Diving is Fearless!

My new fascination that has developed here in Oslo is watching people dive into the water. Generally this is not completed off a proper diving board, but makeshift ones. What I love about this city, is that the majority of people choose to dive into the water versus take the ladder. They want the shock and feeling of going for it versus the timid inching in the steps offer.

I heard one American say to another “you are now part Viking!” after he dived into the water. He shivered saying, “right now I’m Floridian, because this water is cold.” He joked about this but seemed happy to have taken the leap to the unknown cold Nordic waters.

The act of diving into the water is so bold. There seems to be an inverse relationship with bravery and age.  It seems to come easier with decreased age.  Teenagers are at the peak of it, as they show off their skills jumping in. We’re compelled to watch them.  There’s no fear when a child is about to dive into the water, there’s just joy.

I don’t know when I became fearful of diving. Perhaps it’s because I don’t actually know how to dive, just like I don’t know how to do a real push up. There’s a mental blockage that if I go head first into the water, I will hurt myself. And so I don’t do it.

This reminds me of a podcast I heard with Elizabeth Gilbert from On Being. She discussed how we are all born creative beings , but we forget this. We stop cultivating it, and make excuses as to why art should not be our way of life. Kids instinctively know they are creative , she says with Legos they know what to do with them. They don’t make excuses that they won’t make a masterpiece or shy away because their piece was fabulous last week and won’t be amazing again. They just do it. Why do we build up barriers of lack in life? With age comes fear of failure, and therefore fear of risk .

Before I jumped into the water today, I felt all eyes were on me.  In reality, nobody was watching.  I don’t think I actually know how to dive. It seems as if I missed the diving day lesson during my swimming classes. I know I couldn’t do it properly with my hands to form a dolphin like shape and fall into the water gracefully. But it was hot and I knew I just had to do it, so I jumped in twice ! The water was quite cold and I only stayed in for a minute . After I got out , my body felt like it was in shock. It was tingling with coolness, but also exhilaration in going for it.

I don’t know if diving will become my new thing, but I definitely will continue to awe in wonder . I could probably watch people dive all day…the joy, the fear, the pride, the dare, and the unique nature in the universality of this movement. It’s such a beautiful act to witness. I want to cheer these strangers on, especially those who spend extended minutes of apprehension staring at the drop. I want to scream “f*ck yes!” to the celebration of this moment, to life, and to conquering this dive.

I feel grateful to be a witness, and a participant. Sometimes I will join in, whether it’s proper or not. Who is to say what is the correct way to do it? If you are diving for the pleasure, relief of sweat , and to celebrate in the community of playfulness who cares ? Be a child again and jump!

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The Beauty in Norwegian Simplicity

In less than 24 hours, Oslo has captivated my heart. I somehow land on a surreal weekend, where the weather is 80 degrees, the sun is out, and people are joyous. I am travelling and oddly have no plans, except what I observed from watching a Travel With Rick Steves Norway episode online. As soon as I arrived at my hotel, I dropped my bags and tried to head straight to a Fjord cruise. Although it was sold out, I decide to meander towards this modern art museum: Astrup Fearnley Museet. Each corner I turned, I observed locals and tourists embracing the sun. They were eating in cafes outside, or sitting on built in benches looking out onto the water, grabbing ice cream cones, or bicycling around the city.

I made it to the museum shortly before it closed, but as I peered behind the building I was mesmerized. I saw a makeshift beach, it was exactly what I was looking for. Sun bathers stretched on towels after a careful dip into the pebbled cool waters that lined the city. Doggies shook themselves to dry off, after their child owners dragged them on leashes to be splashed. Selfies were taken by tourists who proved they got in the water (although they only dipped their toes). Stand up paddleboarders carefully passed by.

