Saturday, January 28, 2012

Keep It Simple Stupid

Have you noticed how with the passing of the years, we have been awakening to the past and what it taught us? We have been navigating through many stages and finally here we are; going back to the times when we were happy, living as a community with less means but more life fulfillment. 

Observing the patterns, I have realized that there’s some kind of magic in living simple. I am a product of it and am currently re-discovering how in simplicity our real life purpose could be reached. What are the benefits of living simple? This is what I know:

  • 1.       It gives us the tools to live with intention, committed to better not only our personal world but the world in general.
  • 2.       It helps us create a safe environment for ourselves and the generations to come.
  • 3.       It gives us a sense of solidarity with the world around us.
  • 4.       It makes us think about our consumption habits and how they positively or negatively affect social needs.
  • 5.       It creates a sense of community, helping and looking after each other.
  • 6.       It raises our levels of spirituality and gets us closer to the basics.
As a teacher, I used to teach my students the KISS (Keep it simple stupid) principle as a way to learn a foreign language in a way that was simple but fun and challenging at the same time. Today, I see that this same principle applies to everything in life. We just waste too much precious time complicating our lives by always wanting more, consuming more than what we really need, asking for a lot more; in an eternal competition, most of the time against ourselves. 

Living simple is a celebration of life where we are grateful for the riches of nature’s perfect creation, the riches of community and mindful sharing with others rather than in the "poverty" of mindless materialism.  

“Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.” — Oscar Wilde

Friday, January 27, 2012

Checking Up Beliefs and Values

At five I was just starting school. My life was split in between a new found intellectual culture, new friends, and caring teachers and the memories of climbing trees, clear skies, and a growing to be wild childhood.
Sweet fifteens came quick, high school escapades, puppy loves, and a life ahead eager to be discovered.

At twenty, when most of us are trying to figure out what to do with our lives, I had already pretty much chosen mine; a mother already and a career on halt.

Thirties came as an avalanche of drastic change and decisions, new world, new dreams, the lift off of an undreamed path. This was the grounding into the world below.

Now, in my forties, when I look back at those years, I see a life of no regrets where opportunities were taken, mistakes turned into lessons, and life lived. I have touched and savored all my goals, my relationships, my good as well as the not so good moments. As life has gone by, only one thing remains unchanged, my love and respect for the family, the value of friendships as a stronghold, and my love for just being here, still living in the wild side of an amazing journey. 

What you just read is real. I consider it a drill in values. Although I am a firm promoter of staying in the present moment, reviewing our past could be helpful when a check up in values and beliefs is needed. Like everything in life, we all change. What kind of world would this be if everything and everyone would remain static? Change is always good. It adds excitement and joy. It makes us thrive, constantly reaching for a star. How have you changed over the years? Did your childhood fantasies became real? What was important to you then? What is important to you now?

In acknowledging our old beliefs and values and how they served or didn’t serve us we position ourselves at the top of the mountain from where we are able to see everything without being directly affected. From there then we can throw away what is not beneficial for us anymore and welcome the new, re-writing our story accepting, changing and taking action for our today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lightning it up!

Plato’s mentor was Socrates. Plato thought Socrates was the wisest person of this time and he passionately desired to learn all of Socrates’ wisdom. Legend has it that one day Socrates and Plato were walking down the beach walking the talk. At one point, Socrates said to Plato, “Walk with me into the ocean.” They turned and walked into the sea together. Student and teacher, two of the greatest philosophers of history were striding into the surf side by side.

The water started out around their ankles, and then rose up to their knees. As the water got higher Plato wondered, “What is the lesson my master is trying to teach me?” When the water was about shoulder height, Socrates abruptly grabbed Plato’s head and pushed him down under the water. As Plato was held down, he undoubtedly wondered again what this lesson was all about. After a time, when Plato ran out of air, he began to struggle to get his head above water. He punched and kicked and grabbed to get free, but Socrates was a strong man and held him down.

Finally, Plato blacked out due to lack of oxygen. Socrates pulled him ashore and resuscitated him. When Plato regained consciousness, he angrily accused Socrates of trying to drown him. Socrates explained, “If that had been my intention, I would not have pulled you ashore.”“Then why did you do that?” Plato demanded.

Socrates calmly replied, “When you desire my knowledge like you desired that breath of air, then you shall have it.”

As humans we have many needs; autonomy, integrity, interdependence nurture, spirituality. What is your present biggest desire? Are you passionate about it? How are you expressing and working towards meeting that need? Every great dream begins with a dreamer igniting the flame of passion and living through it as the air we breathe.

