Category Archives: hope

Apathy, Indifference and … Hope

Last week I wrote about Hope being the antidote to Fear. But what is the antidote to Hope?

I actually hadn’t thought about this, because I believe Hope is one of those things that is ever-present. Even in the worst circumstances, there seems to be hope. For years, I’ve written about how in the darkest moments you can still find that grain of sand that is Hope… somewhere… glimmering. I believe Hope is the most powerful energy in the Universe, because it’s the only thing that remains constant in even the most awful situations. Hope restores Love when Fear has taken over.

Hope restores love

But does Hope have an Achilles heel?  And if so, what is Hope’s kryptonite?

After more tragedies in the world last week, I saw a friend post a quote on social media, and I had to pause to take it in:

“Apathy and indifference are the nails in the coffin of hope and change.” – Morley

The late Elie Wiesel said something similar:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

I had to really think about this. Are apathy and indifference the poisons that kill Hope? I wanted to write about it on that day in order to really explore my thoughts and beliefs around the topic, but I didn’t. Instead, I allowed it to simmer on a back burner as I processed the depth of its simplicity.

And then I wrote a totally different piece about my personal life and the struggle I have been facing with regard to my father’s stroke on its 10-year anniversary. (You can read it here.) That piece generated a lot of feedback, love, and support. More than I expected. But it wasn’t until I re-read it that I realized I had described the very scenario that I had simmering on a back burner.

When resignation starts to take hold, hope starts to hibernate.

Resignation, in my opinion, is a form of acceptance without choice. It’s forced. Perhaps because it’s forced, it becomes easier to adopt an attitude of indifference. In some ways, indifference can feel protective. But in other ways, it’s the indifference that opens the door to apathy. And yes, now that I’ve let it marinate for a while, I believe apathy is the antidote to Hope.

I think if Hope were in a petri dish and you doused it with indifference, it would weaken, but not dissolve. However, as the indifference grows it becomes apathy, and apathy has the potential to neutralize Hope. Kill it? No. I don’t believe so, because I think Hope is the Tardigrade of the energy world. But arrest it and prevent it from fulfilling its potential? Yes.

Why does this matter?

I think it’s important that we remember the role Hope plays in times of survival. I hold a view of life that we are always living in one of three ways:

Survive
Live
Thrive

When we are in survival mode, Hope is more important than ever. This does not mean that we diminish and trivialize what’s going on around us by optimistically (blindly?) saying “Love will win” whenever tragedy hits.

Rather, it means that we dig down deep into the nitty-gritty darkest recesses of our souls, knowing all the yuck and darkness, and still say: Love will win and then embody what that means. That’s Hope. That’s holding on to Hope, teaching Hope, speaking Hope, and living Hope.

There’s a reason that at the bottom of Pandora’s Box, after all the fear, pestilence, and misery, Hope remained. Hope resides in the darkest places. Hope resides where we need it most, and the only thing that prevents us from accessing it is apathy … turning a blind eye and/or choosing not to care, because it simply hurts too much.

For many of us it has been hurting too much lately. Tragedy, violence, and other senseless acts that go against our nature cause deep emotional wounds in our collective psyche. It’s in these moments that we get to choose how we want to move forward. We can choose Fear which eventually leads to a protective form of apathy, or we can choose Hope. Even when it’s hardest, especially when it’s hardest, I hope we choose Hope.

P.S. If you’ve never heard/seen it before, here’s a great video by an old friend, Shawn Gallaway, on the choice of Love or Fear. May it inspire you.

How do we make sense of the senseless?

How do we make sense of the senseless? (video here, if you prefer to listen/watch)

To begin with, senseless tragedy and violence seem to be all around us. Our nervous systems are on overload, so even getting into a space where we could attempt to make sense of it all is virtually impossible.

In the last week, we have seen violence on a horrific scale. Whether domestic or international, the crimes against humanity – against our very nature – have pushed many of us over the edge of reason and into empathic overload. I have seen many of my lightworker colleagues retreat in the last 24 hours, because of this. I myself, needed to take a step back to gain grounding and perspective in light of what has been going on. But please don’t mistake silence for apathy. In fact, it’s quite the reverse.

During this time I have repeatedly asked myself what is the most important question to answer here? And I kept returning to: How do we make sense of the senseless?

While, it’s not actually the most important question – it was the gateway to the most important answer.

