Radical Presence

The incredible ups and downs of life and constant changing of the seasons. Fall burrowing into winter, winter thawing to spring, spring blossoming to summer, and time evolving both rapidly and profoundly. With these cycles come new adventures and unique challenges.

The ups are euphoric -- they ignite my soul and I dance with the melody of joy. I float through the minutes as my heart sings and I laugh easily. The positive energy floods my veins and I am free. The music lingers and I collapse into bliss. Joy is an all encompassing feeling of wholeness. It electrifies my body, my soul, and my spirit. I am alive. Joy -- It too, shall pass.

The downs are torturous, as they trap my light and the darkness falls. I numbly work through the transitions, my heart solemn and my spirit frail. The negative energy drapes over body and I am feeling low. The melody stops and silence lingers. Sadness is a raw feeling of emptiness. Sadness -- it too, shall pass.

The magnificent ups and downs of life are the only known we have about our future. All the planning, preparing, and projecting won’t prepare us for these. They will take our breath away and try to destroy us at times. Joy and sadness coexist in our world to share the magnificent cycle of life with each and every one of us. They are inevitable, and we are here to learn the beauty of rich emotion in extreme ways.

When joy comes knocking on your door, please greet her with a light heart. Invite her in for a cup of tea, for she may be just passing through for a fleeting moment. Find radical presence in her arrival.

When sadness slivers upon your floor, please greet her with a vulnerable heart. Invite her to show you the depths of your soul, and sit with her for a minute. Take in all she has to offer you, and allow her to guide you down to what really matters. Allow her to teach you how truly fragile life is and how to cherish what you hold dear. Find radical presence in her arrival and know she too, will just be passing through.

Yes, the incredible ups and downs of life are the known of our futures. The seasons will change and feelings will shift. The cycle will bring forth what is necessary for you, in that moment, at that time, and in that place. Be radically present for your life’s unfolding, finding steady hope in your despair and profound gratitude in your joy, for you never know what could be waiting for you right around the next corner...

I choose to find the silver lining

Zen Bird monthly mantra: I am a positive being. I choose to find a slice of silver lining in every situation.

Life has an interesting way of bringing us pain, suffering, or despair. It arrives on our doorstep with no explanation, rushing in without reason or warning. It happens overnight, in a split second, in the blink of an eye. Tragic events rupture our spirits, souls are smothered, and our hope is suffocated. We search for reasons, and may never quite understand why our hearts were dealt the hand of such profound suffering.

I wish we could have the guide book, and the ‘how to's and ‘why’s’ all answered, but many times we are left to our own thoughts, reactions, and emotions. We are left to handle the sadness, the anxiety, the despair, and the misery. I know it is difficult in the moment to see past the darkness flooding in, the suffocation of pain, and the paralysis of anxiety. It is hard to think anything at times, let alone think something positive. I understand that, but I also understand the power of one single, tiny, itty bitty thought of hope, one glimmer of courage, or one fleeting second of strength. Our thoughts are powerful and, with them, our reality is transformed.

This month I want you to try to find one glimpse of a silver lining in any challenging situation you are facing. Find one sliver of hope in the depths of your suffering. Explore one molecule of gratitude in the frustrations of your daily life. Seek the light within the darkness and remind yourself: your thoughts are powerful, so work towards keeping the good ones.

Choices = Freedom

Flowing through life is easier said than done. We want to clutch the illusion of control. We yearn for any answer or path to help us guide our way through the trenches of decisions and choices. They loom over us, causing anxiety, stress, tension, and doubt. Choices. Options. Decisions. FREEDOM.

The reality is, when we feel overwhelmed or plagued with indecision or fear, there is a process of stepping backward and observing the situation from a new lens -- a foreign perspective.

When we start to see decisions causing us anxiety as our beautiful and privileged freedoms, we shift. We begin to see the world with a grateful heart and a steady soul. Our melodies are clear, and our journey begins to flow. We let go of the clutching of fear, the paralysis of anxiety, the worries of “what ifs,” and we begin our gentle process of unfolding our story. We have choices -- freedom of choice over our thoughts, our actions, our decisions, our religions, our careers… an incredible amount of options! We also have the choice to cherish our freedoms or let fear rule our lives.

Let’s allow our perspectives to shift into gratitude of freedom, celebration of choice, and love of expression. Let’s rejoice in knowing that we are the voyagers of our destiny, and we will only ever know what this life brought us.

There is no other path we will take but our own. Live freely in the peace that YOU CHOSE your life. Live knowing you didn’t let life happen to you, but rather you happened to life.

Boundaries

Boundaries, ah… the tough, tough boundaries which are necessary to set in order to live freely in making choices, not for others, but rather, for ourselves. Boundaries are crucial, and in the past I did not understand the radical importance of boundaries. I felt selfish and not generous when I would put boundaries up within interpersonal relationships. I was so caught up in the worry of disappointing someone due to a choice I was making for myself, and scared to cause pain if I decided to do something that perhaps did not include someone or may potentially offend them. I’ve come to realize this as not selfish, but rather, enlightened self interest.

The fear of upsetting people comes down to people pleasing. This fear can manifest itself into our lives and cause a lack of freedom of expression, choice, or decision. All of a sudden we take our own personal freedom and we give this away to another human being because we are scared. We are fearful of their reaction, their perspective, or their feelings.