Monday, January 23, 2012

10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy

The Paradox of Practical Spirituality

I don’t usually speak or write about religious matters. I have learned that it is a sensitive topic for many who feel insulted or threaten so if I have to, I always state that I respect and honor all religious beliefs as well as the believers. Today, however, a memory landed in my mind and I guess it was for a reason. Young enough I came to realize the difference between being religious versus being spiritual. As a child, I witnessed many scenes of religious, devoted individuals, faithful church goers and contributors. With time, I began noticing a contradiction between the message delivered and the actions and reactions to it. They would always clash in the real world.

•“Love thy neighbor as yourself.”
•“For if you forgive men, your heavenly father will also forgive you.”
•“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you…”
•“Love bears all things, endures all things, believe all things…”

I started wondering why these people were not capable of actually living through these words. It looked like their faith was limited to the walls of the church. Once in the real world, their tongues would spill judgment, hatred, complaints and a non-stop guilt trip against each other. They would remain submissive and passive in the face of social issues affecting others. They would just be there instead of serving others through their faith. What were they truly doing to contribute, to make life better?

Spirituality is that part of us that reflects the wind, not bounded to the material world; that human feeling of the spirit serving as God’s, the Divine energy instrument. I came to the conclusion that this was the missing link, what religions were truly lacking these days. The message of love can’t be spread through fanaticism, through my beliefs are better than yours, my truth is the only truth, these people are evil, you are all going to hell precepts. How contradictory is this with the message of love each other given more than two thousand years ago?

Practical spirituality is living through and for these words. It is serving; it is feeding our souls by feeding the souls of others no matter their beliefs, gender, race, or preferences. Through practical spirituality we discover that the only way to love ourselves is to love others, and to give love we must feel it toward ourselves first. It reminds us that by forgiving we are releasing our spirits and opening doors. It centers us in the present moment, what we do every new day. It encourages us to stand up for the weak, the abused, and the neglected, and to make a human connection that would allow us to make the changes we wish to see. Isn’t this what we are all craving for? Isn’t one of our most basic needs to serve others, to make a difference and grow our spirit?

In times like this when everything around us seems like being in a chaos, let’s leave our old, non-serving beliefs behind. Instead let’s become what we have always been, spiritual beings practicing radical forgiveness, radical giving, and radical love. Only then we will be able to experience radical changes and the life we have been dreaming of.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oil For Your Lamp Movie

Evolving Women You Are!!

Oil For Your Lamp Movie: Mother Teresa said, "To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it." Most women are so busy filling the lamps of the people they love that they let their own lamps run low. Here is a little movie to remind all women to fill their lamp...

Emptying Suitcases

I guess the announcement should have read like this: “The Casas family is proud and happy to announce the birth of their first baby girl. They are grateful for this blessing and wish their dreams to come through with her arrival.” I’m sure it was something like that. Well, the baby girl grew up to be the opposite of those dreams, at least the way they have planned it; nothing wrong with that. You see, it usually happens that the minute we are born, an inherited purpose is automatically passed on to us. We arrived here and right after that first breathe, a long list of expectations are attached to us. That is in fact our first load. I still remember the voices of my family…you have to do this, become that, follow this. I guess it was a natural tendency, self-created experiences, or just the way the universe had planned it but the fact is that I began breaking all their dreams and plans from an early age. I refused to carry a load which somehow didn’t belong to me.

But then I grew up. As we grow old, we manage to add an excessive amount of weight to our shoulders. So, I studied and became a mother (not in the same order). I wanted to achieve for my family. I wanted to get. I wanted to own, I wanted to be successful. With every want, an extra heavy parcel was packed. At the verge of breaking myself, I questioned the heavy baggage I was carrying. What does being successful have to do with it? It seemed like the more I had the less time I could spend enjoying the things that really made me happy; and in my book, there’s no success without happiness and the joy of waking up every morning feeling grateful and fulfilled. I had totally lost the vision of my own purpose!

Again, against all odds, I started getting rid of that excess baggage that had been consuming my life behind the false veil of the wants, the success, and the pretensions of being according to others. Of course, after so many years of drastic changes and decisions, my family has gotten used to me and my view of what life is. Today, I travel light. I manage to follow my true and simple purpose. I’ve been at the top, rolled to the middle, crashed at ground level, and raised again under my terms. I decide what to throw in my suitcases and for how long.

The product has been an amazing feeling of peace and a light weight over my shoulders, the ability to truly enjoy every minute, even those of critical conditions and, in the end, the respect, admiration, and unconditional love of a family who now agrees that they should have re-written that announcement like this: The Casas family is proud and happy to announce the birth of their first baby girl. They are grateful for this blessing and eager to see what she might become as she follows her own and unique path.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

Making Peace with Your Self

Every morning many of us engage in a fiery battle; the battle of facing negative people, negative thoughts and unexpected situations. We cannot control what others say, think or do but we can control our own reactions to people and events. Acceptance is the key to dealing with these monsters. Realize that everyone is fighting their own battle. It is not you. You are not the problem but them. Don’t go through your day thinking that there is something terribly wrong with you. Step outside the circle and take a look as an outsider. You are not the main character but a casual observer. Accept the situation viewing it from a positive stand. What is this person or situation teaching you? What positive view can you bring to it? Realize the gift and let it go. Continue with your day and don’t look back.

