Author Archives: Martina

Gossip, Connection and Feeling Valid

I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day waiting to meet someone, and I overheard the conversation going on next to me. It was two women talking about another woman, who had yet to join them. They weren’t saying anything particularly harsh, but not particularly nice either. When their missing friend showed up, and one of the first two women excused herself to the restroom, the conversation turned. Now the remaining two were discussing the new absentee. Again, not particularly cruelly, but not lovingly either.

I felt genuinely sorry for all three women. As I sat there waiting for my meeting, I found myself lamenting the fact that even the “safe” places we create are not as safe as we might think. And then I thought about gossiping in general and how it seems if someone is willing to talk to you about someone else, they’re probably willing to talk to someone else about you.

So, why do we do this?

Well, I think the answer is simple, yet twofold: 1) we want connection, and 2) we want to know that we, ourselves, matter.

We want connection. This is a simple human need. Brené Brown’s research has suggested that it’s a hardwired (biological) component of being human, much like dogs are hardwired to live in packs, or deer in herds. We’re wired that way. And, in lieu of making positive connection, we’ll take anything we can get – even if it involves disparaging another human in the tribe.

I think it’s that last sentence that gets me. We are willing to “disparage another human in the tribe” in favor of our own self connecting. This puts the individual ahead of the group. Which is somewhat antithetical to our tribal hardwired nature. Which brings me to point #2: We want to know that we matter.

i think we have gotten so disconnected from each other (for SO many reasons I can get into at another time), that we have begun to feel like we don’t matter. Like our lives are not valid. And the way to find validity in a situation like that is to create a hierarchy of worth. Hence, we put people down, in order to connect ourselves up – to belong “more” to the tribe than the other person.

Sadly, this is cyclical and feeds on itself.

So, how do we break the cycle?

  • We reach out.
  • We create deliberate and intentional connection in communities, fellowship, or tribes that share our common values.
  • We seek out connection without hierarchy or measurements of worth.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, we learn to value ourselves enough to not feel the need to put anyone else down and gain some sort of temporary balm from disparaging another.

This is not easy work, but it’s doable. I know, because I have done it. I’m not perfect. I have certainly joined in on my fair share of gossip over the years, but over the years it has decreased more and more as I have become more aware of how it made me actually feel inside (aka: awful).

Years ago, my tolerance for gossip increased like an addiction until I was living almost entirely outside of myself, relying on anecdotal stories from my external world… and I almost died. My spirit almost died, and, frankly, my body probably wasn’t far behind.

While the externalizing (gossiping) has pretty much ceased, my life is still a work in progress as I am still slowly cultivating my tribe, or my community, and that’s ok. I’ve learned to love my own company more than anything, so I rarely feel lonely – which means I rarely feel the need to gossip or disparage another in order to feel worth. It’s quite amazing, really. And the conversation I was unintentionally privy to last week was a beautiful reminder. It reminded me of how wonderful it can feel to love oneself, because it means many of my self-loathing-fueled externalized behaviors have been replaced. Thankfully.

Hope, Oprah and An Invitation

After last night’s moving speech by Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Golden Globes, I took pause to revisit something I have been writing about and teaching for almost a decade: Hope.

Hope, as Oprah put it, is the one thing every resilient survivor and fighter has in common. Hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a better society. Hope for a better life. Hope.

As many of you know, one of my favorite movie lines is: “Hope, is all prayer is.” It’s from The Preacher’s Wife (a great remake of the classic The Bishop’s Wife).

Hope is all a prayer is, which is why it’s so powerful. In fact, as I’ve often written about, hope is more powerful than love for one reason:

Hope restores love when fear has taken over.

from my archives…

While Love is the core power of the Universe – the source of creation and evolution – it’s hope that keeps Love alive in the midst of darkness, struggle, fear, and even hatred.

Hope is sustaining.
Hope is inviting.
Hope is restoring.

Hope is an opening back to Love.

I was glad to see Hope take center stage last night… it’s about time. Because when all else fails, when life is at its most dark, there is always – always – a glimmer in the midst of the blackness that lets in the light.

That tiniest of objects is simply: Hope. It’s our job to look for it and embrace it. That single action is what makes everything else possible. 

 

Failure’s Message

Well, I failed my Theosophy exam. I just found out last week, and I was bummed when I opened the email. After 8 months of reading, thinking and reflecting on the materials introduced in the course (and passing every quiz along the way with flying colors!) I was stunned with my final result.

After my initial disappointment, however, I decided to reach out to the course instructor and ask how I had failed. Was it the exam? The coursework over the months? What was the deciding factor? Since he had mentioned it could be a either or a combination of the two in his final email, I thought it needed some investigation.

As it turns out, I was one question off from passing. That’s not to say that I was close to 100% – far from it. I needed a passing score of 75% (or 40 correct), and I achieved just under that. I got 39 out of 53 questions correct.

