Easter Egg Hunt

In the UK, Easter time generally equates with a full on four day weekend. In America, it appears that simply we send children on a hunt to find hidden eggs filled with either money, candy, or a combo for both.  Some people can finally indulge in whatever was given up for lent.  This may be meat, chocolate, alcohol, cursing, or whatever vice was in your life in March.  The forty days are over.  Rejoice! Perhaps some people go to church or have a nice brunch, but is our personal spirituality explored at all?

I wanted to offer you an Easter Egg Hunt. The search is for you to take the opportunity to allow the divine to unfold within you.  For you to discover the divine exists within.  This is the real treat, that is more satisfying than chocolate.

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For your Easter Egg Treats, I am offering you the gift of two forms of media that can assist with the hunt.  The first is a youtube clip with Tosha Silver, entitled Dying to Love.  Tosha is an astrologer, author, and spiritual teacher, and although was raised Jewish, she describes being polyamorous when it comes to her spirituality.  She takes knowledge and stories from various religions, and interweaves them in her own life.  In this piece, she shares the story of Jesus and the metaphor of how we can utilize this in our own lives.  It is our egos that must die to be resurrected to the higher self that exists within.  When we offer our deepest desires to the Divine, we are letting go of our attachments to results to allow the higher order to prevail.  I have listened to this youtube clip repeatedly the past couple of weeks. Going through difficult times, when we give it all up to a larger power, we can let go and know that what is for our highest good will prevail.

The other egg I am sharing is a podcast I listened to yesterday.  And then I listened to automatically again. It is from Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith.  He explores the spiritual journey in four steps.  It’s completing amazing and transformative.  I couldn’t not help but share this. Below is a quote from this piece.

So as you have your Easter roast and eat that chocolate Cadbury egg, take time out to deepen your hunt for something richer.  Happy Easter.

“The spirit trusted you so much that it placed all of it’s power, all of it’s intelligence, all of it’s love, all of it’s beauty.  It placed everything within you.  The presence is everywhere.  It is fullness and it is places within you.  That in this presence may come into it as you own life. You will wake up with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving for the existence itself and your existence. Asking what can I share today, what can I give, how can I be more of myself?  How can I be a magnificent change agent, bringing heaven to earth every single day?  You ask that question to the universe and it will be answered.”  -Michael Bernard Beckwith

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeampDDtHIY&t=326s

https://podtail.com/en/podcast/oprah-s-supersoul-conversations/michael-bernard-beckwith-participate-in-your-unfol/

Finding a Fairy Drag-Mother

“Walking with your chest out and your head held high says you have earned the right to stomp and pummel this particular piece of real estate.”

― RuPaul

 Growing up and watching Disney’s Cinderella, I longed to have a fairy godmother to transform me. With the assistance of fairy godmothers, young lead females can morph from everyday frumps to gorgeous socialites. These women not only find their Prince Charming, but eventually find that their beauty, strength, or magic exists within and not from without.

In the annual British holiday pantomimes, one of the lead roles is generally played by a drag queen character. It doesn’t matter if the play is Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or Beauty and The Beast. A lead is in drag. These are performances meant to entertain the entire family. It’s not looked at as peculiar, or even trendy. It’s actually simply the norm. People rejoice and sing along to the beloved plays that are splashed with familiar pop songs.

Drag Queens are fascinating and engaging. They carry this sense power in their over the top personalities. There are no apologies for having out of this world alter egos. All is embraced. We have so much to learn from exploring this world. And so I slowly dipped into it.

This year, I have caved in and began watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix. Although, the show is currently in it’s 11thseason, I haven’t watched it until now. What lured me in is one of the top contestants was a friend from high school. He was actually a date to one of my high school dances. I saw her once in our 20s perform in Nina’s adopted hometown of Columbus Ohio, and ever since then I’ve been watching Nina West from my social media updates, and I can’t help but burst with pride in seeing an old classmate glam it up with Lady Gaga, Adele, or to be given a shout out by Sia. And now she’s on RuPaul.

As I watch Nina and her colleagues compete it out each week, I can’t help but be fascinated by their confidence. They strut their stuff down the runways, blurt out how fabulous they are, and are completely theatrical in their clothes, makeup, and facial expressions. I had taken burlesque classes this past year, and what we are trying to exemplify are basically drag queens…alter egos, confident walks, free style dance moves, intoxicating gazes, creative and unique costumes. There’s one more similarity between these types of shows. The most beautiful part about going to both drag and burlesque shows is the supportive audience.

It takes vulnerability and courage to express yourself (even if it is your alter ego) on stage. All forms of beauty are appreciated. We want those onstage to succeed. Live it up for us. The bigger your confidence, the more intoxicating the performance. Watching a powerful queen on stage, acts as fairy dust for the audience. The show reminds us that we too have this fierce power and unencumbered beauty within. If they can access it, so can we.

