A Return to Love

My cousin was the first one to tell me about A Return to Love about a year ago. At the time, I was beginning to be interested in spirituality but didn’t want to read anything too heavy and certainly nothing that would require me to change in any significant way.

After my cousin’s glowing recommendation, I decided to buy the book and slowly made my way through it. There were things I liked and could relate to and things that I thought “No WAY!” Too idealistic I said. We’re living in the real world. This isn’t doable at all. Also, the ego isn’t a bad thing, I argued with her. Hasn’t the author heard the term “healthy ego”?

The book quickly found a place in the corner of the bottom shelf of my bookcase and life went on.

Flash forward a year and 12 energy healings later. The healings were with an amazing woman named Karen Heywood. Find out more about her here. All of a sudden I found myself craving the words and wisdom of ‘A Return to Love’. I dusted off my copy and opened a page. And, wow, what a different experience. Now Marianne Williamson’s words made total sense. There was no healthy ego I realized as I read the words all over again. Finally I felt ready to learn what this book had to teach me and I couldn’t wait to dive in. When the student is ready, they say, the teacher will appear. In my case, I guess, the teacher will appear again.

I’ll be writing more about this amazing book in upcoming posts but, in the meantime, here are a few of my favourite thoughts and quotes I’d like to share with you. I hope you like (read: love) them as much as I do:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.

You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think.

Do what you love.
Do what makes your heart sing.
And NEVER do it for the money,
Go to work to spread joy.

May my heart be your shelter, and my arms be your home.

Love in your mind produces love in your life. This is the meaning of heaven.
Fear in your mind produces fear in your life. This is the meaning of hell.

Beginning a Meditation Practice

I tried meditating once about 7 or 8 years ago. All I remember about the experience is sitting in a candlelit room with a bunch of strangers and having the instructor softly tell us to “empty our minds” over and over again. Every time she instructed us to do this, my teeth clenched a little tighter. You see my mind was full of random thoughts that were ping-ponging all over my brain and refusing to go away, no matter how hard I fought against them. It was a very frustrating experience so I proclaimed myself “bad at meditation” and didn’t try again. Until now. I’m not sure what sparked it but I have become fascinated with meditation recently and I now know that emptying our minds is not necessary, or even necessarily recommended, for a fulfilling meditation practice.

Why have I finally started flirting with meditation? For so many reasons but I guess a few of the main ones are these:

  • The feeling that so many of us live in our heads, cut off from the signals that our bodies are valiantly trying to give us.
  • Sleepwalking through so much of my day, not feeling present and not fully experiencing my life.
  • Internet addiction. The opposite of being mindful and present. Next time  you’re out in public, on transit or just walking down the street, really observe how many people are glued to their phones, missing out on the real world around them.
  • I’ve heard it can be anti-aging (anything to keep the botox and fillers at bay!)

And I’ve been practicing on my own in my little living room. I’ve been lighting candles and playing rainforest music in the background to set the stage. Every time I meditate, I find it easier to sink into my body. Memories of old pain come up once in awhile and I sit with it and accept it and listen to what it has to tell me. Sometimes the pain comes up several times before it goes away. I’m patient and loving and stay with it until it transforms into something else (even if this takes days or weeks).

Also, I’ve recently learned how to do a Loving Kindness Meditation and I’ll like to share it with you:

Loving Kindness Meditation

This practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good things to yourself and to others.

  1. You can start by thinking about your own goodness—remembering things you have done out of good-heartedness and celebrating the potential for goodness we all share.
  2. Silently repeat phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves (and others). Traditional phrases are:
    • May I live in safety.
    • May I have peace and joy in my life.
    • May I have good health and freedom from pain.
    • May I live with ease.
  3. Say the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that feels natural to you.
  4. Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself. Notice the distraction and either let it go or realize that it is here for you to stay with and, think about. When you’re ready, come back to repeating the phrases without any judgement toward yourself.
  5. After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love and guidance. They are your circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself.
  6. To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more minutes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hurtful relationship to yourself, and are moving forward, to a presence full of love.

And that is it. A simple, loving-kindness meditation. If you try it, please let me know how it goes in the comment section. Namaste xo

Can I have a box for that please?

