Monthly Archives: September 2015

Would You Change the World?

If you could change the world… would you?

There’s an aspect to that question that implies it’s “for the better,” but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I think that we do change the world around us every single day – without realizing it or thinking about it, and not always for the better.

Think about it: we are a product of our environment and simultaneously we create our environment. We are the beginning and the end of what we see, hear, and experience on a daily basis.

Therefore, the question is not really “would you,” but since you already are, what can you do differently?

Everything you send out becomes a seed or ripple for someone else. Everything.

And before we get into whether this is spiritual mumbo-jumbo or too altruistic and theoretical, let me say plainly that it’s not. Here’s why:

I’m human. I react to the events in my environment. I may get upset, elated, angry, happy, hurt, etc. For example, if I’m driving down the road and get cut off, I’ll have a reaction. It’s natural.

What happens in the seconds AFTER my initial reaction is what matters most. If I get cut off, I might say, “oh, come on!” aloud in my car. I can then choose to pursue it further (swear, honk, offer a hand-related gesture) or let it go (breathe, listen to music, pay attention to my own driving). This is where the power lies. In that nano-moment I have the power of choice, and what I choose directly affects the world around me.

My decision changes the world, one way or another.

If I carry it further, I have created ripples in my own life by letting my actions affect my mood and subsequently how I show up. I have also created an opportunity for the other person to carry it further, and create their own domino effect that moves on down the line. A change in the world has occurred.

If I choose to let it go, I am reclaiming my own power, which means I show up with that presence, which has its own ripple effect down the line. Letting it go also means that I am stopping at least one of the dominoes from the person cutting me off by not allowing them to send their ripples toward me. A change occurs.

Our actions directly affect how we show up in the world, and subsequently, how we invite the world to show up for us. A change occurs either way. If you want to change the world for the better, being deliberate in your choices is a good place to start.

What I learned from Ozzy Osbourne (no, really)

I am rarely ahead of the curve on anything. I still haven’t watched a single episode of Mad Men, I have no clue why Orange Is The New Black, and the only Housewives I know are my friends who are stay-at-home moms.

So, when I started seeing all the posts on social media over the last year about the benefits of coloring as meditation, I smiled quietly inside as I heard a voice in my head say, “yup,” while my wanna-be hipster started jumping up and down like a cheerleader.

Coloring as meditation is something I have been doing for many years. I even offered it as a component of a self-care fair during graduate school. (I even got our Dean to color a mandala!) I offered it because I knew of its benefits. I suggested it because I know it as a path to self-care and inner calm. I know these things, not because of a research study, but because I had been practicing this kind of meditation and self-care for a while, and it was one of the strongest, most-beloved tools in my toolbox. But, I’ll bet you’d be surprised to learn where I originally got the idea.

Years ago – I really don’t remember when, though I imagine somebody could look it up – I watched The Osbournes on TV. It was a favorite pastime for my ex-husband and I to see what Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly and Jack were up to. The episodes always proved entertaining. I loved it. Unlike today when I barely turn the TV on, back then I had my favorite shows, and The Osbournes was one of them.

Much to my surprise, on one episode in particular I watched Ozzy pick up some marvelous looking markers from his kitchen counter and promptly sit down at a bar stool to do what looked like coloring. My brain said this, possibly out loud:

Ozzy Osbourne is sitting in his kitchen, coloring. Ozzy. Osbourne.

Perhaps he was doing original art, the camera never showed us. For me, I saw markers which meant Ozzy was coloring. And as he was coloring, I watched his whole body look calm and peaceful, even as the mayhem swirled in the kitchen around him. In that moment, I remember thinking to myself,

“God, I miss coloring!”

That sentiment was immediately followed by,

“That looks so awesome – to just sit and color.”

Soon after that episode aired I found some markers in a drawer and decided to start doodling. I enjoyed feeling the markers in my hand, watching the surge of color pour onto the page, and seeing the simple little doodles come to life in front of me. It was fun! More than fun, though, it felt good.

At the time, I didn’t explain it as something “healthy,” “meditative” or “peaceful.” Coloring was something to do that felt more productive than just watching TV. In fact, I often did it in front of the TV, which actually allowed me to slowly give up almost all TV in general. Coloring wasn’t an escape though (TV was the escape). Coloring was me moving TOWARD something… toward something fabulous, calming, and expressive. Coloring was a way for me to get in touch with myself again. What started out as a passive hobby soon became a deliberate choice.

A little while later, I found one of my old coloring books from when I was in elementary school or maybe high school. It was barely used, but it was intricate and detailed. It was what I now call an “adult coloring book.” Unfortunately, sometimes the word “adult” has a very different connotation, but there were very few other ways I could think of to explain myself. So, “adult coloring book” it was, and I started searching them out in crafts stores and online. (Thankfully both Google and Amazon understood what I meant!)

Back when I first started coloring, there were very few books available, but there were some. Not as many as today of course, but enough. I found two main resources for coloring books on Amazon and became a loyal customer. I started to build a collection.

coloring books

My collection today

I would spend hours each week, calmly sitting in a chair with my markers, coloring. I also started creating art for other people in my life to share my passion and creativity. I colored and colored, and colored some more. My collection grew, and I found myself with so many options, across so many areas of interest, that I started cataloging my work. I then went shopping for even better markers. I started playing with shading and backgrounds. I found my inner artist come to life through coloring. More importantly, I found great peace and a sense of calm as I sat and quietly filled in the empty space between the lines with deep rich color.

It wasn’t long before I started creating my own designs, mandalas, specifically, that I could color. My coloring had become more than a refuge, it was an outlet, and I loved it. I colored straight through my divorce and graduate school. It provided me with a sense of joy, creativity, and calm whenever I took my markers out. Coloring was good for me. More importantly, coloring was fun.

