Author Archives: Martina

The Importance of Gratitude

I still write “Thank You” notes. By hand. And put them in the post. Not for everything, but for a lot of things. People ask me why, and it’s because I believe saying “Thank You” is one of the most important things we can do to support and grow our relationships – both professional and personal.

When I worked in fundraising, we were taught that we needed to “thank” our donors or volunteers seven times. This didn’t mean that we said “thank you” seven times (or sent seven thank you notes – yikes!), but that in some way we expressed gratitude seven times between when they made their gift or volunteered their time until the next time they would do so.

For some people this may seem excessive, but for others it’s just the right amount. Wherever you land on the spectrum, what matters is that we have an understanding of why it’s important to say thank you.

Thank you

Firstly, simply acknowledging receipt is important. In this day and age of electronic gifting, it’s not always possible to know if someone received your gift (or message). So, we need to acknowledge receipt, and saying thank you is the easiest way to do that. It’s very embarrassing to be on the giving side of things and have to call someone to see if they received something we sent. It’s one of my least favorite things, to be honest, and I’ve had to do it more often than not.

Secondly, it’s important to express gratitude for the gifts in our life. There’s a simple truth that states: what we give, we get. Many spiritual thought leaders have taught this over the years, and it’s true. You get what you give. When we are grateful, and express our gratitude, we are actually inviting more blessings into our life. (There’s a reason we call it “giving thanks.”)

Now, we don’t give in order to receive, but it’s all part of the flow. You can’t escape it. So, if you are receiving and not giving in return, you will eventually stop receiving. (Nobody likes giving to people who don’t say thank you. Hint hint.)

In truth, saying “thank you” is more than the simple act implies. It’s about expressing appreciation and gratitude for someone else’s actions, actions that were born of thought… and that thought was of you. So, say thank you. It’s important.

 

Sour Grapes Make Bad Wine

Sour Grapes Quote

I was talking with a friend the other day, and we were both sharing similar stories of what happened when we had announced something successful in our lives. The common denominator after each announcement? We both “lost” followers/friends on online platforms.

*sigh*

Why do we do this? It takes a certain amount of thought and a deliberate action to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone, and when it’s done in response to that person sharing some happy news, it simply causes me to shake my head in wonder.

But we’re human, right? We feel things and we get reactionary. I know I do. I do my best not to, and it’s definitely not my immediate “go-to” anymore, but sometimes it still happens. And when it does, I actually recoil myself and take a minute to pause, breathe, and reframe whatever is going on in my head – which is usually a story (hint: It’s always a story), as in:

That person doesn’t like me.
I’m not good enough.
There isn’t enough to go around.
They’re stealing my share.

Actually, I had a conversation a long time ago with someone who told me that somebody famous had “stolen her story,” which to her was her identity. In truth, it was both of their identities in some way, but because the famous person had said it first on an international stage, this person in front of me was convinced that she could never share her story, because there wasn’t room for her anymore. How sad.

That one conversation has stayed with me for years. I imagine it will stay with me forever. Why? Because it’s a tangible example of what happens when we live a life from a place of lack and fear, instead of a place of abundance and possibility. No two stories are exactly the same, however similar they may sound. The main difference is that no two people would share their stories in exactly the same way, which is what makes each person on the planet unique: their voice. It’s when you think otherwise that you leave room for resentment and envy to plant seeds.

Which brings me back to my original statement: Sour grapes make bad wine. 

When we approach someone else’s success or uniqueness with envy, resentment, frustration, or even anger, we are turning ourselves into sour grapes. And nobody likes that. Furthermore, when sour grapes are added into the barrel of life, they taint the wine, and nobody likes that. Eventually what happens is people start to exclude us, because they simply don’t want to be around something so bitter.

The flip side is also true, and for me it’s what I focus on. If someone is going to unfriend, unfollow, or even talk badly about me or my work – I can now choose to happily let them go, because I don’t want their sour grapes tainting my delicious barrel of wine. While the initial realization may sting a bit (again, we’re all human, and it obviously takes effort to unfollow someone), the truth is the best the balm I could ever imagine. And then I can find gratitude that they have removed themselves and self-identified as someone that doesn’t blend well with what I’m offering.

