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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some more Journaling Prompts.....

I've been on and off dabbling with this 30 Day Digital Journaling Prompts - where you receive a daily journaling prompt and instead of writing by hand, use the computer to do so.  I have to say, i love writing by hand, there is nothing like it.  This has been an interesting experiment and I share with you a couple of my favorite Journaling Prompts that I have used.

Journal Prompt by Jackee Holder which is taken from a line in a film called The Magic of Belle Isle that says " Look out there and tell me what's not there...and then write about it."  Here is my response:

I see colors, I see trees, I see fall foliage when I look out there, but what I don’t see is the maker behind this.  The maker, the creator who’s hand is unseen in all our doings –what form are you? Where are you?  I don’t see you, but I feel like I know.  I don’t hear you, but I feel like I hear you.  Your presence carries itself in an invisible aura and I wonder will I ever get a glimpse of you.  What I don’t see is the invisible helpers that pave our ways to make our path easier.   Out of nowhere, a prayer will be answered, out of nowhere, a phone call, out of nowhere a beautiful letter, and underneath it all I don’t see you who make it happen.  I do see the imprint of your work in my heart. I do see the messages you send to me through the universe.  I do see the beauty behind your work.  But what I don’t see is how you get it all done.  Sometimes you know what I want even if I don’t say it.  What’s not there is the physical presence which we need sometimes to make sense of things.  But then that’s the beauty in this, isn’t it – the beauty is being able to see make the invisible visible and you do that through your work.

Journal Prompt by Mari L. McCarthy, author of " 136 Free Journal Prompts." 
Find your favorite FOUR LETTER F word - something postive - i know where our heads go with this:)  Type that word up after you've dated your entry, then listen and write whatever your journal has to say:

My response:  FEEL.

Feel
Feel the sun on your back. Feel every emotion in your body and breathe it out.  Feel the desire to fly.  Feel everything because to not feel denies yourself the emotions that are stored in your body.  We store everything and we are not aware of how much accumulates in us.   We store our feelings of love- they spread everywhere –to our heart and when our heart feels good, we begin to feel good about ourselves.   Feel the anger and let it be processed.  Feel it, breathe it out and exhale.  Feel the anxiety, breathe it, and let it out with a big HA.   Feel what you need to feel because when you don’t you become numb.  You begin to freeze.  Your feelings are the mirror to your state of mind and when you begin to be aware of your feelings you begin to be free.   When you store your feelings and put them away you make room for more storage.  Feel what you need to feel and let it all go.  It is only a feeling – does it belong to you – no, it doesn’t.   It comes from you, but it does not need to stay in you – it needs  to leave you. 

Enjoy and play around with them...

Happy Journaling!

The Now....

There is a beautiful children's book called Milton's Secret by Ekhart Tolle.  Milton is a young 11 year old boy who is a happy child.  He lives with his parents, has a cat, and loves to play outside in recess.   But soon, things start to change for Milton - a boy Carter in his class begins to bully him.   Milton's mood begins to change.  He becomes withdrawn, now all of a sudden does not seem to keen on going to school-that is until his grandfather visits him and notices the changes in him.   Milton slowly opens up to his grandfather about what is occcuring in school - and his grandfather's response is - "Be in the Now."  Milton as you can imagine is extremely confused - "THE NOW?" what does that mean - and then the grandfather begins to explain to him - as best as he can - being in the now means not worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow or what is going to happen while on the way to school - but more so being in the now means just living in the moment.   Milton is still confused - as so many of us may be - until he has a dream.   The dream he has is of him being chased by a dog and some boys and he ends up inside an icecream store.   And he sees a woman who shows him the inside of the NOW - The inside of the now is very simple - learning to feel good about yourself - and figuring out what it takes to get you to feel good about yourself.   In this book, the inside of the now is Milton imagining himself to be filled with light - and if the light makes him feel good, then that's what he will do to keep himself in the now.  There is another key point in here - that about the bully - that he is sad, he is angry at himself, he is upset at something and so he takes out his feelings of anger, etc on someone else to make himself feel good about himself.