I could never have known so many years ago that coloring would become what it has today. I only knew that it helped me find peace, quiet, and joy at the end of my busy days. I shared it with those that were interested, and kept seeking out new coloring books that sparked my curiosity.

Turkish Mandala

©martinafaulkner.com

Today, I use coloring very deliberately, and I have clients who do the same (sometimes it’s their homework!). Recently when I noticed my stress levels had gotten unmanageably high, I pulled out my markers, sat down in a comfy chair, and I colored. Within three days of doing this repeatedly, my sleep improved and my mood lifted.

 

 

If you haven’t tried coloring yet – may I suggest you take a page out of Ozzy Osbourne’s book and find a little time in your day for this wonderful creative outlet. It just might bring you calm in the midst of chaos. At the very least, you’ll get to feel like a kid again, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Alignment & Authenticity (and a book tour!)

I’m just about to embark on my first-ever book tour for What if..? How to Create the Life You Want Using the Power of Possibility. As I’ve been preparing for the tour and the various events and meetings with the media, I’ve been focusing on the main theme of the book, which is actually the main theme of my work: authentic alignment.

What does it really mean to be in authentic alignment with you who are? What is authenticity?

Well, let’s start by saying what authenticity is not. Authenticity is not:

  • Saying whatever you want, whenever you want
  • License to be a jerk
  • Judging yourself or others
  • Freedom from accountability
  • Lack of responsibility or consequences
  • A sense of self, based on external measurements
  • Comparison-based
  • Demanding
  • Controlling
  • A competition

Authenticity has nothing to do with anything external to who you are inside (your deep inner knowing) even if it disagrees with those around you. However, and this is key, your authentic self is not superior or more “right” to anyone around you either. Your authenticity has nothing to do with your neighbor’s authenticity.

Authenticity is a solo-endeavor, ventured upon with respect, humility, passion, and grace. It does not ask what others think or feel, it does not compare or compete. Authenticity is about you being true to you, while also being respectful of that which is not you.

So, then what is a life of aligned authenticity?

Well, when we are out of alignment with who we are, that dissonance creates opportunities for all sorts of challenges to come cropping up, including obstacles, despair, discomfort, and anxiety, to name just a few.

When we are in alignment with who we are, we feel a gravitational pull toward some kind of joy. Life seems to flow, almost effortlessly. We follow the breadcrumbs and build a meaningful presence, even if it only makes sense to ourselves, perhaps especially if it only makes sense to ourselves.

Alignment is where your true power lies. It’s at the root of empowerment, manifesting, and creating. It’s at the core of your existence, and it’s what compels you to seek, explore, learn, grow, and pursue. It’s also what invites you to repeatedly show up, forgive, be humble, and love.

When we are in touch with our true essence – that which we are at our core – everything becomes possible. We are tapped directly into the Power of Possibility and life becomes a creative, meaning-filled, and joyful dance.

Aligning with that truth is an exercise in grace, commitment, compassion, and patience. And it’s worth every step along the way, because it ultimately leads us back to our true self, back to Love.

Perspective, Reality, and Opportunity

Perspective is reality.

When I was in college I spent a summer studying abroad in Spain. There was a professor from another college leading our group, which was made up of about 20 students from different schools across the country. This professor was originally from Cuba, I think. He had been teaching Spanish at the college level for more than a decade. Somewhere along the way, he married an American woman and started a family. They had two children, the first of which was a girl.

During the summer, our professor related a story to us that has stuck with me ever since. It was about how his daughter learned that he spoke English. For me, it was about much more than that. It was about perspective creating our reality.

Basically, the story went like this:

The professor was at work when he received a call from his daughter’s school informing him that she had been injured and had to be taken to the hospital. They couldn’t reach his wife, and so they called him. The injuries were minor, but she needed stitches. He, of course, dropped everything and took off for the hospital immediately.

Once he arrived at the hospital, he was brought to his daughter’s room where she was being treated by a nurse. After greeting his daughter in Spanish and chatting with her about what happened (all in Spanish), he turned to the nurse and started speaking with her about the status of things… in English.

It was at that moment that his daughter’s entire reality changed.

With wide eyes and a look of disbelief, she gasped and exclaimed in Spanish, “But, Dad – when did you learn to speak English?”

You see, in order to raise their children as bilingual, in their house one parent only spoke in English and one parent only spoke in Spanish. That day in the hospital, when she was about 9 years old, was the first time the daughter had ever heard her father speak in English. For nine years she lived under the assumption that her father only knew Spanish. Her reality was based on her perspective.

And that’s true for the rest of us as well. Our realities are based on our perspectives. Our truth is informed by what we know and see, our experiences, and our environment.

My reality is not the same as my neighbor’s reality. Yes, some things will overlap, but not everything, which means that there is more than one truth, and more importantly, that two or more truths can co-exist, without hierarchy.

What happens when we believe in only one truth, or one way, or one possibility for something, to the exclusion of everyone else around us? Well, we basically negate their existence, because if their truth is not valid, then they are not valid.

It’s a slippery slope, actually, in both directions. And the only way to level it out and make it less slick is to engage in tolerance, discussion, and acceptance.

After all, if perspective is reality, and we don’t know what we don’t know until we know it, how can we suggest that there is only one truth?

Then again, when you strip away the variance in perspectives, more often than not we seem to arrive at a singular truth, which is: Love is at the foundation of creation, while fear is found at the source of destruction.

Unfortunately, differing perspectives often create opportunities for fear, rather than dialogue, and that is the greatest hurdle we have to overcome. Accepting more than one truth, one reality, or one perspective as possible is, therefore, our greatest opportunity for change.