Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Divine Feminine

I woke up today to emebark on an amazing inner journey that truly transformed me. SoulCollage. Google it.

I had the opportunity to spend 6 hours with 10 other women who came together to grow, change, transform, and learn about an amazing intuitive, creative process. This process consisted of using visual images from magazines, photos, etc. and create custom "cards" that became part of a tarot type reading. This experience allowed me to not only connect with other women but also connect with myself, the deepest, most creative part that never comes out.

I must say, I am hooked. One of my cards exhibits the divine feminine qualities that I strive to embrace. On the colorful card, there are all types of women-mothers, yogis, cartoons, statues and paintings...this card spoke to me the most, with its expressive quality of what womanhood is and what it is defined as. This got me thinking....what is it to be a woman?

Strong, sexy, sensual, vulnerable, wicked, manipulative, quirky, funny, empowered, transformative, emotional, physical, thinker, feeler, being, nurturing, athletic, meditative, religious, spiritual, unique, conforming....

That is nothing. For me, today being a woman was about community and transition. I feel as I embark on my eraly 20s, I face cultural norms that have been instilled and ingrained from long before my time and I see the new norms and cultural expectations popping up every day. Like the river that is constantly flowing, the ideas surrounding what it means to be a woman are constantly changing.

After my workshop, I drove down to the beach to watch the sunset and scurried aroud like a child finding rocks, sea glass, and shells in the sand. I was reverting back to my childhood and then it dawned on me. As a woman, I am fearful to succumb to pressures and the ideas of conformity. It seems to be too much these days to be in touch with the divine feminine where you can have open discussions about womanhood, motherhood, and relationships.

My mother is my best friend. She has been my mentor throughout my development into the woman I am today and I thank her for that. Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, friends, teachers, and colleagues...women who define themselves in so many ways. The bond exists between all of us...a divine, inner quality, energy, prana, spirit...that makes us woman.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Attitude of Invitation

I think it was JFK who said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but instead, ask what you can do for your country." It pretty much sums it up in terms of being open to solutions instead of problems, being proactive instead of apathetic, being accepting and embraceful instead of simply being tolerant.

I work for a corporate team-building company in Seattle and we specialize in technology powered team-building experiences. We use gadgets and gizmos like GPS units, Pocket computers, two-way radios, and digital cameras to create "Geo-Courses" for companies looking to have fun outside of the office. Our mission statement is "Helping teams play better."

Yes, play better...so what does that mean? To many, play is something that is completely separate from work, something you do on vacation or on the weekends with the family. At our company summit in December, Pete Winemiller from the Seattle SuperSonics came and spoke with our group-he was amazing...his big idea was to embrace an attitude of invitation. He spoke "Instead of doing 100 things 1% better, do one thing 100% better." Really go above and beyond not only in customer service with clients, but with yourself as well.

During his presentation, I was mentally teleported back to seventh grade. My science teacher at the time was always about the idea of "Good enough." He spoke over and over again to 13 year olds sitting bright eyed and a bit naive, to not be just good enough. By being "good enough" you begin to set low standards for yourselves and others-all in all you end up selling yourself short. And who wants that?

I just took some vacation time and have come back to my desk with a simple mind shift-be the best at what you are doing, whether it is cleaning the office kitchen microwave or dealing with a big client...so your best and stay present while doing it.

Through my first couple days back, I have noticed a huge difference in not only how I feel but how others feel when they interact with me.

Invite yourself to do one thing 100% better. Whether its communicating with your partner, cleaning your apartment, or being on time to work. Through the simple mind shift, we flow past the resistance barriers and start to welcome solutions and start to notice the great things that sit right in front of us.

This is flow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Partner Retreat

Ahhh...the feeling you get when you have just come full circle from taking time off from work and obligations to spend time with your partner or significant other. Valentines day has just come and gone and we reamain filled with euphoria from wine, chocolate, lazy days in bed, and laughter. My partner flew in to Seattle for about 5 days and it was one of the best personal retreats I have had. Today, back at work, sitting at my desk as the sun shone through my window and drowning in e-mails, I asked myself the question, "What made the past 5 days so good?"

Sometimes when our partner is away from us, whether that is through long distance relationships or through work, we tend to be self-consumed, focusing on our own lives and commitments and routines. When another person is there for us, when they become present in our lives again, there is a sense of gratitude that can be expressed and embraced. I love giving to my partner, especially when our time together is so precious.

