we were, or why our presence on this earth mattered. It just tells them what we acquired. Personally, I think that the greatest accomplishments of our lives should be those things that have made a difference in the world, and changed it for the better. I think that when we change people’s lives in ways that allow them to bloom, we turn the whole world into a garden of love and possibility. I can’t think of a better way to live in authenticity, can you?

This week for our writing assignment on the Home Page, I’d like you to think about those two questions and how they might go hand-in-hand for you. Let your imagination, and you dreams, soar! As always, have fun with it, and remember to always keep writing!

Peace and blessings.

Ideas Worth Spreading

I don’t know about you, but I get can’t get enough of watching TED Talks. I try to make it a point to check in every week to make sure I haven’t missed something really exciting, enlightening, or motivating. That’s what I get out of watching TED Talks; I get excited, enlightened, and motivated.

For any of you who may have been living on another planet for the last few years and don’t know what TED Talks are, allow me to explain. TED Talks are talks given by individuals in such fields as technology, education, the arts, religion/spirituality, ecology, economics, sustainability, entertainment, and just about anything worth talking about. As a matter of fact, their mission statement is:

“Ideas worth spreading.”

These talks are geared towards very special individuals who have the financial means to fund an idea or project that will make the world a better place. The price of a ticket to see a talk live is in the thousands (bless YouTube for reaching out to us poorer folks and sharing all this brilliance with us).

The reason I bring this subject up is because I was reading an article by author, teacher and coach Robert Holden, Ph.D., about seven questions you should ask yourself if you’re trying to identify your passion, or purpose, in life. One of the questions was: “What would I like the world to know?” He asks that we come up with a subject for a TED Talk on that very subject. Now, most speakers at TED are only allowed something like 18 minutes to get their idea across to all those rich investors in the audience looking for their next project to fund or idea to back. What could you possible say in 18 minutes that would convince the world of the importance of what you had to say?

I admit I had to think about that one for a long time. Over the last few years, as I have been slowly, but steadily, creating my authentic life, I have been making it a daily challenge to let go of what no longer serves me, and make what does serve me a priority in my life. After several years of doing this, I have come to the conclusion that the only things that matter are love, kindness, compassion, equality, and service. These are the things that matter. These are the things that will heal the world. We all want the same things regardless of where we come from or what religion we follow: we all want peace, love, safety, abundance, and fulfilling work to do. What we’ve been doing up until now hasn’t really worked, has it? As the saying goes: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Why not start teaching love, kindness, compassion, equality and service to each and every child from the time they are 4 or 5 years old? In one generation, we can heal the world. So I guess that’s what I would give my TED Talk on: “Healing The World In One Generation.”

Now, because I know that all of you are brilliant in your own way, I’m sure you’ve already guessed what your writing assignment on the Home Page for this week is going to be! As always, have lots of fun with it, especially this one, and remember to always keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

Smoke and Mirrors

Earlier in the week I was talking about re-reading the 25th anniversary issue of Shakti Gawain’s groundbreaking book, “Living In The Light,” with those of you who also follow my other blog: “Flower Bear’s Garden-Growing A Life” (www.flowerbearsgarden.blogspot.com). In case you didn’t see it, Shakti Gawain is a pioneer in the field of personal development and conscious living. Along with her other book, “Creative Visualization,” she introduces us to concepts and tools to connect with our highest selves and to create the world we want to live in. In fact, it is this idea of living in a world of our own creation that connects so beautifully to our own quest for creating our authentic lives.

The author explains to us that everyone and everything in our lives is there because it is a mirror of what is going on inside of us. In other words, the people in our lives are there because they mirror something about ourselves, whether positive or negative. If we are experiencing a particular problem, it is there because there is something we need to deal with that we’re not acknowledging. I know that idea will meet with some skepticism. I’m not talking about things like natural disasters, or the actions of someone on the other side of the world. What I am talking about is who and what is in the world of your every day life right now. If you are experiencing certain feelings or situations, might they be connected to something that you need to address on a soul level? Let me share some of the insights that Gawain shares in her book:

  • If you experience feeling judged or criticized, might you be doing the same thing to others, or to yourself?
  • If someone is lying to you, is there something you are lying to yourself about?
  • If someone is being irresponsible where you are concerned, how are you being irresponsible to yourself or others?
  • If someone is blaming you, where are you blaming yourself or someone else?
  • If you feel others aren’t listening to you, when are you not listening to your inner self, or who are you not allowing to be heard?

