Monthly Archives: January 2014

Three Stages of Love

In my experience, there are three basic stages of Love. And they usually occur in this order:

love agaveBe loving. Simply stated: Love others and love yourself, through your words, thoughts, and actions.

Be lovable. This is not about being cute; it’s about being receptive to love from someone else. Surprisingly, this can be a real challenge for many, but I’m here to say you are 100% WORTHY of love, exaclty as you are.

Be Love. Do 1 and 2.

Ok, so #3 is one of those “wisdom statements” I referred to in an earlier post. It’s simple and true…and somewhat airy. Here’s how to make it accessible:

Let your actions, decisions, words and thoughts come from the space of love inside you. If you embody 1 and 2, you will “Be Love.” In other words, allow the idea of Love as an energy, a thought, a feeling, to guide you in your day. Use it as a barometer against which you measure your decisions. If, for example, something is out of alignment with Love (like gossip, for instance), you have a choice. You can always choose something new, something different. Always.

Some practical questions you can ask yourself as you choose to Be Love:

  • Is this thought coming from a loving space?
    (If not, where is it coming from? Fear? Anger? Hurt? – How can you change it?)
  • Does this action/decision support my intention of being loving and lovable?
    To myself? To others? (<– see what I did there? Put yourself first.)
  • What is the loving thing to do in this situation?

Life can be hard. Life can be a struggle. This is not about being perfect. If, for example, you “mess up” and say something out of fear or hurt (or exhaustion), love yourself back into alignment by apologizing, or making a different choice the next time, or whatever you think would be a more loving response than what you did. (I speak from experience here.)

This is all about engaging in the process and allowing yourself to make different choices, being more open to a life filled with Love, both giving and receiving it. Because Love is the essence behind everything you are, and everything you desire (not to mention: creativity, prosperity, and joy!).

Water is Life and other wisdom

Let Go… Live in the Now… Be the Change…

Those are beautiful and wise sentiments, aren’t they? I agree. There are so many truths in the wisdom and teaching that has been shared. All of these and many more are great suggestions for living a more peaceful balanced life. But… (you knew there would be a “but” from me, didn’t you?)… they can also be very shame-inducing and part of an endless cycle of fear, failure and lack.

Here’s why: Suggesting to someone how to BE, is virtually the same as telling them what they currently ARE is wrong. (Even without actually saying the words “You’re wrong.”)

“You’re wrong,” is an incredibly powerful statement. It negates and trivializes another person’s existence, experience and truth. Furthermore, these mantra-esque suggestions are statements of hindsight. They don’t express the actual work someone had to go through to arrive at this enlightened state and wisdom. (The Buddha didn’t just “let go” for example, it took a fair amount of searching, process and exploration for him to arrive at “letting go.”) And therein lies the problem I have with these distilled statements of truth.

Stating a simplified truth as fact disavows the process,
and the process is where enlightenment occurs.

So, my goal is to give some meat and substance to commonly-held truths or wisdom. My hope is that it will help you along your journey to know that you’re not alone and perhaps gain some insight into your own process, via someone else’s (aka: mine). Here’s a simple metaphor to get us started and explain my intention:

The example: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

In this instance, the wisdom statement made by a thought leader might be: “Water is Life.” The sages, gurus, and teachers who have arrived at that statement could more accurately say, “Water saved my life,” but it’s less auspicious. Most importantly, though, how they got to this simple truth might sound like this:

“I was thirsty, tired, alone, scared, and I didn’t know what to do. As I sat at the side of the road, several people passed me who told me there was water up ahead. A few strangers gave me sips from their own supply. Sips! Sips do nothing when you’re dehydrated! What were they thinking? Why couldn’t they just give me their water?! But finally, I saw a footpath, and I started walking. At first I stumbled. A lot. Then it became easier. Then the path stopped and I had to find another one. And another one. All the while, I was still thirsty, but there was some shade along the way, and I took refuge in it, pausing here and there. That was nice. Finally, at a bend in the path, I saw a well. At the well, I sat down. How was I going to get the water? Maybe someone else would come along who had a bucket. So I sat, and sat, and waited. Waited for someone else to come help me relieve my thirst. Nobody came. Heck, I didn’t even know if the well had any water in it. So, I walked on. Still thirsty, I thought of turning back. Many times. Actually, sometimes I did. But I remembered what one stranger said – there’s water up ahead. Maybe he wasn’t referring to the well. So, I kept going. It wasn’t easy. In fact, a lot of the time it hurt and I was in pain. But I kept going. Hoping the stranger was right. Then it happened. I heard it before I saw it – the gentle babble of a clear stream. Water! Open water! Flowing water! My heart sang! I found water. I found water!!! An endless supply of water. I walked over to it, cupped my hands, and took my first sip… I would be thirsty no more. Ahh, life.”

