When we talk about making choices, in relation to our future and personal growth, we often refer to significant choices. Big stuff.
Life changing choices must be, by nature, daunting and hard to take. At least that’s what seems to be the belief for many of us.
For sure, there are occasions when we have to take #decisions, make choices, in a big way, like will we move from Santa Barbara to Taos? Or should we get married? Is it time to quit our soul stifling job? These choices can be excrutiating, or they can be no-brainers, but we are aware in any case that they will have a big impact on our existence.
What we are less aware of, however, is the incredible power or the tiny bitty choices we make in the course of every day, with hardly a second thought, and often in a very casual, or even unconscious way.
Minute #choices, such as let’s say, add 1/2 spoon of sugar instead of 2, wear heels or comfortable walking shoes, buy a $4 latte or take our own cup of coffee from home, smile or frown, interrupt a friend or listen all the way, sit straight or slump, walk or drive, text while driving or not, have a glass of wine or not, keep our emails clear and tidy, or let them accumulate in an overwhelming number… I could go on and on… you get the drift. Little things. All these tiny choices hold amazing power in the sheer number of their repetition, despite their relative insignificance in isolated occasions.
In fact, when we look at them closer, it’s what we do the most in small ways but long periods of time, that shape our lives. Nothing flashy here. Only the humdrum of habits.
But wait! Could my habits be mostly unconscious choices? Indeed.
When I take the 2 spoons of sugar, I choose to indulge in the moment, and to continue what might already be responsible for a pesky extra weight or a diabetes threat. When I smile deliberately, I make myself feel better, and that’s a proven fact… day after day, I won’t develop the same kind of wrinkles, nor the same kind of relationship to the world. The simple fact to refrain from texting while driving insures that I won’t be maiming or killing someone for it. When we let things such as emails unattended, we end up not being able to even see what mught be important, and we’ll feel anxiety. And when I have that glass of wine every day, I noticeably increase my risk to develop cancer.
As we see here, time is of the essence. Repetition shapes WHO WE ARE.
On the long term, a tiny choice can make or break my health, my #relationships, or my financial soundness. On the moment, as a one of, each small choice looks insignificant enough, though.
But you make that insignificant choice every day and the results is gonna get more and more heft.
So can we shape our lives in a very significant way by making tiny significant choices every day? You bet. It’s even the most efficient way to change our trajectory, in any domain of life, without having to upend it! Let’s say you are journeying through space, and you vary your direction only 1 degree angle. What will happen? After a while you’ll end up in a very different place than where you aimed to go at first. Guaranteed. ONE DEGREE. How small is that? The cool part is that tiny choices are DOABLE. They are manageable. They are not so challenging that we get discouraged by the idea… Also they can be made immediately, in the flow of today’s life. No big deal. Right now. If I keep it up… it’ll be a new habit before I realize it.
It just requires one thing, a very powerful thing: the #mindfulness to do what we do in a deliberate fashion. Becoming #aware that every single action I take is actually a choice I make. That’s my power in action. That’s the way I shape my #life .And the rewards are mind blowing. Small choices… they are our best friends if we choose to make them so.
Forgiveness is a struggle for most of us Forgiveness is the inner work triggering in us the most resistance though it is the most powerful healing tool we have at our fingertips at any time. So why do we resist so much the emotional release, the liberation that true forgiveness can bring us?
Because there is a part of us that still clings to what happened in the past and REFUSES it. As long as we hold the grudge, feel the pain, refuse the event and want repair, apologies, amends, or simply keep on hating the people who caused us pain, we are emotionally shackled to that event, and to these people.
And the sad part is that we do that to ourselves from the inside out. No matter what happened then, it did happen and we need to leave it there. But we keep it going
So here we are, wasting some of our beautiful life force in holding the memory, fueling the revengeful thoughts, rehashing the wrongness, and feeling the sadness and the anger all over again and again. We do this to ourselves in the now. Nobody else does it to us.
1/By simply accepting what happened as a fact of the past, we start the process of letting it go; of putting it where it belongs: back then. The second step in the process of forgiving (yes, it is a process) is to understand that we keep hurting ourselves with our negative feelings and memories. Any negative thought we repeat over and over becomes a mental attitude that hinders us. Any negative mental pattern becomes a guideline first, then a personality trait. When we indulge in un-forgivingness we deprive ourselves from wholeness. Forgiving is not excusing or condoning anything. It is only letting go of the death grip we got on a particular time of our life. There is no need to expose ourselves to more abuse or more grief by reaching out to the perpetrator though we can offer written pardon if we feel the need to do it (and we can either send it out or burn it after it is written).
2/By simply accepting the fact that life exposed us to a circumstance and that we have the freedom to choose our response to it, we open a door and let some relief get in. We get our power back. We are not victims any more but masters of ourselves.
