Author Archives: Martina

Falling Flat – Bad Hair Days Needn’t Be

We’ve all been there. Having moments in our life when things just don’t seem to be doing much of anything, or at least, they’re not doing what we had expected or attempted. They fell flat.

In many ways, it’s like having a bad hair day. I remember once, a long time ago, my boss told me that he and his wife experienced he occasional “bad marriage days.”

“Bad marriage day? … What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s like a bad hair day, but for your marriage. It happens. And no matter what you do, it just doesn’t get better. So, you have a choice: put on a hat and keep going, or sit and fuss and fuss and fuss trying to fix something that may be intangible. It just is.”

I’m paraphrasing of course, but I do remember him saying the thing about the hat.

The thing is, life is imperfect. It’s meant to be. The imperfections are where the growth, opportunity, and possibility reside. It’s not meant to be ‘happy-happy joy-joy’ all the time. If it were, we’d probably lose some of our ability to appreciate joy. Sometimes, life is just… well, flat.

The question is: do you choose to continually fuss over it? Or do you grab the nearest baseball cap and get on with it, remembering the more important truth: life is always (always) changing. And tomorrow is a new day.

[Hmm… maybe this is why I have always had such an extensive collection of hats!]

Mutual Admiration Society

I’m a member of MAS: the Mutual Admiration Society, and I wish everyone could feel this way. (Wouldn’t that be a game-changer for our planet?!)

I wrote to a friend and colleague last night and shared a few simple truths as I see it, or my two cents. Nothing earth-shattering, in my opinion, no eloquent words or faux-flatterings… just truth from my observations. She woke up to that email. Then I woke up to this:


And now we have both felt WOW upon starting our days. See? Mutual Admiration Society. And all because we shared the simplest of truths: our experience of each other’s loving presence… which is our true nature, of course.

It doesn’t take special glasses to see it in others. It’s not a “gift” – it’s natural. Everyone can do it. The reason we don’t, I think, is because we’re too busy looking for everything else in what we’re seeing, and preparing ourselves to respond to what we think might be there that we don’t like. We’re always on guard. Or, we’re so focused on maintaining our own facades, that we haven’t reconnected with our own loving nature, so we no longer recognize it in others. Neither one of these scenarios make for a very loving society. Alas.

But I know that can change. How? Because I did it myself, and I’m a stubborn reluctant learner. Or I was. I used to look externally for everything, and I was miserable inside as a result. It took me a while and a lot of hard work to come out the other end of the tunnel, but I did. And frankly, if I can – then I know that anyone else can, too.

So, Mutual Admiration Society — who’s with me?? 😁

Let Your Blessings Be Your Healing

I have conversations in my head. All.The.Time. Seriously. And I know I’m not the only one. I suppose the conversations are both a form of writing, and of re-hashing or sorting out various events from life. These are not the sort of conversations that I do when I’m doing intuitive/psychic work, though. Those are definitely one-sided, in that I am not speaking for both parties.

The conversations in my head are different – in those I’m speaking for both parties, and I’m usually trying to resolve something that remains unsettled for me and is taking up too much mental real estate in my brain.

Recently, I had one of these fictional conversations, because I found myself rehashing one example over and over again.

Complaining.

It was a conversation with a friend that brought it to the forefront, in which she told me about how her office was like a revolving door of people complaining. Ugh. Yuk. I couldn’t imagine spending my days that way. How draining. I reflected for a moment and shared with her something a former boss once did that turned out to be an incredible gift of empowerment. He said, “Don’t come into my office with a complaint, unless you also have a suggestion for a reasonable solution.”

In other words, he shifted the focus.

After chatting with my friend, I thought about the numerous examples I had recently heard of people complaining. Friends, clients, colleagues, passersby – everyone seemed to have someone in their life who consistently complained, or was doing the complaining themselves.

Now, I’m no stranger to complaining. I’ve definitely done my fair share, but somewhere along the way I learned that it serves little purpose in my life other than to lower my energy and keep me stuck. I still do it now and then (I’m human), but it’s not even close to a regular part of my life.

But how did I do it? Well, I took a page out of my former boss’ book and focused on the solution, not the problem. Slowly, but surely, I became adverse to complaining. It felt icky.

