Who Am I?


This morning, my sister sent a blog link, http://aleafinspringtime.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/a-guide-to-the-dark-side/

I know I meander in my thinking and writing a lot of the time but I’m really a bottom-line and short-attention-span kind-of-person so clear, concise messages appeal to me.   After reading the blog, a question resurfaced.  I’ve pondered it recently while reading Tolle and The Untethered Soul…if I’m not my emotions and mind voices, then who am I?  All of my life I had determined who I was by what now I understand were egoic standards, what I do – not who I am.   That identity  has changed over my lifetime.  I also unconsciously sensed that I was more than my self-description but never put conscious thought to it until recently.

I’ve known most of my life that my gut is my guide.  It is how I understand my life.  I have so far been able to consistently depend on God speaking to me this way.  It’s about the only constant in my life.  And I am a good listener.   Also, without much thought,  I’ve known that my gut is  always right and I’ve felt very certain of my decisions when I had that gut knowing.   But I don’t always get it when I think I need it and that is when I’ve started, in the past, to question if what I’m hearing in my mind voice is God speaking – or not.  Well, now I know it is not.   I will question no more.  I will quiet myself and wait for my gut knowing.

I didn’t understand the role of the mind chatter and have spent untold hours of emotional pain and anguish, endured many sleepless nights because I engaged and listened and tried to make decisions from there.   Until recently, I didn’t know I had a choice!

I don’t have a problem with all of this when things are going well.  My mind voice gives me some useful information.  It’s when I feel anger, fear, distrust – all of the negative stuff…that’s when the negative mind voices kick in.  And they are scolding, accusing, bring up the worst case scenario – every time – just plain negative thoughts.    They intensify feelings of regret and insecurity… and on and on…

I’m sure I heard or read this somewhere but I’ve found that if I try to watch my thoughts – ask myself, “What are my thoughts right now, what am I thinking?”,  I realize I have no thoughts when I’m doing that.  It helps clear my mind.  Sounds confusing maybe, but try it and see if it works for you.   Deepak Choprah says to concentrate attention on our hands, sensations, tingling.   It breaks the mind cycle.  That works for me as well.

After reading several books and listening to many “messengers”… Oprah, Iyanla, Michael Singer, Maya Angelou, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra..and others, learning to observe  the chatter patterns – I was finally able to put it all together today.   I know that life unfolds and goes on, the sun comes up and goes down, seasons pass…   Life doesn’t cause problems for me.  Challenges, yes.   I’ll bet my problems could almost always be traced back to the negative, dark side  mind voices that are full of misinformation and making problems from my inner issues!  I’m becoming more and more aware of that.

Back to who I really am, while talking about it with my sister this morning, I chuckled to myself.  Funny!  I suddenly remembered  that I had already figured out who I really am.  I had just forgotten for a moment.  In the last month, after Deepak Choprah ask Oprah who she really is, I decided to define myself.   Here I am, 72 years old and I finally figured out that my name (label) is Sharon, and none of my accomplishments define who I am.   They’re a part of what I do, not who I am.

God put me here, in human form,  to express who He is in spiritual form.  I’m a spiritual being, an expression of God. I’m here to express His love, service, grace, peace, comfort, mercy, encouragement – all good things that He is.    A reminder of how I want – and need – to respond, initiate, live my life in a more purposeful way.   I’m a student and a listener living in abundance, passion and love.  Yes!

My spiritual identity, who I really am, is one that that doesn’t change.   Describing what I do is so different from how I do the things I do.     My challenge is to remember why and how I choose to “do” my life.   I have clear guidelines.

What a difference a day makes!  And as usual, I need to write my new AHA moment down so that I don’t forget who I am again… Chuckle.

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Handling Stress… Letters To My Children


Reblogged from SomeLettersToMyChildren.

Stress can take our joy away.  It can make us sick, keep us from sleeping restfully.  Stress can be a huge strain on relationships.  It can even kill.  And it causes many more symptoms as well – constant fatigue, fat gain around the abdomen, overeating because of low blood sugar episodes, inability to lose weight, feeling light-headed, body pain for no apparent reason, gut symptoms, irritable bowel, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, loss of sex drive, increased PMS or menopausal symptoms, allergic reactions, skin problems and sensitivities, acid reflux, frequent colds, flu and lowered immunity….it’s not fun!

There is much written about adrenal stress and cortisone – an anti-stress hormone.  It’s worth reading about on the internet.