3/The third step is allowing ourselves to feel liberated and grateful to be free. Feeling the shackles of resentment, grief, and anger fall off puts us in a completely different place emotionally. Now we can look at what happened from a distance, as a piece of our history. We are not perpetuating it anymore. We can celebrate the fact that we survived everything so far and are still here, free to make our tomorrows better than our yesterdays. But, you’ll say: “How can I stop despising and hating a perpetrator?”
4/We can develop our ability to extend compassion toward every being no matter what, even though we may avoid, despise, condemn, or hate a given behavior. All of us are at different stages of evolution, understanding, fear, and humane capability. There is no denying the fact. We hurt others and we get hurt by others. It is part of the experience of life. When we extend compassion to all of us we give a chance to humanity to evolve as a whole. Acknowledging, letting go of, feeling free and extending compassion is a sequential practice that permits us to for-give. To give forward. To become whole again. As in any good practice, we want to include ourselves in the process.
Forgiveness of self is as crucial as forgiving others. The acknowledgment part is the most tricky part here, because we rarely completely see how much grudges and self hatred we hold against ourselves! Seriously. The truth is: when we arbor any kind of self destructive behavior we have self forgiveness to do. So take a moment and ponder how truly loving your behaviors are toward yourself… Do you binge? Do you put yourself in debt? Do you think you are not good enough? Do you numb yourself with drugs or alcohol? Do you have any unhealthy repetitive behavior? If the answer is yes, you are demonstrating self-hatred. Just acknowledge it. Then start the process. Right now right here. The best place to begin is in practicing self-forgiveness… it will get you all the way to forgiving the world.
Every morning I wake up with the same joyful anticipation one has just before a long awaited event, like Christmas morning or a departure for an exotic vacation… Here is a brand new day ahead, untouched, a precious package of 24 hours for me to unwrap, to infold, to open up, full of surprises and delights, a gift for me to open and share… A Present. Isn’t it just perfect to call every moment we live “the present moment”? It doesn’t matter if there are challenges ahead, if hardwork is required, if chores have to be done, if people are uncool… It doesn’t matter that much because I am alive. I am alive and conscious. And that in itself is such a wonder to realize, to be aware of, to be thankful for, that it makes me bristle with anticipation, with desire, with primal happiness… Besides, I know because I have been for many years now honing my skills as a co-creator, that my very state of mind, my emotional signature as I live this day, will attract to me people and opportunities in harmony with it. But then will you ask, what if the day goes awry, what if accident, pain, or grief strikes, un-wished for, disturbing, unsettling, despite my positive launching ? In any case, I will trust that I am able to get through it and not get undone by it. I am confident that there is a power bigger than my present incarnation, the same power that keeps the stars turning and my heart beating, and that it works perfectly, in my favor, for my greatest good. It happens that I don’t understand its working. It happens that my earthly self gets forgetful of it, but when I stay in that flow of happy surrendering to the big Orchestra, and use my talents and knowledge to do what nurture my soul, what tickles my happy bone, what floats my boat… Then, the day is usually a great day! As years go by, my gratitude increases, I relax into the wondrousness of the journey, I listen more to the soft voice of intuition, giving me clues if I let it.
Every day is a day of my precious, gorgeous, magnificent life and I am choosing joy to live it by. This is the one thing that really is in my power, under my own guidance: what I choose to feel and who I choose to be, for the day ahead, as I open my eyes. I want to sqeeze the juice out of every minute and savor the exquisite feeling of being here, sentient stardust, a spark of consciousness in its timeless becoming. Unfathomable, immense, magical, Life courses through my veins and I think how beautiful that is. Today is a great day to be alive. Much love Emmeline
We long to belong. Being validated by and belonging to a human group has been recognized as an essential need in all human beings. We crave appreciation. Acceptance and valuation in the eyes of others. It is a very deep need. Fulfillment of which is a vital factor for harmonious development.
Risky business Because of this crucial importance, we are also scared of rejection, and disapproval. The pain of being blamed, judged, disavowed, is too much to bear and we don’t want to risk it though we are always quick to criticize ourselves harshly. As a result, the closer we are to someone, the higher the stakes, and the bigger the temptation to hide and fake.
But humans are emotional beings and emotions are best lived when we can share them… So here we are, wanting to get close, but closeness is risky business. Unsettling. Dangerous. We might lose credentials in someone’s eyes, just by daring being who we are.
Since day one, as babes, we try to please, and we try to be safe: we catch every nuance of voice, every look, every contact is an indicator. We did good or not, we are approved of or not, we will be safe… or not. And day after day we start learning to lie, to hide, to wear masks, to please and fit in and to be acceptable for those around us, to whom we own safety and survival. This is a strong survival tool, deeply rooted instinct, that keeps on going far into adulthood. As a matter of fact, in the dark ages being ostracized meant death; out of the tribe chances of survival were very slim. Hence being kept inside the group was vital. Literally so.