Enter the recent fictional conversation in my noggin in which I imagined I was talking to someone I know who complains often about her life. In my imagination, I saw myself responding with:

“Please stop. Just stop. You have a beautiful family, a successful career, a wonderful home, food on your table, laughter in your life. You have your health, and you have friends and family who love you…”

To which, my fictional version of her interrupted with, “But…. but there was this (fill in the blank/awful event) in my life…”

And I replied, “Then let your blessings be your healing.”

Ahhhhh….. *light bulb*

This is why I have fictional conversations in my head. This is why I am writing ALL.THE.TIME, even if I’m not sitting at a screen typing. As I move through the scenario… the answer comes. The answer always comes.

My boss wasn’t so far off the mark so many years ago, his was just a more practical application of a simple truth. (Mainly because he didn’t want to spend his days dealing with incessant complaints by employees.)

Let your blessings be your healing. 

Trauma and pain come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve known a fair amount of it in my life, myself. I’ve seen others experience horrific things. But thankfully, blessings come in all shapes and sizes too, which means that we often forget to identify them as such.

By refocusing our attention, we change our habits. Then we allow for the possibility of healing… of peace, health, and happiness to be our predominant way of being.

A gentle, but beautiful, reminder from one of my many blessings: re-blooming orchids in my kitchen. 🙂

Joy, Peace, and Love

Nearly every client I have worked with recently has had the same theme come up:

Joy, Peace, and Love.

As we navigated the various issues they were facing, all of them different, we always arrived at the same end. Each of them are returning to a sense of joy, peace, and love in their lives, and various problems opportunities have been surfacing to help them get there more directly.

So, I sat down to think about what it truly means to live a life of joy, peace, and love… because, as I’ve learned over the years of doing this work:

When the same theme keeps coming up for my clients, I know it’s a message for me too. 

It’s like the Universe is not so subtly tapping me on the shoulder and clearing its throat “Ahem….”

Delving into what each of the words mean, I realized that it’s when they’re combined that they encapsulate what it feels like to be both human and divine at the same time. They represent a trinity of sorts, one that serves as the circle containing the duality of our existence. That, of course, is a fancy way of saying that these three things are at the core of our essence, and I’d argue that they are held together with hope.

I think our natural state is one of joy, love and peace. You only need to look at a child playing to realize the truth of this statement. It’s our birthright, though we tend to forget it along the way. There are so many external factors pulling on us and inviting us to forget who we truly are, that by the time we hit 8, 9, or 10 years old (maybe even earlier nowadays), we’ve lost touch with the effortlessness of being.

Then, somewhere later in life (often prompted by a crisis of some sort, or simply sheer exhaustion from trying to keep up with all the external input), we start to long for the days of our youth. It’s easy to say we miss the freedom of play, but I think play is the byproduct of feeling complete in who we are. In other words, when we know ourselves as belonging to joy, peace and love, we can’t help but find it in everything around us…. and life becomes a giant playground. 🙂

My ‘natural state’ is Joy, Peace, and Love. 🙂

#metoo … but “boys will be boys,” right?! Wrong.

I’m frustrated… as you can see by something I just shared on FB. Why would anyone think it’s ok to throw things at animals, let alone goad them into coming closer?!? I know if you ask *most* humans, they would find this behavior wrong and even alarming.

It’s this type of behavior, where many might say “boys will be boys” in response. But what if it’s EXACTLY this behavior that later leads to assault. I don’t see a difference in assaulting a defenseless animal at 8, and assaulting a woman years later. Maybe, in fact, they’re inextricably linked.

Maybe if we didn’t allow this behavior in our “boys” we wouldn’t have an epidemic of it in our men. Maybe if we held our kids accountable for their actions and instilled in them a sense of compassion, respect, and kindness, we could turn this thing around in a single generation. Maybe. I did my part today. I held them accountable. I hope it redirects their ship. It takes a village… together, we can change this.

#metoo #boyswillbeboys #nolonger #accountability #responsibility #respect #compassion #kindness #change #inspired #writerslife

Life Is Best Lived In The Little Things

Per my post yesterday, I thought this warranted repeating: Life is best lived in the little things that make us happy.

IMG_3978

All too often I see clients or friends getting caught up in the “big” ideas, or the big list of desires. Heck, I even do it myself still. It’s important to have those big ideas and desires, because they become the “X” on your roadmap of life. They give you some sense of direction from which you can draw your route. Without them, we’d all be wandering aimlessly. But…

But at the same time, we have to remember that the ideas and desires are ideals, and not where we are meant to live on a daily basis. Why? Because when we do, we get bogged down in the land of “should” (a rather icky sticky marshland), or marooned on the isle of “not enough” (an isolated and lonely island in the middle of a rapid river). Neither of which help us move forward on our path toward our X.