Or, to put it another way, as my friend Jen Pastiloff says: Instead of getting caught up in who doesn’t like you, get caught up in who does. 

Ahh… what sweet wine that is!

We Teach Expectations

One of the simplest truths came up again today when talking with a client: We teach people what to expect of us.

We teach expectationsIf you’re always willing to give, you teach people to expect that will always give. And then when you don’t… watch out! They get mad, and take offense.

Likewise, if you’re always taking, you teach people around you to expect that you won’t contribute, and eventually, they choose not to be around you.

Because nobody likes a one-way relationship. Right?

Expectations are the quicksand we were always told to fear in our youth. They catch us unaware and all too quickly snare us while slowly taking us under. And just like quicksand, we often need external assistance to help us get back on our feet.

My NEW Book of Poetry is HERE!

Infinite In My Heart coverAs a writer, I am always transforming thoughts into words, whether it’s the inspirational wisdom I share regularly in InspireBytes™ or the self-help guidance and teachings that I put into full-length books. (What now..? will be out in November… stay tuned!)

While you may be familiar with my prose (it’s been almost a decade with InspireBytes, so I hope so!), I recently compiled an assortment of poetry that I have written over the years into my first book of poems, lovingly titled: Infinite In My Heart: Poems of Love, Loss, and Hope.

From the back cover:

Who among us hasn’t experienced Love? or Loss? or the great Hope that accompanies every new and wondrous relationship? 

In ‘Infinite In My Heart: Poems of Love, Loss, and Hope’ – her first book of poetry – Martina E. Faulkner has created an emotional journey of reflection. Over the course of several years, she poured her thoughts into poems that stir the soul at the most basic level. Martina’s words share what it means to be human: to love, to lose, and most of all, to return to hope… again and again.

I’m excited to share this work with you. It’s due to be released on May 6th, but you can pre-order the Kindle version now by clicking here, or simply wait until May 6th to order the paperback.

As always, thank you for your continued support and interest in my work – I appreciate it immensely. Enjoy!!

 

 

“Beauty” Isn’t Objective

“Beauty” is one of the most subjective ideas in the world, simultaneously the one most forced into objectivity.

Beauty is subjective

As women (because I can only speak from my female perspective), we live in a society where we are told, both directly and indirectly, what’s beautiful. We are encouraged to buy and use products to be more like the “traditional (aka: objectified) standard of beauty” in order to actually be deemed “acceptable.”

Over the years, out of curiosity I have asked my male friends (and exes) what they consider sexy, or beautiful, in a woman. Their answers were as varied as the people themselves, but here are just a few I found interesting:

  • A silk blouse with no bra on
  • A black lace see-through nightgown
  • Long hair
  • Confidence

I have done the same exercise with my female friends and here are some of their answers:

  • Smokey eye makeup and red lipstick
  • Authentic laughter
  • High heels
  • Confidence

While there was some overlap among answers (I love that ‘confidence’ came up both times!), there was also a lot of difference that didn’t necessarily stick to a “traditional” gender divide.

And that’s what’s most important here: Even among genders, beauty is defined and experienced differently. There is no one standard of beauty when you actually break it down and ask people. There are millions. And they’re all correct.

Because Beauty, at its core, is individual, globally undefinable, and highly subjective.

Let’s look at this another way. Let’s apply the same idea to flowers:

A lot of people don’t particularly like roses and prefer another flower, but that doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful. For those who love them, roses can be one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. For me, I happen to think a carnations and dandelions are stunning. A dandelion’s delicately tiny petals belie it’s extraordinary resilience. Yet there are entire products built around killing them off because they’re a “weed.” See? Subjective. (Besides, dandelion greens in a salad kick flavor up a notch! Weed, indeed. LOL)

It’s the exact same with human beauty. What’s beautiful to you might not be “beautiful” to the person standing next to you, which is why it’s so incredibly subjective. I’d venture to say that it’s the most subjective idea we engage with on a daily basis, that we are taught to experience as 100% objective.