The instructor considered passing me, he said, but then he reviewed which questions I got wrong and decided to hold the standard. Rightly so. As it turns out the example he gave me of a question I got wrong was glaring. It went against the core teachings of the tradition. And he said there were a few other examples that were similar, therefore showing that I failed to grasp the basic tenets of Theosophy, even if I understood some of the more nuanced pieces.

I have to admit I was shocked. Firstly, I knew the correct answer to that question, so I have no idea why I chose something else. Secondly, I passed the quizzes with 95-100% accuracy, so how could it all go so wrong?

Once my nervous system settled down a bit, I wrote him back and thanked him for upholding the standard (I agreed with that decision), and explained how I can only attribute the wrong answer to user error while taking the exam itself, because I had given the correct answer previously on a quiz, and I also knew it. I haven’t heard back from him, and don’t know if I will. And that’s ok. Because after a few more breaths, I realized something very important:

My failure was a message.

You see, I’ve had a lot on my plate this year and I haven’t always been giving things my undivided attention. Everything from physical health to spiritual health has been somewhat half-assed, just to get through. I approached my exam the same way. I put it off until the last possible weekend in which I could take it and set aside the three hours needed to complete it. But, I wasn’t free from distractions, nor was I 100% focused on the task itself. I knew it when I sat down, but the exam had become something to cross off a list, so I did.

Looking back, I can see that this has become a pattern of sorts in my life. I have been moving through things to get to the place of “being done,” rather than moving through things and being present as I went. In other words, I have been running part-time on auto-pilot, while not actually fueling my vehicle appropriately, or consulting my navigation.

In my coaching practice, I teach my clients the importance of “book-ending” their healthy solutions. It’s a tool that makes everything that much more powerful and successful. As it turns out, I have been bookending my life in the unhealthy way with a combination of distraction and pushing, to simply “get through,” which made it that much more pronounced when I tried to just get something done, and failed.

I’m glad I failed. I don’t see it as a loss, even though I paid for the course. In fact, I still have the knowledge I gained, I just don’t have the piece of paper that reflects that. And that’s ok, because it shouldn’t be about the paper. (Well, not always.) Many times, it needs to be about the process and the intangibles that are learned along the way. And while I learned many other intangibles throughout the past year (which I’m sure I’ll write about later), it was the final intangible of failure that put the past 12 months into perspective. What a gift! Because as I go into 2018, I can now be more aware of how I wish to show up in everything I do, and I can make deliberate choices from a place of empowered knowing, rather than just pushing through.

 

 

No “New Year’s Resolutions” Here (they don’t work anyway)

I don’t do “New Year’s Resolutions,” but I do choose inspiration for the year ahead. Sometimes I add to it throughout the year, sometimes not. I choose words that inspire me, words that make me feel more alive when I read them. 

This morning I read this, and I thought, “Yes! That’s how I want to feel every day.”  

“…to do and play my part in society and do my job to the best of my ability so that I can wake up in the morning and feel energized and go to bed fully knowing that I have done the best that I can.”

If you have followed my writing for any length of time, you know that I believe we are all unique and special. We are each a cog in the great wheel, without which the wheel wouldn’t turn as well as it could. When we try to live someone else’s life, we stop being who we are… who we were always meant to be. Consequently, the wheel suffers. 

In a world that is constantly telling us how to be (how to look, how to speak, how to dress, what to wear, what to think, what to eat, and on and on), it takes an immense amount of courage and strength to be yourself. To be the cog you were always meant to be is the greatest gift you can give yourself and the world. I’ve learned that when someone tells you otherwise, it’s their own fear and insecurity being projected on to you. Nothing more and nothing less.

It took me a long time to realize, accept, and then take action on that truth – and I still stumble now and then – but it’s been a journey I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world… because I can’t. There’s no equivalent worthy of trade, because there’s only one me. Just as there’s only one you. Nobody can be me, and nobody can be you. 

My wish for you for 2018 is that you celebrate every day as the unique special human being you are, by being the cog you were always meant to be. 

Happy Solstice – a poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The return of light
Is a day of peace,
Inviting our hearts
To gather and meet.

May we see with new eyes
The truth of the light
May we live with love
And let go of might.

✨Happy Solstice. Peace and blessings. ✨

©2017 Martina E. Faulkner

Frequency 101: What it is, Why it’s important, and How to work with it

I am incredibly fortunate in my friendships and relationships with other like-minded people on similar journeys. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes by Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Recently, I had a wonderful conversation with one such person in my life, and I was so grateful after we hung up that I asked her to write a piece for InspireBytes™ reiterating what we had discussed and what she had shared with me from her experience, study and wisdom. It’s about the importance of frequency and how we can work with it to create positive change in our lives. With the new year upon us and a seemingly overwhelming desire to make changes, this might be a really helpful way to look at things.

