Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I dare you.

We dream up wonders. We dream up fears. Terrific pains that tell us to stay safe. Comfortable. Away from harm. I dare you to remember the truth. The truth that the future is a creative process, not a heavy weight you must bow to. I dare you to entertain that you are more than your resistance. You are the dream unfurling into the moment. I dare you to know yourself as such.

If you aren't a subscriber to Kind Over Matter you really should be. There is so much inspiration going on over there it's phenominal. Every day my heart is a little brighter for stopping by that site. Enjoy!

Leap Year

It's very fitting that this is a leap year. Leap years come once every four years. They are not common. This year for me, this last twelve months, has been anything but common. I have been challenged, I have fallen apart, been strong, felt empowered, helpless, hopeless, dopeless (just kidding), I have felt myself sink below the surface and rise up again. I have discovered that my well is far deeper than I could have imagined.

Do you know why we have leap years?

Since seasons and astrological events do not repeat in a whole number of days if we were to have a calendar with a static number, say 365, eventually that calendar would drift off track. Every four years an extra day is added so that the drift can be corrected

That's amazing right? And right now you are all oohing and aahing over the fact that this has huge implications for your life right? right?

It does for mine. We go about our daily lives doing the mundane tasks that we do to survive and we get further away from ourselves. We become our job, our marriage, our responsibilities. We drift off track from our aspirations, hopes, dreams, our deepest heart cries. It's easy to do. So much requires our attention. There are ten hours of tasks to fit into the few hours between work and sleep. Messy houses, messy desks, messy lives.

The concept of throwing in a leap year, a life raft, to catch up makes perfect sense. I recently had to take my own personal leap year and it was the hardest decision I've ever made. Daily I wonder if I made the right one, I wonder if I should have waited it out. Maybe I would have gotten happier? Maybe I could have pushed harder. I'll never know the answer. I do know that I saw difficulty in my life and I did something about it, even if I went about it the wrong way.

This summer I will be continuing my leap year. I'll be attending the Creative Joy Retreat hosted by Jennifer Louden, Susannah Conway and Marianne Elliot. It will be five days centered around finding and creating joy. I can't wait.  I'll be flying to New York, staying in an old monastery located along the Hudson and the Appalachian trail and re-connecting with .... me.

Taking a leap isn't easy. It often requires throwing yourself into a decision with reckless abandon.You jump over a puddle but you leap over a cliff. One night I was watching So You Think You Can Dance and there was a song where the dancer, Melanie, leaped into the arms of her partner with such abandon that it took me back. How could anyone have that much faith that there would be arms to catch them on the other side? I thought about that question for a very long time. We don't know. We can't be sure that there will be someone to pick us up if our decisions don't work out. What you have to decide is that it's worth the risk.

Discovering yourself, reconnecting with yourself, is worth the risk.

While it may not be through a retreat like mine I hope that each of you has the opportunity to correct the drift in your life and re-discover your heart cries this special February 29th.

Happy happy leap day.

                                                                    RozArt on Etsy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Let it be.

from Circle Prints on Etsy

I cannot be the only person who has a difficult time with this concept. I'm telling you, for me, it is oh so difficult. I'm not the "let it be" type by nature. I tend to be the "beat it until it's dead and you are 100% sure that it won't come back to life, are you sure it's not still moving? I should put the bat down now? Are you sure?!?" type of girl. Taking the zen approach to a problem and letting it mellow while giving myself, and potentially the person I'm having a conflict with, time to think isn't my strong suit. In all honesty I think that's my plan. Then I let anxiety take over and I feel like I have to do something. NOW. right now. and you know what? 10 out of 10 times I will make that situation worse. I will run my big mouth and I will make the other person angrier. I will confuse myself more. Stacey, Let. it. be. There will be an answer. Let it be. Sometimes a hands off approach is a better way of dealing with things. It's not about being non-confrontational. It's about choosing to be at peace with a situation, choosing to let your heart be filled with calm and light as opposed to anxiety and conflict.

and when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines for me, shine on til tomorrow. Let it be.

 This continues to be a recurring issue difficulty for me. I'm going to be proactively decide to let it be (which seems a bit ironic). I'm going to focus on taking care of me mentally and physically. The rest will come. There will be an answer.

Now go out and rent Across the Universe. Go.Now.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunny Song Sunday

I love music. My appreciation for music is beyond that of visual art and it touches me in a way  I can't describe. I've always said that there are two kinds of people: First, there are people who love music. They enjoy it, they like to listen to it, music is a lovely was to pass the time. I'd imagine these people make up 95% of the population. Then there are people who feel music. A song can change their day but it can also change their life. The lyrics to a song and reach through their belly button and rip out their guts. To them music is inspiration, music is life, music is everything. I fall in the later category. I love artists that wear their hearts on their sleeve. Who bear their souls in hopes that they can connect with another and that their experiences can help someone else on this crazy journey.

Ma Rainey once said:

 They hear [music] come out, but they don't know how it got there. They don't understand that's life's way of talking. You don't sing to feel better. You sing 'cause that's a way of understanding life.

Music is a way of understanding life. On Sundays I'm going to post some songs from my life "mixed-tape" that will hopefully inspire you the way they've inspired me.

1. Our Hearts - Firehorse

"Our hearts weren't big enough, for all the hope we had. Our hearts were on fire."

