Newfound Eyes

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Sometimes life needs a new look, a pep talk, or maybe a rejuvenating kick in the butt. These life-revitalizing moments might just arrive in the most unusual forms.

Until recently, I’ve been stuck in a rut, a muddy rut that has the consistency of tar-like quick sand. I’m of course able to do laundry, dishes, baby bottom wipes, and other such tasks from this tar-like mud, but I can’t seem to wiggle myself free from the suctioning grasp of ‘stuck.’

No helping hand, stick, rope, or words of encouragement have had much effect, and then, I took a (almost) completely dark shower.

The less than ideal electrical system in our kitchen, which is obviously located right by our one little bathroom (yay for the scent of bathroom mixed with freshly cooked eggs,) can’t handle more than the convection oven and a light. Someone in the kitchen had the audacity to think they could boil water and burn some toast, whilst I was using light to shower, and that was just too much, lights out.

At first I was peeved, and then, when my bristles settled, I realized I could (almost) see and I became one with the newness. From body memory I retrieved the shampoo, the conditioner, the loofah, the soap, the…razor. Dun, dun…. dumb. I tried to shave in the dark; I was (almost) successful. The lights came back on as I nicked myself for the third-ish time. I was half tempted to turn them back off, because I was actually enjoying this new experience, sans nicks.

I could feel my brain being rewired, my synapses firing throughout this simple, yet out of the ordinary, event. I didn’t turn the lights back off because I noticed the water. I actually noticed it, every last exquisite drop, and I was in love (insert cheesy sigh here.) But, really. Had I ever-observed falling water? Like really examined it? No, I hadn’t. It was pretty phenomenal and was preaching mindfulness. My head was usually so full of the cacophony of “you need to do this, but actually you really should be doing that” I rarely had time to give my surroundings even a passing acknowledgement.

After I dressed my wounds from this spiritually fulfilling, yet physically painful, shower, I saw things, like ghosts, kidding. No ghosts, but plenty of details I normally miss when my mind is on the incessant proverbial hamster wheel of ‘what should I be doing after I finish what I’m doing?’

Here’s what I spied, with my two newfound eyes….

Rainbows, everywhere man.

A rainbow pouring through the water jug on the counter and spilling onto the tile below.

A rainbow shooting through the little crystal this hippie has hanging on the living room window, and splashing onto the adjacent wall.

A flash of a rainbow jutting out from our stained glass wind-chime dancing on the porch.

A rainbow materializing on the baby’s arm via the markers he was holding.

Life, like whoa.

That takes life.

That takes life.

I saw, and felt, life everywhere.

Life coursing through me.

Life in the (usually annoying) ants covering my banana from breakfast.

Life in the crows taunting the squirrels with empty nutshells outside (ha!)

Life in the water flowing through our rock fountain that had miraculously ceased making a high-pitched whirring tone.

Life in my baby who had moved from the markers to removing his own poop-filled diaper; not an easy task, that takes life, yo.

Simplicity, in all the hectic places.

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Simplicity in the pile of toys that didn’t need to be picked up that instant.

Simplicity in the phone that could be turned off.

Simplicity in the dishes that were cool to hang out on their own a bit longer.

Simplicity in my ability to just be.

Simplicity in the pure love I have for my child, regardless of the trail of poo and marker he was leaving in his wake.

Light, filling every corner, even the dark ones.

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Light in the dust dancing around my head.

Light glistening on succulent leaves that were thriving, despite my inability to figure out their proper watering schedule.

Light in the eyes of my child who just discovered how to open the latch of the baby gate, bingo.

Unicorns. Just kidding, maybe.

There was color, life, glorious simplicity, light, magic and love swirling around me, offering me a hand out of the mud, but I had never accepted it, I hadn’t even seen it. As the internal fog lifted, I was elevated up, out and into a clear new state of being. I was no longer stuck and I could see.

A simple event, that at first thought seems supremely inconvenient, has the potential to transform our perceptions, our life, and our light, if we leave ourselves open to the possibilities.

Let’s take a moment to put a new spin on a seemingly rote task, we might just open our life to magic.

Let’s take the constraints away from how we should be living and infuse some unconventionality into our behaviors; we might just open our life to revelation.

Let’s take that seemingly annoying power outage and become open to internally illuminating our life.

Here’s hoping the electricity shuts off while we’re taking our next shower!

5 Ways You Receive Through Giving Back

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There is a trapdoor of love, which opens within us, as we release our fervent grasp on our time and gift it to others.

I’m a mother, a mother to an 18-month-old perkily precocious toddler/ runner. I, like most mothers, have piles of peed on baby laundry, dirty floors that desperately need a thorough wash, healthy meals that needed to be cooked (a week ago,) a baby raising partner who feels a tad bit neglected, in more ways than one, and a baby who desires my rapt attention ALL. THE. TIME. To put it simply, mothering is hard (and let’s not forget draining.)