Firstly, we stop trying to make sense of the senseless. When something goes against our very nature, it is often explained away in order to soothe our ache. For example, when a child dies, we say: God must have needed him or her. We do this to create some sort of balm so we can categorize it and store it away and stem the tide of hurt and pain.

When senseless violence occurs, we try to make the same attempt at understanding in order to diminish the pain and fear, but instead we often end up in a loop of emotion fueled by rationalization. We get trapped, because the very definition of the crime is that it’s senseless.

Therefore, we need to stop trying to understand it, to stop trying to make sense of the senseless. The way forward is to name it and label it for what it is (senseless), so we can accept it as is and work to change at its roots, by understanding its genesis.

All violence, in my opinion, has its origins in the energy of Fear, and Fear is taught. Whether it’s about power, frustration, lack, oppression, anger, rage, victimization, etc. – you name it, it’s taught, often through propaganda. These teachings are grounded in the low-vibration energy of Fear, and are then fueled until they manifest in action.

In most of my studies thus far, I have been taught that the opposite of Fear is Love. And while I know that to be true (Love is the energy of creation, and Fear is the energy of destruction) – I actually modify it slightly.

For years I have been writing and maintaining that the opposite of Fear is not Love, but Hope.

Why?

Because in the absence of Love, and mired in the deepest trenches of Fear, Hope remains. It’s that glimmering grain of sand in the darkness that invites Love back into the conversation.

IMG_6684Therefore, if we look at the vibrational energies on a spectrum, we would have Fear on one end (low vibration), and Hope on the other (high vibration). Anything that is of the lower vibrations associated with Fear (anger, hurt, betrayal, rage, etc.) would then be made better by dousing them with the higher vibration energies associated with Hope (Love, gratitude, compassion, kindness, etc.).

However, I prefer to think of them as a continuum, rather than a spectrum. The reason being is that I know, personally and professionally, that Hope is always present, even in Fear. And it’s a much closer jump from Fear to Hope than it is from Fear to compassion, when it’s on a continuum.

But what does all this have to do with the recent violence and tragedies around the world?

Well, if violence is born of the propaganda and teaching of Fear, then we must teach Hope to counteract it. We must

teach Hope,
speak Hope, and
embody Hope.

What does this look like? Well, for my dear friends who are amazingly powerful and vocal activists, it means speaking out, raising awareness, and lending their voices to a cause. For my quieter more introspective friends, it means sharing Hope by adding beauty in to the world and reminding people that there is much – much – more good than violence and tragedy going on… and everything in between. These are just two examples, amid a world of infinite possibilities.

We know that people listen when they feel heard. In order to even enter into a discussion to create change and foster peace, Hope needs to be restored.

Teaching Hope, speaking Hope, and embodying Hope in our daily lives is the way forward for a more loving and peaceful world that is aligned with our true nature: our divinity and our humanity. We are both, and Hope resides exactly in the center of the two. Hope is the manifestation of what it means to be both human and divine. Hope is at the very core of who we are – and it’s the most powerful tool we have.

Showered by Grace

What is it about Grace that we can have a thousand different definitions, from a thousand different people, and yet somehow we can all be saying the same thing?

For me, writing my piece for 365 Moments of Grace became an exercise in gratitude. When I began, I was unsure where my words would take me, but I was certain that wherever I ended up I would feel better for it, and I did. Before submitting my work to the book, I vetted it with a couple of friends. What I found interesting was that one of my friends’ replies went something like this: “Oh, honey, I am so sorry…”

I was startled by her words, because I had felt only gratitude for my experience in the shower. Even then, as it was happening, I felt grateful for the peace it brought me. I think that’s because it was fueled by Grace. Grace transformed my despair into something greater.

“Grace is a power that comes in and transforms a moment to something better.”
–Carolyn Myss

So, without further ado, for those of you who have not purchased the book yet, I would like to share my Moment of Grace with you here, knowing that there are 364 more stories within its pages that are similar, and yet wholly distinct. This magical book is filled with over 250 voices sharing their stories of Moments of Grace, all saying something different, and yet, somehow, all saying something similar.

Finally, as I geared up for the book’s launch, I tried to describe and define Grace for a friend. I wrote: Sometimes Grace is that still small point of breath, where nothing is needed and everything is possible.

grace

I’d amend it today to say that what’s needed, in fact, is Grace, though it’s rarely ever identified. In our deepest moments of despair we rarely have the ability to ask for what we truly need. And in those moments when Grace is needed most – it always seems to show up.

xoxo


 

Showered by Grace
by Martina E. Faulkner

Years ago, as I started my journey through the refiner’s fire, I was brought to my knees at a most inopportune time: I was in the middle of my morning shower.