Some causes are physical – low blood sugar, chronic illness, late hours, jammed schedules, chronic pain, sleep deprivation, excessive exercise, excessive stimulants (to keep you going), eating a poor diet – too much sugars, especially sugar substitutes, processed foods, environmental toxins…

Other causes of stress can be constant worry,  our inability to handle uncertainty,  pessimism, trying to “do it all”, emotional trauma and ongoing strain, perfectionism, negative self talk, unrealistic expectations, lack of asserting ourselves, continual anger, pushing yourself when you know you need to rest…

We need to take personal responsibility for our health – physical and emotional.  Taking medication for stress and depression is an interim solution but not a cure – should be used only when absolutely necessary while we are working on the real cause.  I  was the Queen of Stress and anxiety over this last year, (WAS – past tense, thank God!)  and it caused so many problems  that it got my full attention – physically, spiritually and emotionally.  I’ve studied in detail.   I’ve learned so much.  So thought  I’d pass on some things I’ve learned –  some simple and healthy ways to deal with stress…

  • Breathing exercises.  Learning to breathe properly and consciously has been a miracle for me.  Breathing can reduce stress, help maintain focus, increase energy, calm mind and body, and help with sleep.    Exhaling completely is easy to learn – it will improve health.  Take a deep breath through your nose, exhale naturally through your mouth –  and then squeeze out a little more.   It’s the old smell a rose – blow out a candle exercise.   Do it regularly and it will become a body habit with time.  Try to concentrate only on your breathing out – exhaling – and saying “relax” to yourself while you’re exhaling.  Let go of all of your worries by breathing them out.
  • Exercise – Morning is better but anytime works!  Other than within four hours of bedtime – it may keep you from sleeping.
  • Quit all stimulants – caffeine and any type of energy drink, chocolate and teas for starters.
  • Diet is huge in managing stress.  And it’s effects are nearly immediately – good and bad.  Cut sugar and sugar substitutes, starches and processed foods out of your diet.
  • Eat tons of fruit and veggies.  1/3 protein, 2/3 steamed veggies and fresh fruit that is in season.
  • Stress and adrenal stress makes us crave salty foods.  A signal?
  • Always eat a healthy breakfast within an hour of getting up.  It will give you energy, better brain function and help keep your blood sugar stable during the day.  You can’t drive a car without gas and you can’t function efficiently without good nutritious food in your beautiful body!
  • Eat something, a healthy snack, every three hours – every two hours if you’re really stressed.  But keep them healthy.  Remember – protein is brain food.   If you’re craving sweets, eat some protein.  It helps take away the craving.  You don’t  have to eat a lot when it’s nutritious – a good combination of lean or plant-based protein and healthy carbs.  Consider a high nutrition-low calorie way of eating.
  • Get rid of boxed, processed and man-made food!  It’s toxic.
  • Drink plenty of water – it cleans and detoxifies your body.
  • Don’t eat late at night but a small protein-high fiber carb at night just before bedtime helps you fall asleep and keeps your blood sugar level stable throughout the night so that you don’t wake up.  A few pumpkin seeds or a tablespoon of almond butter is a great bedtime snack – full of magnesium.
  • Take a good whole food multivitamin every day.
    • B-complex. B vitamins can help calm and balance your mood.
    • Omega-3 (fish oil) supplement. Either from molecularly distilled fish oil or from krill.  Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency has been associated with increased anxiety and depression.
    • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). An extract from the root of this flowering perennial contains essential oils that have been shown to help some people more effectively deal with stress.  Don’t mix this with prescription drugs.  Ask a pharmacist before you use any medication or mix medications – or herbs for that matter.   Ask about the half-life of a medication that you’ve been taking to determine how long you need to be off of it before mixing with another herb or medication.
    • Calcium and magnesium. These can help a lot with muscle relaxation and healthy sleep.
    • Take vitamin supplements in the morning.  They help wake-up your brain.  Taking them too late in the day may keep you awake.
  • Sleep Sleep Sleep – and I know this is a tuff one when you’re under a lot of stress.  It takes a lot of meditation, planning and maybe sometimes a little help.  I prefer herbal sleep aids – melatonin, valerian, hops, passion flower – there are many combinations available and pretty inexpensive.  But don’t mix them with any other sleep medication and be sure to check with your pharmacist before you mix them with any medication that you’re taking.  
    • Pay attention to what you eat and drink at dinnertime and later.  Avoid sodas (horrible! Anytime!), overeating, chocolate, tea, coffee, and excessive sugar and salt.
    • Plan your evening carefully.  Create a relaxing sleep routine.  Think about how we put our babies to bed – we rub their backs, read them a book, turn down the lights.  To this for yourself.  We need a “turn-off” period so our brains know it’s time for sleep.
    • You may be photosensitive so avoid working on a computer or looking at a bright cell phone before bedtime. Try setting an 8 pm limit on visual stimuli.  Reading may or may not help you fall asleep.
