I have a hard time making decisions. (I'm a libra, what can I say)
I tend to pretend that I can have control of my life and outcomes if I just make the right decisions... which is a large load to put on one's shoulders.
So with the stress of having to figure everything out perfectly I have often found myself seeking answers from outside sources... ya know friends, co-workers... google. If I could gather enough data, enough stories of others' life experiences, I could make the best decision for me.
Except that that is the problem. It's never an answer for me. When someone gives you their opinion, solicited or otherwise, they are not suggesting what YOU should do to make YOURSELF happy. They are making a statement about themselves. They are going through their past experience, projecting themselves into your situation, and brining all of their baggage and filters with them. Sometimes this is done with the best of intentions, sometimes it's an unwanted gift. But in all cases I urge you to proceed with caution.
In a recently relationship issue, I sought advice from all friends around me. Most were overly willing and eager to share their wisdom by telling me exactly what to do. I felt judged, angry, and resented sharing my situation at all.
But then there was the friend who didn't judge. She didn't instruct. She asked questions. She guided me to think in different perspectives, to find my own answers. And I realised that her advice never had anything to do with her personal opinion.
My mother was another great example. When I called her upset she said, "I don't know what to tell you. I haven't dated in over 35 years". At first her answer upset me, but what an honest gift. My mom was aware that her experience was 3 decades off of anything I may be experiencing now.
My favourite author and speaker Gabrielle Bernstein coined the term "ing" which stands for Inner Guidance System. This is your intuition, it's following your heart and questioning your head. Feeling your gut instincts and always choosing love over fear. It's almost like the GPS on your phone, except of course, it's inside you! Which is where all of the answers meant FOR YOU will come from anyway right?
So maybe take a recommendation about the best Taco Tuesday venue, or which Netflix series to binge watch on a rainy day but that's about the only level on which you need others input. Do you. Choose love. Choose Ease. Do things that scare you, and thrill you and don't worry about the opinions of the masses.
The phrase "letting go" always used to spark a fear in me. It indicated sadness and loss, giving up. I was the kind of person who couldn't wrap her head around how forgiving a person who had wronged you was the right thing to do. I held on to words, actions, things. I still have boxes of card that have been sent to me from birthdays and holidays... and I'm not sure what I'm saving them for. But as I mature, as I calmed down and quiet my mind, I can understand these concepts much better.
I was excited to find that the theme for my women's circle this month was LETTING GO! I certainly have a lot I would benefit from letting go of. Like most people I could benefit to let go of: the negative comments that run through my head on repeat, clutter in my home, the idea I can control things where I can't, and a million fears and beliefs that don't serve me.
During our time together in the circle, our host brought out paints, glitter, sea shells, old magazines and glue, and we spend time decorating boxes... our Spirit Boxes.
The rules of a Spirit Box are simple:
1. You write down anything you are ready and needing to let go of and put it in the box.
2. By placing something in the box, you are agreeing to let your higher power handle this issue and agreeing to stop worrying over it.
3. If you continue to worry about the issue you placed in the box, you must take it OUT of the box, and not put it back in utill you are ready to hand it over and let it go.
*How Beautiful* :)
We all wrote something we were ready to let go of on paper and placed in our spirit box and shared this with each other in part of a letting go ceremony.
I wrote down the names of two people. One was someone I had been in a romantic relationship with, and the other was a best friend that I no longer speak to. I have realized for sometime now that while I've been grieving these relationships, I have also been romanticising them- pretending they were perfect and always fulfilling, and this made me feel so wounded and also set me up to keep wondering if they would ever be repaired.
Now though, I realized that they were not perfect relationships. They ended for reasons. Hanging on to these people are like keeping anchors in the water, it was time to get rid of these anchors and let my ship move forward.
I placed there names in the box and shared my thoughts with the group. And during a closing meditation, I suddenly saw myself hugging my best friend that I was letting go of. This image just unexpectedly popped into my head. We were in a place we had spent a lot of time together. I told her I loved her and I wished the best for her, but I had to let her go. I told her, "Goodbye". Eyes closed, I felt tears falling and knew that while this still felt sad, it was right, and it was strong, and it was no longer my problem to feel bad about.