With that said, I made the decision with the coming of the New Year to step outside of my hourglass of time and give to others; and not just give my money, but my time.

I decided to give my time to another mother.

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Now, you may muse at this time that I’m a bit peculiar for choosing to go help another mother fold her laundry, clean her floors, cook some food, soothe her fussy baby, and do other mom-ish-esque tasks when I have my own fore mentioned unending list of mom chores to attend to; but let me tell you, it’s been phenomenal, in a wholeheartedly un-sarcastic meaning of the word.

The opportunity to volunteer in the home of a fellow mother, who was even more overloaded than myself, felt an easy choice for where I would place my gift of time. ‘I get it, I know, I feel the unspoken emotions, concerns, joys, and pressures that course through you fellow mama, and I’m here for you.’

My time with this family has opened my eyes, opened my mind, and opened my heart to the true potential that the gift of time, support, and unconditional love can give to not just those you serve, but you. You are the ultimate receiver when you gift your time.

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These are five of the transformations that can occur when you discover the wonderful world of volunteering:

  1. Stepping Out of the Enticing Comfort Zone. Volunteer work pops a little hole in the bubble we live in and slowly busts us through and out, into a vibrant new world, where we are intimately exposed to those who are not in our immediate sphere of community. The rote tasks of daily life cause us to pigeonhole ourselves into a self-induced comfortable mold. We release the constraints this mold has on us by choosing to step out and do something for someone else, that will not bring direct monetary gain, or critical acclaim.
  1. Changing the World. You might not feel that helping one person, or one family will do much towards healing the crises our world is facing, but think again. If you, if I, if we each made the choice to step outside ourselves and lend a loving hand to another, and those that we touched then extended their hand to another, and a snowball of love slowly rolled through us all, we might just be able to begin to produce global healing. My volunteer work has sparked a newfound sense of global hope inside of me, and it feels really good.
  1. Renewing of Perspective. All strife, struggle, and sacrifice is valid, but, exposing our hearts to the strife, struggle, and sacrifice of others has the potential to transform our perspective, of our own internal turmoil, to that of, well, gratitude. Many times, when exposed to the core obstacles others are facing, we would happily stick with our own.
  1. Overwhelming Sense of Gratitude. When you experience the power of the change, hope, or simple smile you’re able to elicit in another, with the gift of your time, your world will open up to love, your flood gates of gratitude will be released, and there’s no going back. When you tap into the power of you, the power you hold within yourself that can be released through the simple act of just being there for another, especially a stranger, you’ll never see the world through the same eyes. Everything will now have an extra tinge of beauty, light, and irrevocable love. 
  1. Learning to Be Here It’s all here, everything we need, right here, right now. All we need to do to accept it and cease living in yesterday, or tomorrow, or two hours from now, but NOW. Live here right now. When you’re gifting your time, you’re there, right in that moment. You’ve stopped focusing on the email you need to send, the dry cleaning you need to pick up, or the cookies you need to go home and burn, because you’re there, in the moment, helping someone else make their life better, it’s not about you, and there is something so profoundly freeing when that realization hits. ‘I’m free to be here, right now, because that’s the only way I will truly help this individual, by being present for them in this moment.’ I was pleasantly surprised to find that if I wanted it to, the sense of now would follow me home and hang out with me long after I ended my volunteer work.

I used to think of volunteer work as something I would do “some day,” when I didn’t have as much “stuff” going on in my own life. I viewed it as a luxury of the rich or retired. What I’ve since discovered is that serving, volunteering, and giving, is not a luxury that should be put to “some day,” but is a basic human need. If I want to continue to not just survive, but thrive, I need to serve.

Finding Courage In Rejection

Rejected?! Noooooo!

Rejected?! Noooooo!

Today I was subtly punched in the gut by rejection. On the off chance that the giver of said metaphorical punch reads this blog, I’ll keep the nature of my rejection description vague; I offered my services in a given area, to someone I know quite well, and received an 100 word, 1 word answer, ‘no.’ I had to read the ‘no’ multiple times before the gut punch fully landed; like I said, it was subtle.

The title of this post, ‘Finding Courage In Rejection,’ is not indicative of how I felt when it first hit me that I was being rejected, I felt the opposite of courageous; I felt deflated. Because I can occasionally be an emotional extremist I also felt foolish, naïve, totally bummed, and dare I say stupid about ever “putting myself out there” in the first place. Mind you, this stupid-bummed-ness only lasted a few moments, because I’m a veteran of rejection.

Back to the rejection at hand, I received my ‘no,’ and commenced my seven stages of rejection grief; shock that my earnest attempt to provide a service had been shut down, denial (‘did they mean to send this rejection to me?’,) bargaining with myself in regards to whether I was going to submit myself to more constructive angst and ask the rejecter why they rejected me, guilt that I was so wrapped up in this rejection when there are much bigger real problems in the world, anger (directed at self,) depression (‘what’s the point, I guess I should just give up,) and acceptance of the fact that I had been rejected, it ‘is what it is,’ and I needed to move on.

