Author Archives: Martina

“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:

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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.

 

Abundance – What is it really?

Abundance is a mind-set.

Let me take a step back. Abundance is one of the most subjective words we can use when talking about manifesting (the Law of Attraction) or simply focusing on what we wish to change in our lives. What’s “abundance” for me may not be “abundance” for you, and vice versa. Nobody’s definition of what abundance actually means needs to be the same, and that’s the beauty of it.

Why?

Because Abundance is a mind-set. Abundance is aligned with infinite possibility.

The opposite of abundance is lack. Lack is also a mind-set. Lack is aligned with limitation, as in, limited resources. Limitation leads to hoarding, guarding, and protecting. Think of the animal kingdom. When one animal has the bone, it protects it (called resource guarding) when it feels or experiences life as scarce. But when there is plenty, resource guarding falls by the wayside. This is the difference between the mind-sets of Abundance and Lack.

Abundance: When there is an experience of plenty (not just “enough”), then there is no guarding, hoarding, or protecting. There is freedom or expansion.
Lack: When there is an experience of not enough (or “just enough”), then there is contraction. 

In order to embrace a mind-set of abundance, there are two things you can do:

  1. Look to your inner circle of friends and family, and identify who already practices an Abundance mind-set. Spend time with them, ask them questions, invite them to mentor you and teach you. Let them share themselves with you (I promise you, they already know that there is plenty for everyone, they will not mind sharing their wisdom); and
  2. Ask yourself the questions: Do I believe there is plenty, or do I believe there is never enough? Do I believe there is possibility, or do I believe that potential is limited? Ask these questions about: love, health, wealth, and see what answers you come up with.

We don’t automatically change a Lack mind-set to an Abundance mind-set by simply deciding to do so. We need to address the systemic obstacles and beliefs that would trip us up and get us stuck along the way. Once we’ve begun this, we can begin to apply all sorts of tools to invite more abundance into our lives, in a way that is meaningful and unique to us. As I said, how abundance manifests for me, may not be the same for you.

But what’s absolutely true is that the energy of Abundance is the same for everybody, and that’s what matters.

“Abundance is aligned with infinite possibility.”

Invite it in, and watch what happens…

When I hung up the new bird feeder outside the kitchen window, this is exactly what I hoped for.

Look at this handsome specimen! Alas, I think the below zero temps have frozen the seed block, but at least he knows where it is now, when the sun warms things up.

I find inspiration in nature, in everything all around me … and sometimes I invite it closer, like with the bird feeder. Sometimes (most of the time, perhaps), the Field of Dreams adage is the one to live by: “If you build it, they will come.”

Make it, build it, create it … it’s all an invitation, isn’t it? Invite it in. Extend the hand, and watch out your proverbial kitchen window, as everything arrives.

What You Do Is Not Who You Are

When we meet someone for the first time, we often ask: What do you do? The response almost always starts with “I am a _________,” which is actually a statement of who we are. But that’s not who we are… that’s what we do.

Example: I am a writer, a life coach, an author, a teacher, a therapist… the list can go on and on. I am a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend. It continues: I am a woman, an optimist, a lover, a truth-teller. You can see where I’m going. But none of those things ARE me. They are what I do, or they are who I am in relation to someone or something else. And it’s the same for every single person on the planet.

We need these titles or labels in order to relate to one another and form some sort of basis for understanding, communication, and connection. However, once that’s established, it seems that we would be better served if we dropped all labels entirely and remember that everyone we meet is a human, who probably experiences a lot of the same emotions and thoughts we experience, regardless of how they define their “what,” how they dress, or even what they believe (to name just a few “categories”).

We are all so beautifully and amazingly different in our expression of self. And yet, at our cores we have uniquely human experiences in common:

  • the shared grief of loss,
  • the unifying joy of celebration,
  • the collective concern inherent in fear, and
  • the contentment of love and connection.

I am fortunate. My work affords me the opportunity to remember this truth time and again. Regardless of all the measurable demographics or categories we have to define ourselves, the commonality of our emotional lives never ceases to amaze me.

In fact, it’s the miracle of being human that we can be infinitely diverse, while also being incredibly similar. Thankfully. Perhaps, then, we can celebrate this gift by asking people what they do, and then following it up by getting to know who they actually are. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  🙂

When the mighty fall… do their words fall with them?

What happens when our “inspirers” fall? Do their words fall with them?

I was thinking about this recently when I was trying to remember a quote that had inspired me. It was Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.

“The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

I wrongly attributed it to Bill Cosby, because he had once said something that felt similar, yet different. (Interestingly, Einstein may not have said it either, as this brief article explains.) The Cosby quote was:

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

See? Similar, but different. Well, in my mind anyway. I love both of those quotes. I also love Kevin Spacey’s quote about what it means to help others when you’ve had success.

“If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”

And this is where I got stuck as I meandered down the rabbit hole of inspirational words. Both Kevin Spacey and Bill Cosby have fallen from grace. I wouldn’t label either one as a mentor or leader, or even an inspirer, anymore. And yet…

And yet, at some point in time, they were. They were inspired by simple truths and in so being, they shared that inspiration in their words to inspire others. Does their fall mean their words fall with them? Are their words less inspiring, because of their actions? 

I’m not sure I know the answer to this – or rather, I’m not sure there is only one answer to this. I think many people will think and feel differently about it – and that’s 100% correct. Why? Because inspiration is highly individualized. While there is a lot of overlap, there is also a lot of individuation. For example, someone shared something with me recently that they found to be “life-changing” and they couldn’t understand why I didn’t. I didn’t because it wasn’t meant for me. It was meant for them to hear in that particular moment in that particular way on their journey. Inspiration.

My friend, Tom, once shared the best words of wisdom with me, because they were exactly what I needed at that time. He said, “There’s nothing ‘new’ in what people are saying, in what you’re saying, it’s all been said before for millennia. What’s new about you, is how you’re saying it. You say it in your own way, which is inspiring to those who need to hear it… that way.” I have paraphrased him, of course, because it was many years ago. But it was perfect. It was perfect, because it was exactly what I needed to hear. I have since shared those words with others, and it has both fallen flat and empowered. So, yes, inspiration is unique to everybody.

But, I also think inspiration, at its core, is brought forth from something outside ourselves. As such, if it’s palpable, it probably outlives its human source eventually… as it should.

Nobody truly owns the inspiration they’ve been gifted to share, even with all the intellectual property laws we have. As Tom said, there’s nothing truly new in the field of inspiration – only new ways of saying it. So even though it would be nice to say “those are my words,” the truth is more accurately stated: I was gifted with those words to share, to inspire, and to help. So, it was my responsibility and my opportunity to speak them, the way that I did, to meet that end in that moment.

Which brings me back to Cosby and Spacey. If we can separate out the words – the inspiration – from the human, we might be able to answer the question “When the mighty fall, do their inspired words fall with them?” with a simple: No, not if they inspire you.