Franny says it so well, and I’m glad she agreed to share it here so that the rest of you can benefit from her words. Everything is energy. Everything is frequency, and yes… we get to choose how to work with it and therefore change our own. Pretty cool stuff!

Frequency… what is it really? And, more importantly, how can we work with it to our benefit?

When you hear the word “FREQUENCY” what does it conjure up in your mind? And how could exploring frequency support us in our path to having the greatest potential of sound Body, Mind, and Spirit?

The definition of Frequency that I am referring to (from Webster’s online) is as follows: “The rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light), usually measured per second.”

But why is it important to cultivate the highest frequency within our essence as we can?

We are innately the “Light of the Divine,” and we all hold this spark of light within us. This spark of the Divine is often referred to as our “Core Star.” The Core Star has its own High Frequency that is Pure. This purity has no trauma, distortions, or low vibrations within it, unlike our physical body which can hold trauma, illness, congestion as lower vibrations. When we tap into our Core Star and begin to elevate and expand that frequency throughout our physical and energy body, we have the potential to regain health, wellness and radiant joy in body, mind, and spirit. The applications for our own and our planetary well-being are infinite. Therefore, it is important to cultivate and expand our Core Essence.

To practice accessing and working with this Divine Spark, allow yourself to sit in a quiet place – maybe outside leaning up against a tree, or sitting at the ocean listening to the waves crash, or maybe in your favorite chair at home. Scan your body from head to toe with your mind’s eye and ask where your currently “feel, experience or sense” your Divine Spark. Once you have located it, breathe into the center of the spark and allow it to expand in your body.  Because this Core Star is a High Frequency, it can clear lower congested frequencies.

Practice this daily to invite Divine Light into every cell of your body, clearing/healing and balancing all aspects of your “self.”  Being consciously aware and choosing to bring your awareness to your frequency and raising it is a powerful tool. – Franny Harcey, Co-Founder of the Awakening Healing Academy

To learn more about Franny, her colleagues, and their offerings, check out their website at  www.awakeninghealingacademy.com

Happy Accidents

Accidents happen, and rarely do we call them “happy.” Then something comes along to change that and suddenly they become ‘Happy Accidents.’ But we never know they’re actually “happy” until after the fact. 

This is a simple truth about a lot of life. Hindsight is the tool that allows us to take perspective and choose new adjectives, right?

Earlier today I tried to trim my own (long, overgrown and frustrating) bangs. But I ended up taking off a lot more than I had planned (because I’m not a hairstylist – duh). I thought it would be simple, and it wasn’t. My “trim” resulted in weird blunt wonky pieces of hair draped in front of my eyes. 

Somewhat laughing, I called my hairdresser, but she was too busy. However, she referred me to someone else she works with who had some time available today, and… voila! My blunder became a ‘happy accident’ in the form of a totally new hairstyle that I love.
I love when something unplanned (and potentially frustrating) turns into something unexpectedly awesome, don’t you? It happens more than we realize or acknowledge though. Unfortunately, we are a bit too programmed to focus on the “bad” or frustrating bit, rather than enjoying the positive change. I see it daily… people seem to be more and more hard-wired to complain, than they are to celebrate or enjoy. It’s almost as if we’re not allowed to truly be happy with our lives. 

Hindsight gives us a choice, though. It allows us to look back and change the adjective, and thereby change the experience. People say we can’t change the past, but that’s not entirely true. Because we can change how we feel about the past, which, in essence, changes it in our memories. It’s a superpower too few people are exercising. 

Now, to be clear, this is not about denying an event or creating revisionist history. Facts are facts. But how we feel about the facts can be updated. It can be modified through a shift in perspective, turning something frustrating or difficult into something neutral, or even positive. 

It’s not always easy, mind you. Sometimes it takes a fair amount of work, but the guarantee is that it’s always worth it. Why? Because low vibration emotions take a lot more energy than high-vibration, or even neutral, memories. Shifting perspective and attributing new feelings to something that has already happened frees up the emotional, mental, and energetic space inside you that had been given over to maintaining the complaint. And that, is a very happy accident, indeed. 

Make Time – Take Time

It’s December 4th, and I am already witnessing the stressors of the holiday season begin to show up. Upon running a few simple errands today I saw both frustrated and happy shoppers. Some were smiling as they completed the tasks they set out to achieve, while others were grumbling as they pushed their carts through the aisles.

Is attitude a choice?

We’ve been taught over and over again by leading authors and “gurus” that we can choose a positive attitude throughout our life. And while that may be true, it’s also rather dismissive, isn’t it? (Personally, I’ve never appreciated someone telling me to adopt an “attitude of gratitude” or a “positive mental outlook” when I’m in the midst of some stressor or another.)

