Gifts & Gratitude.

Do you find yourself working in a reactive state most days? Spiraling in the midst of well-laid plans gone awry? Have you been told to think happy thoughts or take a moment to be grateful for something and it would help to shift from a reactive place to more proactive thinking? If nothing else, it would "help you turn that frown upside down"...

I have. And I doubt I'll finish reading A Thousand Gifts

2017 Gratitude Jar

In chasing this concept of gratitude + proactive pivot, I set an intention to live more gratefully this year. I implemented the use of a gratitude jar (my homemade attempt is pictured to give you an idea). As we're well into 2017 - now celebrating longer days with the onset of spring - I can honestly say my intention of gratitude has been challenged more than once. Yet these trials act as a multiplier of a pursuit to hold myself accountable to live gratefully regardless of the circumstances.

There is power in recognizing the gifts - whatever the size - in your life. How?

The short list is 1) Pause. You have to take time to think and this leads to some sort of time to reflect. This pause, wherever it leads, is priceless for us (particularly if on a mission of deeper meaning or best self!). 2) Appreciation. In seeking something to be grateful for, you are forced to actively appreciate. Appreciative inquiry is magical (and a topic for another day). 3) Reality. We get caught up in the fires of the moment all too easily. We let the flames burn us: scorching the positive, painting harsh perceptions of what is not fully real. Don't get me wrong here: reality is not all rainbows (quite the opposite); yet our tendency is towards fear. Taking a moment to see all of reality - the good and the bad - is healthful recognition, offering us wiser perspective.

So get out of your head.

Actively "count" gratitude with something like a jar or journal. The inventory you build is a lovely visual reminder of all the beauty in your life (it's hard not to soften when you see it). If nothing else, speak aloud your gratitude as frequently as you can. Hear yourself. Heal yourself...and I should add that, for me, I have seen how grateful I truly am for what I used to think derailed me indefinitely.

Try it on with others too! & if you've done this or consider yourself a master of gratitude-living, I'd love hear from you about what trends you observe in the habit of gratitude, and the gifts that keep on giving!

2017 Neuland Kitting @ Casa Chiri

For me, a gift that just keeps on is markers. NEULAND markers to be specific. For all my visual practitioners, this is old hat knowledge. For anyone new to Neuland, get on board. Not only are these markers fabulous, the owners have the largest hearts and most giving souls. If you need proof, join us for a workshop this April at Casa Chirilagua. This workshop is the result of donations made by Neuland during #IFVP2016. As you can see from last Sunday's photo of marker kitting, we are well on our way with preparation. Our intention in this workshop, supplied fully by Neuland donations, is to share the gift of art with the next generation of Casa Chirilagua; we will be teaching the kids about how to use art as a way to express themselves and build confidence in co-creating a mural for Casa's new home.

STILL: an invitation.

You only need to be STILL.

Wait, come again? You mean me?

My reactions to "BE STILL" range from "okay, sure: I will hold the yoga pose for a little longer?" and "I will rest, no problem: just give me an idea of how long." Translation: I am capable of anything but stillness. (Photos included to prove my delinquency...no one is perfect, right?). 

How about you...Have you ever been forced to be STILL? In that forced state - physical or otherwise - could you find calm? Find acceptance? Discover peace?

In a world that moves so quickly and when sudden stillness is required, it can seem as though we are no longer able to participate. In that moment, A LOT COMES UP. The countless emotions and thoughts are a rushing flood. The intensity makes one capable of anything but being still. Internally and externally the tensions rise. Forced stillness, midst whatever circumstances or phase in life, can be impossible. Still steals freedom. Or does it?  Could deeper inquiry reveal something of opportunity in pause? 

This is my recent inquiry, and new ask of myself: What if I decided to be STILL? 

Headstand&Boot

On Valentine's Day, I was physically forced to be still. "How long?" was my immediate question in the ER. And the answer, unknown. My instant reactions - born out of fear - manifested themselves into a few big tears (admittedly to my embarrassment). I am familiar with injury. I am familiar with trauma. I am not well acquainted with unknown durations or vague 'strategic' direction personally. Like I said, I am anything but still. And I certainly was not interested in whatever lesson this was intended to teach me in 2017 (at first!).

Swallowing hard over and over since that moment, this circumstance continues to ask me to make a choice between impossible or possible. limiting or limitless. crutches or creativity.

HURT OR HEAL. 

Have you been confronted with something recently that asks you to pause for an ambiguous length of time? Perhaps a broken bone like me or something far, far worse.

What happened? What choice did you make? How did it feel? How did the feelings change? What did you learn?  I don't know what 2017 has brought upon you already. Whatever it is, I can only imagine it's required you to show up big, to make some big choices. Rest assured this will just keep on well past 2017, it is what it is.

So I share my situation as an invitation to embrace the pauses when they come; an offer to try on ways to practice new disciplines that may serve you in holding on through the ambiguity, the change. Even steps to healing, to peace:

Decide to be still. Bring on breath. Invite a moment to scan your year thus far without passing any judgment. As thoughts begin to rise, bring yourself back to your breath; lengthen each inhale and exhale. Use inhales to recognize what comes up, noticing briefly (at the top of your in-breaths), and then on your exhales let it go. Extinguish everything with each out-breath. Empty completely, creating space within yourself with your breath for as long as you have the breath to do so. Then begin to inhale new life. For any hurt or aches, remember that where your awareness goes, prana flows (as a yogi also encouraged me this week).

Choose an affirmation. Let the affirmation take the form of "I AM ______." A couple examples might be "I AM CONFIDENT" or "I AM HOLDING ONTO NOTHING" or "I AM UNSTOPPABLE". I was recently guided through yoga nidra and reminded that affirmations reveal what we see for ourselves, what we are becoming. Affirmations often stay with us for a long time, perhaps  all our lives. Consider affirming yourself with one right now. Why not?

Whether forced or invited, stillness can create opportunities. STILL bestows freedom uniquely yours to cultivate something new. It is a choice worth making. This is what I am learning. So I have decided to cultivate a practice of stillness all my own; to recognize I AM HEALING. Often physical hurt is asking us to notice a much deeper hurt within ourselves. As my vision board for this year reminds me, I have many areas in my life that could use healing. That healing for me is not going to come from "do, but Who."

Where do you land in stillness? Will you accept the invitation? Remember any challenge is an opportunity to get creative, so start laughing at your inner innovator. You will heal faster! And with this invitation and any others you might open, be gentle with yourself.

You are fought for. I promise.