But today, something interesting happened, a stage was added to the process that served to inflate my previously mentioned deflated gut, courage. The rejection made me feel courageous! My eventual logic behind this newfound courage was as follows, ‘If I can be brave, reach out, and again, “put myself out there,” with the very real possibility of being rejected, get rejected, and survive (without turning into a pile of binge reality TV watching melted ice cream,) I could likely move through anything, and live to blog about the tale.’

I felt courageous, and still feel courageous. In the past, although I’ve successfully licked my wounds, inflated my gut with some carbs, and climbed back on that bucking proverbial horse, I never felt stronger after rejection, I just felt, ‘eh okay.’ It would take me awhile to risk the chance of rejection again, and although I would stick my heels in the sand to avoid regression, I wasn’t progressing, I was stuck in the sand, and occasionally had my head stuck in it as well.

Because I like lists, and need something somewhat tangible to lean on when I inevitably get socked by rejection again, I’ve made a ‘How to Find Courage in Rejection’ list!

  1. Breathe.

I usually stop breathing for a few minutes after receiving a rejection, and although the dizzy high I experience from lack of oxygen can be fun, I can’t afford to lose those brain cells. Oh, and conscious breathing helps promote relaxation and clarity. Inhale for a count of 10, hold for 5, exhale to a count of 10. Rinse and repeat.

  1. Don’t Take it Personally.
Don't take it personally?! How?!

Don’t take it personally?! How?!

“The wise ones” would tell me “don’t take it personally,” when I experienced rejection in the past. That someone could utter such a preposterous notion that someone wasn’t telling you they thought you were incompetent, stupid, and of course ugly when they rejected you, was beyond me. Of course that’s what they meant, right?

Then one day, a wise woman asked, ‘How do you feel when you reject someone?’ Hmm, how do I feel? I certainly don’t think the person is incompetent, stupid, and ugly, with the exception of that one ex-boyfriend… kidding! She posed a whopper of a question. The times I’ve been on the giving end of the punch of rejection, I’m embarrassed to say I was thinking more of myself than the other person, even when the rejection was personal, versus professional. I wasn’t thinking much of the other person’s worth, capabilities, or appearance, I was thinking about what I needed in the moment, and if what they were offering served those immediate needs. Or maybe there were extenuating circumstances that caused the rejection. Point being, I’ve never rejected someone because of a flaw in who they were, or what they were capable of, I was just thinking of what I needed in my own life, in that instance; not personal.

Keep a ‘Yes’ List. Have you ever had someone spend 30 minutes telling you how amazing you are, and 1 minute telling you what you could do to be even more amazing? Then, you go home and obsess over how they spent 60 seconds giving you constructive criticism that your mind warped into, ‘You totally suck!’?

I have.

Why oh why is it so easy for us to harp on the negative and allow the positive to get sucked out our open window?

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To combat this crazy-making phenomenon in my own life, I created a ‘Yes’ list a few years ago. On this list I record every last tiny-itty-bitty-titty ‘yes’ I’ve ever received. The ‘yes’ could have been a verbal yes, a metaphorical yes in the form of an accomplishment, an internal yes, or any other ‘yes-esque’ occurrence that made me feel great. Now, when I receive a ‘no,’ a rejection, a dose of constructive criticism, I look at my ‘Yes’ list after following my two aforementioned steps. You know what? It works every time, it reminds me that for every ‘no,’ I’ve likely had about 346 ‘Oh Yeahs!’ It’s like taking a yummy prescription perspective pill.

Learn from it. Yeah yeah, it’s trite to say ‘learn from it,’ but what’s the point if you don’t learn from the rejection? If everything was always hunky-dory and we were having a constant stream of smoke blown up our bottom, or incessant smooches to the tush, we wouldn’t really be growing would be? We’d be stuck, and would probably have a sore butt. Rejection, ‘no,’ and bummer-ness happens, and if we’re open to it, it can be the greatest source of growth, insight, and my favorite, courage. When we’re able to find the lesson in rejection it’s transformed from a source of forlorn to positive reform. The thrill we receive from acceptance is wonderful, but short-lived. The growth, insight, and courage we can absorb from rejection can imbed itself within us for a lifetime. The cool thing is, the more rejection we receive, the more we grow, and the more we grow, the more acceptance we attract. And with more acceptance comes the opportunity for much more rejection, isn’t that great?!

What did I gain from the rejection that inspired this post? A desire to increase my qualifications in a given area, do more research, get more practice, and get creative in how I elicit more ‘YES!’

Join with me in simultaneously giving rejection a big middle finger and a squishy bear hug, because yeah it sucks, but can also make us strong like bull.

Don't reject my hug baby!

Don’t reject my hug baby!