So, while our mood may or may not be a choice, we definitely have power over how we choose to spend our time… which directly affects our mood.

This is where a favorite rhyming couplet comes into play:

Make Time – Take Time

Make Time to Take Time

When we make time to take time, we empower ourselves to take action that leads to a more peaceful presence. In other words, our mood becomes a byproduct of our actions and decisions.

But, what does this actually mean? If you’ve known me at all, you know that I like things to be both accessible and actionable. Making time to take time looks like this:

Carving out 15 minutes in the morning to sip your tea or coffee from a favorite mug, while listening to music, an audiobook or a podcast.

Setting aside 10 minutes a day before bed for private quiet time. It can be meditation, or a spa-like ritual of pampering your skin. (Lately, I’ve been focusing on my feet, and boy does that 10-minute massage feel good!)

Planning 15 minutes ahead of schedule when you have an event to go to, so that you arrive feeling relaxed and excited, rather than rushed and frazzled.

Choosing to sit down and eat your dinner at the table with nice plates and silverware, and savoring every bite, even if you’ve ordered in.

Ordering in! Even the best cooks need a break. Ordering in is a simple indulgence that allows you to reclaim at least 30 minutes that would have been spent cooking.

As you can see from the list, it’s all about being deliberate with our time. Our society has a tendency to glorify being “busy” – but there’s no trophy for feeling frazzled and stressed. Typically, there’s only exhaustion and frustration, and nobody likes that.

So, in order to shift your attitude from one of grumbling through the aisles to one of quiet joy in accomplishing your everyday tasks (including attending numerous holiday events), instead of choosing your mood it might be easier to choose how you spend your time. We do this by carving out little snippets of time in our day to create moments of pleasure, joy, or peace. It really does make all the difference.

 

 

Life, Death, and a Simple Question

Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude. Just yesterday millions of people across the USA came together to share a meal, a tradition, or some sport, all in the name of gratitude. I, myself, gathered with part of my family and created a new tradition as we ate a simple meal together at my father’s nursing home. In many ways, it was more the essence of Thanksgiving for me than it ever had been. It was family, coming together, sharing food, and sharing stories.

For others, this week also brought something new. In the past few days I have had very dear friends unexpectedly lose a parent, while another dear friend extended their family by one.

The timing is not lost on me. This week – a week of gratitude – the cycle of life hit me square in the face.

Even though I have been living with perpetual loss for over 11 years since my father’s massive stroke, I have not had to deal with the permanence of loss. I can still go and hug him, laugh with him, smile with him. My friends who just lost their parent no longer have that privilege – that joy.

So, as I sit tonight and reflect on the miracle of life and the meaning of death, I find my mind wandering to a quote I’ve always liked, but never fully embraced…. until now. Now, it seems to have a deeper meaning.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

It’s from the poem ‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver. Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, it’s this life – now – that matters, because it’s the one you can embrace. In the wake of death and birth, it seems even more poignant as I remember that time can feel too short, while also being marvelously full of possibility and potential.

With gratitude for a simple family gathering fresh in my mind, it seems a good time to truly answer Mary’s question. And the best answer I can come up with is: Live.

Live in Love.
Live in Hope.
Live in Peace.
Live in Joy.
Live in Play.
Live in Curiosity.
Live in Intimacy.
Live in Laughter.
Live in Connection.
Live in Spirit.

Live.

========

‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Hurt People hurt people

There is an old adage: hurt people hurt people. I saw it time and again during my years in grad school, in case studies and in my internship. I’ve seen some variation of it in private practice either directly or indirectly.

People who are hurting seem to have a greater tendency to lash out and hurt others.

But does it have to be that way? Even though it seems to have been that way?

No.

In most cases, it’s a pattern or a behavior that can be changed with a simple, but necessary, intervention: listening.

Not just listening, but really listening.

What do I mean by that?

Well, if you think about the last time you got angry because you were hurting inside, what would have been the one thing that made the difference between calming you down or escalating your anger?

What if you felt heard? Truly heard.

What if the person in front of you paused and listened, not to respond, but to hear you? To hear what you weren’t saying (“I’m hurting”) and then listened to your story.

When we feel heard – truly heard – everything becomes just a little easier. 

It’s this acknowledgment (which is not the same as validation) from another human being that helps us take the edge off and remember who we really are inside.

We are not our reactive emotions – our hurt, our anger, or our fear. These things show up when we have wandered too far from our core. They’re there to protect us until we can find our way back (offense as defense).

So, while I could list at least ten stories right now of hurt people hurting people, I can also unequivocally say that when those people felt heard, their reactive desire to lash out diminished.

Perhaps with the impending holidays and upcoming family gatherings it might be a good time to remember another adage:

Listen twice as much as you speak – that’s why you have two ears and only one mouth.

Actually, I think that’s good advice, no matter what time of year. 😉