The remedy for this is, it seems, being present on the journey: To ‘be here now’ as I and others have written many times. It’s not always easy, but it makes life easier. That’s for certain. And how do we ‘be here now’ when everything around us is asking us to live in ‘ideal world’ rather than on our own map?

We live our days – our lives – in the little things that bring us joy. 

Do you enjoy coffee? Or tea? Then, enjoy it. Or IN-JOY it. Sip with a smile. Do you enjoy yoga or cross-fit, or walking in the woods? Then IN-JOY it. Be in it while you’re in it, and take it all in. The breath, the sweat, the smell of fallen leaves crunching under your feet. Anything that you’re doing, you have the capacity to find joy in the moment, even if you dislike something.

When I worked in the corporate world, there were definitely moments in which I didn’t like my job. Some days would trudge on and on, but without realizing it, I would find little things that made the days better. Sometimes it was realizing that the slow pace of a day in a desk job allowed me an opportunity to read something new. Whatever it is, we can usually find something that brings us joy, we just have to look for it… or create it. 

That’s what it means to live in the little moments. And the beautiful thing about this is that when one moment is done, there’s sure to be another soon after when you live this way. You become the cruise director and captain of your own ship, and nothing feels better than that. All the advertising in the world that tells you what you “should” be doing simply won’t influence you anymore. You’ll get to choose what to listen to and explore (or even buy), in your own time, and based on your own mind. How cool is that?

In the end, we are all on a journey toward our giant X on a map. The two questions that matter are:

  1. What is your X? (the one you defined, not somebody else) and
  2. What are you doing with your time as you journey toward it?

Happy wandering! xo

Call It What It Is: Murder

Yet another tragedy has hit the United States. The problem with that sentence is not the word “tragedy” – it’s the word “another.”

Another tragedy.

Last night, in Las Vegas, blood was shed as innocent people’s lives were ended and changed forever. But it wasn’t a “shooting” or a “killing” or even a “violent attack” – those phrases are all too passive and have become far too acceptable in our society. It was murder. Mass murder. And the man who was responsible was not a “lone wolf” or a “shooter” or a “gunman” – he was a murderer.

Any human who takes another human’s life, knowingly and willingly (with few exceptions such as war), is a murderer. Death from an accident is not labeled murder, it’s called manslaughter.

Murder is murder.

It’s not “shootings” or “killings” or any other word we have come to use to somehow make it feel better. It’s murder.

Murder is the taking of another person’s life, for any reason – yes, even mental illness. (When a person with mental illness commits murder, we have different laws for that, but we still have laws. It’s not an excuse for the behavior, it’s a parameter by which their consequences are decided. The action was still murder.)

Yet, today I see people fighting over labels, because of the possibility of mental illness, instead of calling him what he is. People are arguing over the disparity in the media’s use of the words “terrorist” vs. “lone wolf” or “gunman” based on the man’s skin color. These are valid points, and ones that clearly need to be addressed by the one’s using the terminology, but they are also points that distract us from the issue at hand: How do we prevent mass murder? Whether by a terrorist, a person with mental illness, a gang member, or anybody else.

We’re distracted from the core issue, because it’s almost too much to deal with in our current emotional state. So, we fight. We fight about what’s most accessible: the words.

Why do we do this? Because our emotions are on overwhelm and we have too much energy coursing through our bodies, so we are fighting over anything we can wrap our heads around, anything tangible. Murder is not tangible, senseless murder even less so. We can’t wrap our heads around it, so instead we fight over the words used to describe the person who committed murder, as we try desperately to gain some foothold in an otherwise chaotic moment.

We are fried, and we don’t want to be. We don’t want to get to a point where this type of event is acceptable or even expected. So, we fight for our lives, our society, by focusing on the things that are closest to the surface, where we feel we can take a stand.

So, let’s make this easier: whether mentally ill or a terrorist, if you knowingly take another’s life (again, with few exceptions like war), the word to use is “murderer.” “Murderer” carries no association with religion, gender, or skin color, and takes the focus off the surface-level issues, which frees up our time and emotions to address what really matters: preventing murders and mass murders, by focusing on the causes.