While lathering up my hair, I found myself overwhelmed by grief, pain, and tears. My journey of shedding layers of imperceptible veneers had begun, and it was painful. Unexpectedly, with a mountain of bubbles on my head, I fell to my knees, sobbing.

Crumpled on the shower floor, with water pouring over my skin but not cleansing any part of me, I couldn’t utter a word. I silently wailed as my tears mixed with the stream of soap and water from above. I could barely breathe. Immobilized, I watched in awe as my hands reached up.

Like a child drawing on a foggy winter window, my fingers knew what to do when I had lost any semblance of presence in myself. They wrote on the shower wall:

Help.

A single word inscribed in the mist was my call for assistance.

The effort it took humbled me further. As the water began to cool, with the bubbles all but gone and my shoulders hunched forward in a semi-fetal position, I felt a calm fall over me.

My mind began to settle as my heart returned to a steady rhythm. My tears, though still flowing were a gentle trickle instead of a torrent. As I started breathing more deeply and steadily, I noticed my pain had eased.

My cry – my plea for help – had resulted in a warm embrace in the most unlikely of places. Mixed with the water from the shower, my tears had become diluted, free to flow out and away from me. I felt held.

I still use the shower wall to send messages to what I now refer to as my spiritual team. Whether they are messages of gratitude or renewed requests for assistance, there’s a knowing that comes almost instantly the moment my fingers begin to glide across the steamy glass.

©2016 Martina E. Faulkner

showered by grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

P.S. Fore more information on 365 Moments of Grace, or to order your own copy, click here

Check out a few other co-author blogs about the book using these links for yesterday, today, and tomorrow:

July 4: Julia Van Der Sluys and Lore Raymond
July 5: Julie Jones
July 6: Catherine M LaubMarva Collins-Bush and Nicole Levac

Faith, Spirituality, and Religion (plus my thoughts on their role in terror, violence, and love)

Just after the San Bernardino mass shootings, I queried a trusted group of friends for suggestions for my blog – the one that was supposed to run last week. (Perhaps you noticed that I never wrote one.) You see, I found myself somewhat incapable of writing in the wake of such tragedy and senseless violence, again. Everything I wrote kept devolving into anger and frustration. I was mad. What’s worse is that I was aimlessly mad, and the arrows that were the words I was typing were not hitting any marks. I simply couldn’t coherently get my thoughts on paper without some random rants and expletives in the mix.

Instead of offering suggestions, however, my tribe of trusted souls encouraged me to share my thoughts and my process with regard to the violence. My friend, Tyler, said, I’d love to hear what you’re really feeling and where you’re at and how you’re working through it. The real-er, the better in my estimation.”

At the time, I couldn’t go there. I hadn’t worked through it. Like most of the rest of the world I was in shock and disbelief that yet another report of gun violence and a mass shooting had occurred. I have many more thoughts that I will eventually put to paper, but it would’ve been a disservice to my readers, and indeed to myself, for me to write an emotionally reactionary piece on the violence and instability of terrorism, both at home and abroad.

And then, this past weekend I had my first-ever Ayurvedic consultation. Paul, my consultant, said something so poignant to me that I think I stopped breathing for a moment from the depth and simplicity of the words. He shared a wisdom from his teacher, Maharishi, that went something like this:

‘If you are willing to go to war, kill, and fight in the name of your religion, you’ve misunderstood your religion.’

I am certain I have paraphrased, but you get the idea. Which is what has prompted me to write this week about Faith, Spirituality, and Religion. Because, frankly, I think it matters more than we’re admitting. When people are making statements and taking inhumane actions based on their “religion” it bears taking note and actually discussing the topic.

I’ve tackled these topics before, individually and sometimes together. There certainly is a lot of language “out there” about the difference between spirituality and religion. So let’s start there.

Colloquially, religion is thought of as the practice of one’s faith within set rules of doctrinal teachings, typically conveyed in writing or sacred texts. The best examples of this are: The Bible, The Quran, The Torah, and the Vedic texts. These writings hold the foundational teachings of their respective religions. Over centuries or millennia, they have been shared, taught, and, at times, imposed on people, with the mindset of exclusivity. This last phrase is where we developed our current understanding of the word “religion.” Modern understanding of the word revolves around keeping ourselves separate and apart from each other, by practicing “exclusive” rights to the Divine. (aka: My religion is better than your religion.)