On the other side of the coin, think about the people in your life that you love, respect, and enjoy being with. How do they reflect the inner qualities you like about yourself? What about all the things in your life right now that you are enjoying? They are there because you created them with your thoughts.

In order to create an authentic life, we have to find those people and things that we are mirroring in our lives right now, find the source of that reflection within us, and create new mirrors for the life we want to live. It takes practice, and lots of courage to be honest with ourselves, but it is absolutely essential if we are to create an authentic life that mirrors who we truly are.

This week on the Home Page, our writing assignment is going to give us a chance to look at specific instances where we may be mirroring ourselves in the people around us. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to make some important and lasting changes in your life.

Peace and blessings.

P.S. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you who were so kind with your congratulations and positive feedback about my new book: “Gifts Of An Ordinary Life: What If Just Being Happy Is Enough?” It certainly tells me that the search for a happy – and authentic – life is what everyone is looking for. If you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, here is a link to it on Amazon:

 

Happiness is …

The subject for this week’s blog post and writing assignment is a shameless move on my part to announce and promote my new ebook just released on Amazon Kindle: “Gifts Of An Ordinary Life: What If Just Being Happy Is Enough?”  If I’m going to live an authentic life, it also has to be an honest one.

This new book is the final one in my Third Age Trilogy. The focus of the trilogy is on conscious aging, shattering old, outdated beliefs about what our senior years are supposed to be, and daring other Boomers and Elders to create new, challenging and creative lives for themselves. When it came time to write this last book in the series, it occurred to me that all the creativity in the world will not fill in the lines if we are not happy with ourselves inside and out. So I decided to conduct my own version of the Happiness Project, this one focusing on those years after retirement when I could no longer define myself by my job, my family or any other social measurement.

The subject of happiness has been the focus of countless books, blogs and studies over the last few years. It is as if the world is finally coming to the conclusion that all those things outside of ourselves that we have used to measure happiness in the past no longer work. We have come to realize that happiness is an inside job, something that we choose regardless of what others tell us is the culturally acceptable norm.

So what exactly is happiness? The dictionary tells us that happiness is : the quality or state of being happy; pleasure, good fortune, contentment, joy. What the dictionary doesn’t tell us is that we each define happiness in our own way, filtering it through our own experiences and choices. What brings me happiness may very well differ from what brings you happiness. The ingredients for my happy life may look very different from yours, yet we are each happy in our own way.

The real challenge to happiness is knowing that we deserve it. That is probably the most difficult hurdle to overcome. How did we become a species that believes the decision to be happy is selfish, or only for those who have passed some kind of special test? Happiness is our right, not just the pursuit of happiness, but happiness itself. Making the choice to be happy is a brave, honest, and authentic thing to choose.

So what do you think happiness is? What makes you happy? After all, an authentic life must also be a happy one in order to be truly authentic. If you guessed that these are the issues we’ll be tackling in our writing assignment on the Home Page this week, you would be right. So get ready to create your very own definition of what happiness looks like to you and remember, most of all, to have fun with it.

By the way, if you’d like to find out how my Happiness Project turned out, here is a link to my new ebook, available on Amazon (P.S. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon offers a free reading app to download Kindle books on your laptop, tablet or iPhone):

Gifts Of An Ordinary Life: What If Just Being Happy Is Enough? (Third Age Trilogy) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079SKXYXF

Peace and blessings.

Hello Again

As we continue our search for an authentic life, a funny thing happens along the way. We find out that authenticity is who we really are, and who we really have been all along before we were swayed by the beliefs of others, and before our culture told us that who we are is not good enough. It’s like meeting your oldest, dearest friend again, the one you have not seen for a long time.

I came across this poem by Derek Wolcott that I think says it all much better than I can:

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all of your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

 

This week for our writing assignment on the Home Page, we’re going to become reacquainted with who we really are and who we have always been. It’s time to open the door and let ourselves back in.

Peace and blessings.