Milton's Secret has been made into a movie and I would strongly recommend this book to those in the school system and educators who are working on violence and anti-bullying measures. 
I bring this up because recently, my son started complaining of headaches - and very unlike him not wanting to go to school.  His words to me were " I Love school, and I want to learn, but I don't want people bothering me."   For me, this was an indication that he was building up tension  in himself.  Very unlike a child who is typically very verbal.  But just like in the story, the grandfather began asking Milton questions, we began doing the same thing.   I started asking, and he started talking.   The headaches since the time he has talked have subsided, but something else happened - he began focusing in the NOW.   The NOW for him is not worrying about what is going to happen when he goes on the playground, The NOW for him, is not thinking about the words he has to use to defend himself, The NOW for him means that while he is in class, he is going to enjoy class, and while he is in line, he is going to be in line and when he wanted to feel good about himself, he knew he could turn on that inner light in him to begin to feel good about himself.   We read this book together, and something in him clicked - he said he was going to try to focus on the NOW.   Is his story the same exact as Milton's? No it isn't.   Is it the same type of severity? No it isn't.  The issue is not about how mild or severe it is, the issue is about the effect this can have on someone if they do not have an outlet to talk about things - from both ends. 

At some point or the other each of us have been subjected to a similar type of situation - and we either internalize it just like Milton started doing or we begin to externalize it like the "bully" in the story.   What I liked about the book, is that it showed compassion - and learning to understand where the bully was coming from. So while it is not okay put up with their actions, it is okay to try and understand why the other person is hurting.   And it began to make sense for my son - he began to realize that we are not all bad - and if someone does bad things, it doesn't make them bad, but more so that maybe they need help or something has happened to them to make them do bad things.  

I share this personally for those that may be struggling with this either at home or in school or even in the workplace.  Just as I told my son, we always have a choice - we always have a choice to act or not act, to respond or not respond, we always have a choice to take what someone does to us personally or not personally - and if we begin to realize that, together we can create more healing communities and environment.    Below is the link:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/milton-s-secret-the-movie-from-the-book-by-eckhart-tolle

Journal Prompt:   If you have difficulty expressing what you are feeling, draw it out.   Drawing helps get the emotions out especially when the words are stuck somewhere.  Draw out the scenario that keep replaying in your head, Draw out the pain if that's what it is and describe what it feels like, Draw out the person hurting you.   Now once you have finished drawing, write for five minutes.   If you are doing this with a child, then just let them draw or sketch.   But have them do it more than once.   One more idea, sketch or draw what THE NOW looks like to you. 

Happy Journaling!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cleaning out....


In a couple of days, six days to be exact, I will be celebrating my Hindu New Year called Diwali.   Those of you who follow my blog have read prior posts on Diwali and it being significant about celebrating the inner light within us.  It is a New Year filled with light and celebrating light.  We make way for the new by getting rid of the old.  Today, I write not about the significance of this tradition, but more so a particular ritual that has been passed down from centuries that is associated with this festival.   A month or so before the holiday arrives; homes begin preparing through the process of what we call “Diwali Safai,” or Diwali Cleaning.   There is a story about Lord Ram, the King of Ayodhya who was banished in exile for 14 years and after 14 years, the kingdom is preparing for his return to his city.  They prepare by cleaning their homes, their streets, their shops, and adorning it by making it look beautiful and filling the streets with lamps and lights.   So we too begin this process of cleaning – I have to say that growing up as a child, this is the one thing that has stuck with me no matter how much I try to let go of it – I clean – the draws, go through my old stuff, windows, whatever it is that I normally don’t get to clean on a regular basis, we spend time cleaning.   There is an inner significance with the cleaning – we are getting rid of the clutter.  Clutter in our heads, clutter in our minds, hearts and clutter in our homes.  By taking a physical stock/inventory of getting rid of things that we do not need anymore, we are involving ourselves in a symbolic process of letting go.   On a metaphoric level, to let go can take a lifetime – whatever it is we need to let go of – so this actual ritual of beginning with our material possessions is actually quite practical, because we are beginning with baby steps – we begin with our practical stuff – the stuff that we collect.  And think of how much we collect. 

It is very difficult to let go of things – things that we may accumulate because of memories, because of sentiment, because of habit – the same way it is very difficult to let go of situations, control, people and issues.  These go hand in hand.   When we let go of our material things, we begin the process of purification – we begin the process of being okay with having less and it makes it easier to deal with the clutter in our mind, in our hearts.  