I realize that our frustrated, angry, broken-hearted energy needs to go somewhere. So…

  • Let it go to fixing the problem, not blaming the result or the labels used to describe the event.
  • Let the energy running through you be channeled into something greater than anger and fear.
  • Let it go to change.

Change carries more power than anger and fear ever will, because it’s a focused energy, which means it will help you feel better as you work with it. And when it doesn’t, when it feels overwhelming, then I’ve found that walking in the woods helps. For some it’s running or yoga, for others it’s boxing or cross-fit or meditation. Whatever it is, the important thing is to create a focused use of the tidal wave of emotional energy we are all experiencing in the aftermath of another tragedy.

Then, there are steps we can take to regain a feeling of empowerment after tragedy and grief:

The first step out of overwhelm is always to speak truth to it: This was murder. Mass murder.  Name it, and take it out of the shadows where fear and anger reside.

The second step is to create change: What can we do to prevent it ever happening again? Brainstorm ideas with friends and colleagues. Start talking and discussing, not fighting.

The third step, possibly the most important step, is to live an empowered life embodying love and hope: What can I do myself, to create change, personally, locally, regionally, or globally? Empowered action starts from within, always.

Everyone’s answer to that last step is different. Mutual respect, communication, and understanding will make it all possible. Where there is overlap, we create community. But no single solution to create positive change is wrong, even if it’s not right for you.

This is where the fourth step comes in: Embrace each other with respect and curiosity. Listen, listen, listen.

Then take action.

Reconnecting With Myself Through Art

I had a really bad morning. In fact, it’s been a rough week all around since my minor surgery last week, for myriad reasons. But I went to art class anyway, even though I considered leaving 5 minutes after I set up. I wasn’t feeling it. But I stayed. I went back into the landscape painting I started two weeks ago and played with it a little. It’s ok. Again, I wasn’t feeling it, but for a while I put my headphones on and let myself get lost in the movement of the brush. That helped. After an hour or so, I stopped. I just couldn’t do any more. I felt bored and still out of sorts.

But my headphones were on, and I had 1 1/2 more hours to go, so I pulled out another canvas. Feeling somewhat disconnected from myself and any sense of joy (again, rough week and morning), I decided to go back into just doing what I love: moving paint on a canvas and playing with the energy of color.

As the brush made swirls of paint before my eyes, I started to feel better. Though, since acrylic is much harder than oils for this type of meditative play, it was a struggle at moments. Nonetheless, it was better. I was better. I was doing what makes me happy, calm, peaceful. My mood began to lift, and I was reminded of how important it is to be in alignment with oneself above ALL things. It’s that alignment that keeps us connected to God/Source/Universe, which in turn allows us to connect with others more openly and honestly.

As I pushed the red and blue paints around in repetitive spirals, I began to breathe more deeply and calmly. This inner space helped me realize that, instead of listening to the ‘should’ of art (I should be making something “worthwhile” or at least “recognizable”), I listened to myself – my own needs – and I simply felt better. I realigned with who I am.

As if to reinforce my decision to be myself, the Universe immediately gave me a validating experience. Yes, manifesting can happen that quickly when we are aligned. As I was packing up my things, a fellow student who was taking the class today to make up for a missed class asked me what I did. “I’m a writer and a life coach,” I said.

“Oh,” she paused. “I need a life coach.”

We talked for a few minutes as she shared her life challenges with me, and my reminder to be who I am (always!) was immediately reinforced as I was talking with someone who has forgotten who she is, and isn’t sure how to get back to that. I told her I could help. (I’ve certainly forged that path enough times now myself that I have some tools and insights that are helpful.) And just like that, I have a new client. Someone whom I get the privilege of shepherding home… back to their authentic self.

In the end, what matters is that when deciding how to live our lives, we all do what we love to do. It’s always been a fairly dismissive statement to me, though. “Do what you love” is too amorphous and theoretical most of the time. It can also feel dismissive, especially if you don’t know what you love. So, I have changed it to: “Do the things that bring you inner peace and pure joy.”

Painting color in movement brings me inner peace. Sometimes landscapes are a nice change, but for the most part, I’m an abstract artist. I am claiming that today. I need the surreality of it. When I try to do or be something that’s not 100% aligned with who I am at my core, I lose sight of myself. I lose my own inner connection, and that provides ample opportunities for me to experience reminders and lessons, especially in the realm of relationships with others. I’m grateful I lost touch with myself, because I had a wonderful experience of reconnecting, through art.