Beauty, therefore, is truly in the eye of the beholder. And always – always – will be. Thankfully.

Rest and Relaxation

I bought a hammock!

It’s obvious that rest and relaxation are important to our wellbeing. But there is a big difference between “rest” and “relaxation” – something I’ve only just recently understood myself.

Relaxation is a state of resting,  but it’s not the same as rest. Relaxation is the ability to slow down and enjoy something leisurely, perhaps by read a book, or doing some coloring. It may even be sitting on a park bench listening to birds chirping overhead. Relaxation is a really important component to daily life, and it involves quieting the mind and body to give it room to breathe.

Rest is different.

As I’ve only recently discovered, rest is a state of pure nothingness. It’s a chance for the body, mind and spirit to completely let go and restore… RESTore.

In this day and age of electronics and technology, media and the glorification of being busy – we rarely rest. Even when we’re sleeping we rarely rest fully. It used to be that sleep was a guaranteed respite – or rest – from the day. Ideally, 1/3 of your day would be spent resting (sleeping), thereby allowing your body to actually restore. This lets your cells do their job of regenerating and replicating, as well as removing toxins from the body. Rest is integral to health.

But most of us don’t rest. I typically don’t rest, actually. I thought I was, but I realized I wasn’t when I recently experienced a moment of deep rest (or the nothingness I mentioned), and then I thought: “Oh! THIS is what rest is!” I knew it, because after 10 minutes of that deep state, I returned feeling refreshed and restored, more balanced, and more grounded in both my body and soul. It was then that I realized that I know how to relax well, but I have no clue how to rest.

Stumbling up on rest was a gift… and an invitation. I now feel invited to learn how to rest. To allow my body, mind, and soul to let go of everything and dive deep into the state of nothingness. For me, rest isn’t about meditation (that’s actually play time, as I love going deep and exploring the other side of the veil; it’s my natural state). For me rest is about being 100% present in the here and now (aka: in my body), and inviting my mind and soul to do nothing while my body rests. For me, rest requires a different approach than relaxation; it requires a void. And when I can achieve it – it’s oh-so-good!

So, as I move forward with my exploration of deep rest, I’m looking at how I can support myself to go into the void. Of course, some of these tools will overlap with relaxation, but I think just knowing the difference will assist me in creating the different experiences. To that end, I bought a hammock! 🙂

I’m not a very outdoorsy person, but I’ve always wanted a hammock. A simple hammock you can take with you anywhere and string up in a tree. Recently, I saw one I loved (from the partnership between Target and Hunter), and had hoped to get it. Alas, it sold out in less than an hour. But, as we know, the Universe conspired to help us when our path is aligned. So, it got me my hammock.

On a random excursion to Target today for some staple items, I passed by the section with the Hunter merchandise, and lo and behold! … there was one hammock! In the color I wanted! It must have been a return. And now, well, now it’s hanging between two trees in my backyard, and yes, I’ve already tested it out. (As has my dog!) And it’s perfect!

There will be many hours of relaxation in my blue-striped swing, and hopefully, just maybe, some wonderful moments of rest, too.

It doesn’t get easier…

I’ve been writing about my experience with an aging/ailing parent lately. I think I’ve hit a point at which I can no longer contain all of the emotions, thoughts, and words within me reasonably. So, I’m writing. Partially to help myself and create some room (because room allows for healing), and partially because I know I am not alone in this experience… and maybe my words can help someone else who feels alone, as I have.

A few days ago, my first article on all this was published on The Manifest Station (you can read it here), and it prompted an outpouring of love and support from friends and strangers alike. (Though, we’re all friends, aren’t we? If we’re reaching out and connecting?) I thought the one article was enough. It wasn’t.