I know I’m not the only one to make this claim. This year’s film Dumplin featured the lead character, Willowdean, as a slightly overweight, self-deflating high schooler whose mother was beauty pageant queen Jennifer Anniston. Willowdean learned to find power and strength from two particular aspects: Dolly Parton and Dolly Parton drag queens. They physically showed her to exude femininity, presence, and power through mentoring her during the film.

As I continue to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race season and root for Nina West, I am realizing perhaps the fairy drag-mother is not a fictional concept. She may actually exist. Through watching her perform, I know that the magic bottle of confidence, beauty, sass, and strength is available from within.

“If You Can’t Love Yourself How In The Hell Are You Gonna Love Somebody Else?”-RuPaul

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The Frida Archetype

“I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.”-Frida Kahlo

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Throughout the past several years the world has seen an increase of Frida Kahlo paraphernalia. This has been more than the Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, or Marilyn Monroe images that you see in the stores or on people’s walls.  Why is this?

Frida has shifted from being an ordinary person to becoming an archetype.  Her image stands for individuality, strength in diversity and color, beauty in authenticity, acceptance, power, and all encompassing woman-hood.  In addition to the touring exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s clothing, artwork, photography and belongings that has travelled from Mexico City to London and New York, there are works of art being created about her.  While in South Florida last week, an opera entitled Frida was being shown at the Broward Center of the Performing Arts.  In London, the English National Ballet is offering a piece entitled She Persisted, based on Frida.

Frida is famous for saying that she is her own muse, but over time she has become muses for numerous others.  Clothing, pillow cases, canvas bags, ballet pieces, opera, and in our own homes and offices.  I recently went into a medical staff member’s office on a military base.  This active duty member’s wall was lined with a Frida Kahlo fabric over her window.  Kahlo is contagious and is everywhere.

The image of Frida means something to us.  We find we can harness our own power by observing how she conquered adversity in her life.  Throughout the tragedies that befell upon her such as miscarriages, infidelity, and numerous physical horrendous medical ailments, she prevailed.  She did not overcome one struggle after another quietly, she immersed herself by telling her story through her art work.  Her art was fueled by her strife.  Some of her work sends pain to our wombs solely by looking at it, without knowing the whole story.  Despite this, she did not wallow in misery.

When many of us are feeling down and self-loathing, we may opt to decrease care for ourselves. We wear frumpy clothes, no make-up, dark and muted colors to portray our moods.  In times of joy or strife, Frida turned up the diva dial, and beautified herself.  She graced her body with beautiful jewelry, her hair with bold bright flowers, flowing petticoats and traditional Mexican attire.  Even during the later years, when she was confined to staying home due to her medical illness, she still got dressed up. The medical corsets she was prescribed to wear by her doctors, were exemplified with artwork.  The shoes that she wore were beautiful and fabulous, even if it covered her one amputated leg.

The Victoria And Albert Museum labeled their recent exhibit of this artist as “Making Herself Up.”  And she did, and it was not for anyone else. The act of dolling up was for herself.   If I was going to use spiritual lingo for this, she cherished and honored herself by adorning the divine within.  She made herself up as a goddess to be revered, if only for her own pleasure and enjoyment.   Now in some ways she is worshipped as a goddess by others worldwide, decades after her death.

When we observe someone, who takes pride and solace in adorning themselves in the midst of pain, we know they are aligning with the highest part of themselves…the divine feminine. The divine within lifts us to emerge onto the other side stronger, wiser, and with more grace.  We turn to Frida, as she is a reminder that this is a possibility for us.  We too are capable of finding beauty, art, and dignity in the midst of whatever is arising in our everyday lives.

Therefore, the next time you see a Frida image, tell yourself that she is not just a symbol of an artist, feminist, or fashion icon.  She is an archetype of a strong female warrior.  Frida serves as a reminder of the divine feminine that exists within.  It’s available to you, all it takes is work to honor and adorn your own external temple in joy and sorrow.  Make yourself up.  You are worth it.

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo

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Florida Grand Ballet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwasg3ULORQ

 

English National Ballet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=67&v=RFtuWuKIWVk

Saturday State of Mind

Today I chose to venture into London for a relaxing massage and rolfing appointments. In the past, my journey was quite simple: tube from Essex to London.  But since I have moved house,  it’s more complicated.  Do I choose to drive one hour away to my old home, park, and then take the hour tube ride? Or do I opt for the two hour costly train ride, with a transfer.