Even further behind the museum was an impromptu diving board. Teenagers showed off their cliff diving skills with somersaults into the sea. Crowds gathered and watched as they overcame their fears and exuded their bravery. As I observed all this, tears spontaneously came to my eyes. This is beauty. What we were all participating in did not cost any money. For a brief moment, everyone’s cares and stresses were diminished. We were embracing the sun, gathering by the water, surrounded by exterior art exhibits, and observing people show off their talents. I forgot how much I missed this, how much I missed summer. It was nostalgia, in a land I have never been to. It was this universal nostalgia that we all have, almost as Jung would say this universal unconscious we all briefly tapped into remembering.

There were other brief observations I made in these 24 hours while in Oslo that highlighted the beauty. Norway is more diverse than I had imagined it to be. I thought it would be full of tall blonde Caucasian Thor like Vikings. What I found is that the culture is highly ethnically varied. I spoke to a salesperson who physically shared the same Asian like features as me and seemed to have an American accent. When I asked her where she was from, she said Norway. I was shocked, she could have been me. I shouldn’t be surprised that numerous people have been attempting to speak Norwegian to me. I could be a local.

Another beautiful aspect is that art is everywhere. I haven’t had a chance to dip into the museums, but the city boasts an excessive amount of them. Yet, the art just doesn’t sit in four walled spaces. It is everywhere in the city. It’s also not just boring run of the mill art, it exudes sensuality, joy, suffering, and all the vicissitudes of life. Catch out this provocative piece that lined that the exterior of city hall:

These pieces all tell a story, you can’t help but be curious about. The city boasts the popular Scream painting by Edward Munch, but he wasn’t the only artist from here. Gustav Vigeland spent his life’s work beautifying the city. And it shows. A park shares over 200 of his sculptures, which is free for the public to enjoy. How can you not love a city that embraces art throughout everywhere you turn?

Art doesn’t just exist in the city, it exists on the people. So many people have tattoos here, which I find quite beautiful. Many of the tattoos aren’t tiny either, but massive on people’s backs, forearms, or legs. They wear their artist armor with pride. It shouldn’t be a surprise then since I have six myself, that people began to question my Norwegian residency.

All of the restaurants and cafes seemed to be lined with people reconnecting with their loved ones: close friends, family members, partners, and co-workers. The extended daylight and gorgeous weather lifted everyone’s spirits. Or maybe they were already lifted. In 2018, Norway was crowned the second happiest country in the world. Nordic countries to vacillate between the top spots. It must be in the genes or water.

These are my observations with only venturing into a tiny slice of Oslo. I have yet to take the fjord cruise, see the beautiful landscapes of land and sea the country has to offer, or to step foot into other aspects of the city. But I am already in love with the beauty, and the juxtaposition of city, nature, art, pedestrian and bicycle friendly, ethnically diverse tattoo driven people. I believe we all have the capacity to live this way, we simply just need to remember.

Congruency with Authentic Self

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
― Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Yesterday I had the honor of attending a workshop conducted by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, Big Magic, and various other books.  Her workshop focused on reconnecting with your creativity, authentic nature, and allowing oneself to permission to live the life you want. The workshop was amazing, including loads of reflective exercises, sharing, and laughter.  One point that was definitely highlighted though is to listen to one’s own curious heart.

Think about what attracts you and what repels you.  When we were young, this seemed to be instinctual.  Over the years, we lose touch with this gut instinct.  Elizabeth Gilbert discussed how her French bulldog Chewy automatically knows what dogs he likes and will express his interest with a wagging tail and playful behavior.  Chewy also knows from two blocks away who he despises.  She discussed looking at her dog with wonder, “How do you know you don’t like that Dalmatian you never met?”  He just does.  She encouraged us to start to retrain this muscle within ourselves.  Listen to what attracts us and what pushes us away.  Both pieces of information are vital clues of leading us to our authentic selves.

When we follow our intuitive scent it not only leads us to what we are passionate about, but also helps extract the unnecessary components from our lives.  A recent incident of when I took Barre Teacher Training arose in my mind.  I had such a strong negative reaction to the training. It wasn’t because it was a poorly designed, had rude people, or was a far distance away.  It was because it wasn’t me.  It didn’t fit who I am today, despite the expectations I had set in my head.  Spending my time and money, and being told I had to take a videotaped exam to get a certificate for the course caused more stress than necessary.  I let that go.

