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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Change...



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Change - When Change occurs how do we respond to it? What is our natural inclination? To resist or to welcome it and try to process and cope with the changes.  Change often means letting go of the familiar, letting go of the old, letting go of perhaps rituals, at times change affects our livelihood and our lifestyle.   It is not easy to let go of something that one is used to, it is not easy to let go of something that you claim as your "own," and therefore for so many of us change can create such mixed emotions and often hasty and impuslive decisions. 

Think about the emotions that run through you
when change hits you.   Do you begin to feel butterflies in your stomach? Do you begin to feel angry? Do you begin to wonder "why me." ? Do you feel anxiety? Take a look at the various emotions that we feel and begin to notice how that can impact your daily routine - does it affect your sleep? Does it affect your eating habits? Does it affect your mood? Begin to take note of the impact the emotions have on your day to day life.  

Let us do the reverse now.   Let's say we find out about a major change in our life.  It could be a company shutting down, it could be a promotion/demotion, it could be a break up, it could be a closing of a chapter in your life such as entering the work force, it could be an illness, or it could be beginning a new chapter in your life such as marriage, pregnancy, new job, etc.   All of those could either be viewed in the positive or negative.   But when we find out about the change, let us try to see what would happen if we begin to view the change as something that could actually be beneficial to us.   There is a wonderful quote  " When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."  That quote says it all.   If we choose to look at the change in a positive way or rather how we could either learn from it and grow from it, rather than regret and negative emotions, our process of adjusting to the change is easier.   This takes years and years of practice.  It does not happen overnight.  

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A couple of months ago, I was talking to a friend who was describing the organizational changes that were occuring in her company.   I saw how she had been impacted by it in terms of being traumatized by losing her position and the morale that accompanied her.   Every day in this day and age, corporate companies practice the rule of "lay offs" and it is sad  to see the panic, the phobia, the anxiety it creates in individuals who don't know where their future lies - it is at the mercy of someone elses' hands and I admit - it is a horrible environment to live in , yet at the same time, we as individuals have a right to not let anyone have that much control over our emotions and our perspective.  

So processing change and dealing with change is about really understanding what the change is.  
I attended an online course on Journaling and change - and the author Ms. Franscisco, ( http://www.leiafrancisco.com/) says that in order to cope with change - we need to be able to "Name that change."  So what is the change that we are undergoing? If we can name, it, we can begin to learn to cope with it.   So for those that are experiencing change in their lives - it is about identifying the change - Is is unemployment? Is it lifestyle? Is it health related? Identify it and how you are being affected by the change.  Make lists of ways in which you believe you have been affected by the change when you first name it.   Ask yourself - what steps do I need to manage this change? Is it more training? Is it more networking? Is it asking for more support? Then begin to identify your supports.  Who will be the person I can go to for support? Are there organizations I can reach out to for support.   Then it is also important to look at What I need to let go of ? What is it that I did in the old part of my life whether it is a job or a personal issue that will no longer serve me?  What do I need to push myself to do more of? Ask yourself these questions.  And make time to write it down. 

It is also about acknowledging the lossess you leave behind.  If you have been at a job for 25 years and you are let go- it is important to give yourself that time to grieve the loss, acknowledge the loss but not get stuck in it.  If you have been unemployed for a certain amount of time, it is important to take a look at what you must release from your past, and what you must take with you as you move forward.  It is very important to be specific about what you want to release.   If it is a break up with someone, it is important to acknowledge the loss, but look at the positives and the negatives of the relationship. 

We carry alot of unexpressed, residual anger about our losses - and losses happen more than once in our life.  If we haven't really taken the time to acknowledge the prior losses, it is literally a build up of our past.  So even though we may be dealing with a current change/loss, so many times, all our past emotions about our prior losses also come flooding in especially if we haven't processed it or let go of it.   Whether we realize it or not, we need to be mindful and honest with ourselves as to what we are releasing so when we start something new, we don't carry it with us.   Along with that, think about the positive things that you want to take with you as you move forward with change.   What are the positives about your old chapter, life that you still need to survive to move forward.  Don't be afraid to shine your strengths.    

