Everyday Alchemy.

Everyday Alchemy.

It seems that everywhere we look, we are being sold a myth of fear, separation, and scarcity. The media continually reminds us that we are pitted against one another. In truth, however, we are one community, and all is well. There is enough, and we are enough.

When we bring the practice of collaboration and reciprocity into conscious view a kind of alchemy occurs. To make this magic happen, we need to shift our worldview from the “you-OR-me” world of scarcity and competition to the “you-AND-me” world of collaboration.

In a you-OR-me world, reciprocity and collaboration don’t fit. However, a you-AND-me world is full of collaboration and reciprocity! In that world, our resources are not only enough; they are infinite.

Through a myriad of examples from Mother Nature, we can see that different species of plants and animals already know how to coexist; each providing something essential to balance the environment resulting in an ecosystem that supports the whole of life. As in Nature, so too in our communities, especially now.

This global crisis has inspired many new forms of collaboration because we have had to become even more resourceful as we strive to support each other, our children, our families, and our businesses in these challenging times.

It’s so important that we “see no stranger” despite endeavors to drive wedges between us and to convince us otherwise.

Virtually every day of my life I witness the power of collaboration that bridges these so-called divides that the media continues to try to convince us of.

Truly,  in our every breath we embody reciprocity.

Reciprocity is like the breath we breathe in—no more than what we need, and we breathe out exactly the amount that must be released.

Remember, in reciprocity, there is nourishment and joy. I am here for you, and you are here for me.

Based on text by Lynne Twist

My Inner Warrior.

My Inner Warrior.

When we recognize our warrior self, we can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness.

The human soul is dynamic, adapting readily to the changing conditions we encounter as time marches unerringly forward. Though we may use a single set of characteristics to define ourselves, we slip easily into contradictory roles when circumstances necessitate doing so. When we feel called to explore the way of the warrior, we may feel a strong sense of dismay because we have no wish to disavow ourselves of our softer side. Yet embracing the warrior spirit is not a matter of denying gentleness or compassion -- all human beings embody all traits to some degree, and seemingly contradictory aspects can coexist peacefully within us. 

We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence.

Balance is the key that unlocks the door of peaceable coexistence where opposing characteristics of the self are concerned. The warrior spirit, when allowed free reign, is overpowering and all-consuming. If it is to be an affirmative force in our lives, it must be tempered with wisdom and moderation. Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values. 

The warrior may be nourished by raw emotions with the potential to cause us to lash out, but it channels that energy into positive and constructive action. 

Your inner warrior is one source of strength you can draw upon in times of great need. When you employ your warrior spirit thoughtfully, it manifests itself as clarity, focus, determination, courage, constancy, and an unflappable zest for life. The warrior views roadblocks as evolutionary opportunities and is not afraid to pursue a purpose to its climax. There is more than enough room in the existence of the warrior for softness and benevolence, and the warrior's willingness to stand up for their beliefs can aid you greatly as you strive to incorporate these ideals into your existence. 

Exploring this unique side of yourself is a means of broadening your reality so you can internalize mindfulness while meeting life's challenges with an intensity of spirit that never wavers.   
Taking Time For Myself.

Taking Time For Myself.

Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish.

Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. 

Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul's needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.

 It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people's requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.

Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. 

The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life. 
Being Present Instead Of Seeming Busy.

Being Present Instead Of Seeming Busy.

Do you remember when the standard answer to ‘how are you doing?’ was “So crazy busy!”  Seldom did anyone follow up with, ‘So, what exactly is keeping you busy?’  Back in 2019 simply saying you were busy was enough.  It sent off a signal that you were in demand and doing well. Because free-time was, well, free (i.e. unpaid), no one wanted it. In fact, the less free time you said you had, the more successful you appeared.

But then the pandemic hit, and something shifted, at least for those lucky enough to have enjoyed the flexibility of working from home.  Almost overnight, being seen to be busy was no longer the measure of success it once was.  And, far from being worthless, unpaid free time for ourselves and those we care about became seen by many as more precious than status or money. 

The true value of free time

A recent Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% were considering quitting or changing professions this year. Overwhelmingly they say they’re looking for more flexibility. Most want a hybrid model of working, where they split their time between an office and a remote location. 68% of workers believe this balance is the “ideal” workplace model.

Something about the pandemic made people realize that every unnecessary virtual meeting was eating away from the time they could otherwise have been spending doing something they actually enjoyed.  Purely virtual interaction shone a spotlight on under-performers who try their hardest to project the illusion they are incredibly busy.  

Of course, the same was true before the days of working from home, it’s just that when you’re at the office, you can’t slip away for two hours to practice the guitar or tend to your garden. With our office in the living room, however, it becomes much clearer that all this busyness is making us less productive, and is keeping us away from people and projects we’d like to spend time with.

Being busy wasn’t always the badge of honor it came to be. Even in the USA, with its strong work ethic, only 100 years ago having a lot of leisure time conferred status. In his 1899 book The Theory of the Leisure Class, the American economist Thorstein Veblen concluded the richer you were, the less work you’d have to do and the best way to signal your status was by boasting how much free time you had. 