Much (much) later, that entire story would have been boiled down to “Water is Life,” a simple, easy truth. However, in that simple, easy truth we’ve lost the humanity in the wisdom. The story TAUGHT the truth to the teacher. And, in my opinion, the story is much more powerful, accessible and pure.

Sadly, a simple phrase, such as “Water is Life” can be shaming for some, and simply inaccessible for others, no matter how true it is. Which is why I hope to breakdown some of these sayings into bite-size stories that help them come alive.

As such, you’re welcome to send me your suggestions or questions for addressing other “truths” you’ve heard along the way and might be struggling with, and I will do my best to shed some light on them. And may I suggest the next time someone tells you to “let go” because it’s the path to happiness and freedom – perhaps you could ask them exactly how they’ve managed to do it, because the wisdom behind the truth lies in the story.

 

Words, Gratitude and a MISSION!

“Changing the world by changing lives, one person at a time.”

That was my “old” motto/slogan. (Can I call it old if it’s only been 5 years?) I suppose in this day and age of digital everything; it’s almost ancient, actually. But it’s still valid today – and it will be valid every day, for the rest of my life and beyond. So it’s really very very new. ☺

It’s what I believe. It’s what I do, and I think it’s what I’ve always done. It’s what I choose every day that I wake up. I believe it’s a choice to chat with a clerk in a store, to engage in a conversation with a friend, to share an article or quote that we find inspiring, to hug or call someone who’s hurting, and to simply look a stranger in the eye and smile. These are choices I make to connect with the world around me, and I carry them forward in my coaching, writing and teaching.

What you don’t know is: Growing up, I used to think I could only change the world if I became a successful and famous (insert profession here), and then joined the UN Ambassador program to highlight areas of need. I used to think I had to do something notable and noteworthy in order to make a dent in the world for the better. I know a lot more since then, and I’m glad that’s not the only way to go about things, but sometimes my mind wanders back to those thoughts and ideas, and I wonder…

Then, as a reminder, last October I received this unexpected email from a reader:

Hi Martina,

Thanks for the gift of your words.

I forwarded this to a friend who is recovering from being involved with (someone)…
And your words lifted her world tremendously !

You’ve touched many today!

Blessings,
(name withheld)

I still fill with gratitude reading it. I am still in awe at the power of words to change someone’s life, and I am humbled by the fact that they came through me. (And THANK YOU my dear reader for sharing with me.)

So now I’m modifying my MISSION (formerly a motto/slogan) ever-so-slightly to more accurately reflect who I am and what I do:

Changing the world by changing lives –
one person, one moment, one word at a time.

I know this is possible. In fact, it’s more than that – it’s probable! So let’s do this together! All it takes is a smile, a hug, or even a word to change somebody’s world. Are you ready to join in?

Faith, Empowerment and Life

faith pic

If you follow me on Facebook (Do you? Because I think you’d like it if you did. If you’d like to click here), you’ve already seen this little gem of a ‘definition’ I created last year. What you don’t know is where it came from. I thought it was time I shared that with you.

One night last Fall, I woke up at about 3am. If you’ve ever done any spiritual studying (or listened to Wayne Dyer, for example), you’ve heard that the “veil” between the 3D world (earth, human, etc.) and the spirit world is thinnest around that time. It’s when we seemingly have greatest access to our intuitive self and our guides, angels, etc. (Unless, of course, you cultivate this work – then access is 24/7, which is awesome!)

Anyhow, it was about 3am, and I was awakened by a stream of creative thought coursing through my brain. On this occasion I thought it best to sit up, pop on some lights, and write things down (much to my dog’s annoyance). In the space of a few minutes, a new workshop was born. A workshop in which the quest for the authentic self could be made more accessible, fun, and engaging – yay! (It’s coming soon.) And, in the middle of this creative flow, came the words:

Faith is Feeling Alive In The Heart

I wrote it down. I wrote everything down, and promptly fell back into a deep sleep.

The next morning I woke up with a vague memory of having done all this in the middle of the night, and I fumbled for my notepad. There it was, staring me in the face, like a little gift. I suddenly realized that so much of what I’ve been studying, learning, sharing, and processing comes back to a simple question:

What makes you feel alive?

I’ve used variations of that question in countless sessions with clients and groups, such as: What brings you joy? What makes you smile in your heart? What gives you giggles in your belly? The truth is – all of these things make us feel ALIVE. And when we feel alive, we feel viable and valid. We feel strong, capable. And we feel empowered. And therein lies the Faith.

Faith, for me, is not about religion nor is it about a specific practice or belief system. It’s not some altruistic lofty goal that defies understanding and prompts philosophers and physicists alike to explore its meaning in our world. It’s much more tangible than that.