But, what if you are the creator of those uncomfortable situations? Yes, it could be possible that you are the designer of your own discomfort. What is that part of you that you can’t accept? Have you described yourself as lazy, impulsive, depressed, disorganized, unsettled, sad, stubborn, and unbalanced, just to mention some? We could be our worst critic! Maybe the world out there is a friendly place where we could strive and shine. Maybe we are the ones bringing all the shadows. Again, acceptance is the key. We can’t fully love ourselves until we fully accept who we are, the way we are. The more we reject that part of us we don’t like, the more it would show. Once you accept it and embrace it, it amazingly starts changing into its opposite. Every healing process begins with self-acceptance and self-love.

Make time today to think about those things you don’t like about yourself. How are these things getting in your way? How are they affecting your relationship with yourself and, as a consequence, with others? Most important, how could you turn these attitudes or behaviors into golden threads to weave a better and happier life?

Remember; don’t let your shadows take control! Instead, embrace them and transform them into bright light!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Embracing Your Dragons

We all remember fairy tales and bed time stories; princesses, warriors, and dragons. What we probably have forgotten is the hidden messages these stories have brought over the years; the truths hidden among layers of fantasy and magic. Have you noticed how those words, somehow appeal to our own inner strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams? Like these tales, have you been hiding your fears and weaknesses under a disguise? Could these translate into emotions such as anger, frustration, hopelessness, procrastination or the inability to fully expressing yourself?

To fully thrive in life, making each moment count, we need to be able to embrace our dragons, which represent all those emotions holding us back. We must believe that, just like in the tales, we are always protected by guides, also known as intuition. We must find the power to use the tools that have been given to us as natural warriors.

Listen closely. You were born a warrior. You were born with the mental, physical, and spiritual skills and tools needed to win all your battles. You are always surrounded by a protective sphere. You are always protected!

In connecting with the powerful warrior within follow the path of the wise…

1.Identify your dragons.
2.Embrace and accept them as part of your life and take responsibility for their actions and reactions. Rejection will only bring the dragons closer and closer.
3.Reflect. Decide which dragons are not serving your purpose, blocking your warrior potential.
4.Ease your pace. Choose your tools carefully. Develop your strategy before attacking.
5.Enjoy the process. The best lessons occur while fully aware of each step of the journey. Focusing merely on the outcome will lead to confusion and mindlessness.
6.Take risks! Create unique ways to achieve your desire outcome. Possibilities are infinite.
7.Celebrate victory and show your shining warrior armor to the world.

Remember, as Brandon Melanson said. "Life is not a problem to be solved, but full of experiences that need responding to! It is about meaning, value, and purpose."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Questions to Live by........

Effective communication has been one of humanity’s biggest problems. As intelligent beings we have failed in establishing empowered and honest verbal and physical exchanges that could lead to a better understanding among diverse individuals. The problem though begins with our own self. How could we be able to communicate in compelling ways with others if we don’t do it first with the person we are supposed to know best? Know thyself!

I thought about questions we could use as guiding principles to begin our inner exploration; a self talk that could help us in discovering who we are, how to do we react to certain situations, how do we face our daily encounters, and how could we improve our dialogues with others in a way that there are no misunderstandings.

1. Can I honestly express who and how I am without blaming or criticizing myself?
2. Am I able to accept others the way they are without criticism or judgment?
3. When facing an uncomfortable situation, am I able to be objective or do I take it personal?
4. Am I able to clearly express my feelings without feeling guilty?
5. Am I meeting my own needs with joy and satisfaction?
6. Do I have the power to speak up and make requests based on my values, beliefs, and self worth?

Few times we question ourselves. However, as a tendency, we are quick to question, judge, and criticize others. Effective communication starts with self-knowledge, self-acceptance, self-love, and a flexible, open mind. Effective communication begins when instead of judging, we understand; instead of pushing away, we embrace and instead of clinging to old beliefs and habits, we let go.

As we begin a new year, let’s start by getting to know ourselves better in an effort to communicate with others in a peaceful and understanding way. Happy questioning!


Airfares Around The World

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

AdulteryAdultery by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great story by Paulo Coehlo. Real life down to earth characters struggling to find the meaning of life; a mirror of what we all go through day by day. The amazing story of Linda makes us ponder and question. What's life's ultimate purpose? What force moves us? What is it that we should all strive for?

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