What Inspires Your Soul?

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 2.16.45 PMThose who know me well and/or are connected with me on my personal Facebook page, know that at my core, I’m a nature girl. I am energized by the city, but it is time in nature that ultimately soothes my soul. It is the heart of my creative energy and where I draw inspiration for much of my writing and creative work. Nature, after all, is a wonderful teacher if we’ll take the time to listen to Her secrets.
Just as nature invites me into a deeper, more contemplative conversation, so, too, does the energy of people, new places, and the problems of the world draw me back in to engage in life in a larger way. Honoring these two equally powerful dimensions of my life is as essential to me as breathing air, and I’ve learned over the years that to live entirely in one domain without honor and attention to the other, is to live a diminished and divided life.
Knowing what inspires and influences our energy, whether positively or negatively, is a big part of walking our heart path. Being mindful and intentional about who and what we give our energy and thoughts to is equally important.
Consider the image for this post. Part of a creative series inspired by nature, just beyond the view of my lens and the once tranquil green I traverse on a near daily basis, is farmland that is rapidly being bulldozed to be replaced by more housing that will permanently alter the landscape of our little town. It is a reflection of our times — landscapes changing that challenge each of us to adapt and change with them, whether invited or not.
Still, though we cannot always control or change those landscapes or events in our lives that threaten to disrupt the status quo, we are free to choose what we focus on, acknowledging that mindful intention has the power to influence more than just the moment we’re in.
I could choose, for example, to focus on the unsightly bulldozers, allowing my peace to be disrupted by the physical and emotional noise and subsequent negativity that arises, or choose instead to be deliberate about what I focus on, disciplining my senses to tune in to the beauty and peace that remains in plain sight, if only I’ll pay attention.
So, too, is it with life.
At a time of tremendous turmoil and upheaval; during times of uncertainty, crisis, and the threat of constant change, it can be tempting to be distracted by the noise; to allow ourselves to become consumed by anxiety, negativity, and fear. While we cannot ignore the realities of our world, where we choose to focus our energy and the way in which we move through these things is entirely within our control.
It’s a matter of mindfulness and adopting a daily discipline of intentionality about how and with whom we choose to show up and spend our time, energy, and talents. And it is the sum of these daily choices, that ultimately create the legacy we will leave behind for others.
I’m curious to know…
How does nature speak to you? What gives you energy and/or feeds your soul? Are you intentional, mindful, and deliberate in your choices, or do you allow the winds of change and uncertainty to toss you about and throw you off course? 

Can You Be Bought?

In a world where success is so often defined by the external and expedient; where fear trumps love and a mindset of survival often trumps integrity,

Can you be bought? Are your values for sale to the highest bidder?

Living in alignment with our core values need not be a high drama proposition, but a series of small choices we make every day.

I’m curious to know…

When it comes to honoring your core values, in what ways have you been tempted to compromise, settle or sell out? Do you pursue endeavors to feed false pride or to pursue deep purpose? What small step can you take today to begin to walk your talk in a more authentic way?

ForSale_Red

 

 

We Each Walk Our Own Path

IMG_3424If life is a journey, I believe each of us must honor the sacred integrity of our own path.

But how exactly?

How, for example, do we discern and distinguish our own path from others’? How do we hear our own voice above the noise and courageously honor our own callings in the face of resistance from others?

Sometimes we lack a sense of vision, purpose or the ability to hear our calls. Perhaps we have a limited degree of self-awareness, and in the absence of self-knowledge and respect, look to the external to define our sense of worth. Sometimes our paths are laid out before us by others, and we blindly follow what we are often unable or afraid to discover for ourselves. Perhaps we internally judge ourselves as unworthy or incapable of making a different choice, choosing powerlessness over self-empowerment. We allow fear to overshadow the gift of authenticity and allow the opinions of others to trample our own. Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a different role — judging others, perhaps harshly so, as if our subconscious’ way of defending the fragility of our own choices and ego.

But if we are ever to honor the truth of who we are and embrace the essence of all that we have to offer; if we are to bravely walk our own path and become a leader in our own lives, we must learn to silence the critics, whether our own or others. We must learn to courageously own our truths, live our values, and follow our heart.

Integrity is more than moral fortitude. To live a life of integrity means to live a life that embraces the wholeness and essence of who we authentically are.

In my ever-evolving quest and determination to listen, discern and honor the callings of my own true path; in an effort to simultaneously hold on to my values and dreams while exploring ways to share my gifts with the world, I recently found myself judged without mercy. It was the worst kind of ‘mommy-wars’ conversation; a relentless and toxic onslaught of judgement from someone whose need to be right exceeded her capacity to simply listen and be a supportive friend.

In the wake of both misunderstanding and mis-aligned values, I asked her to stop. I asked if we could change subjects. Three, four, five times. Yet she continued — unabashedly and without a trace of empathy, respect or understanding.

With a degree of uncharacteristic anger rising from within, I pointed out that she could not possibly know what it is to walk in my shoes or to harbor my dreams, for neither my path nor my lessons are her own. As she abruptly stormed out of the restaurant, my other friend rendered speechless, I found myself emotionally and physically spent, as I tried to make sense of it all.

Why is it so difficult to honor the sacred journey of another? Why is listening with the intent to judge more prevalent than listening with the intent to understand? Why, in the face of difference, do we try to beat others into submission of our own views and values?  Why is it so difficult for women to support other women whose choices and circumstances differ from their own? Just as importantly, in the face of our critics, how can we stand strong in the truth of who we are instead of allowing others to rob us (if only momentarily) of our joy, our peace, our dreams, and our value? 

Years ago, I would have taken her words to heart. I might have allowed her judgement to cloud my own. But the dis-ease of that moment reminded me not of my limitations, but of how far I’ve come; that I can filter and extract another’s advice from their judgement, recognizing that their words and actions reflect their truths and values, not necessarily my own. I can choose to surround myself with those whose respect for self and others create space for difference, and walk away from those who cannot.

Most importantly, that evening reminded me that just as we are part of a collective whole, we each walk our own path; just as my values, dreams, gifts and talents are unique to me, my struggles are my own to overcome, too, reflective of the lessons I need to learn to reach the places I am called to go.