Sometimes letting go is sad. Sometimes it's challenging. But even when it's difficult, if we pay attention to our bodies, I think we can feel a shift. We can de-clutter our spirits and minds by saying we no longer wish to entertain ideas, stories, beliefs that make us feel bad.
I encourage everyone to try Spirit Boxes. Make them with friends, your kids, or maybe a cat or dog by side ;) Paint them, decorate them, access your inner child. And then start letting go. Start making room for beautiful wonderful things that will nourish you and lift you up!
Love & Light, Jamie
There is something I have gotten used to avoiding any discussion on. For most of my life there was an elephant in the room I wanted to hide. Something overwhelming and unbearable- my weight. An obsession of mine for as long as I can remember, a problem to be fixed, a part of me that was not good enough. My weakness... the one thing that could take me down.
Nowadays, people comment on how healthy I eat, act shocked and make a comment if they see a frap in my hand (annoying btw) or applaud my half marathon accomplishments, but they don't know where all of that is coming from. They don't know because the bottom line is I hate being vulnerable. I hate letting people into a space that would allow them to hurt or judge me. But in a brave effort, I'm putting it out there.
This brave confession is do to a change in my life I recently made. I've signed up to be a Beachbody coach. What a wonderful challenge to take on I thought to myself- workouts and nutrition are already really important to me, shouldn't I incorportate them into a career somehow? The answer was an obvious "Yes!" and I signed up with enthusiam. But enthusiasm waivered when I realized that they best way to help people would be to let them know I already did all of this work myself.
That's when all the gross stuff came up. I am of course still a work in progress- I am far from perfect. But I did change my life. I have lost over 70 lbs. I am still working to be the absolute best me that I can be.
So here's my first step. My baby step. I'm being vunerable. I'm sharing pictures that somehow survived. I'm letting you know where I've been, and hopefully inspiring you at the same time.
Love and Light,
(and yes, that's me on the left in the black clothes and hat)
Winter. It's never an easy season for me. Nature seems to seal my beloved sunshine as days get shorter, the temperatures drop (even here in Southern California), and I usually find myself a little more down than any other time of year. This month really brought all of that on and I found myself anxiously depressed. I was bummed about a lot and immediately thought of all of the things in my life that I needed to fix and take control of.
I've learned that when I feel the need to "fix" things, I really just need to have more faith. During these times I have to give up this silly idea of control and BELIEVE that the universe has my back and will lead me down whatever path I need to find. And most of the time, guided meditation helps me relax.
So during a body inquiry type meditation, I felt my sadness, I felt my anxiety, I felt a lot of anger. And then I saw it. I was blue and electric against a black background. And then... it spoke to me.
My body screamed, "You're not listening to me!" And it shook me. I wanted to explain- "I am listening but I don't know what to do! I know you're unhappy and I'm trying so hard to fix everything. I don't know what else to do and I don't want this pressure." There was guilt and there was defensiveness. And then I waited for another message. How could I listen to my body if it shut up after one sentence?
So I walked around for days wondering what my body wanted me to do. What could I do in these circumstances? What did it really want?
This lead to another period of quiet time to observe my body. I was guided to hold my questions for this statement in kindness and with patience (ah patience, my biggest challenge). "But what am I supposed to be doing exactly?", I questioned...after all I did want to get this right so I could find the answers I was looking for. I didn't want to mess things up.
"What if you didn't have to do anything", was the response I got. And I with that tears silently streamed down my face. I couldn't be comfortable with not doing anything, because I never occupy that space in life.
And so that's what I did. I did nothing. In my minds eye I sat next to the phrase "You're not listening to me!" and just like a small child that screams for your attention, I realized the phrase just wanted me there. It wanted my attention. It wanted me to stop, to sit beside it, to let it know that I was there with it, and when it was ready to tell me more, I would be right here. No pressure.
It was such a beautiful experience and idea that it's stayed with me the past few days. I've been dancing with the idea that when I panic and feel that I must have an immediate solution, I may just be able to do nothing instead. It might be possible to give myself a break. To let the universe do its thing, and just relax.
Let me know if you ever practice "doing nothing" as a solution... :)
I have been inspired by the movie UP. It is the ultimate call to adventure and while I could write for ages about the meanings in this Pixar film, to save time I will tell you that it's about what happens when you set your intentions and following your dreams no matter what your circumstance is (and of course all of the benefits that come with the action of following your heart).