In my experience, the more in-demand someone is, the less they feel the need to project how busy they are. Highly successful people frequently give the impression that they have all the time in the world. Likewise, artists, entrepreneurs, or tech wizards may choose to fill every waking second in the pursuit of their dreams, but they won’t brag about how busy they are.  In fact, they often pretend to have more ‘play time’ than they do.  

Instead of seeming busy, why not make it clear that you are present, readyand available?

People who love what they do understand that advertising how busy they are will ikely deter people from giving them more responsibilities or including them in new projects.

Only this week, a friend asked me if I was busy. I knew what they meant, of course.  They meant is your life full and fruitful.  But that word, busy, triggered me.  You see, I value NOT being busy. I value having enough time for everything and everyone that’s important to me.  So, instead of pretending to be busy, I told my friend I was trying my hardest to make sure I am never too busy.

And, there is a secret to being productive but not busy. 

It may seem very obvious, but just say NO.  Decline attendance at meetings where your presence is not essential. Turn down assignments that could better be executed by others. Politely refuse invitations that don’t serve you. Refer clients who are not your ideal client to other professionals. I do this all the time and it leaves me the space I need to properly serve the projects and the clients who were made for me. 

Likewise, your inbox is mostly full of other people’s ‘to-do’ lists. Some requests you may feel compelled to answer. Delete the rest.

4,000 Weeks

The average human life span in the developed world is 83.5 years or 1000 months. We each get the possibility of 1000 months, or 4,000 weeks, at birth and count down from there. On our deathbed, one of the most common regrets is “I wish I’d spent less time at work and more time with the people I loved.”

I can think of no better metric for success than being present and available. When someone tells me they have all the time they want for their heart’s deepest desires, I know they have attained a level of awareness and personal success which frantically busy people cannot even dream of.

Text by Remy Blumenfeld

Declaring My Intentions.

Declaring My Intentions.

When you’re feeling stuck in life and are ready for change, take time to declare to the Universe that you’re ready.

There comes a point in most of our lives when we feel ready to experience a change we’ve had trouble carrying out. Maybe we’ve been stuck in a home, a relationship, job, or a town that hasn’t felt right for a long time, but we’ve been unable to shift our circumstances in the direction we want to go. At times like this, it can help to declare to the universe that we are ready for a change. Think of it as informing a helpful friend that you need her assistance to move to the next level in your life. If the time is right, the universe will respond with opportunities and offers designed to help you create the change you wish to see.

You can begin the process of making your declaration by getting clear within yourself about what exactly you want to change. Whenever we ask anyone for help, they can assist us that much better if we are specific. The universe also appreciates our clarity and has an easier time answering a direct communication than a vague yearning. When you are clear on what you want, write your declaration on a piece of paper and place it on your altar, if you have one. If you don’t, you can also place it under your pillow or in a box on your nightstand. Set aside a period of time every day to be silent with your wishes for change, repeating your declaration like a mantra. This lets the universe know that you are ready to change and will be receptive to its efforts.

Feel free to continue to refine and redefine your declaration, and remember to be open to the many different ways in which the change you seek might come to be. Remember also to be active in your own efforts, taking opportunities that come your way, watching for signs, and always taking responsibility for your intentions.

When things don’t happen quickly, be open: it might take time to free up energy that has been blocked and possibly serving a purpose beyond what we can understand.

When you continue your conversation with the universe, declaring yourself clearly and openly, you cannot help but experience the magic of changing and being changed.

Declaring Our Intentions.

Declaring Our Intentions.

If you’re feeling stuck in life and are ready for change, take time to declare to the Universe that you’re ready.

There comes a point in most of our lives when we feel ready to experience a change we’ve had trouble carrying out. Maybe we’ve been stuck in a home, a relationship, job, or a town that hasn’t felt right for a long time, but we’ve been unable to shift our circumstances in the direction we want to go. At times like this, it can help to declare to the universe that we are ready for a change.

Think of it as informing a helpful friend that you need her assistance to move to the next level in your life. If the time is right, the universe will respond with opportunities and offers designed to help you create the change you wish to see.

You can begin the process of making your declaration by getting clear within yourself about what exactly you want to change. Whenever we ask anyone for help, they can assist us that much better if we are specific. The universe also appreciates our clarity and has an easier time answering a direct communication than a vague yearning.

When you are clear on what you want, write your declaration on a piece of paper and place it on your altar, if you have one. If you don’t, you can also place it under your pillow or in a box on your nightstand. Set aside a period of time every day to be silent with your wishes for change, repeating your declaration like a mantra. This lets the universe know that you are ready to change and will be receptive to its efforts.

Feel free to continue to refine and redefine your declaration, and remember to be open to the many different ways in which the change you seek might come to be. Remember also to be active in your own efforts, taking opportunities that come your way, watching for signs, and always taking responsibility for your intentions.

If you continue your conversation with the universe, declaring yourself clearly and openly, you cannot help but experience the magic of changing and being changed. 
Slowing Down.