If you don’t see me you can’t hurt me. In today’s culture, and for most people, it is still more important to maintain appearances than to dare being fully oneself in the open. Not that we have monstrous flaws. No. We hide what could make us vulnerable. Not wearing a mask, not pretending, is taking the risk to expose our soft underbelly, to be easy to hurt. To keep appearances might be a good protection mechanism but it has a major caveat : what I feel the need to hide is always related to what makes me truly happy, what animates me, what fuels my bliss. Inside my safe shell, I end up smothering my true self, stifling what ever passionate elan that could give me away. Wanting to be safe makes me repress my unique aliveness and refrain from beaming my inner light into the world.
Safe but unfulfilled When we avoid being vulnerable, particularly with people who dearly matter to us, we hinder true connection. If I dare not being seen (as the only me there is and will always be), how could I be recognized and appreciated by my soul mate for instance? Or my soul tribe. If I spend my time toning down and dwarfing the specifics that come with being me, I take the wind out of my own sails. One can’t fly one’s true colors while camouflaging in prudent beige. The bottom line is that if I want to experience the whole gamut of human connection, of love, of intimacy, of friendship, of parenting or any other deep relation, I have to quiet the old lizard brain and take the reins with the most evolved part of me, the growing edge of myself, always curious, always discovering, always eager for beingness…
Scary If I want to live fully and be fulfilled I have to take a leap of faith, drop pretenses and make room for authenticity. Be visible. Seeable. Vulnerable. Then and only then, can I thrive and share, pulling all the stops, fearlessly splashing in joyful puddles of unseen depth, and meet you there, to play and explore and exist, as we were born to do. Scary? You bet! But NOT doing this means a life of half lived relationships, half success, and often lukewarm happiness or worse, emotional unrest.
Half way or full out ? I believe that Life is prodigious, miraculous, unfathomable and exquisite if we let it have its way we us. Being scared every now and then is natural and part of the game, but to honor this life of ours, to get all the juice out of it before we check out of this bodily experience, we need to give ourselves permission to be who we are both in all our un-replicable individuality, and our universal humanness. We need to marvel at our odds and be awed by every breath. We need to cherish every quirk, every weakness and every strength that is part of our unique DNA and embrace who we came to be. By doing this we reclaim enormous amounts of energy we used to waste on smoke screens and persona and we become able to offer the same openness to everyone around us and not feel threatened by differences. We let go of an exhausting need for control. Best of all, we can lean in what made us feel vulnerable, and be loved and appreciated for it! Because that exact thing that we don’t want to show, share or reveal, is usually directly linked to our ability to thrive.
There is tremendous power in taking entire responsibility for our lives and the results we get.
Unfortunately, when we grew up believing that Lady Luck is calling the shots and that Life is something happening randomly to us, the concept of complete responsibility can ruffle our feathers a bit. Some people occasionally get angry and react quite negatively to the concept. If one’s mind set is of being a victim and trying to cope all the time, being unaware of one’s tight interaction with what we call reality, one can go straight into an aggravating feeling of guilt. This feeling of guilt triggers deep sadness or anger, while the notion of empowerment, utterly foreign in that context, gets entirely overlooked.
Self-mastery is all about taking responsibility, being in charge of one’s emotions, beliefs and motivations, and taking actions accordingly to one’s purpose, knowing that we are not separated from the universe around us.
It can be greatly disturbing, indeed, for someone who spent most of their life solidly convinced that reality is an outside continuum, a momentous chain of events colliding randomly and affecting us independently of anything we can think, feel or do. Many authors in the 1900s, long before the current scientific observations of quantum physics, or epigenetics (our emotions influence/activate our genes), described the ability to influence our life’s circumstances with our thoughts and feelings. If we accept the possibility that our average emotional state (our energetic signature) generates a certain quality of vibration, and if we add to that our freedom of choice to make decisions and take action every day in a myriad of ways, we come to terms with being powerfully responsible for the way our life unfolds. It doesn’t mean that we will not confronted to hardship, or extreme situations, because after all we are not alone here and everything is connected, but it means that we can learn and navigate Life’s currents deliberately rather than drift aimlessly. It means that we can always look for what serves our growth, and others’ in everything. It means we don’t live in randomness, but in a very intelligent and organized universe to which we are connected vibrationally. Now, the more we get comfortable with this, the more we practice handling our thoughts and actions in harmony with our most important purposes, the more we become skilled and intuitively guided. We can actually develop our power and become masters of our destiny. Having an extraordinary life will require extraordinary thinking and focused actions. One will have to keep in mind one’s purpose, for all decisions one takes… Everything is generating results, including not taking a decision or not taking action!