After watching this film, and seeing others great travels being posted on instagram and Facebook, I thought... what about me? When is the last time I had BIG FUN? Don't get me wrong, I've gotten great at little fun. I find fun in sunshine and the little birds that gather around me on my lunch break.. these things make my heart smile. But I want my heart to shriek with excitement.
Then I saw funny Octoberfest pictures my friend posted on Facebook. Everyone was in costume, they all seemed to having the kind of fun I stopped having years ago. And then I realized, I miss her... and she lives in Australia...and I think the perfect adventure for me to take and feel free and young and alive again, would be to see her and explore Brisbane!
I went to Sydney in 2008 for 8 days. People wondered why I would travel so far and only stay a week and one day. And I couldn't understand what else they expected. I was a student, I had a job, I had limited spending money. Even when taking this luxurious trip across the globe I still felt bound by these limits. I still tweaked this trip so it would fit a lacking me... not an abundant me.
And almost as soon as I think these thoughts of big fun and freedom and excitement this old lady voice pops in my head and says, "No, those trips aren't for you. Those trips are for people who have money and time and don't work where you do or make what you do. Those big trips are for other people. Successful people." And I believe her.
But then I tell a brilliant woman that I want more fun in my life. And I tell her about wanting to do a big trip to Australia. And she says, "Well then I think we need to plan your tip and let the universe take care of the rest." And we talked about how much a flight would cost, how much spending money I would want.. and the tricky things like how I will get this extra money or how I will get time off of whatever job I happen to be working, we decided could be taken care of by a force greater and a bit more creative than me.
And suddently it seemed possible.
I realized that the voice in my head that sounded like a tried, defeated, old lady is not me. She is fear. She knows a part of me that is quick to see limits and she prays on that. But she doesn't know the greater part of me that is a dreamer. And she will have to eat her words when I'm dancing the night away in Australia.
My interest in yoga started three years ago when my roommate took me to a "hot yoga" class. In the heat my muscles found themselves more flexible and something felt great about dripping sweat while barely moving. I though hot yoga would be my yoga. But then I found Kundalini.
Kundalini is more of a spiritual practice for me than anything else, and it's the only yoga I practice regularly. I could go on and on about how magical it feels and how I dream of getting "satnam" and "namaste" tattooed somewhere on me... but I'd rather talk about my favorite part of every single yoga class; Savasana.
Savasana is also known as corpse pose. It's when you lie on you back, palms facing up, eyes closed, and you soak in all of the benefits you've just created in the past hour and a half.
I'm not sure what happens when other people go into Savasana, but I always have quite the experience. I relax, I fall asleep, I've cried more than once.. and then there was that one time... when I switched bodies with Jillian Michaels.
I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous. I didn't hop off the floor and start yelling at people telling them to work out until they puked or fainted. I just laid there as Jillian. I laid on the floor in the most fit body I could imagine as a woman I have looked up to and adored for almost a decade. I felt her success. I felt her humanity. It wasn't anything crazy, just a few moments of a new experience.
Before coming out of Savasana, I came back to being Jamie. Finding myself in my body. When that happened I immediately reflected on what had just taken place. Without really thinking about it, I had the realization that what I experienced was a reminder that we are all connected. That the same kind of blood and breath that animates Jillian Michaels animates me. We're of the same species, the same sex, the same lifetime. And the accomplishments she's made are just proof to me that I am capable of greatness as well.
That experience will always be a sweet reminder that the people we look up to are not superhuman. Their accomplishments are not unattainable. And when we wonder things like, "Who am I to live the life of my dreams?", we can remind ourselves that we are made of the same stuff Jillian Michaels is. ;)
I've been working on interviewing people for The Mayalouise Project (coming soon to the site). These people are making their own way in the world, sticking to what is authentic to them, and in doing so- making the world a better place. Needless to say this has left me feeling super inspired. Due to this inspiration, I've been experiencing this odd feeling.. this feeling that says, not only is everything going to be okay, but it's going to be amazing, and your dreams can and will come true. WOAH! Really??