    • Make a To-Do List for the net day and then let it go.  It will get done.
    • Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night.  Tell your body that it will sleep restfully and deeply for 8 hours.  I’ve read where it’s very important to go to prepare to fall asleep before 10 pm, that sleep before 2 am is the most beneficial.
    • Keep everything out of your bedroom that keeps you awake – TV, animals…
    • Keep your room cool and uncluttered.   Keep it clean, organized and the bed made daily.
    • Make your bedroom your sleep retreat.   Make it your haven.  Don’t watch TV (especially the news), check email or eat in bed.  Bed is for sleep.  Don’t confuse yourself.
    • Have a cup of chamomile tea at bedtime.  (I know – I said no tea or coffee.  But chamomile?….
    • And take calcium and magnesium in the evening or at bedtime with your snack.
    • Snuggle in bed.  Close your eyes, consciously rest your mind and every part of your body. Breathe deeply.  Meditate.  There are great free and inexpensive apps for your phone to guide you thru relaxation.
    • Put lavender in or around your pillow to help calm and relax you.
  • Most importantly, start working on yourself.  Start identifying problems and situations that cause stress in your life.
    • Say no to at least as many things as you say yes to
    • Don’t worry about other peoples’ problems – you have enough of your own.
    • Exercise.  It’s the only way to balance your brain and your body – a great way to “burn off your stress”
    • Eat lean protein with every meal – preferably before you eat the carbs.   No carb-only meals.  Ever.  Proteins build healthy brain chemicals.
    • Manage your hormones.  Get tested to see if you have too much estrogen in your body.  It can be balanced.  Small amounts of natural bio-identical hormones that perfectly match the body’s molecular structure make a huge difference!
    • Get rid of the toxic people in your life.  Surround yourself with more people who make you laugh and smile, who have positive energy, who help you be a better person.
    • Brush off emotional baggage – literally.   Therapeutic touch, energy fields – our entire body and world is energy.  I read this and I like it…”If you have left a conversation, a meeting, or a negative encounter with anyone – even yourself; if an encounter leaves you feeling drained, irritable, angry, exhausted or totally wiped out, try this.  Use your hand to brush your arms, legs, head and back  as if you’re wiping them and removing a layer of bad emotional residue.  Do it outside if you can and imagine yourself removing everything you no longer need – irritation, anger, bitterness, jealousy, sadness, fear, etc.  And keep what you want – love, compassion, empathy, calmness and peace.”
    • Shrug your shoulders.  “If you can’t get outside, or you want to switch the negative energy coming in, consider the simple act of shrugging your shoulders.”  We carry emotional stress in our shoulders.  So shrug them and tell yourself that you don’t need to carry resentment or other peoples’ problems.  If you have to be around negative energy, when you leave, shrug your shoulders to symbolically remove the negativity when you leave their presence  Don’t take it with you.
    • Blow off your negative feelings, energy, emotions and irritability.  Yep – that works too!  Breathe deeply and exhale quickly and forcefully through your mouth.  When you’re by yourself, make a loud sound – “ahhhh” – when you exhale.  Try it daily after work or at the end of the day before bed.  Visualize getting rid of or blowing out everything that is no longer serving you.
    • Re-fuel.  Make positive statements to yourself.  Put affirmations on your phone reminders – every hour if you need them.  I do.  Make sticky notes and put them on your mirror.  Make a positive statement and memorize it.  Say it out loud.  Every day.  Flood your mind with positive thoughts.  It it’s true that you are your thoughts, think what you can do with this one!  You are in control of your destiny by changing your thoughts.  Keep them positive even if you don’t believe them right now.  Keep your eyes on what you want and where you want to be and you can’t help but get there.
    • Schedule time for you.  Do something that you just love to do  as often as possible – where you lose track of time, forget to eat….  Find ways to help others – every day.  It doesn’t have to be huge.  Senseless acts of kindness…
    • Remember how much you are cherished!  My world lights up just thinking about you!

Wanting


I was driving down the street today and realized I was feeling very intense.  And my posture was expressing my mental stance.  I wasn’t speeding.  I was just intense.  Then I had an immediate “A HA Moment”.  At almost 72 years of age (however feeling no more than 40 – at the most!) I had a moment of realization – that as a working adult, I have been used to getting what I want.   If I wanted something, I just worked a little harder and got it.  I was not necessarily discriminating in my wants.  And these wants certainly have not always been for myself.  Many times I want to do something for someone else, help someone else.   Sometimes too much.   This morning I was examining my intentions and motivators.   This morning I had a moment of clarity about my long painful lesson and how grateful I am at this moment for what I’ve learned.   It involves ego, self value, intentions, being conscious.  How I’ve tried to fill emotional needs with material things.  The old story.  But now it’s very real to me.