But years ago, I attended a lecture by Pittman McGehee, D.D. at the Jung Center in Houston, and he proposed an alternate definition of religion that restores it’s original intent based on the origin of the word. Religion is akin to religare, which means to reconnect.

From this perspective, religion is about the act of reconnecting to that which we hold to be true and know in our hearts, which resides outside of us, and is not exclusive, but rather inclusive. For me, this is how we currently define spirituality.

Spirituality is, in my opinion, the knowing that there is something greater than yourself, that you can’t touch, see, or quantify, but is connected to all things, inclusively. The Druids knew this as the inherent wisdom in Nature. The Abrahamic religions refer to it as God, Yahweh, or Allah. Spirituality is an act of reconnection. It is an inclusive practice that recognizes the collective above all things, allowing each to practice his or her own faith, with respect for the intention of reconnecting to something greater, something to which we all have access, in myriad forms.

So, what is faith then?

Historically, and currently, faith has been used as a scapegoat for war, terror, violence, and oppression. “People of faith” have committed atrocious acts of horror in the name of their beliefs. Five hundred years ago, the Christians persecuted non-Christians during the Spanish Inquisition. Seventy years ago, the Jews were practically decimated, and now a statistically small group of Muslims are terrorizing the world in the name of their faith. But it’s not their faith that’s driving them. It’s their beliefs.

Is faith belief? No. Belief is a choice. Faith is a knowing, a knowing that transcends choice. Faith is, above all else, a feeling that requires no justification or defense. It simply is.

Which is why I needed to take pause and write about this trifecta of theology. I think the horrific events in the world have caused many of us, myself included, to dig deeper into my faith, into what I know – and, more importantly perhaps, to challenge what I’ve been told (or taught) to believe. Beliefs can change. Inner knowing is constant. It’s what gives you hope when times are at their darkest. Faith is the seedling of Hope. It’s the flint that creates the spark that leads to the fire. And faith is all-inclusive. We can actually use logic to understand this concept.

Let’s assume for a second that I am God. If I were God, and I wanted all of my creations – but specifically my human creations – to find their way back to me, would I limit the paths to just one? Or would I want every human on earth to find me in their way, from their hearts? Would I plant a seed within them that would one day rise and grow? I would. I would be that smart. I would know that it would take billions of seed plantings – one for each human – to ensure each one had a path back to their knowing, to me, however that shows up for them, as they are ready and able to receive it. For some this is religion, for others it’s nature. For everyone, though, it involves some measure of faith.

So, logically, faith is infinite. Faith is what some call the God gene or the Divine DNA. We all have it within us. It springs to life in different circumstances and at different times, as we need it or pursue it. I’ve created an acronym to define faith. You may have seen me use it before. Faith is

Feeling
Alive
In
The
Heart

At this holiest time of year, celebrated from Pagan times as the Winter Solstice, on up through the various holidays we enjoy today, we find opportunities to explore and restore our faith, in ourselves, in each other, and in humanity. We are being called to unite as one, to hold onto hope in the light of tragedy, and be the beacons that guide others to that same light when they are shrouded in darkness. A darkness I found myself flirting with after the most recent tragedy at San Bernardino.

The process of restoration that I’ve undergone in the last 10 days has involved a fair amount of numbing, distraction, reflection, self-care, and pursuit of joy. I have taken walks, taken pictures, enjoyed a lot of tea, as well as a salt bath, listened to music, and restored my connection with myself, and with what I know – with my faith. Faith in action is my spirituality. As I explored and embraced what faith means to me, I wrote about it. I share that writing with you here.

What Faith Means to Me

Faith gives me something to hold onto
when I feel like I have no strength left in my hands.

Faith brings me peace when everything around me,
outside of my control, is in chaos.

Faith restores me to my heart when I’ve lost my way.

Faith reminds me of what’s important, what’s less important,
and helps me create those two lists.

Faith shows me what’s possible in a world
that would have me believe otherwise.

Faith inspires me, every day, to be the best I can be, even when that “best” involves staying in my pajamas all day, behind closed doors, licking my wounds. Especially then.