Since I was going for the relaxation and pamper effect today, I opted for the train. I was paying for the luxury of the train, I could write and read while having loads of space as I ventured into the city.  But as I got on board the second train, I wondered if I made the wrong decision. The coaches were extremely packed with people.   It was standing room only.  I questioned if this was the right decision, or if I should have even gone to London today.  Despite this, I would make the most of it.  I continued to read silently.

 

Luck entered my life, a woman next to me was getting off at the upcoming Cambridge stop.  She offered me her seat.  I gladly took it, and was filled with gratitude.  She didn’t have to mention it to me.  Me and the fellow passengers would have fought like vultures for her space. But I didn’t have to fight.  A spot was made available for me, and I accepted.  It’s interesting the smallest act of kindness can bring such joy into our lives.

 

I appreciated having somewhere to sit and a tiny bit of personal space, on the remaining hour long train ride.  It’s so often we take things for granted, but one act of warmth by a stranger can deeply impact the rest of our day.  In return, I offered her a gratitude card.

 

I listened on the train as somehow laughter emerged throughout the tight journey.  People could easily react with frustration for having to stand during an expensive long train ride, next to strangers, with little room to move.  The overcrowded train ride was unexpected for everyone, but somehow overall people’s spirits remained light.  Two more people were getting off the train, a nearby passenger voiced this aloud to the crowd.  He wasn’t going to take the seat, but it was available for anyone who needed it.  People joked of their competitiveness of wanting these seats, but nobody ran for them. Everyone seemed to enjoy the journey as much as they could.  It was Saturday after all.  Why not embrace the moment for what it is?

 

When we arrived at Kings Cross, someone shouted, “have a good day everyone.”  The crowd cheered.  Several others yelled have a good day.  And then we were all off on our own separate ways.

 

It may be normal to send out to the world negative internal vibes of frustration, particularly during moments of traffic or rush hour during the week.  One can generally sense hurriedness, excess hyped up energy, and pushiness.  Yet in this same manner, we can send out blessings to fellow passengers on our journeys.  We can make the most of right now.

 

Perhaps it’s simply a Saturday vibe mentality, which is not too far off that vacation state of mind.  Since we are free from work responsibilities and expectations, we can let loose, slow down, and find joy.  I appreciate everyone who rode on the train with me today for making it a pleasant and memorable journey.  Kindness and warmth is truly contagious…

Contributors to anxiety economy

I had just written this piece for thrive global and wanted to share it with you.

A colleague asked me the other day if I believed that people today truly have more anxiety today or is it simply the next “it” diagnosis that has become part of the vernacular.  She wondered aloud, if this replaced the diagnosis the previous popular ADHD that was in fashion not too long ago.

            Although part of me feels we may be more comfortable and open in society with saying we are “anxious” and stressed, there does seem to be validity.  What are the top culprits?  

            #1 Busyness  

            When people ask us how we are doing, our quick response now is “busy.”  This perhaps shows others how important we are.  Our jobs, families, friends, hobbies, and travel fill our days.  It seems we exhibit to the world our worth in acts of busyness.  This is not only acceptable, but it has become the norm.  But when our days are so full of appointments, tasks, and to do’s, we are never fully present and appreciative of what’s in front of us.

            #2  Technology

            It is said that when we hear a notification on our phone or text, there is a slight dopamine rush.  It becomes a rush and drug to feed this addiction to get more likes on social media for the photos and posts that we put up.  We look at our phones repeatedly to see who has responded to us. 

We expect automatic responses from others, and it is expected from us in return.  

            When we arrive early for an appointment, waiting in line at the grocery store, or riding the subway we check our phones. It’s rare to wait without distractions.  We need to perpetually be entertained by videos, news updates, or social media streams. After an extended amount of time on my phone, I do feel a sense of unease and anxiety.  But the contributing factor was my finger and eager eyes to soak in more than is needed. 

            #3  Information Overload

            I have heard that we currently have over 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day.  Many of these are repetitive thoughts, and a majority of these are negative.  Our mind has become a computer, focusing on the next solution.  Trying to find things to worry about or problems to solve.  We have access to knowing what is going on throughout the world, and get frequent news updates reminders sent to us on our phones.  We are alerted on social media to what our friends have eaten for dinner, countries they have travelled to, or the latest political disaster.  Even when we are physically present with friends, but we find we do not know the answer to a particular question that comes up in the conversation, we search it up on our phones.  I notice I will go off on an endless search to nowhere seeking out mindless things, finding answers to any question that arises in my head.   But with all these facts, there is little I truly know.

            #4  Immediate Gratification

            I am not the first to say that this has become the time of immediate gratification.  We want something, we go online and purchase it on Amazon.  For those in the dating world, swipe right and left, and there’s a quick fix to your libidinal urges.  We have become a culture that does not see the value in patience, desire, and appreciation.   It’s too uncomfortable for us to sit in stillness with our longing.  The need must be filled now.