2. Love Love Love - Avalanche City
"Girl, I say, if only life would lean our way,
Well, you and me, we'd run away to be wherever our adventure awaits"

I was listening to an interview from Christina Perri on the radio a few days ago. She was talking about how she moved to L.A. and was a waitress but she couldn't catch a break. She left her husband and was living in a small apartment with no furniture. She said that she knew she should have left L.A. but in her darkest moment she knew that something had to be right around the corner. Christina said "In your darkest moments you have two options. You can break down or you can break open". I will not break down. I choose to let adversity shape me into someone stronger and kinder, someone with more compassion. I choose to break open.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Being kind to yourself Part I: Emotions

I recently promised my therapist someone that I would start taking better care of myself. When I first agreed to the challenge I thought of the physical things I needed to do to get right with myself. Begin working out, eating better, drinking more water, getting more sleep. Yes. I absolutely need to do those things. I've already started. I've eaten more vegetables in the last two days than  in the past month (yes I realize that's awful). What I really want to talk about though is emotionally taking care of yourself.

I am a self-proclaimed guilt junky. I don't know if you know what I mean but if you're one too than you feel me. If there is anything possible to feel guilty about I'll find it. What I ate, what I didn't eat, what I said to someone in the 4th grade etc etc etc. Self-forgiveness is something I've never been good at. I have very high expectations for myself. In many ways this has paid off. I have my master's degree, a good paying job, a lovely home but in other ways...deeper has been detrimental. The Dalai Lama says:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
A synonym for compassion is mercy. If we are to show others compassion, show them mercy, shouldn't we also show ourselves the same kindness? For me, as a person, it is easier to forgive the actions of others than to forgive my own. I'm far harder on myself than anyone else. I am vowing to take better care of myself by directing the compassion I give others inwardly. I have this sneaking suspicion if I'm a little easier on myself that other things in my life will also be accomplished with more ease and if not I'll still be able to sleep better at night.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I am mighty: my stengths

I recently read that we should focus on developing the skills/characteristics that are already strengths for us as people instead of focusing on building our weaknesses because we will make far more forward progress with the skills that are already strengths for us. This really struck me. Huh, I thought, as I sat at my computer screen. I don't know about you but I've always been someone who has looked at their weaknesses and thought "I really need to work on that". I really need (stop procrastinating, start sticking with things, start taking care of myself etc). In the mean time there my little strengths sat stagnant, not growing, not developing just hanging out.

I may be getting ahead of myself. How did I find out my strengths? Viame that's how. I took a 240 question survey that revealed:

Your Top Character Strength

1. Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

4. Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

5. Creativity
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

For the safe of posterity my bottom three strengths, some may call them weaknesses: prudence, perseverance, self-regulation.

I don't know that I would have named all my top 5 strengths but believe it or not I would have named a few: creativity, love of learning and love. I'd like to take some time in the next week to reflect and think about what I can do in my life to maximize those strengths. First, I have a life list. The list is kind of like my guarantee that I won't let the monotony of life take me over so that I forget to appreciate beauty and wonder. Secondly, I continue to create whenever I can. I enjoy my artwork and I love to craft. A little over a year ago I started dabbling in photography which has opened my eyes to beauty in a way I hadn't seen prior. Beyond this, what can I do to ensure that I am growing myself daily? I'll let you know what I come up with.

(This post was inspired by the wonderful project A Year with Myself )

Memphis Part II

The best thing about traveling with your best friend? She likes all the same things as you. No arguing over where to go or what to do. Our brief time in Memphis was filled with activities. Here was our agenda:

Arrive at 11pm to our amazing hotel

Wake up at 7:00 am (ok that was me)
Sun studio 10:30 am tour
Lunch at Blues City Cafe
Tour Beale Street
Civil Rights Museum
B.B. Kingsfor music (and fried pickles)
Dinner at The Butcher Shop

Breakfast at Rooks Cornerin the hotel
Geocaching on Beale Street
Lunch at some delish creole place I just can't remember
Drive the 9 hours home!

It was such a fun trip, even if it was super short. The food was so amazing I can't even explain it. Blues City Cafe has such a down home diner vibe going on. We split a HUGE slab of ribs that came with boiled potatoes, that were only ok, garlic bread, and coleslaw. It was really good. The star of the meal however was their seafood gumbo. It had big chunks of crawfish with a roux base. I could have eaten it for every meal while we were there. We finished it off with an apple dumpling a la mode skillet. Let's just say our bellies were very happy...and round. To make up for the gluttony we walked to the Civil Rights Museum. I know I talked about it before but it's a must see. They have built the museum around the Lorraine Hotel and it even includes the building where the sniper fired the fatal shot at King. Like I said before, go.

Hours and hours later, when we were hungry again we had dinner at The Butcher Shop, a very well known steak house in Memphis. I had a cold and my tastebuds weren't working properly but I'd still say it's just ok. There wasn't any seasoning on the steaks and for 30 dollars I want a really flavorful steak! I did order the loaded baked potato as a side and it was exceptional. I still don't think I'd try it again.

Sunday we hit Graceland like a hurricane. I thought that we would just be touring the house but it's so much more than that. There is the obvious tour of Graceland itself, a car museum, Elvis LIVE, a tour of the Lisa Marie (Elvis' plane) and million and one gift shops. I'm going to be honest, I appreciate Elvis. I appreciate what he did for music but I'm not a super fan. Graceland was Madeline's idea, but honestly I'm really glad I went even if it IS just to help me win Trivial Pursuit.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Memphis Part I: Lorraine Hotel, Sun Studio

Madeline and I took a quick weekend trip to Memphis to accomplish some items on my list. The Lorraine motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assisinated, now the site of the Civil Rights Museum has been on my list before there was a list. I don't actually have words to describe what it was like going through the museum. I was moved, humbled, and challenged. I cried. I left emotionally exhausted. Go. You must go.
(Part II including yummy food and a bit of Elvis to follow).
Sun Studio:

Lorraine Hotel/Civil Rights Museum: