Friday, March 30, 2012

Perfect, Whole, and Complete

One of my yoga teachers says the following phrase to us toward the end of class when we are deep in Savasana:

"You are perfect, whole, and complete - just the way you are, and just the way you are not."

Image Credit

I hadn't been to her class in a while, so it was a refreshing reminder to hear these kind words.  So much so, that I printed it up in a pretty purple font with a purple sun and hung it in the lady's room at work (after consulting with my only other female colleague, of course).

We both talked for a moment about how important it is to see, read, and speak these truths to ourselves.  Most of the time, we are talking to ourselves in such a way that we would never tolerate if anyone else spoke to us that way.  We are quick to notice and judge ourselves for our shortcomings and mistakes, but are we as quick to acknowledge all of the things that we do right and what a blessing we are to others each day?

Perhaps there are some words that lift, encourage, and remind you of the amazing being that you are underneath all of the "stuff" and labels that we live with every day.  Consider taping up a sign somewhere where you'll see it frequently, and consider talking more kindly to yourself.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Every 7 Years, We are "Made New"

I'm not suggesting that you need to wait until you are 35 to experience something like this, nor that if you are later in life that it's too late. It's not. We can, at any moment, begin to change our thoughts, make different choices, and begin honoring ourselves. We can begin to truly acknowledge how fortunate we really are, despite any past or present pains....despite the fact that life is not perfect, and while we'd like to be happy "all the time," this world is truly a mix of magic and tragic, and we are blessed to be alive and to experience all of it.

Yesterday I celebrated 35 years on the planet. For more than one reason, I truly feel like a "new" person. To begin with, let's say I'm fortunate enough to live at least until the ripe old age of 70.  You could say I am on the cusp of my official mid-life reflection (I don't need a crisis, thank you!).  I've realized that the first 35 years of my life are now the past. I release that time of my life. It's a powerful experience, to say the least.

I release childhood traumas and the crazy relationships and decisions of my twenties. I finally feel as if I am coming into my own as a woman, focusing on my writing, and making choices (such as returning to vegetarianism, eliminating aspartame and artificial ingredients from my diet, and honoring myself when it comes to boundaries) that are in alignment with the core of my being. I am honoring myself.

In addition to the emotional and spiritual shifts that occur at 35, there is something pretty amazing going on for all of us on a physical level at age 35 (and 7, 14, 21, 28, 42, 49...).  I once heard that at these intervals, human beings get entirely new cells -- we are made physically new every 7 years for our entire lives. I did some research, and science seems to support this information.

According to Nicolas Wade, a science writer for The New York Times, Dr. Jonas Frisen, a stem cell biologist at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden developed a method of determining the actual age of human cells.  In his research, he discovered that the reason that most people act/behave in accordance with their actual birth age - their years on the plant - is because some cells remain the same from birth and throughout life; however, the rest of our cells are renewed about every 7 years. So, it's no wonder that we may feel a physical "newness" at those intervals.

What age are you at now?  How many 7 year cell renewal cycles have you experienced so far? Was there a certain age when you began to really evaluate your life and make new, conscious decisions about how to live it?


PS Be sure to enter the 10k celebration - it's easy to win some great prizes! Click here to enter.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ask Someone's Story | Caring for Each Other in Mindfulness

I had an interesting experience at the post office this morning. I was stopping in on my way to work to mail a package and some cards.  There were two people ahead of me and another woman off to the side filling out a form.  As I was about to be the next person in line, I keep looking over at the woman filling out the form, hoping she wouldn't be done before it was my turn.  I wanted to be next.

Well, she did finish filling out her form, and then she looked to me, and said, "You go ahead. Please." I asked if she was sure. I told her I was on my way to work and that I thought she must be too. In my first impression, the initial scan that we all subconsciously do when we meet someone, I summed her up: late 50s or early 60s, dressed up nicely and probably well-to-do (I was at a post office in an affluent neighborhood on my way to work, so I assumed she was affluent -- even though I'm not and I was also conducting business there.)

Oh, no," she said, looking a bit downcast, "I haven't worked in a long time.  I've been looking, but I haven't been able to find anything."

Something shifted within me, instantly, I was aware of all of the judgments I'd made about this woman in literally a few seconds. I was all ready to feel inferior and to have an awkward moment with her about who would go next in line (so trivial, I know, but think about how many minutes in our day are taken up by these kinds of circumstances and thinking)...My heart softened instead.

I could feel my face and posture changing to that of a more compassionate, receptive person.  In my heart, I felt urged to make that moment matter and to let her know that SHE matters.

I asked her what kind of work she does or would like to do. She told me that she used to be an office manager and enjoys administrative assistant work, but that she's been a stay-at-home caretaker to her elderly mom for the past nine years, and her mother had just passed away. She also shared that she was at the post office because, not only could she no longer afford to pay the rental fee on her PO BOX, but she also needed the deposit back on the key.  Imagine how humbled I was in that moment.

We talked a bit more. She told me that she thinks that she isn't getting responses from jobs because her last job listed on her resume is from nine years ago. I encouraged her to go home and update her resume right away.  Being that I am sometimes hired by clients to revamp or create a resume, I felt in a position to give her some advice. I suggested that she list herself as a "Professional Caregiver" for that nine year period and to list all of the skills, abilities, and tasks that made up her days for the past nine years. I told her that all that effort and hard work counts. I told her that what she did matters, and that SHE matters. She thanked me. I told her not to give up hope. She responded, "I was about to. Thank you for your kindness. God Bless You."

She's been on my heart all day.

Remember, a stranger is only "strange" until you know her story. Then, she's just as human, vulnerable, and important as you.