            These are just a few of the contributing factors. The only true solution to all of this is to simply slow down and be.  This is the essence of mindfulness and meditation.  The topic of mindfulness is everywhere today, in yoga studios, hospitals, schools, and our places of employment.  I have always favored Jon Kabat Zinn’s definition of mindfulness which is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” 

            We can do this with almost anything in our lives: walking, drinking a cup of coffee, driving, spending time with our pets, watching a sunset, putting on makeup, or eating a savory piece of chocolate. Start slow, vow to try this for at least one activity for five minutes a day.  Notice the impact. Your mind will drift, but bring it back to the activity at hand.  Begin to observe the impact in your life. 

  Many of us may not realize we are continually present when we are traveling. It’s easy to be in awe with the world during vacation. But we can bring these principles home. In my new book The Fragrance of Wanderlust: How to Capture the Essence of Travel in Our Everyday Lives, I offer tips and homework exercises on how to keep this mindful practice going while you are at home. You can try it as a staycation project, as I did. The solution to our anxious economy doesn’t have to be drugs, homeopathic remedies, or apps.  The solution can be in simply be-ing, and living your life through the eyes of a tourist.  

“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still. You” 
― Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere

The Bell Doth Toll

This past week, I moved into a new home.  One thing I wish you could do is stay in the home one night (as an airbnb situation) before committing.  It’s at this point, you can discover all the problems or quirks that arise in the middle of the night.  You can decide if these will be things you can commit to.  But perhaps this is exactly why we don’t stay overnight in these homes.  We may not make the same choice. 

And hence there is the case that I write about the church bells.  They don’t only ring to note high noon and evening, nor every hour.  They seem to ring every 15 minutes.  Luckily, I can return to sleep with ease.  But part of me questions the move that was just made.  What have I done?  Would I have knowingly chosen to move somewhere where I can be disturbed by sounds of the church so frequently? 

Before and after my meditation this morning , the church bells rang.  I noticed my Tibetan singing bowl sitting in front of me.  Could I begin to reframe these numerous loud reverberations outside to something else? 

Perhaps these bells could be my call to prayer?  Or they could serve to remind myself to return to the present moment.   Our thoughts drift towards numerous directions, as we have up to 70,000 thoughts per day.  Could this help with breaking the pattern of my wandering mind and come back to now.  If I choose to make this shift, the bells will not longer be an annoyance but a gentle reminder to nudge my thoughts on a different trajectory. 

What brought about this shift is particular book I am reading about some of the Buddhist Lojung principles.  These are guiding forces in our lives.  One lojung I landed on yesterday was to allow the problem or crisis to become the path/way.  How can we let our issues become our teachers?  The bells are not problematic, but therefore enriching to my life. 

Spring: My Secret Heart

Post December 21st, it is reported we gain on average six minutes of sunlight per day. In the beginning, it’s minuscule to notice this (particularly in the depths of despair of January). It is now late February. Three weeks ago I began to witness the tiny budding of daffodils springing from the ground. I actually felt compelled to write poetry about these very same daffodils. They offered hope in the midst of darkness.

But here in England, not only are the daffodils budding, daylight slowly increasing, but the weather is warming. According to the papers, yesterday it was warmer here than Barcelona. I haven’t even needed a coat. Today my body worker mentioned “I love the spring,” as he came into our session. Internally, I felt a tug in my heart. It was as if we talked about it, it may actually jinx the magic that has been brewing. For a moment I thought this was sacrilegious. Spring still felt like a secret that we all are aware of but dare not speak about. We are still a month away from the official anointing of spring to begin on March 21st. It’s been happening slowly in our midst, and now it is at the point that people can’t help but want to share their love for this season.

If the sun’s rays touch us, how can we not turn our heads to inch closer to feel it’s embrace.

Hope has returned once more. Depression has lifted. Energy has increased. Excitement to be active in the world has arisen.

The reality is it can leave or switch at any moment.

But that doesn’t mean we should take in each opportunity to be warmed by the sun’s lure.

“It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before.” Just as we may heed to this in love, we can take refuge in this with our relationship with the sun and spring. A colleague frequently reminds me of his weather predictions at work, “winter’s not over. We may get one more hit. “ But I am not going to live in fear of future horrible snow or rainstorm predictions. I am going to appreciate the sunshine right now as she is.

And it’s okay if we share our love for her, just like that fellow chap earlier today. To verbalize it, makes it’s real. Spring doesn’t have to be a secret crush that hides deep within. Expressing your love for her outwardly may just further warm your soul, and be the warm contagious elixir we all have been longing for rid ourselves of the winter blues.

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