These are shoes I haven't worn in the longest time (about 10 years time to be more specific). And they are so comfortable that I should have known my ego would be around the corner to trip me and break this "the world really is good and magical" spell that I was under. So yesterday, I tripped.
I was at work and extra stressed as we were low on people. And all of the upcoming expenses I had started running through my mind. I felt so overwhelmed. I felt ill equipped. I wanted to cry. I wanted to know HOW I was going to solve all of these problems.
WHAT HAPPENED? I had started the morning in a state of bliss feeling like I was on the right path. Feeling like the universe and I were finally on the same page, and now all of the sudden my fears of the future were worse than ever. If I really believed in manifestation and that the universe was on my side, how could these fears be real?
I slept on my issues, and luckily this morning I got to talk to one of these awesome people on my interview list, and she gave me great advice. The advice was, "Don't worry about the HOW". She went on to tell me that we don't know HOW the universe is going to take care of things, we just have to believe it will, and it will. It sounds simple. It sounds reckless to the logical part of us. But it's true. And I know this because when I look back into my life at the times I really wanted or needed something, but didn't know HOW it would happen.. it happened anyway. It turns out that when we are focused on the right feelings/outcome/idea... the HOW will take care of itself.
A FEW EXAMPLES:
When I was trying to get into San Diego State University I was blindsided with the information that they did not accept lower division transfers. I would have to be up to junior status in credits to be accepted. I only had a year of college under my belt and would have another semester to do as much as I could. HOW was I going to fix this? I certainly didn't have a plan when I got that information. I felt really crushed actually. But then I found out some other information.. like that I could test out of classes and earn the credits for them without adding them to my schedule. And that I could "overload" that last semester and reach just enough credits... to get accepted.
And as my college years came to close, and I was wondering HOW I was going to continue to live in California after graduation, I took a trip to Vegas and mindlessly kept pushing the "max bet" button on a slot machine. And then bells and whistles went off... because I hit a progressive jackpot. I paid my rent for an apartment 7 blocks from the beach with that money for six months.
Another example that came to mind was being an overweight kid. I can't remember a time in my childhood that I was not aware of being fat. It was a constant in my life, but I knew it wouldn't always be that way. I had no idea HOW I would lose weight, but deep in my heart and mind I knew that I would. Come to think of it, as I child, I didn't really worry about it. I felt sad about it, but I didn't worry about HOW to change it. And then the universe took care of it. The universe delivered (via my grandparents) a used treadmill from a garage sale right to our basement. And I started walking on it, then running on it. And with a commitment to a new love of running, and some hard work, the weight came off.
I'm not sure HOW I will "fix" the problems in my life that I stress about. I'm not sure exactly HOW I can cut ties with "the man" and never have to work for someone again because I'm able to support myself by doing things I love. I'm not sure HOW everything will work out. But here's to believing that everything truly will. :)
"If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything." -Thich Nhat Hanh
Very recently, I spent about a half hour journaling what my perfect home would be like (in response to an awesome exercise about manifesting). I had given myself a house on the beach with a pool, an organic garden, and window seats to lounge on while I read in the sunlight. Deliciousness.
But then I turned away from my document and got back to work. And on my way home, I found myself in a space that's quite familiar. After a long day at a place that feels so very out of my alignment, I finally parked my car and grabbed my lunch bag. Running through my head were angry thoughts like- "I wasted my entire day there and now I only have a few hours before I have to go to bed and start the day over again". And tired thoughts- "My feet hurt. I'm not going to get much done. I just want to rest". But then the saving thought that crosses my mind most nights when I finally get closer to my door is that my little black cat Maya will be sitting there, at the glass door waiting for me. This thought always cheers me up. You have to picture this little being, sitting as politely as she can, looking out the window for her Mom.
The huge shift this thought made in my feeling of well-being was so noticeable that I stopped in my tracks. I looked up at the night sky and found the moon right away. I have seen that same moon so many different times and places. It was there when I was jumping on a trampoline as a 10 year on a summer night in Ohio. It was there salsa dancing with me in Sydney. And it was here again on a night that seemed less special- more disconnected. But was this night less special?
It dawned on me that when I really am in the perfect home I had wrote about earlier that day, that I certainly will have a memory of this time in my life. When I look back, I probably won't think as much about how difficult it was for me to go to work everyday. I probably won't think about my feet hurting either. What I am sure I will remember is Maya waiting for me at the door and how happy it made me feel.
