Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.


4 Comments

Cleaning up and letting go

I’m sorting through my stuff. We might have to move. To a much smaller place. I couldn’t take much with me.

I’m holding all the books, all the shirts, all the letters, all my small boxes in my hands, and I am choosing which ones I can take, which ones I have to let go. I’m crying. I’m feeling a sadness and a sense of loss as I see the little book on love, hope, and faith my mother gave me years ago to encourage me through my divorce. The poetry a colleague gave me as a farewell gift when I left my job. The tap dancing shoes I bought for my new-found and never-pursued hobby. The plastic eggs I wanted to reuse with Easter. The left-over wool to knit Christmas decoration with.

Image courtesy to upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Ramses_Shaffy1980.pngAll these projects I never finished. These books I never read. These clothes I never wore. These gifts of love I had forgot about.

I sort through them. Keep. Go. Keep. Go. Go. Go. Keep.

I bring two bags of clothes to Buffalo Exchange. They offer $12.50 store credit for one pair of shorts. They’ll donate the rest to local charity. I bring 12 books to Half Prize Books. They offer $11. A friend will pick up kitchen utensils and a food processor tomorrow.

I’m sorting through my stuff and I’m getting a sense of freedom. Spaciousness. Clarity.

These are the values I use as my selection criteria. This is what I want my loved ones to find if I die today. This is what I want to leave behind.

The rest is ballast, burden, attachment.

I’m sorting through my stuff and are getting to the bone of who I am and want to be. Light in body, spirit, and mind.

I’m sorting through my stuff and get to the essence of my life. This is what I want to do, read, wear. This is how I want to be. I am feeling a sense of deep peace arise in me. Life is not difficult. Life is not about having, keeping, planning. Life is about being open, loving, joyful. Life is about enjoying each and every moment, and give the best of yourself.

My favorite artist Ramses Shaffy has this fantastic song:

“De wereld heeft my failliet verklaard, ik heb me nog nooit zo goed en licht gevoeld als nu. Ik heb me nog nooit zo schoon en bevrijd gevoeld als nu.”

Listen to it. Even if you don’t understand the words, you’ll get the jubilant energy of dropping all your luggage and walking light and free. Bankruptcy is a gift of God, not of society. Gosh, I love cleaning up and letting go!

—–

You want help to sort through your stuff, mourn and letting go? Read testimonials of people who hired me as their personal organizer. I would love to help you too! Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a free, discovery session.


Leave a comment

4 Steps to befriend yourself

Last Saturday I wrote how humor can help us take our own desires a bit more lightly, and allow us to relieve some of the shame and embarrassment around our feelings and wants. “Yep, I want to do a striptease, that’s just my thing. Haha”. Not to make fun of ourselves, but to invite ourselves to accept our own desires for what they are: just desires, not a reflection of our self-worth. Humor can help us befriend ourselves.

Image courtesy to c2.staticflickr.comRick Hanson talks about befriending yourself as a key ingredient of self-care. Being on your own side. Accepting yourself. Taking a stance for who and how you are, with all your desires, however you feel about having them. He offers an exercise to deepen your friendship with yourself. This is my summary:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, and connect to your breath as it flows through you. A quiet, private space can help you focus and feel safe.
  2. Think of a moment, a situation where you really took a stand for someone, listened with an open heart, supported with care and compassion, protected them from harm, encouraged them to grow into their best selves, helped them heal and grief. A moment where you really took someone’s side and supported them wholeheartedly.
  3. What did you do? What did you say? How did you feel? Which needs were met? Which values were alive? Connect to yourself, while you put your hand on that part of your body where this experience resonates, to reinforce the neural pathways of what being a friend means to you. Breathe in all the positive feelings, all the needs met. Take your time to fully connect to this experience of taking a stand.
  4. Now extend this experience of friendship to yourself. Imagine you befriending yourself in the same profound way. What does that look like, how does your life change, if you take a stand for yourself each and every day? Reflect on this, and ACT on it! Throughout this day. Throughout tomorrow. Throughout all days. So that your friendship with yourself grows strong and helps you show up for who you truly are.

—–

You want help to befriend yourself? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a free, discovery session.


1 Comment

What does humor have to do with sex?