I’ve been engrossed in a book called Attached that is, slowly but surely, shaking up my equilibrium. It’s also become a catalyst to remembering a number of things that have been firmly lodged in my subconscious. Lodged in my subconscious but influencing my conscious choices in a myriad of ways. And, because of this book, I woke up Saturday morning with a long forgotten memory from my childhood looming large in my mind, accompanied by a huge epiphany regarding why I behave the way I do in certain relationships (ie. creating a frustrating and often painful push and pull dynamic). Whew.. This kind of realization is good work but also tough work. My memory also made me immediately pick up the phone and call my cousin to share my new found awareness. Our conversation led to this realization: It’s amazing how we live our lives in these little, self-imposed boxes that served an important purpose at one point but just don’t make sense anymore in our current reality. And that’s what a lot of us tend do. We build walls around us to keep us safe from situations but then we move on from that situation, find ourselves in a better place, but, out of fear or habit, we keep the walls. And then we wonder why we can’t really get close to other people or why we keep repeating the same mistakes and patterns over and over again, not even seeing the old barricades we’ve surrounded ourselves with.

And, what are we supposed to do if we realize we’re trapped in a box from the past? How do we get out? A good place to start is to ask yourself a few questions and write down the answers, paying close attention to the emotions that surface and any tension that forms in your body.

Here a few to get you started:

  1. Were you bullied as a child
  2. Did your parents have a difficult relationship or were they abusive to you?
  3. Did you lose a family member at a young age?

If you answered yes to any of these, write about how remembering the situations/incidents makes you feel. If, during this time, you need a good cry or to talk things out with someone, go for it. It’s part of the process of moving that energy out of your body to make room for something new. A new realization, a new self-concept, maybe forgiveness…

Do this as often as you need to until you feel that there is no emotion left around the memory.
And, just like that, you start to de-construct the walls of any metaphorical box that may be surrounding you and move one step close to freedom.

Delicious Chocolates and a New Path

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re not living the life you’re supposed to be living? And, when you get this feeling, is it so uncomfortable that you try to push it down and ignore it until it goes away? That’s what I do but, this time, it didn’t go away.

A bunch of bad things have happened to me recently. It started with my dog getting really, really sick (see here), then I had some dental work that went sideways and kept me in chronic pain for about a month until it was resolved. Then water started dripping out of my bedroom ceiling at an alarming rate on Jan. 30th (my upsatirs neighbor’s washer in her closet had sprung a leak), necessitating a couple of big, ugly, noisy blowers in my bedroom, my track lighting being trashed and my ceiling dotted with drilled holes and water stains. Oh, and then I broke up with my boyfriend the next day. You’d think that would be enough, right? But, no, about a week later a bunch of binders fell off a top shelf at work and the sharp edges hit me in the face, causing angry, red, stripy cuts across my nose. And that’s when I hit rock bottom emotionally. I was sad, angry, resentful, in grief over my relationship, in fear over my dog’s health and underneath it all was that niggling feeling that I wasn’t living the life I was suppose to be living.

chocolateAt the same time I cut my nose, I was hit with the flu so had to take a couple of days off of work. I was in healing/hideout mode so all I wanted to do was put on oversize sunglasses and walk along a secluded beach with my dog and think about all of these unpleasant things that have been happening and also think about that little voice telling me to change the path of my life. As, I thought about the future, the expression “It hit me in the face” kept going through my mind. Then I thought how maybe that feeling of the past few months, that I haven’t been living my best life, finally hit me in the face, both literally and metaphorically. This led me to think about my passions – psychology and nutrition. The ones I’ve been pretty much either ignoring or downplaying. Now, I love psych but I also know that I don’t have what it takes to be a full-time counsellor. I love nutrition just as much, especially raw food nutrition and I’m always making raw goodies and coming up with eating plans for people who want to lose weight or get healthier. The brambles cleared (both metaphorically and physically) and I started to see a path.

Not one to waste time when something feels right, I quickly walked home, found a local raw food nutrition institute and signed myself up. So I am now on my way to becoming a Raw Food Educator and then continuing with more nutrition and wellness courses.