Faith fills me when I’m running on empty.

Faith offers me abundance when I’m feeling less than worthy.

Faith grounds me in who I am, what I do, and where I’m going.

Faith shares wisdom and truth with me through beauty and through pain.

Faith leads me forward through darkness, fog, and broken terrain,
as well as the smooth pathways and flowing pastures.

Faith provides me with a sense of self, a sense of purpose,
and a sense of inner peace.

And mostly, Faith offers me all these things and asks nothing in return.

Faith, spirituality, and religion have been used for good and for evil. They have been the life jacket and the straight jacket, the prison and the freedom. The difference in how they manifest lies in the practitioner, resulting in love or terror. When respect, inclusion, understanding, and unity are their hallmarks, this trio of theology is the very definition of possibility, hope, and love. It is up to us – all of us – to ensure this is the way forward.

Wishing you many blessings for a joyous and loving holiday season, however, you choose to celebrate. May the light of the season be yours, and may you spread that light forward in peace.

Gratitude and Abundance

This week it’s Thanksgiving here in America. It’s a time to gather with friends and family and share food, laughter, and companionship. It’s a time to make new memories while reminiscing about old favorites. It’s a time to give thanks for all that we have. 

Gratitude, as a concept, is not new. In addition to Thanksgiving – a day set aside for giving thanks – we’ve been hearing about the practice of gratitude for years. However, gratitude seems to have gone mainstream when Oprah created a national endeavor to bring gratitude into our everyday lives through the gratitude journal.

But what does gratitude do? Why do we practice giving thanks? What does it mean to be grateful?

Somewhere early in my journey I learned a phrase: “Fear can’t live in a grateful heart.” When there was fear, the antidote was gratitude.

If you read my post last week, you’ll know that I believe the antidote to fear is Hope, actually. So, where does gratitude come in? Well, Gratitude, in my opinion, is the action that represents Hope. It’s something active that we can do, that keeps fear at bay and invites Hope back into our lives, ultimately leading us back to Love.

It seems to me, therefore, that Gratitude invites Abundance.

gratitude-pumpkns

Through the practice of expressing and truly feeling grateful for what we have, we are opening our hearts and our lives to more. More joy, more love, more peace, more hope…more abundance.

So, this week especially, as we share our joy and give thanks for each other, for what we have, and for who we are, we invite gratitude into our hearts. In giving thanks, we are enacting Hope. Hope for the future. Hope for each other. Hope for the globe.

Which leads me to ask: What if..? What if we practiced gratitude every day of the year?

For my part, I am grateful for so many things, every single day, one of which is you. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Thank you for reading my words and sharing them. Thank you for showing up, being here, and for being you.

xoxo,
Martina

 

Best Laid Plans

We all have them: Best laid plans. Then something unexpected happens and suddenly our plans have to change. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes less so.

Last week I told you all that I was taking a mini-break from writing InspireBytes™ organically, on a weekly basis. I had several weeks of writing all planned out, prepared, and scheduled to carry us through Thanksgiving and beyond, which would allow me this hiatus.

Then Paris happened.

And Beirut.

And Baghdad.

My plans changed.

I’ve spent the better part of the last few days like most everyone else I know, waffling between anger, disbelief, frustration, and helplessness, with a thought cloud of question marks swirling above my head.

What can I/we do?
Why is this happening?
How can it be stopped?
What is the root cause?
What about all the survivors?
And the loved ones?
What about those who died?

and
What next?

Actually, it’s that last question that I felt like I could answer, because I know in my heart the only way forward is through hope.

Even in the darkest of times, hope is what restores us to light. When Love has disappeared, it’s hope that keeps people moving forward. It’s hope that keeps a crack in the door to let Love back in.

It seems to be a universally accepted truth that Love is the most powerful force in the universe, because it’s the source of all things. A couple months ago I even wrote about the 4 types of love, and I absolutely believe that Love is source. However, I don’t believe that Love is the most powerful force in the universe, because it shares that title… with hope.

Hope is equally as powerful as Love for one main reason: Hope is the ever-present path back to love. It’s the grain of sand in the dark that reminds you that something else is possible.

Think about it for a second: when things are at their worst, what keeps people going? What moves people forward through tragedy and trauma? Is it Love? Sometimes it’s love for family or others, but that’s not always the case – there’s something more. Even when someone is completely alone, trapped and isolated from everything, hope is present. When darkness, fear, and hatred are present and all feels lost and numb, it’s hope that restores Love.