A very big trend these days is personal retreats...escaping to the mountains by yourself to refresh and recharge. Hell ya! Who wouldn't want to sign up? Well, why don't you sit down with your partner and plan a partner retreat? Relationship is present in our daily lives-even when we are waiting in line to buy milk or dinner and the stranger starts up a conversation. We interact with so many people each day, through conversation, laughter, smiles, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

My partner and I took 5 days to refresh, recharge, and reconnect and all of that time was spent living in the present, soaking up emotion and conversation, laughing and living and just being. Sharing experiences with ones you love is especially powerful because there is a common denominator-the experience itself. Share an experience-walking around a lake, getting massages, watching an interesting documentary, or visiting a museum.

I look back on my partner retreat and think about not what it was supposed to be like or what it will be like in 3 months, but I look on it as what it was and how powerful sharing experiences with each other can be.

Like a backbend opening the heart and chest and letting the light pour out onto the world, we must open up to our partners and loved ones and open up to experience.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ahhh....Saturdays

There is something to be said about Saturday mornings. This is my first Saturday in awhile where I can just breathe and be. Right now, the thermostat repair man is here replacing our thermostat because it has lost its ability to regulate temperature. The heat is either on full blast or not on. Not good because it came to my knwoledge last night that we received a $286.00 Electric bill...in Seattle! Unheard of...I flew off the handle, anger engulfed me, swearing and screaming and really feeling my anger for the first time. During my rage spell, I was very conscious of the feelings I was experiencing, the first time in a long time where I could put a finger on it, the feelings in my body, the thoughts in my head. I freaked out.

I slept in this morning until about 9AM and then awoke and curled back under the down comforter and just listened. I listened to the cars whizzing by on Highway 99 over the samp pavement. It rained last night and early this morning. I like it sometimes and sometimes it bugs me. I have never been one to look at the forecast, ever...no matter where I lived. In Colorado, I knew it was going to be cold and in Seattle I know its probably going to rain. I just go with it.

I am reading a great book right now, "This I Believe" published in association with NPR. Its great. Go buy it. I read a few pages this morning and got up and cleaned. My apartment was a bit funky and dirty which was a given...It felt good to clean, to start fresh and new for the week ahead. I hope it lasts :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Let the Juice flow...

I have recognized that knowledge is something we are all thirsting for. We want more of it, every day. The culture we live in is always about "more." How much do you have? How much do you want? Can I have it in a bigger size? I think I have more than you.

For the past 5.5 days, I have been fasting. This is the third fast I have done and I do them for a variety of reasons. Of course, the issue of overall health and well-being comes up. We put sooooo much into our bodies, the temples we look at in the mirror every morning as we stumble to the shower, towel in hand, eyes half open, too tired from the night before because we pumped the caffeine like water just to send the last e-mail or complete the finishing touches on that project.

Believe me, I have been there and I expect at some point to be there again :-) A fast just lets the body take a break, rest, hibernate, not work so hard to process all the processed foods and liquids we consume day in and day out. To cleanse ones skin is similar to cleansing the inner body, the organs. To cleanse the inner body, I like to to use juice and liquids to facilitate the process and flush the gross stuff out.

I brought my juicer to work today and shared this special time in my new year and believe me, people like it. It tastes yummy. I also like to share my knowledge about teh topic and pass along resources to others who share and show an interest. Yes, you get some funny looks, especially as you stumble into the office, juicer in hand, a bag of fresh produce, purse, briefcase, keys, cell phone, etc. Its a sight.

I also like the fast because it lets me slow down, focus on non-attachment and introspection. Its like a bear going into hibernation in the winter-I sleep more, feel rested, and talk less-mostly because I am tired and have less energy. I mention the aspect of non-attachment and the idea that less is more because that is how food has become structured in our culture. After a fast, I become more thankful, offering blessings before meals, and try to monofocus on eating rather than juggling tasks with a fork or spoon in my mouth. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my Ben & Jerry's but every now and then, I like to mix it up-give up red meat for awhile, supporting the local farmers market, cooking with a friend, and laughing over fair-trade coffee.

I empower others to explore the idea of fasting and restraint. Even for a couple days, give up refined sugar, caffeine, drugs, and tobacco and enrich your diet and consumption with whole grains, fruits and veggies, and yummy juice.

Go forth and be Juicy!