I grew up with very little in the material way.  Our basic needs were barely met.  But we sisters had a lot of fun together and probably because we had very few toys, and of course no tv, became very creative  and found innovative ways to entertain ourselves – built tree houses carpeted with lush moss.  We collected empty cans and boxes to fill our imaginary cupboards.  We usually had a couple of goats  ( I still enjoy them if I don’t have to milk or smell them) and I spent a lot of time following them around and pulling limbs of huge oak trees within their reach – they loved eating the leaves.   We strung laurel tree berries and created beautiful jewelry (to us) – necklaces and bracelets.  We were very competitive – racing and checking to see who had picked the most blackberries and red clover for our Mom.  She gave us a few cents for every quart we picked.  It seemed like a lot of money then.    Our family was large and money was very scarce.  But we had a lot of fun during that time.

My A Ha moment led to thoughts about how I learned to be self-sufficient, creative and so very determined.  There was a point that I remember – in junior high – when I spent much of my time in deep despair and intense “wanting”.  To have things that my school mates had – carefree laughter, nice clothes, a watch, cafeteria lunches instead of homemade bread sandwiches – whole wheat!  Oh no!  Just when white bread was what everyone was eating.   I so wanted to be like everyone else.  And I wasn’t.  I lived in “want”.   I wanted to be different than I was.  I wanted a family that was very close.  I wanted to be close  with my Mom – I wasn’t.  She just wasn’t available.  Neither was my Dad.  They were in a relationship break-down that ended a few years later in divorce.  A very painful and messy divorce.  In a small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business.  Not a fun time.  It was an intense time and I formed some lifelong habits.

The wanting began to be a lifestyle for me.  When I started working at age 14, I discovered that if I wanted something, I could get it.  And that continued and escalated for most of my life.  As an adult, I’ve always had a good job and above-average income.  Eventually I started my own business and literally became a workaholic.  I was lacking in the “relationship department”, to say the least – for many years.    The wanting continued only I didn’t recognize it as “wanting”.  I wanted me – and those closest to me – to have what they wanted.   It was wanting and  it was a habit.  I just worked a little harder if I wanted to do a little more.  I didn’t even get it – but the “wanting” was driving me.   I was trying to keep up with the want habit and I was never enough and I never had enough.  I didn’t think about that consciously – ever.  It didn’t connect for me.   I called it competing with myself to do better.  But I drained myself and was always stressed and “behind”.

I retired a few years ago and my financial picture dramatically started changing shortly after that.  The “A Ha” this morning was a recognition of what has been happening in my life for the last six years.  I was being pushed into a lesson  that I would never have jumped into by choice.  It has been obvious and definite.   This morning as I look back over the lesson years when I was feeling very humiliated and deprived, I realize that I  had all that I needed – and more.   I’m on the other side of this lesson – finally.  And yes – I got it today.  Clearly.   I recognized that for most of my life,  many things I thought were “needs” were actually “wants” and that I needed to learn the difference.  I needed to learn my value (I’m still working on that one) without my props, my things, my kudos.  I am enough.  I say that to others.  I need to listen to myself!

Today, I consciously realize how different my life is now – and why.  During my  involuntary lesson, I was forced to live with less and less, down to real basics – and I learned.    It feels amazing to finally really be living the difference.   With deep gratitude.   I feel a whole new consciousness.   These words don’t begin to define the impact of the reality in my life.  And I can clearly see the difference today.  And I’m grateful.   I’ve almost always questioned myself when spending – do I “want” this or do I “need” this.  But that very rarely had very much to do with my decision.  Today I realized that now it does.

I’ve said the words for years – “as soon as I get something I want, something else will take it’s place.  So just say no”.   I’d tell myself no and then justify reasons for needing it.   Woo Hoo!   I now truly know the difference between wanting and needing.     It’s a new lifestyle that I was forced into by circumstances, part of a lesson, but I’ve come to appreciate it  – deeply.  It’s been an incredibly difficult few years but today I realized how much I’ve grown and the joy that has come into my life.    It’s exhilarating.  Over the last few years, I’ve gotten rid of almost everything that I’m not actually using.  It feels so good.  I was carrying a heavy load of possessions and obligations, chaos and clutter!  Quietly but intensely.   “I don’t have a life” was my mantra for many years.  I kept myself busy even after I retired,  when I wasn’t actually doing something useful, I kept myself busy with stress and “mulling” and inner angst.   Even in my successes, I felt a deep void.  I felt that I didn’t do enough, that I wasn’t enough.    Arrrrgh!