That’s why I can answer that last question: What next?

Hope.

Hope for the future. Hope for possibility. Hope for knowing that this era of terror will end. Hope for all that I believe and know to be true to come pouring forth and shift the energy around the trauma.

Hope is an invitation. Without it, there’s little point in dreaming or praying. In fact, one of my favorite lines from a movie is from ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ in which the preacher tells the teenager, “Hope… is all a prayer is.”

Hope is the key that ignites possibility. And possibility is the first step toward change.

In placing our energy in hope, we are taking a step toward defeating fear and terror by allowing for the possibility of Love to return. Hope restores Love.

So, when we sit with question marks swirling over our heads and ask ourselves: What next? Look for the grain of sand in the dark – that pinhole of light we know as Hope – and focus on it. Pour your energy into it, whatever that means for you, and allow Love to return, edging fear out.

Why Love?

Why love?

This holiday weekend got me thinking. Love is the answer to so many questions. So I thought it prudent to ask another question: Why Love? It seems a simple enough question, with an equally simple answer. Right? But let’s look at it from a different angle.

Why not Love?

Well, the opposite of love is fear. It’s not hate. Hate is a byproduct of fear. Fear is love’s nemesis. When fear is present, it does everything it can to keep out love. If life were a bus and fear were driving, you can bet the passenger list would look something like this:

Insecurity
Anger
Envy
Jealousy
Greed
Loathing
Despair
Loneliness
Low self-esteem
Low self-respect
Self-centeredness
Hate
Bullying

And the list goes on and on…and on. Fear drives, loads up the bus, and picks up more passengers as it goes, constantly edging love out.

But here’s the good news: Somewhere on the bus, perhaps in the last seat, pressed against the window, searching the passing scenery for inspiration is a passenger that never leaves. It’s a passenger that is on every bus, everywhere, all the time. Eventually it makes its way to the front of the bus and slowly redirects fear to the stop where love can get on board once more.

That passenger is Hope.

Hope is the often silent, but ever-present passenger on the journey. Thankfully, hope never remains silent for long. Hope restores love when fear has taken over.

hope restores love

So, to ask the question again: why love? For so many reasons, but mainly because with love, there is always hope. (Yay!!)

Hope, Compassion and Oxygen Masks

There has been a lot of trauma in the world lately: Crimea and the Ukraine, Venezuela, the missing Malaysian plane, to name just a few. There’s fear, anger, hatred, and despair running rampant on our media outlets. We’re being told “what’s going on” without actually having to experience it personally. (Well, most of us, anyway.) Or are we?

Let me start by saying I’m not advocating ignorance or denial. It’s important that we know what’s happening around us in humanity to develop our compassion muscle. Burying our heads in the proverbial sand only weakens us, and humanity, in the long term.

What I DO want to say is this: everything that’s happening, even thousands of miles away, is affecting us. We ARE experiencing it.

Let’s go back to Einstein for a second – everything is energy. Therefore, everything carries energy about it. And energy can move faster than light. So, it stands to reason that when something “bad” is happening somewhere in the world you can bet it’s impacting the energy fields all around the globe in some way. (Likewise, when something good is happening, the same occurs. Yay!)

So, what does that mean for us?

Well, I’ve noticed lately that as I have felt more and more affected by the tragedy in Venezuela (it’s personal), I felt more and more compelled toward gluttony and devouring everything I could find on what’s going on…until I didn’t. I had to stop. Not because it’s gotten better (it hasn’t), and not because it’s resolved (far from it), and certainly not because I don’t care, but because I don’t want to add to the energy grid of despair, anger, and hatred that is encircling our blue/green orb. I want to mitigate it.

To do that, I need to take care of me. It’s the old “oxygen mask” theory:

Put yours on first, so you can help others with theirs.

I need to take care of myself, my emotions, and my energy in order to ADD positively to the energetic flow. That means I need to stay in balance, know what’s going on, and not react from a place of fear, but rather from a place of hope. In other words,

I need to be a guardian of hope during times of despair.

Hope involves compassion, which includes knowledge. Compassion is about knowing your boundaries, exercising them, and helping others from that perspective with grace, empathy, and understanding. Compassion also requires practice to be its most effective. It also requires self-care, as in the oxygen mask.