Slowing Down.

Life can often feel like it’s zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.  

Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships.
Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the “fast forward” stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive. 
Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace.

The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. 

Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be.

Text by Madisyn Taylor

Writing Your Story.

Writing Your Story.

We all have a story to tell, whether we publish it or keep it for just ourselves or family; allow yourself to be heard.

Everyone, at one time or another, has wanted to express his or her story.

Writing a memoir to read privately, share with family or friends, or publish is an emotionally satisfying way to gain perspective on your experiences while sharing your unique voice. We’ve all experienced feelings and events in our lives that we are longing to write down. Giving in to that urge can give you an outlet for purging any frustration, anxiety, or long-dormant feelings.

No one else has to read it. You may even want to write your story without reading it right away. Satisfying the need to tell your story is not predicated upon your writing ability. It does, however take effort to write down the truth in detail. Your memories, captured on paper as descriptive scenes, sights, sounds, and scents, may at first seem disconnected or incomplete. But rest assured that you possess the ability to shape your recollections into stories.

Everyone wants to be heard. Reading your story to others can meet that need. Writing your story can also help you understand your life experiences. And when you finish writing, you may be surprised at what you have accomplished. Your story can encompass as much or as little of your life as you prefer. You may surprise yourself with new insights, or you may find yourself exploring your roots, your identity, and your future through your words. Allow your writing to guide you and write as truthfully as possible. Don’t worry about what others will think of your personal journey, your style of writing, or your words.

As you write, remember to have compassion for yourself, particularly when writing about traumatic events. If you are a young person, you can add to your life story as you grow older. Your writing may help family members know you better, or they may understand themselves more through reading about your experiences.

More importantly, you are expressing yourself in a permanent way, giving a gift to yourself, and letting your voice be heard.

About Birthdays and Aging

About Birthdays and Aging

“I’m 64 and I am loving my life more than ever. My friends (many of whom are retiring) ask me when I am going to retire. I tell them that I would love to die on a Friday night, knowing that I got to finish another week doing what I love. What a blessing that is. I worked for The Gallup Organization for 13 years and they have a question they have been asking in workplaces for almost 25 years: At work, I get to do what I do best every day. Sadly, only one person in five answers yes to that question. Twenty percent of us. And over time the numbers have never changed, as I understand it. We are the lucky ones, the ones in the 20 percent who get to do what we do best every day, to dream big, to keep going.”

—Dennis Welch, president at Articulate PR Communications, Austin, TX

“I am grateful to be alive, I am grateful to have reached the age of 36, and to have great relationships with my parents who I love very much… Through various practices and studies, I work towards letting go of my material attachments and fears related to death, but at 36 years old, I mostly understand Krishna’s words to Arjuna via the Bhagavad Gita intellectually at this point: ‘While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief, those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead,’ but I am hopeful that I will internalize his words as I age.”

—Ajani Charles, professional photographer, director, and producer, Toronto, ON, Canada

“I follow the teachings of the Buddha who reminded us all that our earth was truly an empty place devoid of all things for which many of us endlessly and relentlessly craved throughout our life under illusion. Psychoanalyst, sociologist, and philosopher Erich Fromm, who was not a Buddhist but who had in his later years been briefly ordained as a Buddhist monk, classified humans into two main groups: Unproductive and Productive. The former consists of those who live to eat while the latter represents those who eat to live, or to be — to be alive and to be productive for oneself and all humans. Dr. Fromm’s view of humanism was aptly summarized by your astute remark: ‘The paradox of the good life is how to be detached from worldly things while being fully engaged in the world.’”

—Dhanarat Yongvanichjit

“My mother used to say: ‘Si la jeunesse savait et la vieillesse pouvait.’ (‘If youth only knew, if age only could!’)Healthy aging is not limiting in terms of what one can or not do; on the contrary, it is freeing!”

—Agnes M. da Costa, head of the regulation advisory office at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Brazil

“70 is an incredible number to have achieved. In all the ancient Jewish texts, the number 70 is associated with strength and is a combination of the number 7 which represents perfection and the number 10 which represents completion. What an auspicious occasion for you to celebrate! Looking forward to watching you soar into your next decade.”

—Sharon Ufberg, co-founder of Borrowed Wisdom, Hermosa Beach, CA

“Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote his own epitaph: ‘He never grew up, but he never stopped growing.’”

—Rebecca Hoffberger, founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

“I think this is what Maslow meant when he wrote about self actualization, reaching that point in life that offers a 360-degree perspective with the beauty of hindsight to help us view and experience the present and the future from a new vantage point that is truly beautiful and filled with excitement.”

—Jerry Kitchel, consultant at HEART, Upland, CA

“I’ve always believed that in our 20s, the world is our oyster, though we don’t know it; in our 30s we’re focused on approval; in our 40s we have the confidence but not the wisdom; in our 50s, if we’re lucky, we have the wisdom and the confidence; in our 60’s the world is our oyster, and we know it!”

—Nicki Anderson, director of women’s leadership program at Benedictine University,Naperville, IL