Faith is a feeling – a very powerful feeling. Faith transcends doubt and fear, and brings it back to the heart – the center of your individual Universe – which is empowerment in itself. It can show up as a gentle knowing, a powerful source, a calm acceptance or understanding. However it presents itself, Faith is life-giving.

For me, then, Faith is a lifeline, a vibrancy in my heart that is always accessible, even when I forget it’s there. And that is a gift indeed.

Sweating icebergs… no, seriously.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all just small stuff.”

Actually, no. It’s not. It’s not all “just small stuff,” and to say that is sort of like saying to someone, “your feelings don’t count.” They DO count, and you’re totally allowed to have them.

In the grand scheme of things (we’re talking Universe, here), we probably can agree that it’s all small stuff. We’re small stuff. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important, and that doesn’t mean that it’s not huge to you. Furthermore, we don’t live in the Universe, we live here. Now. And these small things matter. Why? Well, the simple truth is:

If you’re sweating about it, it’s important to you. And that means it’s important enough to take a look at and not brush it aside as “small.”

So, here’s the good news – once we acknowledge the importance of something in our life, actually look at it and listen to what our emotions are telling us (they’re the warning signs on the path of life, by the way), chances are that the thing making us sweat will actually shrink a little. Just validating it as your truth gives it permission to go on its merry way. How awesome is that?

Now, is this always the case? No, but it happens more than you might realize. Acknowledging these little, but important, things opens the door to exploring them further, which gives you the power and opportunity to shift them into something that no longer causes you to sweat. It might still be there, but you may no longer be sweating over it.

So….small stuff? Big stuff? Pfffftt. It doesn’t matter what size it is, it’s all “stuff.” (Besides, “size” is completely subjective. What’s big to you might be miniscule to someone else, and vice versa.)

What matters is that we begin to understand that it’s the “stuff” that provides us with the greatest opportunities to grow, learn and create the life we truly want to live: the authentic life.

Embrace your “stuff.” Listen to it. Ask it questions. Sit with it and share some space with it. Invite it for a coffee or walk in the park, and find out what it wants so desperately to tell you, and then breathe. You might find that it wasn’t so small to begin with – that it was more like an iceberg: tiny on top, with a whole lot going on underneath. Only then can you truly decide whether or not to sweat about it. And…only then do you give it a chance to float away.

Expectations are Hope in Disguise

I recently had an opportunity to experience suffering. The kind where you sometimes sit on your shower floor and cry, hoping the constant stream of water from above will somehow dilute the salty rivers on your face (and where nobody can hear you or see the snot that has also formed some sort of waterfall over your lip). Yeah, that kind of sadness. Suffering.

So much has been said in recent years about how expectations are the root cause of suffering. Hmmm. I’d always agreed with that. (Well, accepted it without challenging it is probably more accurate.) But these bouts in the shower gave me cause to pause. And guess what? I disagree. (Not that that should come as a surprise to most of you. lol)

My new thought:

I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations.

Actually, I think it’s hope for humanity’s future to hold expectations of one another. I expect people to be kind, respectful, and compassionate, and act in a way that is in accordance with that. For me, these are some of the highest values of basic humanity. To expect less than these basics almost feels like I’m letting my fellow humans down – like I’m saying: “I don’t believe in you.”

So why is there a plethora of writing linking expectations and suffering? Well, suffering comes when I form an emotional attachment to the outcome of my expectations, to the decisions and/or actions of others. Attachment is quite different than expectation, because it involves control. And, if we’re honest, attachments, in their essence, are actually judgments. (And we all know about judgments, right? – if you don’t know what I’m saying, check out my spooky Halloween post.)

What, then, are attachments? Bottom line:

Attachments are attempts at control based in fear, and they’re unhealthy.

In my opinion, they are the root cause of emotional suffering. So many things can grow out of attachment that you probably don’t realize. Things like: low self-worth, low self-esteem, anger, frustration, disappointment, despair, disregard, are all products of attachment. If I were to attach an emotional investment (my happiness) in a fellow human behaving a certain way, boy would I be in trouble!

Trying to control things that are not mine will ALWAYS create opportunities for suffering, and control is a form of attachment. (Not to mention being a sign of disrespect toward someone else.)

Healthy expectations are an integral part of any relationship. They allow us to hold one another in high esteem, and challenge ourselves and each other to be the best we can be. Expectations are like little pompoms of encouragement waving wildly on the sidelines of the game of life. They help us identify what’s possible and feel supported in getting there. Attachments, meanwhile, derail us from our own truth and knowing, like the really loud fans from an opposing team trying to distract us from our purpose.

Expectations, therefore, are an expression of hope. And hope is always a good thing.