We need to be informed, we need to be compassionate, and we need to be breathing in order to be of service to change. Mostly, though, we need to be the hope.

Words, Gratitude and a MISSION!

“Changing the world by changing lives, one person at a time.”

That was my “old” motto/slogan. (Can I call it old if it’s only been 5 years?) I suppose in this day and age of digital everything; it’s almost ancient, actually. But it’s still valid today – and it will be valid every day, for the rest of my life and beyond. So it’s really very very new. ☺

It’s what I believe. It’s what I do, and I think it’s what I’ve always done. It’s what I choose every day that I wake up. I believe it’s a choice to chat with a clerk in a store, to engage in a conversation with a friend, to share an article or quote that we find inspiring, to hug or call someone who’s hurting, and to simply look a stranger in the eye and smile. These are choices I make to connect with the world around me, and I carry them forward in my coaching, writing and teaching.

What you don’t know is: Growing up, I used to think I could only change the world if I became a successful and famous (insert profession here), and then joined the UN Ambassador program to highlight areas of need. I used to think I had to do something notable and noteworthy in order to make a dent in the world for the better. I know a lot more since then, and I’m glad that’s not the only way to go about things, but sometimes my mind wanders back to those thoughts and ideas, and I wonder…

Then, as a reminder, last October I received this unexpected email from a reader:

Hi Martina,

Thanks for the gift of your words.

I forwarded this to a friend who is recovering from being involved with (someone)…
And your words lifted her world tremendously !

You’ve touched many today!

Blessings,
(name withheld)

I still fill with gratitude reading it. I am still in awe at the power of words to change someone’s life, and I am humbled by the fact that they came through me. (And THANK YOU my dear reader for sharing with me.)

So now I’m modifying my MISSION (formerly a motto/slogan) ever-so-slightly to more accurately reflect who I am and what I do:

Changing the world by changing lives –
one person, one moment, one word at a time.

I know this is possible. In fact, it’s more than that – it’s probable! So let’s do this together! All it takes is a smile, a hug, or even a word to change somebody’s world. Are you ready to join in?

Expectations are Hope in Disguise

I recently had an opportunity to experience suffering. The kind where you sometimes sit on your shower floor and cry, hoping the constant stream of water from above will somehow dilute the salty rivers on your face (and where nobody can hear you or see the snot that has also formed some sort of waterfall over your lip). Yeah, that kind of sadness. Suffering.

So much has been said in recent years about how expectations are the root cause of suffering. Hmmm. I’d always agreed with that. (Well, accepted it without challenging it is probably more accurate.) But these bouts in the shower gave me cause to pause. And guess what? I disagree. (Not that that should come as a surprise to most of you. lol)

My new thought:

I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations.

Actually, I think it’s hope for humanity’s future to hold expectations of one another. I expect people to be kind, respectful, and compassionate, and act in a way that is in accordance with that. For me, these are some of the highest values of basic humanity. To expect less than these basics almost feels like I’m letting my fellow humans down – like I’m saying: “I don’t believe in you.”

So why is there a plethora of writing linking expectations and suffering? Well, suffering comes when I form an emotional attachment to the outcome of my expectations, to the decisions and/or actions of others. Attachment is quite different than expectation, because it involves control. And, if we’re honest, attachments, in their essence, are actually judgments. (And we all know about judgments, right? – if you don’t know what I’m saying, check out my spooky Halloween post.)

What, then, are attachments? Bottom line:

Attachments are attempts at control based in fear, and they’re unhealthy.

In my opinion, they are the root cause of emotional suffering. So many things can grow out of attachment that you probably don’t realize. Things like: low self-worth, low self-esteem, anger, frustration, disappointment, despair, disregard, are all products of attachment. If I were to attach an emotional investment (my happiness) in a fellow human behaving a certain way, boy would I be in trouble!

Trying to control things that are not mine will ALWAYS create opportunities for suffering, and control is a form of attachment. (Not to mention being a sign of disrespect toward someone else.)

Healthy expectations are an integral part of any relationship. They allow us to hold one another in high esteem, and challenge ourselves and each other to be the best we can be. Expectations are like little pompoms of encouragement waving wildly on the sidelines of the game of life. They help us identify what’s possible and feel supported in getting there. Attachments, meanwhile, derail us from our own truth and knowing, like the really loud fans from an opposing team trying to distract us from our purpose.

Expectations, therefore, are an expression of hope. And hope is always a good thing.