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Make a Column - Weakness & Strengths and write down all that comes to your mind when you think of the two.   These can also include qualities and emotions.  It all doesn't have to be skills.  It can be people.  it can be faith based.  It could be expectations you have of yourself.  It could be your self image.  It could be your view how you think  your life should progress.   Acknowledge that there are some relationships that you still hold value.   What are your guiding principles, your values? 

As with any change - once you begin to Identify it, and acknowledge it, be aware that you are subject to a rollercoaster of many emotions.   I always like to look at change and compare it to Elizabeth Kubler Ross's 5 Stages of Grief. Denial, Anger, Barganing, Depression, Acceptance.   We need to be mindful and continously check in with ourselves as to what the emotions are that we are experiencing.  Sometimes we can get stuck in one of those for a very very long time and that is why checking in with ourselves is important.  A simple writing prompt such as " What am i Feeling right now?"  What do i need more clarity about.?
A great way to check in with your self that I read somewhere is  a Daily Word that you put on your calendar to describe how you are feeling every day.  It requires not much writing but is still a reminder of where you are right now.  

Changes have different parts to it - the ending of something, the in between period where you don't know where you stand and the beginning of something new.   It is important to be aware that sometimes even though we may be physically starting something new, our minds/our memories, may still be in the past.   An example - Lets say we are unemployed due to lay offs at companies - and we have been out of work for some time, but we are beginning a new job very soon - we get into it right away, we move right along, but along the way, we begin to feel a little restless.   In talking to someone we find that we are still holding on to our old job - something as simple as we still carry around our old business card from my prior job or something even deeper by purposely not going in the area where you want to go.  Something like this involves a ritual - a ritual of letting go - getting rid of the business card - trying to have lunch in the old area where you worked, or something that is meaningful to you.  
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Once you begin that process, you will see that you look forward to the new change.   I encourage you to write, even if it is listing goals, things that need to be learned, the strengths and techniques that has helped you. 

Write it down - write it all down - when you Write, you release - when you write you get more clarity.  If you are going through a change - take the time to do that for yourself.   And most of all I will say this repeatedly - sometimes things happen to us because there is a meaning behind it - the universe is trying to teach us something, the universe is trying to call out to us to answer its call and if we continue to ignore its callings, there will be more than one experience in different ways to wake us up.  

In Sum, Change initially may be viewed as a negative thing, but it doesn't have to be.  Therefore, if you are faced with it - embrace it rather than resist it.  And write about it.

Happy Journaling!


Friday, April 12, 2013

I recognize the Divine in you....


Spirit of Women logo

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a Women's Conference called Mind/Body/Spirit - The theme was "Awaken Your Mind, Nurture your body and release your spirit."   I don't get to attend too many of these conferences - one is because they charge an arm and a fortune for them, and two because of proximity and location.  But this one came to me as a gift and i mean that literally.  Plus I attended it with someone whom I admire and very close to - so it was truly a treasure.   

As women - regardless of where you come from culturally, there is a certain upbringing that you inculcate in the back of your head - others first - u last - I find that we are always giving - as mothers, as wives, as sisters - always giving of ourselves and you find that in the mythologies, you find that in stories, even in history.  As women, we often shy away from our voices to be heard - How many of us growing up heard the phrase - "don't say that...it's not proper" or don't speak up....it's not right.   By having our voices silenced, we forget to listen to our inner wisdom.   As women, we are automatically entrusted with the responsiblity of multi-tasking - and all to often we will take it on from a sub-conscious level to prove something to ourselves -that we can handle everything -
 or the reverse - because we don't have a choice in the matter.  So many of us have to multi-task because we don't have a choice -  we could be a single mom, we could be a daugther-in-law and have the whole entire family live with us - and are entreated with the responsibility of taking care of everyone - or we could be just the favorite daugther that everyone knows can handle it and we get all the responsiblity.  