I am doing this with people now as well.

The older I get the more this becomes apparent when I interact with previous friends from ancient parts of my life.  I saw an old friend recently, who introduced me to her mate with an embarrassing story of mine and how she became the “hero” to this story.  Her introduction of me to others, starts with putting me down.  Her life fifteen years after our friendship began is still filled with chaos, dissatisfaction, and drugs. Although in some ways she is like family in that I don’t totally want to cut her out, being with her for one evening was plentiful.  I set an expiration date of hour time together in my head of three hours max.  I couldn’t handle anymore, and the reason it upset me was she is not aligned with who I am.  I don’t know if she ever really was.  Our friendship had fun and celebratory moments in the past, but if we met today, I’m not sure there would be any connection.

Also, I have a new-ish friend who I realize is only interested in me when my life is full of drama.  She oddly is not there for me when I am well, centered, and excited about life.  I shared with her my recent pleasant experiences, she glossed over this topic.  In the same conversation, she chose to gossip with wide eyes about her friend’s pending divorce from an abusive husband.   When our conversation drifted to include chatter of past traumatic boyfriend experiences, her interest was heightened.  Mine, on the other hand diminished. I am past that part of my life, I don’t want to live in that.  I want to live in the now.

With both of these friendship experiences, I realize they currently repel me.  Being around them creates this uncomfortable internal itch that I want to relieve.  It’s a strong immediate visceral reaction for not choosing to act in ways that are caring towards this authentic self.  As EIizabeth would say if I stayed friends with them I would not be “trustworthy when it comes to stewardship of my own life.”  I want to extract these women from my life, as they are not representative with who I am. I want to be true to myself.   Comparatively, it further exacerbates the desire for me to be with my closest friends who I rarely get to see anymore.  I am vowing they will be more present in my life.

As we were engaging in a writing exercise yesterday, Elizabeth said to the audience of 1,000 “I’m more interested in who you are becoming, than what was done to you.” This is who I want to surround my life around.  People who are caring for this current part of their lives, who we are creating and becoming versus the struggles that led us here.

I notice that friends and people may have been attracted to me because I am a psychololgist.  They want to share their pain, sorrows, drama, and trauma.  But I am more interested in who they are creating now versus their path of woes.

Like Elizabeth’s dog, can I know my gut instinct with who and what I like and who I despise?  Can I take action and follow this scent? Extract the extraneous variables, leaving only what brings joy to my life.

This lesson continues to arise in a variety of ways in my life lately.  Marie Kondo in the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up encourages us to only keep items in our closet that bring us current joy.  She touches each piece of clothing or tangible thing, and if it doesn’t spark joy, she says “thank you” for how it served her and puts it to the side to be disposed of.

Similarly, Derek Sivers has a philosophy of “Heck yes, or no!” when considering what activities he wants to be part of his life. If he is not 100% excited about something, he will negate the invitation.  He noticed so much of his life was filled with “meh” decisions, that when an amazing opportunity arose, there was no space.

And now Elizabeth Gilbert’s dog philosophy of following one’s instinctual scent is taking precedent.  There is a lesson the universe is encouraging me to learn.

We’ve added all this crap into our lives, and the older we get, it’s time to extract, extract, extract.  Leave only the components that bring you joy.  If you don’t know what this is, perhaps try to remember what brought joy in your youth or last week.  Much of the time, it’s the most simplistic activities…listening to music, dancing, nature, loved ones, and creating.

Maybe it’s time for all of us to engage in a spring cleaning.  Take stock in our lives of who and what is in them, and are they representative of our authentic nature?  If not, purge! Leave the empty space for what brings you joy.  Dance and celebrate in this.  You are uncovering the real you!  Let your authentic self be revealed.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
― Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Graduation Letter To My Younger Self

As graduation season nears, I can’t help but think of advice I would offer to a younger version of me.  This letter below is specified to the 25-year-old me who attained her doctorate, fourteen years ago.