There is no guilt at all in this because most of us have been raised in a society that ignored completely these concepts and because we always did the best we could, exactly where we were in our evolution. The time spent not knowing is behind us. There is no use to regret anything.
There is however, the open door of choice now, inviting us to take the wheel and stir our life in the direction of our deepest desire. Responsible we can accept and enjoy to be, and coming to this realization, we can start to design our inner landscape and our next step to take… To your power!
There is a lot of preconceived notions about artists; a major one is: Artists are not business people. Most of the time with the exception of a few, artists are not interested in the business part of their craft and that is widely and deeply supported by the popular notion above. Self verifying concept… We tend to stick to who we think we are.
Meanwhile, every artist pursuing a passion and practicing their skills wishes to be able to do their art without having to worry about bills to pay and retirement plans… ( one doesn’t want to retire from one’s true love in the first place anyway). I saw it again and again: talk about projected sales, overhead costs, profit margin and other specifics of earning money with most artists and their eyes glaze over; worn out platitudes are uttered such as ” I am not a business person”, “I don’t do Art for money and I don’t want to spoil it”, “I don’t like selling”, “it’s too hard”, “I don’t have a mind for numbers”… etc… etc… (I should know, because I deluded myself with this kind of flapdoodle for many years).
The truth is, every artist I met, who was not highly successful, had a DESIRE to earn a good living with their art.
They dreamed of it. They wished it could be done. They told me: “You are so lucky to have your own gallery!”.
Yes I am, indeed. I am lucky to have been inspired enough to decide one day to create what I dreamed about. I am lucky the right place showed up after I tried about 5 or 6 other ones in one year. I am lucky key people believed in my potential when I signed my lease. But most of all I am lucky because I usually refuse to believe and live by the limiting rules of common thinking.
Because you see, selling your art when you are a productive artist is where the rubber meets the road. Selling is the second leg you stand on. The first being of course, the particular skills and talents that you keep honing.
There is a mind blowing absurdity in neglecting to integrate business knowledge as a key of being a full blown artist!
Let me break the news to you: ~chances to be “discovered” out of the blue are very thin, even if you are very good at what you do. ~getting into one or several galleries AND generate enough revenue to live comfortably means you’d have to slave away, in most cases. ~if you don’t really learn the mechanics of business, you are going to struggle to grow. I know I did. ~when you don’t want to sell, you either deprive the world of your work or you limit the amount of work you can do (worrying about bills or keeping a 9-5 day job WILL limit you). ~an artist who does art on the side is a hobbyist. ~being financially rewarded won’t kill your creativity, at the contrary, it will free you. (Do you think O’Keeffe, Dali, Michelangelo, or Adams were less creative because they sold?) ~what you should know and don’t know is what limits you.
The bohemian label tagged upon artistry is a huge curse in itself. There is NO advantage at struggling. There is NO glory at verifying the “starving artist” myth.
And there is definitely NO antagonism between being a fully passionate artist AND a successful entrepreneur. Actually it is where the biggest successes are made, at the cross between unlimited artistic exploration and self-worthy claim of one’s retribution for a work well done. I went into Art by choice, by love, by desire. I knew I was “an Artist” when I was but just a kid. And guess what? I did not give much thought about learning business guide lines… for many years. I was still thinking along the line of “being” an artist versus delivering art to the world in a sustainable way.
Being an Artist is a cool concept about oneself. It is self centered. Making Art and making it available to the world, were it belongs, is a profession, it is outbound. And it is a business.
If you know in your heart that Art is what you do best and want to do most, stop using excuses to stay stuck.
Unless you are already well off and on your way to stardom or comfortably earning enough for a good life, give yourself the gift of hard cold truth and make a decision. Truth: you need to learn things you don’t know to succeed. Decision: find what you need to know and start LEARNING, then APPLY it.
I am once again at this point myself: what I learned so far brought me were I am today and I wish to grow further, to give myself the comfort of a more reliable income, of more freedom to go and travel the world, to create more, to help others more, to innovate more and take more risks in what I do. So I am on a mission, again. I am taking stock of what I don’t know, so I can focus and learn it. To go further. Would I prefer to be sponsored, gifted, protected, pampered, and do only Art? Sure! When it comes my way, I’ll be grateful and accept all the support I get. Meanwhile, if I pull up my sleeves, start learning verified rules and implementing my new knowledge, I’ll get new results in as short a time as it will take me to graduate to my new level of self.
That’s the thing: at any level I find myself to be stuck is where I stopped growing. It doesn’t matter what is the specific bit involved. If I want to grow as an artist, I have to become a more evolved, more skillful, more efficient version of me. I just need to keep on growing up. The first step is knowing what I don’t know and go learn it; the good news is: you can do that too.