Times have changed and we have come a long way - education is a priority for most women, women now hold positions in reputable companies and governmental positions, women's voices are being heard - but where are we emotionally - where are we spiritually- and where are we in the matters of taking care of ourselves - Have we become so hard that we often forget the feminine side of us? Our feminine side is not a bad thing if we learn to use it in the right way.   Think about images/words that come to your mind when you hear the word feminine side - are they positive? Are they negative? If so - how come- what/who did you see growing up that either made you enhance it or run away from it?

How many women do you know who will do everything but tend to themselves last - almost to the point that "oh it's not that important."  How difficult is it for us to really take a stand and make a commitment to doing something for ourself knowing that it may have several consequences.   It doesn't come easy - and it often takes certain lessons for us in life to finally say - enough is enough - it now about "me."   The conference to me was about that.   Regardless of what you say - you may hold the most important position in a company - but if you are a mother, if you are a wife, if you are a caretaker to your elderly parents, or if you come from a culture where u still need to fulfill your obligations as a woman - it is very difficult to find time for yourself.   I'm a firm believer of self-care - I truly believe that you cannot care for others if you don't honor yourself first.  I also think that if we are born a woman, it is a gift and we need to learn to utilize that gift wisely.

There was a phrase - that I absolutely loved - it said "Recognize the divinity within you." We all have that divine spark in us.  And when that divine spark gets lost, we become rusty, we forget to shine and we become angry, resentful, anxious and restless.   Being a woman is about reclaiming that divine spark in us and honoring that because we have so much to give and get.   One of my favorite aunts always used to tell me -
" Never ever believe that there is no divine plan for you - each and every one of you has come with a divine purpose - and you may not know it now, but if you focus on that question, the plan will come.  It will manifest before you and will be able to manifest your purpose."  As women, we need to honor that plan- yes we are mothers, we are lovers, we are daughters, we are sisters, we are friends - but think of our collective spiritual sacred power that we can hold together and think of how powerful that can be if we allow it to manifest.  And this starts with our relationships.   Honoring the relationships we have and not allowing ourselves to get lost in it - Keep in mind if a relationship does not work out - don't take it personally - learn from it and grow with it so that the next one that comes - u can let your full light shine....

wisdom-woman-dancing
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I've worked in all women organizations and I am sad to say that often those are the worse places to work because of the jealousy, because of the competition, because of the need for our voices to be heard and even though they may be working for a common cause - internally they are a mess.  As a result i stayed away from that because to me, it denied me the potential to reach that divnity in me.   We have the gift of inuition, the gift of sensuality, the gift of wisdom, the gift of endurance, the gift of nurturing and the gift of words.  We are also born with a power that we often fail to see in ourselves.   Why shy away from it when it is essentially ours? Why make ourselves invisible when we are born to shine? It reminds me of the quote by Marianne Williamson -

"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. Your 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 is one of my favorite quotes and it reminds us of who we essentially are. I really believe that if we are open to new things, they come our way, but we need to be aware of them otherwise it will slip by us and keep us in the dark.   Yesterday going to the conference yet again was another gift for me to remind me of my existence - of my purpose and my plan in life.   Sometimes things come our way to remind us of that.   We need to be open to what is out there, we need to keep our ears and eyes open so that we can accept the gifts that are part of us.

I did a journaling exercise yesterday which I would like to share with you.  I had four sentences where I allowed myself to write freely for five  minutes.   If five minutes is too long for you, do it in one word or you can write for 3 minutes.   I would encourage you to read it out loud to yourself after you are done.   If you have someone close that you would like to partner with, I would set aside 5 minutes and write together.   And then take turns reading it out loud.   The sentences were as followed:

My purpose in this life is .....
If I look inside the gifts I find are....
I can use these gifts to...
What is holding me back is.....
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Happy Journaling!!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Money....