We cannot stop someone’s reaction, but we can work on our own. We can also work on containing the freedom we have, and make sure the choices we are making are:

1. healthy 2. honest 3. safe 4. causing to harm to another or self

If our choices are based upon all of these elements, then we should be able to make the choice for OURSELVES and not out of fear of how someone will react.

Let’s take for example, you live with a roommate and you feel like going to eat dinner alone. Perhaps this roommate doesn’t have any plans. You may start to anticipate your roommate’s feelings to be hurt, mad, or upset if you do not invite them to dinner. You decide to go out with this person due to your fear of disappointing or causing a reaction. What you have done is now given your freedom to another person and they have made your choice for you. How could you approach this situation and feel good about following through on your freedom? You explain in a mature and kind way such as, “I’ve had a long and stressful week, and as much as I enjoy hanging out with you, I just need time for myself to relax and rejuvenate alone.” You then let it go. You let that person react how they may and you let their reaction go. You release. You have been kind, honest, and respectful in expressing yourself and you move forward. This is enlightened self interest.

If you make choices based on the fear of how someone will react, then you will be making choices for other people your entire life. That can take a toll on your personal freedom, your personal decisions, and your profound moments of self expression. Those moments, those molecules, and those significant rays from your divine soul make up the individual you ARE. If you start to take your freedoms away, you cannot truly be your authentic self. Freedom is a significant part of living a genuine life. Your soul, your heart, your body, mind, and spirit rely on freedom. Open up your wings and start shedding your baggage because, Zen Birdies, very very soon it will be time to fly.

Freedom within Relationships

Ah... freedom within relationships! It can be tough. We all have relationships -- interpersonal relationships as a mother/daughter, romantic relationships, best friends, yoga buddies & co workers -- you name it.  We are invested in our relationships, and sometimes our boundaries are lacking. Relationships can be tricky in the department of freedom, and they come with a fine line of growing together while growing independently.

How do we create personal freedom within our relationships? We find it by setting healthy boundaries and by continuing to explore our personal curiosities. We cultivate this by realizing that for many years our partner was immersed in their personal life before you came along and they had individual interests. We explore this by letting our partner continue this growth without feeling personally attacked if they want to do something solo. Freedom within relationships is not only desired, but it is necessary for long term happiness.

This is not to say that you should never come together with your partners, but it simply means

  • keep your hobbies

  • cultivate your interests

  • fuel your desires

  • continue to develop YOUR personal expression

There are many ways to incorporate personal growth within a relationship. Maybe you are married or living with your partner. Decide on one night per week (more or less, it all depends on you) to pursue your individual hobbies, separately. It doesn’t have to be for long but make sure you take your individual time to connect within your own heartbeat. Once you accept and celebrate that your partner is a unique and dynamic individual, you are able to understand the significance of freedom. Let yourself delve into your personal expression of self, and your relationship will grow. This, Zen Birdies, I know.

Be curious + express yo' self!

Why is it as we grow older we become less and less inquisitive about the world around us, about the human beings inhabiting this earth, and about our own curiosities?

Think back to when you were young or perhaps think of your children (if you are a mum), and imagine a conversation with them. Imagine their curiosity, exploration, and their lack of inhibition when asking you questions. Think of the “why” stage -- the pondering and the wondering about every little molecule and moment. Children never think twice about asking questions like:

“Mum, why aren’t there more dinosaurs?”

“Why do people get sick?”

“Why do you sometimes cry when you are happy?”

“Why don’t I have a tail?”

“Come on dad, why are the cookies taking so long to load?” (<< The cookies were baking.)

At some point along our journey we begin to feel stupid or dumb if we ask too many questions or if we do not have all the answers. Our personal expression halts and we lose our freedom of curiosity. There have been many moments when I have flat out said, “I don’t know who that is/ where that is/ what you are talking about, please explain.” You will find that some people may make you feel inferior because you are not a wizard like they seem to think they are with their wealth of knowledge, but usually they say, “let me tell you!” Asking questions is dynamic. Inquiry is sexy. Curiosity is crucial for growth, and exploration is LIBERATING. You have the freedom to shed the image of “knowing it all” and start asking. It is crucial for us to come down from ego and realize we don’t have all the answers. Our ego plays such a huge role in how we express ourselves as adults. Carefully, logically, “perfectly”. As children we came into the present moment of wonder. We were sloppy in our thoughts, messy in our questions and haphazard in our knowledge but we were buzzing with exploration. We were free. You are the only one who can give yourself permission to experience your curiosities, emotions, and feelings. Identify what you are curious about and express yourself in simple but significant ways.

Questioning is a form of expression, creative learning, and exploration. Curiosity is the freedom to ask the questions we tend to shy away from as we “grow up”. Ponder. Think. Wonder. Ask. Learn.

The most interesting of human beings are consistently curious about the “what else?” and about the “why?" They contemplate, consider, examine, and they also INSPIRE. These inquisitive people feel free to explore their own innermost curiosities without fear of rejection or appearing a certain way to others. They navigate through the world with an open mind: learning and exploring.

I want you to think of three elements in life you are curious about, and I want you to find the freedom to explore these elements. You will need to give yourself permission to experience this curiosity and express yo’ self, baby! You only have one wild + daring adventure ahead of you in this lifetime. Start to groove through your explorations, questions, and most importantly, be free in your radical self expression. From one curious bird to another, let’s explore, Z Birdies!