Dear Tricia,

Today marks the pinnacle of your formal educational journey, but know that there will be many tomorrows where awakening will continue to be unveiled.  I wished someone would have offered me these words of advice then.  Here’s is what I know now.

Lesson 1: You will discover that your real education begins after graduation.  Wisdom involves unlearning and questioning all that you came to know from your family, school, and society.  Understand it’s okay to not know, as the poet Rilke encourages us to “live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Lesson 2: Sometimes doing nothing is more productive than all the to dos on your list.  As an overachiever, you have filled your life with degrees.  After this degree know you will, attain more certificates, continuing education credits, and ongoing workshops.  But there is beauty in slowing down and simply feeling the sun on your skin.  Cherish the days that are unplanned and filled with the beauty of nature.  They will restore you for the rest of your weeks.

Lesson 3:  When you attain everything you thought you wanted, you begin to realize what is really lacking in your life.  With hard work, the American dream is within your reach.  This includes your degree you receive today, the three car garage house, a six figure income, a steady relationship, car, world trips, and all the stuff you have filled your house with.  One thing you realize your life is missing is having a spiritual practice.  It is through feeling this emptiness, that your search for spiritual practice begins.

Lesson 4: Nothing lasts, learn to not get attached.  Relationships end, family members die, jobs disappear, the cities you will live in shift, your dreams change.  As the adage states, “change is the only constant.”  I know you are sentimental.  Practice the art of loosening your grip on others, while simultaneously holding the moment with awe and appreciation.

Lesson 5: Endings are not finalities, but simply mark the periods of time when your perspectives begin to shift.  With days like today, the attainment of your highest educational degree, you may feel this is the end of your path to becoming a psychologist. It simply is the end of this formal education time period.  You should not stop growing, and view endings as an abrupt period at the end of a sentence.  More will be revealed, if you glance to see what lies just beyond this sentence.

Lesson 6: Remain curious and interested with your life.  This could be with the simplest moments of your day, such as drinking a morning latte or the bigger questions you are reflecting on.  Be an active participant versus a passive bystander in your own life.

Lesson 7: Spend your money on experiences versus things.  Travel will fuel and facilitate growth to an exponential degree.   Take chances to see the world.  A friend once offered these words of advice.  There are three things you need to travel: money, time, and health.  You will never have all three, so when there are two available. Take advantage of this throughout your life.

Lesson 8: Begin each day with gratitude, intention, and serving others.  You are the writer of your own story, and you have the capacity each morning to choose how you want it to go.  There is power in this.  Learn to bring in what you want in your life, through appreciating the gifts you already have.  Focus on how you can be present with others.   This itself is a present for both of you.  Be intentional at the start of the day.  Louise Hay states, “How you start your day is how you live your day, how you live your day is how you live your life.”

Lesson 9: It’s not the big moments that create your life, but the daily acts of discipline.  This particular moment in your life does not define you, it’s the ongoing practice of how you choose to live your life.  The small steps you take each day build your character.  It may take time to figure out what methods suit you.   Allow the trials and errors to occur.  Although these acts will be part of your discipline, give them space to become fluid.  They will grow and morph as you do.

Lesson 10:  Honor and respect the creativity that resides in you.  Although it seems that society and your family regard your degree your attaining today as one of the highest accomplishments (and it is), know that there are so many other aspects that are necessary for your vitality and flourishment.  Keep creativity in your life.  Do not lose sight of this.  Don’t give up the dance classes, collages, journaling, concert attendances, cultivating music mix-tapes/playlists and wearing of quirky clothes. When these components are absent in your life, you become robotic.  For you to thrive, you must remain creative.  If it doesn’t exist in your work life, seek it out through other means. Perhaps at a later time, it may become more fundamental to your career than this doctorate.