I look forward to this ritual every year because it really is time to take stock of what I need, what I don’t need, what my habits are, and how to move forward.   There is something about space – empty space – it is freeing.  The energy is clear.  Think of going into a room that is overcrowded with stuff – what does your body feel like, do you feel stifled, do you feel overwhelmed, do you not know where to start.  That on many levels is an indication of our minds – the state of our minds – where we feel overwhelmed and need to fill that void so by accumulating things and collecting things we fill that void.   I have personally seen the difference when I clear an area of my house – the energy feels different, the space feels lighter, I feel lighter.   Because I have experienced it, and I like how I feel, it is something I want to continue to do.  I want to be free of clutter.  I want to simplify.   I want to have more of an inviting space in my home.   I want to have more an emptiness in my mind and be free of clutter in my head.  

And so I have over the years made this not an annual event but according to season.  Every season,  I begin the ritual of going through the clutter- of cleaning – of making space for newness and getting rid of the old.  I do this with my son – help him look at his stuff that he collects so as he gets older, the purchases he makes for himself are based on need not greed .  The rule is if you want something new, you have to clear out the old and make room for the new.   Go through your books –why do you need all these books? Go through your clothes – what do you actually wear? Go through your toys – what is really important to you?  And by doing that we begin to learn to live simply.   I realized that this year my cleaning for Diwali was not that overwhelming because I have been doing this on a continuous basis –I did not leave it all for one year to look at –through the act of breaking it into seasons – I am in doing an internal check in within myself to clear out the clutter.  To clear out the clutter – emotional, physical, mental, whatever it may be so that I can be emptied totally and be present.   And to take it back to this festival – to be present means to celebrate this holiday with all the qualities it symbolizes – love, beauty, happiness, forgiveness, truth, and prosperity.   Because in the end, it is these qualities that we are seeking to fill ourselves with - rather than the possessions.  

There are some great prompts to help with decluttering:

I make room for ____________________________

I wish to create a space that _________________________

I let go of ________________________________________

Happy Journaling!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Show up!

"Show up, Show Up, and after a while, the muse shows up too. - a quote by Isabelle Allende.
I love this quote.   When I read it, what I get from it is that no matter what I am doing - if I stick to it, eventually I will see results.   It means to me having patience with myself -because there will be setbacks, there will be no shows, there will be obstacles to overcome - sometimes the muse is just not ready until it has seen me stick to it and still not give up on the goal.  Whatever it may be - a goal, a project, a hobby, a passion, a friend, a family member - the key is to keep showing up for yourself.   What does that mean?  I show up because I care.  I show up because by showing up, i am giving myself permission to do more of what I love.  I show up because it means making a commitment to me, to the issue, to whatever it is that i must show up to.   I show up because it is worth the investment. 
It is similar to a child who may understand when you are not able to make it to a  performance, or to an event that means something to him/her, but when you do show up, their eyes light up -and it means the world to them.  So it is a matter of presence and what your presence means to them.  That same presence is equally important for you - you need to create presence for yourself.  By making way for my presence, I create space and permission to be the muse even if it is for five minutes. 
I talk about showing up because showing up means taking risks with yourself - even if you fall, you still are there being present, taking a stand and doing something that is important for you.  
We all need to find that something we want to show up to - we may not know what it is, but it is important to explore what it is.  We all need to find that inner spark that wants us to show up again and again - and when we find it, we don't want to turn back.  We have tasted it, -like nectar it is sweet, tasty, and sumptous.  It has invaded our system and it is in us as much as around us.  And once we have had a glimpse of it, we want to continue to go back to that again and again.  And by doing that, we become closer to who we are.   And we know our path may be extremely rocky, we know that we have no clue where it will take us, but because we know with our gut that this is what we want, we continue to follow it, until it finally comes to us.  It may take ages before that happens, but we must never lose sight of that vision.  
So today, take a moment to ask yourself -what do I need to show up to in my life?  Where is the muse that I am looking for? Am I showing up for me?   Write about it. 
Begin with:  Where am I at this juncture of my life?

Happy Journaling!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Poetry and our words...

