Category Archives: empowerment

“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.

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.

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.

 

 

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

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.

 

 

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. 😉

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. 🙂

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.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

I can’t sleep.

It’s 5:03am as I type these words on the only light in my room – my laptop. The moon is really high in the sky, but no longer shining into my window as it was doing only two hours ago.

I originally woke at 3:14am. This has become something of a norm for me in recent years. I wish it weren’t the case. I know it’s the “spirit hour” or the time when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, and therefore a time for easy connection with the other side, but I don’t struggle with that. So, I’ve never really understood why I wake so regularly around this hour.

My friend, José Stevens, once told me that I needed to put my foot down and tell Spirit that they are not to disturb me as I sleep, and I did that for a while. It worked. Then it stopped working. I thought it was because I always seemed to have to go to the bathroom, so I stopped drinking things after 9pm to prevent that issue. I still woke up.

I still wake up.

Behavior modification takes time. And while I think it would be easy to say that this is the “spirit hour,” that I am well-connected with the Universe, so it makes sense that I’m awake… I also think it’s habit. By now, my body has physiologically formed a habit around waking up between 3am and 4am. And sometimes it’s that simple.

Working in the intuitive realm, I often find that we want to attribute everything to a spiritual cause. And while much of the time it may be true, we can’t forget that we are also human. And human has its own set of rules and behaviors, one of which is habit.

It would be very easy for me to align with the “spirit hour” theory, simply because I work in it and it makes sense. But I would be doing myself a disservice to not also consider that my body has created a habit around waking up. Here’s why:

If I am waking because of the “spirit hour” it’s outside of my control, and I am out of my power. I’m not standing in my boots. If I am waking because of a physiological habit that I have created over time, then it’s within my control to change it. I am back in my power.

For that reason alone, I am reminded of how important it is to keep balance between the human and divine. To remember that I am not “either/or” but “both/and” at all times. The power lies in embracing this truth and working with it across every aspect of my life.

xoxo,
Martina

P.S. I will say though, that tonight it was rather nice to be up, because the clear pre-winter sky put on quite a show. Simple blessings.