Sharing humor is a great way to build relationships. That’s what Gottman says. Laughing about each other’s jokes, building on each other’s puns, making funny faces. It doesn’t matter what you do or say, as long as it makes you both laugh. Sharing humor creates a sort of capital that you can draw from in case of emergency. It builds a resilience container that can hold you when you’re in an argument, an exit option from a heated discussion. It helps you see the human face of the person you now see as you’re enemy, because somewhere your brain tells you that this is the same guy, who makes you roll over on the ground in a giddy moment.

Image courtesy to Wikimedia.orgIt is of course the easiest to build up your humor reservoir in times of happiness, trust, peace, connection, and safety. It is harder to change a habit of frowning, sulking, and chagrining at each others jokes, when you are entrenched in enemy images.

Although I think it is still worth a try. As long as you can laugh wholeheartedly, without any condescending tone, about the pun your husband makes (or your friend, sibling, or co-worker for that matter), or make a funny face back to your wife, or mimic their expression, or do whatever builds a relaxed atmosphere of joy and lightheartedness, do it. Even if just once. It is worth the try and it might relief tension.

Creating a sense of shared humor helps with sex too. That’s what I say. Often we feel embarrassed about our sexual desires, maybe even ashamed. When we introduce some playfulness into our love life, we practice hearing a ‘no’ and not taking it personally. We practice seeing ourselves and our partner as human beings, who want to connect even if they’re not willing to comply with each other’s requests. It certainly makes sex a whole lot more fun and relaxed.

Just try it out.

I’m pretty sure you’ll like it.

—–

You want help to bring more humor in the bedroom? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.


Leave a comment

Let’s talk about sex

Let’s talk about sex.

“Sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others”. “Sexual desire is not love”. “Running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair.”

Thich Nhat Hanh’s 5 Mindfulness Trainings. I recite them every day.

Image courtesy to media.zenfs.comHum, maybe let’s not talk about sex. Sex is a lot about craving, desire, and pure pleasure, so how can it be in alignment with any Buddhist teaching on freeing oneself of craving and attachment?

For the longest time I thought that Buddhist sex is loving, tender, and compassionate, sure, but none of the hot, steaming, erotic stuff that I sometimes dream of.

We read this story this Yom Kippur: Maggid of Zlotchov was asked how Abraham could have kept the laws, if they had not been given yet? His answer was: “All that is needful,” he said, “is to love G*d. If you are about to do something and you think it might lessen your love, then you will know it is sin. If you are about to do something and think it will increase your love, you will know that your will is in keeping with the will of G*d. That is what Abraham did.” I think any Buddhist practitioner would agree that that is what the Buddhist teachings our all about: to relieve suffering, and contribute to freedom, love, and peace.

So how is having hot, erotic, wall-socket sex in alignment with these teachings?

I think one of the greatest acts of courage -the word is grounded in the French words for heart and love: “coeur”- is to be willing to be vulnerable and show up with all our thoughts, feelings, and needs, even those we judge as dark, non-mindful, and despicable. When we are willing to stand our fear and shame, tremble in our vulnerability, and have the courage to risk rejection and ridicule, we are willing to create a sense of intimacy that allows our love to be based in our true self. We share our desires and longings, because we want to be close to our loved one and be known for who we are. We are willing to give ourselves in the rawness of our craving, because we know there is no true love, without true understanding. When we offer our sexual desires and fantasies as precious expressions of who we are, with no demand energy, nor aversion, just openly, freely, and maybe even playfully, they bring more love in the world. They are a vote of confidence and trust in our partner, and they deepen our intimacy.

That is certainly in alignment with Abraham’s law. I guess with Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings too. So put on your sexy outfit and get it going!

—–

You want help to express your sexual desires more freely? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

—–

Thank you Doyle Banks, for inspiring me to write about sex!


2 Comments

Turning toward each other

Have you ever reached out for connection, and your partner didn’t respond? Or walked away? Or talked about a completely different topic? Maybe something like this: “I had seven participants in my class today!”… Silence… (second attempt) “I made $60!”…She walks away… (third attempt) “The group is so enthusiastic and committed. They really try to get it.”… “My aunt called, she wants to come over for Thanksgiving.”