Two days after it came out, I was back to see my father, and it felt just as raw and as difficult as it always does, though it’s a spectrum, of course. This time it was particularly raw. Perhaps because I “broke the seal” or perhaps because he was in a particularly melancholy mood himself… it doesn’t matter. It was the day that it was. And that’s how it is and how it will continue. So, I wrote again. I share it now here:

=========================

8 April 2018

Note to self: It doesn’t get easier.

I’m just leaving after visiting my dad at his care home. It was our shortest visit yet, as he was more tired than usual. He fell asleep at the table just after finishing his lunch. He just was ‘done’ today, and managed a “this sucks” in his broken words, from his broken body. And I agreed. And all I could think was to say “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Because I am. I’m sorry for him, for myself, for us, and for anyone who has to live a half-life trapped in a chair, in their body, in their brain… aware of their confinement. It just sucks.

And it doesn’t get easier. Or better.

So, I offer love – no longer hope – in the form of his favorite sandwich and a cookie. Followed by a hug and holding his hand. For just a little while longer.

And then I leave, and for a few days try to forget. Until I go back and remember, all over again, just how much this sucks and that it doesn’t get easier.

It Doesn't Get Easier image

My Favorite Phrases for Daily Life

I like a good turn of phrase, and I keep my favorites front and center on a sticky note on my computer. Years ago, when I visited Graceland, I saw that Elvis did the same with his favorite phrase (TCB – Taking Care of Business).

Two of my favorite reminder-phrases have been on my sticky note for months, but last night I heard a third and immediately added it to the list – and I LOVE it! My sticky note is now like a perfect trifecta of phrases.

“Keep buggering on.” (courtesy of #Grantchester) Because, at the end of the day, you simply have to keep buggering on, and if you do, things are sure to change, eventually. Thankfully.

The other two comprise a #Buddhist philosophy and a quote by #llcoolj – both of which are gentle reminders of the mystery of life. What could be more perfect?!? 🙏🏻👍🏻

And when in doubt, now we can just keep buggering on… 💃🏼

Creating and Sustaining Change: Tipping the Scales

No matter what you’re working on, when scales begin tipping in your favor that is the time to double-down on being deliberate about your decisions, to recommit to your vision, and above all, practice discernment. Double-check that everything you are doing is aligned and reduce or remove anything that isn’t. It’s inventory-taking time, in order to streamline and ride the wave of the forward progress.

Tipping scales is not a time to go “hog wild” and “all in” on something. Why? Because if you do, you risk breaking. If you suddenly add more weight to a tipping scale out of excitement for forward progress, it will move too fast and tip over. It will break. And then you must start over.

Great change occurs in small, consistent, deliberate steps over time.

Change quote on a desert scene

Recognizing the momentum of change and sustaining it takes patience and thought. It is calculated in its approach. To do anything else, even out of excitement, shifts the energy to one of desperation… and desperation always undermines any target.

Words. Words – words – words…

Why are the words we use so important?

Do you remember being a child and knowing that there were were words you were forbidden to use? Mostly, as a child they were swear words, but there were also a few other words in my childhood that were classified as ‘unacceptable.’

As I grew older, my awareness of language and the acceptability of certain words grew with me. Certainly, as the advent of “political correctness” gained ground even more words were added to the list of unacceptable language… though, admittedly, cussing was more tolerated when I became an adult. In fact, I’d suggest it was almost expected, like a right of passage. But I digress.

The question remains: Why are words so important?

Beyond the obvious, such as not using offensive terminology, I have come to understand through study and experience that words are of utmost importance, because they carry energy. Words, just like everything else in life, have energy.

You’ve probably heard that “intention” and “tone” are what matter behind people’s words, and that’s true. But the words themselves also matter. Because words are the tools that build our life. They are the vehicles of our experience, our reality. In other words:

Your thoughts become your reality on the backs of your words.

Words matter. They are the building blocks of every type of manifesting and creative force in the Universe. Thoughts are integral to the process as they are often the catalyst for change, but it’s words that bring it to life.