So, I realized that I need to appreciate this now, while it's here. Because it's beautiful. Because I'll miss it if it's ever not a part of my life. Because sometimes the small little things light you up. Because life can be hard and yucky, but it can also be yummy and exciting and comforting. Because after a day of frustration, the universe is giving me a gift of peace and happiness and I don't want to ignore it.
What gifts show up for you when you step into the present?
It started in 3rd grade. Too young? Maybe.
I would come home from school and find my mother and sister watching it. They would get so excited- everything was so dramatic. Lots of crying, lots of passionate make-outs, glasses being thrown against walls and shattering to the floor mirroring the characters broken hearts and dreams. It was called General Hospital and I was hooked...
I'd like to take a moment to say that I have been clean and sober of my soap opera addiction for years now. And although I use the word addiction in jest... it's not totally off. I spent an hour 5 days a week devoted to watching the show. Then there were the magazines, the discussions with friends, and the ultimate dream of moving to Hollywood and being on the show myself (And I'm still totally open to that and would like to mention I can cry on cue). But by now, I thought I was totally free and clear of it all. That is until I realized, I have a Sony Corinthos Complex.
Sony Corinthos was the mysterious, "sexy" (a little out of my age range for this to ring true for me), dangerous man who always wore suits and answered only to himself. His professional title to the public was a coffee importer/exporter. But he was running the local mob. He was untouchable- could have everything and anything he wanted. Totally free from rules. And his still waters ran deep as we watched him fall in love hundreds of times with different beautiful women. But the most famous of Sony's relationships was his relationship with Brenda Barrett.
Of all of the soap opera couples they were my favorite. She was so beautiful and loved this damaged man more than any of the other woman that came in and out of his penthouse. He left her at the alter, she came back from the dead. They almost died more times then I could count- envoking a sense of a Romeo and Juliet kind of love. Even when Brenda was with Jax, an Australian business man who worshiped her, we all knew her heart would always belong to Sonny no matter whose ring was on her finger.
Needless to say it was interesting when it dawned on me that General Hospital had not left my life with a clean break as I thought it had. It had left an imprint on me. I realized this when I noticed that even while I was dating someone who was perfectly great on his own. I found myself upset that I didn't feel that crazy, obesessive spark that I felt with... well... my very own Sonny Corinthos.
It was love at first sight- for me at least. He wasn't running a mob (although he did partake in some illegal activities). He wasn't dangerous, but he was mysterious. He was a rule breaker. He was gorgeous. And he made my heart race. And no matter who I was with and how great they treated me, I couldn't seem to let go of him. And yet just like Brenda, I always found myself standing alone in the rain- ok figurative rain, and see the video below if you're not a GH fan.
And only recently have I realized how unhealthy this is. Soap Operas are not real life (did I really need to learn that?). And there is something about young love that lifts us up and knocks us so hard to the floor that makes it feel super important. But love isn't obsession. Love isn't leaving when the other person wants and needs you most. And what Sonny and Brenda had, doesn't work after 25. The same way 4 hours of sleep doesn't seem to cut it anymore, neither does the guy who keeps you on hold. If there's a person in your life coming into your mind for almost every Lana Del Rey song you hear... you may have your own Sonny Corinthos Complex too...
Recently, I was having one of those days. The kind of day where you get dragged down by everything in your life that is not how you want it to be. Questions about the uncertain future, the regrets of the past, and the confusion of the present flooded my brain. So, I reached out to a friend who I figured may understand my current emotional storm. Her comforting words were so beautiful I just had to share them here.
And sometimes I wish that I could be more simple, and easy to please.. but I am not, and neither are you. Maybe people like you and me are old souls, swimming in a sea of new souls who haven't had lived enough to want a meaningful life. We are delicate flowers that need the rain to grow ..surrounded by cacti that could flourish on sunshine alone. Even when people like you and I get to a point where we are so content that we can't imagine life getting any better, it won't last long..because we crave growth and meaning.
I hope if you're reading this, you're lucky enough to be one of those people my friend described. So the next time it rains, just remember it's all there to help you grow. :)