Add a little Popcorn to your life

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”-Thomas Merton

Last week, I participated in Julia Cameron’s Artist Way Workshop. The book and workshop focuses on reconnecting you with the creative part of you within. Art isn’t reserved only for the Picasso’s, Michaelangelos, Banksys, and Beyonces. We are all artists. The fuel behind this is allowing space for the divine (higher power, universal energy, God, or whatever suits you ) to work through you. As the saying goes “Let go and Let God.”

As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, I began this journey with 10 years ago but never finished the 12 week program at home. I vow to start tomorrow at home on my own. (It’s one of my 40 things to do before I am 40).

The process includes readings, homework exercises, reflections , but two other vital features: artist dates and morning pages. An artist date is simply taking yourself on a date. It could be a movie, restaurant you want to try , buying fun quirky stuff at the £ store. Anything . So many times we wait for someone else to go with us, instead of following our hearts desire. Do it !

Morning pages are three handwritten freestyle journal like entries that you engage in first thing in the morning. You are trying to catch your unconscious. Through releasing the excess dust in our minds, it allows room for creativity to manifest.

All of these practices are great and I highly encourage everyone to try it. Numerous times I nudge my clients to partake in the program, particularly artist dates. But one aspect of the retreat I found enjoyable was not in the book. It is called “popcorn.”

During the workshop, after you work on reflecting on an exercise you have to process with a stranger. Numerous exercises, and each time a different stranger. After almost every interaction, you give “popcorn.” Popcorn takes the form of handwritten exchanges which include listing positive attributes about a person’s character, wishes for them, words of encouragement. They are quite touching and what is amazing is they are from strangers!

What’s so intriguing is these partnerings generally lasted from 10-20 minutes in groups of 2-4, and you share some deep hidden aspects about yourself even your partner may not know. Those in your group are witnesses to your revelation, and hand you a tangible gift to remember. It’s like souvenirs and bows for you to go or this creative self within.

These popcorn were so special, I swore I wanted to keep them. Initially I held them in an envelope from a recent birthday card. Instead I chose the perfect tin to place them in. The tin says “make your own magic.” It’s going to be placed somewhere special in my home .

Why don’t we do this more often? With the advent of the internet, social media, and texts, we share our kind words to others electronically. But there is something special when something is handwritten. It’s nostalgic and something you can tangibly cherish.

So if you fancy making someone’s day, think of giving them popcorn. Perhaps it’s for a co-worker, friend, yoga instructor, or partner. It will be valued, and maybe even replicated. Popcorn, just like acts of kindness, is addicting. It’s light, fun, and you can never have just one!

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.”-Salvador Dali

An Acquired Taste For Britney

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.-Friedrich Nietzsche

This past week, I decided to download some old school Britney Spears… Toxic, Boys, I’m a Slave for You. The more I listened to her music, I began to realize and appreciate the purpose the Britneys and other pop princesses share. The obvious reason is it’s pure fun. The beats are simplified and easy to dance to, you can’t help but sway your hips when the songs come on. I can recall times when friends wanted to start dancing in pubs and clubs and their go to artist was Britney.

But listening to some of her songs further, I noticed a theme. Confidence arises in her when she’s on the dance floor. It’s as if she takes on the alter ego persona as Britney the dance goddess which is different than how she may be in her everyday life.

Isn’t this alter ego something we all want to acquire? If pop music could easily serve as our super power to transform into a confident being, why don’t we all access this? You are a different person when you dance. The cathartic nature of dance sheds layers of weight of frustration, sadness, jealousy, anger, and disappointment. If you let yourself live into the music, one can access pure joy.

Dance previously was integral in my life. Although flamenco is here now, my life was filled with Bellydance, African, Hula, Tahitian, Salsa, Hip Hop, even Modern, in addition to dancing in the clubs. I couldn’t wait to release everything into those moments of movement. And once I got the hang of the style of dance I was doing, I was able to add my own creative twist to it. Confidence, the power of my sensuality and femininity grew. But over the years, this has diminished. I have heard this from other friends in their 30’s or 40’s. we no longer go out just to dance, why do we think that dancing should only be reserved for 20 year olds? It’s here for all of us to share and embrace.