Image courtesy to FlickrGottman calls these responses “Turning away”. In his 40 years of research on relationships he found out that the key to happy, stable, and healthy (literally: happily married couples live on average 4 years longer, have better functioning immune systems, and are more resilient) relationships, is turning toward bids for emotional connection. The response itself is less relevant, as long as the act of turning toward conveys the message: “Hey, I hear you, I see you, and you matter so much to me, that I want to connect with you and hear what’s going on for you.” I guess turning toward works so well, because it acknowledges that the other person is worthy to be seen and respond to.

Turning toward might look like this: “I had seven participants in my class today!” “Wow, that’s great. That’s the third time you had such a big turnout.” “Yeah, people are loving it and bringing friends. I made $60!” “I can imagine you feel proud and relieved that your commitment and efforts are helping people.” “Yes, I do. The group is so enthusiastic and committed. They really try to get it. They even practice in between.” “I am so happy for you. It sounds as if your needs for contribution, community, and appreciation are met.”

Feel the difference?

Turning toward invites more dialogue, and more connection and understanding.

Turning against is the third possible response to bids for emotional connection. Your partner starts arguing, criticizing, making sarcastic remarks, judging, ridiculing, or anything else that conveys disrespect, conflict and disconnection. “I had seven participants in my class today!” (sarcastic) “Wow, my goodness, isn’t that something. I had 18 in my class today.” (more timid, still trying to connect) “I made $60…” “As if that’s gonna help.” (almost discouraged, still hoping for connection) “The group is so enthusiastic and committed… They really try to get it…” “Who cares? You spend six hours on that class, and come home with nothing.”

In this week of atonement, this day of Yom Kippur, I invite us to ask ourselves how often we turned away or against a bid for emotional connection. We might ask ourselves how we can convey to our partner, friend, child, sibling, parent, co-worker, neighbor, anyone that we care enough about them to acknowledge and appreciate their bids for emotional connection.

We can start a circle of connection, community, and appreciation.

Wouldn’t that be lovely?

—–

You want help to turn toward bids for emotional connection? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.


2 Comments

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

“Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” At least, that’s what Elton John sings.

Image courtesy to answers.yahoo.com“Sorry” seems to convey that there is something wrong with us, that we did something bad, and that -as a result of our action- we are unworthy of love, acceptance, and belonging. It is the beggar’s word in a one-up relationship, where I know what is good and what is bad, and decide whether you are good enough to be in the inside circle.

Sometimes this burden of self-incrimination turns into the opposite, and our “sorry!” becomes oblique, as we run out the door, leaving our spouse frustrated with our unwashed dishes and our stuff at the counter, with no intention to clean up after ourselves the next time we’re in a hurry.

It does not have to be this way.

Sorry can also reflect a profound self-reflective journey of looking inward and acknowledging the times we did not show up the way we wanted.

The ten days between Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur invite us to this journey of self-connection and reflection on our transgressions against G*d, our fellow living beings, and ourselves.

I understand transgressions not in the legal way, but as a longing to awaken to our true nature of love, compassion, and mindfulness, and to our innate desire to contribute to the well-being of others, including ourselves.

Atonement is the process of restoring our at-one-ment, our interbeing.

Nonviolent Communication calls it the cycle of Mourning, Celebrating, and Learning. We ask ourselves which universal, human, precious needs were unmet with the behavior we now regret. And we ask ourselves which precious, human, universal needs we did meet -or were trying to meet- with the behavior we now regret. And in that process of looking deeply, understanding, and accepting our choices, we open up to learning different ways to nurture all those needs: the ones we met and the ones we didn’t meet. It is the process of connecting to our values and that what is most important to us: life and love.

When we approach the word “sorry” as an indication of our learning, as a sign that we realize our unskillfulness in pursuing our needs, without giving up our dignity and worthiness of love, acceptance, and belonging, it is the easiest word possible. It expresses that we are human beings who search, sometimes stumble, through life, looking for ways to honor our needs, those of others, and those of G*d. It indicates that we are not stuck in the past, wallowing in our regret, but that we open up to life and making more wholesome choices in the future.

—–

You want help to mourn, celebrate, and learn from actions you now regret? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.