To get myself in the swing of things, I made these little goodies last night. The healthiest, and maybe most delicious, chocolate you’ll ever taste.

Raw Dark Chocolates

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup organic raw cacao
  • 4 T pure maple syrup

raw-chocolatePlace all ingredients in saucepan over low heat. Stir together until melted, place in empty ice cube trays. Freeze.

These are total people pleasers. They’re a hit with healthy folks and junk food junkies too.

 

 

Post Holiday Detox Bowl

I started this holiday season full of strength and resolve and my will power lasted quite a while. Right up until someone place a warm, fresh plate of ginger snaps under my nose. Now, after a few weeks of gooey dark chocolate, bread pudding, hot chocolate with (extra) whipped cream and 1st, 2nd and 3rd helpings of holiday meals, I’m back on the path of balance and health.

If you were a little over-indulgent this Christmas season too, here is a green, detox recipe full of vitamins and anti-oxidants to get your day off to a great start:

Detox Smoothie Bowl

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen mangos
  • 2 T shredded coconunt
  • 2 T hemp seeds
  • 2 T your favourite greens powder

Blend, top with mangos and coconut garnish and get back on track with this delicious and nourishing bowl!

A Very Merry Christmas

lunch and beaver lake 029You never know how a day is going to end, and last Thursday ended with a midnight visit to an emergency vet in East Vancouver.

My dog, Nicky, began vomiting late at night and about 8 episodes later ended up vomiting blood. When I noticed the blood, every fiber of my being freaked out and I was convinced that he had been poisoned by something or someone. I tearfully scooped him up into my arms, darted through the rain to a cab and made the driver race to the hospital.

We arrived at our destination with me fighting off uncontrollable tears and an impending panic attack. Nick was quickly taken to an examination room in the back of the clinic and I desperately tried to follow. When I was gently told that I had to stay out front, I quickly scanned the waiting room. There was a Caucasian couple in one corner and an Asian couple in the other. I really didn’t want to make small talk with anyone and I really, really didn’t want to have to smile and pretend to be brave. I was feeling the opposite of brave and wanted to sit in a corner, close my eyes and visualize my little Terrier healthy and happy again. I picked the Asian couple’s corner. Maybe they can’t speak English I thought hopefully as I approached them.

Almost as soon as I sat down the man smiled at me and said that my dog was going to be okay. I smiled back weakly and thanked him. He asked why my dog and I were there and I told him, then thought that it would be polite of me to ask them the same question.

I found out that they were there because the woman accidentally stepped on their hamster. She was cooking in the kitchen and the hamster snuck up behind her and, well, you can imagine the rest.. The couple were very distraught but also incredibly proud of their hamster and showed me a number of photos and videos of her. I asked what her name was and the woman said “Lala”, followed by the man saying “I call her Baby”. I smiled. Those are both wonderful names I told them.

A few minutes later the vet came out to say that Lola will be ok but that Lola is a boy. The shocked look on the couples faces was priceless. Both of their mouths fell open at almost the same time. The vet then explained that Lola has balls. The woman looked confused for a second but then responded that she had always thought they were breasts.

I couldn’t have asked for a better or cuter distraction than this sweet, quirky couple and I was also very happy that Lola (not Lala) was going to be just fine.

Nicky, after a couple of days on IV at the animal hospital, is also on the mend from an attack of acute pancreatitis. After a lot of tears and fears, I couldn’t be more grateful.

So, the moral of this story? Sometimes we take the good, smooth times in life for granted and this night reminded me to never do that again. It reminded me to be grateful for every day I have on this beautiful/painful/amazing adventure called life. It also reminded me to never take for granted my little fur baby, and all of the wonderful people I have in my life, making every day so much better than it would be without them.

So this holiday will be frugal, after my $1,800 vet bill, but it will also be filled with amazing friends and lots of love. And that’s the most important thing.

And, on that note, I’m wishing everyone a happy, relaxing and beautiful holiday filled with the real spirit of Christmas. Make sure you give the ones you love a big, bear hug tonight and let them know how much they mean to you. That’s a sure-fire way to guarantee that your Christmas will be amazing.

santa dog