Perhaps this is why ecstatic dance gatherings are popping up. We dance to release, connect, let go, celebrate, express. Our bodies are expressing the our hearts’ intentions in one particular moment. And then another intention arises, it expresses that. We have creative freedom to move our bodies in endless ways, to numerous beats, and the potential to create sequences.

My list of 40 things to do before I am 40, incorporates several dance components. One is simply dance each day. Many people put off dancing, because they are waiting to go with friends to a club, or for a party to arise. They may also be waiting to be led in a dance class. But why wait? Can’t we harness the inner Britney in while making toast, coffee, or feeding the dogs? All we need is music and the freedom of our bodies. I have vowed to dance each day for at least one song. It’s been a week, and I’ve been keeping it up.

A friend had posted this below of a man doing chores as he dances. Why not? Perhaps you can dance in a secret room in your home. Don’t judge yourself. Nobody is watching. Just dance !

My Current Dance Playlist (yes it’s old school, and there are 3 Mouseketeers)

1. Boys- Britney Spears

2. Dirrty- Xtina Aguilera

3. Magalenha-Sergio Mendez

4. Shoop- Salt N Pepa

5. I Just Wanna Love You-Jay Z

6. Southern Hospitality-Ludacris

7. Turn Down For What-DJ Snake & Lil John

8. Where Have You Been-Rihanna

9. Like I love You-Justin Timberlake

10. Wanna Be Startin Somethin- Michael Jackson

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” ― Osho

I Saw The Sign

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.”-Julia Cameron

This weekend I am taking a course by Julia Cameron: The Artist Way. It’s based on her best selling book, a 12 week program on reconnecting with the lost creative side within. Loads of artists swear by it’s effectiveness in unlocking the mystery of creativity to include Alicia Keys, Elizabeth Gilbert, Russell Brand, and Florence (from Florence and the Machine) to name a few.

It was recommended by a friend over ten years ago, although I never have finished it in its entirety. I’ve used it numerous times with clients, offering the book as a gift for those whose creative spirit has been diminished.

It’s a two day course in London. Today we were given a 90 minute lunch, and were encouraged to take 20 minutes in silence to note our a-ha moments. I took my packaged lunch to Regent Park and planned to reflect.

This came easily. The day was surprisingly gorgeous, and I did not look anything up on my cellphone. One thing I vowed to do once a week for this year is to limit technology one day per week. This is part of my project of doing 40 things I am afraid of this year. It’s a weekly tech fast to include no social media, emails, phone calls, and texting only for emergencies. Today happens to be the day I do this.

What a-ha moments that arose were “signs.” I began seeing signs everywhere: the shirts people wore, signs on the street, parts of conversation I overheard.

The signs included the following tee shirts:

Create your own future

Stage coach

Stay positive

Roll with it

Authentic

Love

I then found a hotel key which I picked up and savoured:

As I walked back to the venue , I saw this sign.

It seemed blatantly obvious that the world was talking and I needed to listen. A-ha moments exist everywhere, if I provide silence to catch the whispers.

In my youth, I used to always search for signs as a means to find the answers to questions I was not sure about. I set an intentional wonderment into the ether, and the universe would respond by giving me signs. Over the years, I lost touch with this. Perhaps I became too busy in my everyday mind, which constantly chatters. Another likely cause is smartphones. I am highly guilty of distracting my free moments with checking emails , texts, and social media. It’s as if I do not allow my life to have space to simply be in the world. I must constantly be entertained , or inputting new information in my head.

But now that I am removing this temporarily from my life, I have space to see what the world may be guiding me to see. I can lean towards my intuitive side which is longing to be recognised.

It’s something I realise I did not even miss, until it reappeared today. If I pay attention, I can note the subtle ways I am being nudged to an answer. I am excited to see what tomorrow has in store.

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