Does it mean that everything else that was problematic over the last week is miraculously fixed? Nope. That would be too easy. But it does mean that I can deal with everything else in a more balanced, peaceful, and loving manner. And that, my friends, is what makes ALL the difference.

IMG_3474

Where I started – two weeks ago

IMG_3475

After a little more work today.

 

 

IMG_3476

When I couldn’t go any further today.

IMG_3480

Returning to what I love: moving paint on canvas and playing with the energy of color

Wishing You A Joyous New Year!

19 December 2016

Thank you for your support this past year. I am so grateful for the many comments and stories I have received over the years in relation to my writing. This year I received many more messages, and I absolutely loved hearing how my weekly blogs have inspired and empowered you. We are all in this together, and it’s a journey made better through connection, sharing, and love.

I look forward to continuing the journey together in 2017 and will return to writing InspireBytes™ sometime in January or February. Right now I am focusing on editing my next book, Landing On My Feet, which I am happy to say I completed in November!

In the meantime, from my heart to yours, I wish you all the best for a beautiful holiday season, and (to borrow a phrase from a friend):

May the coming year bring you soul-filling happiness!

xoxo,
Martina

How Do I Find Acceptance?

I recently had someone ask me “How do I find acceptance?” about something that was entirely outside their control. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked this, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. However, this time, instead of having a longer conversation about it and fine-tuning it for the individual situation, I decided to take a step back and actually write about it from a broader perspective… one that I hope will help more than just the individuals who have asked.

Acceptance can be a tricky presence to master. It conveys an inner peace and a willingness to allow for things to unfold, while not actually relinquishing control over our own person. Acceptance is about discernment. What do I mean by that?

When you can figure out what’s yours and what’s somebody else’s from a neutral place, you are practicing discernment. When you can act from this knowledge you are practicing acceptance. In order to arrive at acceptance through discernment, however, it’s absolutely crucial to take perspective.

Taking perspective is one of those “all-purpose tools” in your toolbox. It can always be brought out in nearly any situation, and usually results in improving it for you.  Let’s use a concrete example though, to really understand how perspective, neutrality, and discernment help us to arrive at acceptance.

Let’s say that someone you love has gotten sick or injured in some way. From where you stand, perhaps the solution is easy. If they do x they should get better. After all, it’s what you would do. But they are not you. From where they stand, the solution is not that clear, because their experiences and knowledge are contributing factors. As a result, you are at an impasse and it can be frustrating, scary, and nearly impossible to navigate your way to compassion, let alone acceptance.

So, the first step is to take perspective. That looks like asking the question: “Is this mine?” And if the answer is “No,” (and it’s almost always no), then you need to take a step back. If you’re not the injured or sick person, it’s not yours. You are on the periphery, but you’re not the one who is at the center. So, we have to take perspective and get discerning in our knowledge. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Can I know what this person is feeling? (no)
  • Can I know everything that’s going on in their head? (no)
  • Have I lived the same life they have? (no)
  • Could I possibly know better than they do about their own situation? (no)
  • Do I have something to add, to help them? (possibly)
  • Should I? (only if they ask)

That last one is the tricky one, because when we love someone we want to help, and we often think that we know better. We don’t. We know different. Until we’re in the exact same situation (which is never possible, because we’re not the exact same person), there’s no way we could know how we’d act or what we’d choose. So, we take perspective and gain some distance. Which actually leads to respect. Respect for the other person, their path, their wishes, and their decisions. We respect their autonomy, just as we would wish someone to respect ours. Only when we arrive at respect can we appropriately show up for someone with compassion, which is honestly what most people need above all else.

Very few people want someone else to “fix” their problems, often they want someone to sit next to them and hold their hand while they work on finding a solution. Sometimes they ask for help, but even then they usually don’t want to have someone impose upon them.

To tell someone what you think they should do is to impose. (It’s really that simple.)

To ask someone how you can help is to be compassionately supportive. 

To discern the difference between these two things is to understand respect and to find acceptance.

Acceptance is not about condoning or even agreeing, it’s about respecting. The respect is a result of taking perspective, which helps us arrive at compassion… and compassion is healing.

xoxo,
Martina