Today I realized that I also have a different view of the wants and needs of those that I’m able help.   I really appreciate that.  Whatever that compulsion was to help others get what they “want” is gone as well.  Now I am free to help people that are in obvious need.   And I feel free to declare that boundary.   It’s such an awesome freedom.    I look for the best use of the comparatively small amount that I have.  I’m finally in control of my wants.  Appearances, status, and ego are not my motivators.  My Dad preached, “Be in control of your money.  Don’t let your money be in control of you”.   Material things do not fulfill my emotional needs.  How many times have I heard and said that!  And thought I understood….

Today I had a few moments of clarity, of remembering how my life used to be.  And how it is now.  Huge difference – in almost every way!   I have a life!   Even with much less, I have freedom!  Wanting is no longer an unconscious habit.  I feel content and relaxed.  I have joy!  My life is so full!

And I’m so very grateful!

My Letter to God


These are my personal beliefs.  I think we all have our own path and our own personal belief system.  I respect everyone’s experience and choice.  I agree with Mark Nepo – I’m a student of all traditions – I look to learn from where they all meet.

For me,  there is one God.  Period.  I believe that being may be called by many different names.  Or none at all.

I believe I have a mind, a body and spirit/soul.  My soul is the essence of me.   It is the part of me that loves.   My soul is my spiritual experience and guides my life.  When I manage to be still.  When I listen.  My soul is my guide.  I believe it is God in me. I also call it “my gut”, intuition, a “knowing”.

I pray, mainly when I’m in a difficult place in my life.   I have a running conversation with God – in my head and heart.  Very rarely out loud.(Smile)

One of my favorite books, life changing, I might add, is Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch.  When I was reading it, I wondered if I wrote letters to God if he’d respond to me like he did in the book.  But I never tried.

Last week, On Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, I was listening to her interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.   When I heard Elizabeth say that when she was at her lowest, she wrote a letter to God and he responded to her. Not a booming God voice, not her voice, but it was an immediate response and it comforted her.

Well…I decided to write a letter to God and see if it would work for me.

Ok.  I did it and was given immediate responses.  I recognize that it was the same inner voice that guides me when I talk to God in my head/heart.  To see it in print (I saved the letter), to be able to go back and read it again…well, it’s pretty amazing.   One of the answers was something that I had not thought of.  It was news to me.  It was also really exciting advice.  I did it and it worked.

Whatever it is – it’s adding a new dimension to my life.  I’m grateful.  It’s fun too.

Just thought I’d pass it on…

Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday
Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat, Pray Love
Neale Donald Walsch – Conversations With God

Thoughts…Things I learned today


I want to know God’s thoughts…the rest are details.  Albert Einstein

the way God thinks…
Without force
No one is excluded
Always giving – never expects back

We come from the same place – the way of Tao is a return trip.  We are all coming back.  Full circle.  In everything we say, do and live.

We shall not cease from exploration but at the end of all of our exploring will be to return to the place from which we originated and know it for the first time.  C.S Lewis.   No beginning and no end, no boundaries.  Just is.

The Tao that can be named is not the Tao….Labels
Once you label me, you negate me and now I must live up to that expectation.  Labeling creates conflict.

Those who speak do not know.  Those who know do not speak.

Does what I own own me?  Get rid of as much of the 80% that I don’t use as possible.

How does nature act?  The softest thing overcomes the hardest thing.

Rigidity and stiffness is the companion of death
Flexibility is the companion of life

I believed something on Monday
Tuesday happened
On Wednesday, I had learned something that led me to believe something totally different than I did on Monday

Ego – (E)dge (G)od (O)ut  A collection of ideas that we carry around
I am what I have
I am what I do
I am what other people think of me – my reputation

I’m already connected to everything I need – I simply need to align myself to it.

Give-Give-Give – Practice benevolence
Be grateful
Live my life in a state of awe of my surroundings
Live joyfully

Nature teaches:
No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves.

I want to live like water.

60,000 thoughts every day.  Are they the same as yesterday?
Are these thoughts true?

Forgiveness – the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it…

Give up blame

Living life conflict-free.  How to live with no enemies.
Become more flexible and open

Self Value – How could that which is perfect, that which is divine, make anything imperfect?

Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday
Interview with Wayne Dyer