 



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I've been listening to The Happiness Project - by Gretchen Rubin (www.happiness-project.com) on my way to work and something about the last chapter that struck me was on the concept of money - and whether money can buy you happiness.   Can money buy you happiness? It depends on who you ask i think.  For some it can, whereas for those who are living satisfactory and more - will say that money doesn't buy your health which if compromised can lead to unhappiness.  This made me begin to think about our relationship with money which usually starts at a very young age.  We watch our parents as they talk about money, we observe their spending habits, we observe the way they teach or not teach us about the value of money.  I think about this because having a child, i need to be very conscious of what i say to him about money - do i want him growing up knowing that yes it is a necessity to survive - to make a means - but is it by far the most valuable thing in life - the most concrete example is someone who has a terminal illness or someone's health who is compromised and they can't work, they are limited physically because of the medical piece and as a result begin to experience symptoms of depression, restlessness, anger, frustration - now i ask you can that buy happiness - no it can't.  But without money - we can't get the medical care we need - or we can't seek the treatment we need to or we can't afford to pay for insurance.  This is just one example of the link between money and happiness.  

So as children, we grow up either seeing our parents struggling or we see them living comfortably and accordingly we develop the attitudes/relationships/beliefs and feelings towards money.   If we grow up watching our parents struggle - complain because they feel they never have enough or literally are struggling to pay ends means - subconsciously our relationship with money is an unhealthy one - we may become as adults more prone to reckless spending or more prone to prudent saving - but the way we view money is what drives our relationship with it - so for example - if we are prone to saving - there will always be that subconscious fear that we will never have enough if we don't keep aside to saving - and at times we lose out on utilizing our resources for things that are important to us - such as a good vacation or taking a good course or making a smart purchase.  If we are prone to reckless spending - we may find reasons to justify our expenses - but also that too drives our behavior.   We may justify the expense because we may say - that we never got it as a child, so now i want to live my life the way i can - and not worry about tomorrow.  

Our relationship with money is in many ways a reflection of our relationship with ourselves -do we care for our selves enough -are our actions driven by fear - are our thoughts anxiety driven - are our decisions hasty? And on a spiritual level the spirit of abundance  - do we believe that we are entitled to abundance? What is your definition of abundance - yes hardships will come and go and we will all experience some financial crisis in our lives at some point - but the point is to learn from that experience so as not to repeat it again - what sacrifices are we willing to make to get to where we want to be? and how do we shift our perception about sacrifices - that a sacrifice is not a punishment but a choice that we are making to live a certain way. 

It wasn't till a couple of years ago where i finally began understanding the idea of abundance - and that I am entitled to abundance if i truly believe that it is mine - But to get to that step takes time - And many lessons -
We work to make money - but we also work to create an identity, to feel like we are doing something more than just creating an income.  When I had my son , i made a choice to work close to home so that i wouldn't have a commute - i took a pay cut, i made sacrifices so that i would be able to have a 10 minute commute rather than a 45 minute commute - those were the worse three years of my life because the work i was doing was not fulfilling - it wasn't what i wanted to do.  A wise person said to me once - love your duty - i wasn't loving my duty and i began to recognize that and i was ready for a shift and a sacrifice - a sacrifice that i would be away from my son which was a difficult choice to make but i would be happier working in a different environment - the universe heard me and i changed jobs soon thereafter.   My point - that like many we often are stuck in situations that we feel we have no way out financially - that we need to be in that situation - because it pays the bills and because we need a job - yes all that is true - but when it begins to affect your soul and like i heard someone say the other "when you begin to feel like throwing up when you enter your workplace", then you know it is time for a change.   Today, i work in a place that is very "me" on many levels....but there are some choices i have made - my commute is so much longer, i have limited time with my son - and sometimes the guilt of a mother rests with me - yet i know i made the right choice because i am happier - is it the money - no - it is the choices - the money is the means to survive.

I urge you to look at your relationship with money - I did a writing piece the other day on that - Money to me means and let myself flow ----Insights come out....The other thing I would ask you to do is look at what is important in your life right now - keep in mind it changes - is it saving - it is a vacation - is it a new house - make a list for yourself in order - see what is the most important  - now what steps do you need to take to get there -
I will give you an example - I love to travel - and sometimes i feel like i don't have enough money to do so - because other expenses always come up - but doing that list helped me because it made me look at things in perspective - what is important to me -and steps i need to take to get there.   travel wasn't at the top of my list and for me that was insightful.   Lists are important and see the lists on paper gives clarity.  That too is a form of journaling.  

Happy Journaling......