I love poetry - and often will dabble - below are some that have been special to me.   The first is about The Banyan Tree on my recent travel to India.  I have never seen trees this beautiful and with such presence.   The second is based on a poem by William Stafford called Ask Me.  I took one line from the poem and began writing.  Poetry works well with the senses and can sometimes tap places in you that bring out the creative side and healing side. 


Under the Banyan Tree
I take shelter under this tree
Thou that sheltered us for over a hundred years
Your branches are like swings ready to sweep us into the air
We feel the cool breeze of the wind with your branches
We fly high into the sky with your branches
And then we rest on your roots, your base.
We feel the strength of your being as we lay our head against the trunk of your tree
Ready to take us in and envelop us with your grace
Ready to take us with your magnificence which only you can comprehend
We all flock to you - children, pilgrims, elderly, sick, the birds you name it.
Your giving has no bounds - in your leaves there is healing
Thousands of traditions look to you for healing
And yet I wonder how do you stand strong and tall for 100 years?
In your age, you carry beauty, you carry wisdom.
And in each of you there is a story.
We know not what it is, but as I approach you, your mere presence exudes peace.
Peace in Knowing that this too shall pass and we will still be here, and we will be okay. 
Just like You. 

The Difference
Ask me what difference their stongest love or hate has made.
Ask me if their love was greater than their hate.
Ask me if I want to hate as much as I want to love.
Ask me if the hurt pushes me to want to give of myself more.
Is it joy of being able to see myself in your eyes?  In your worlds?
That gets me to see beyond the eye.
Ask me and I shall say to give of yourself to all.
There is wisdom in hurt.
They teach you to grow.
They teach you to forgive
There is beauty in love.
Opposites and Contrasts.
Ask me again and again
And I shall ask you - What Difference has love or hurt made in your life?

Happy Journaling!
 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Truth

Mahatma Gandhi's birthday was on October 2nd.  He to me was the epitome of the essence of truth. 
Truth was his very breath and he refused to part from the way of Truth.   His words were - speak gently if you must to speak the truth so as not to hurt the other person.  He believed that truth equated harmony in thought, word and deed.  And he believed that his life was his message.   What doesit  mean? It means that he believed in simple living, universal love, and discipline.  A quote that I love is " In a gentle way you can shake the world."  
The concept of living a life of truth is something that I aspire to but something very difficult to do at every step of the way.  Truth is simply being able to be honest about what you perceive and feel in relation to what you are experiencing -that is my definition.   So your truth may be different than my truth - but it is still truth in our definition.   Simply stating the truth is about living, speaking and feeling the same thing - not having a conflict between thought, word and deed.  So for example if you see something that occured and you do know it is wrong and you are asked to describe it - you will describe it the way you saw it but without conflict.  The conflict stems from feeling like you are betraying what you think the truth to be.   The conflict comes when you begin to analyze, dissect and begin to question as to how the other person is going to respond to your truth.  The conflict comes up when you feel that you may be hurting someone else with your word.  But your words can also be done with gentleness and with a purpose - and that purpose is not to hurt the other person.  If the intention is to not hurt, then our words will not hurt.  Intention is key and that is how the truth prevails.  
It is also important to understand that when asked to speak the truth, we must be prepared for consequences - there will be those that oppose us, there will be those that feel betrayed, there will be those that misunderstand us, there will be those that feel supported, but in the end, we must say what we have to say with love. When I think of Gandhi's life - and the numerous situations he was put in - he had opponents from all different ends.  He had to stand up and say things that he knew in the process would cost him friendships, would create a rift, but he did not flinch.  His belief in the Higher Power gave him the endurance to withstand it and rise above it.  Can we all be like that?  I don't have the answer, but I do look to him as an example especially when put in situations when we are forced to speak something that is the truth.  There was a movie, a couple of years ago with the actor Jack Nicholson, in which he clearly states, "YOU CAN"T HANDLE THE TRUTH."  Sometimes we can't handle the truth especially if it ends up being a reflection of ourselves and our actions.   Yet, if we are a truth aspirant, we must be prepared to walk that path.  

Journal Prompt: Think about a situation you have been in where you are forced to say something that will potentially hurt another person but because of your integrity, you cannot lie.  Write about what you would say? Write a letter to the person.  Write a letter to yourself about the situation. 

Happy Journaling!