Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Do You Wanna Know a Secret?

Do You Wanna Know a Secret?

I used to joke, “I like people, it’s individuals I can’t stand.” Yeah, I know, it wasn’t very funny back then, either.

You scared the heck out of me. I thought you knew a bunch of stuff about how to live that I didn’t. (You did.) I thought you were withholding it from me. (You weren’t.) I thought you were judging me and finding me wanting. (Nope, not that, either.) (Well, okay, maybe some of you were, but I was a real jerk.)

Turned out I was projecting my stuff onto you. I knew a bunch of stuff about how to live, but rejected it. I judged me and found me wanting. I also put me down with every other breath, to myself, to you.

I think it’s one of the reasons that I like to write down my ho-to-live-a-nice-life thoughts everyday and give them to you. I want to be open, and not keep secrets anymore.

That was a big thing for me, secrets. And a curious phenomenon with secret keeping is that, when I have one, I feel like I am keeping something from you, and that shows up, at least unconsciously, in our relationship. It stands in the way of our intimacy, to whatever degree.

So, in addition to decided that I wanted to be happy, I also decided that I would have no secrets. In Twelve Step traditions, they talk about telling our secrets to ourselves, to our Higher Power, and one other human being.

To the best of my knowledge, I have done that with all my stuff. Boy, oh, boy, did that clear out a mess of goozh in my emotional basement. I feel kind of refreshed just thinking about that. You might wanna try it. Say what it was, then forgive yourself. Pick someone who is trustworthy; a therapist, or clergy. Our family isn’t always the best choice depending on what you are telling.

Once you have told your trustworthy person, and forgiven yourself (that simply means that if you remember the thing, and start to beat yourself up for it, you stop and apologize to yourself,) you may want to make amends. Be judicious; making amends isn’t always the way to go.

And now, let it go. If you have feelings about it, work with someone to complete the experience, and let it go.

You deserve to be free. You deserve to feel wonderful about who you are. You deserve to have open, intimate, loving relationships with clear communication. Letting go of your own secrets will help you get there like nobody’s business.

Sometimes my secrets involve another person. I am not here to tell your secrets. I keep your secrets. So, again, use your best judgement. We are here to make life better for each other, more comfy, sweeter, nicer.

How have I changed from holding my secrets in tight, to having no secrets of my own at all?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07312013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Have the Power!

I Have the Power!

Claim yours now! Only one per customer! Life changing! Create happiness! Find love! Make millions!

Sounds good, too good? Nope, because it’s our personal power. When we acknowledge it, claim it, own it, everything changes, and the possibilities are amazing!

On the one hand, this sounds trite. On the other hand, it’s also a little mysterious. On the third hand, the more we act from it, the nicer, the easier, the more fun life gets.

What does claiming our personal power mean? It really isn’t mysterious, or magical, or complicated. We just have to do a few things.

We must take responsibility for our choices. That means letting go of the idea that I am a martyr to, or a victim of, circumstance, of abuse, of physical stuff, poverty, or anything else. I have circumstances that give me opportunities to grow in the ways that I need to grow. Taking responsibility for this can be challenging, especially when we are used to blaming. But it is hugely important.

Let me state this very clearly. I am not saying that I make my pain, of whatever variety; that is not what I mean by taking responsibility. Taking responsibility means that I consider my situation a gift from the universe to help me become my best self, rather than a punishment. Taking responsibility means choosing to look for ways to live my best life, and acting upon what I find.

What it means is that you might do emotional or physical violence at me, but I am no longer abused. I may want a larger income, but I am no longer impoverished. I may have challenging physical issues, but I am no longer victimized by my body.

I choose to respond to the world.
I choose how to respond to the world.
I choose, I decide, I commit. I act. Me. I own my responsibility for me, for my life, for my actions, for my choices.

And now I have claimed my power. And now, I am free.

Choosing to claim my power helps move me into my natural life. Why do I choose to claim my power? Why do I choose to be happy? Why am I satisfied? What makes me feel peaceful? Why do I choose to relax?

The more I choose to move into my natural life, the more of a leader I become. My attitudes and behaviors motivate and inspire others to be their best selves. My courage and faith show others the way to their confidence. My freedom from worry and fear, my peaceful core, and relaxed manner demonstrate how nice life can be. I naturally attract people who wish to live in the same kinds of ways, and we build communities together, and we change the world.

How have I changed from feeling helpless and hopeless to claiming my own?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07302013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Carving a Leisure Niche

Carving a Leisure Niche

One of the most glorious things about living in this time is leisure. Oh, my! I am hearing some objections already, and we haven’t even gotten started.

Leisure time is time not committed to work or duties.

The thing is, we do have a tendency to fill up our leisure time with activities, and not so much time for leisure. Silly we.

One of the very great skills we develop as we become grown ups is the skill of discernment.

And one of my favorite old saws is: You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

So what does that mean for us? It means that we really need to think about what we are doing.

I like to do stuff a lot, and I like to do a lot of stuff. My list of hobbies is as long as my arm, and is made out of yarn I spun myself, then knit, dyed, and sewed together. I like to make art, cook, read, write songs, make music, and so on. I like to get together with friends and family, travel, take classes and workshops, well, you get the idea.

I can’t do it all. Even if I won the lottery, and had all my days free, I couldn’t do it all. I have to use discernment.

Because, I’ve learned that I also need some down time, time to flop, time to think, and dream, and plan, and decide stuff.

So, I need to be judicious. I need to look at what has to get done; grocery shopping, minimal upkeep on house, car, me and family, laundry, work, sleep, not necessarily in that order. I have a sense of how long all that takes, but when I am feeling overwhelmed, it is good to actually track it.

We all start with one hundred sixty eight hours in our week. Some of us are very efficient, and get a lot of stuff we feel good about done in that time. Some of us are not very efficient, and feel bad, like we can’t do enough. Some of us pack our kids’ time full of stuff, and so we never stop running until we collapse into bed too exhausted to sleep.

And so, we get back to thinking about commitment, and what do we want. As I have made a little time for reflection, I see that there are some areas in my life where my apparent commitment is at odds with what I want. This is such important information, especially since, if I don’t notice it, that conflict can make me feel kind of crazy.

I have come to recognize how important it is for me to let go of the day’s stresses everyday. Meditation, yoga, qigong, and just consciously relaxing all help me do this. When I am all churned up, everything goes wonky from digestion to sleep. Relaxing, pausing to think some thoughts, noticing stuff, none of it takes very long, and that mini-vacation will ultimately help us get so much more satisfaction from our days.

How have I changed from running at full tilt, to carving out a niche of leisure time every day?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07292013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Help From the Heart

Help From the Heart

How can I help? What can I do for you? Is there anything I can get for you?

One of the most delightful things about living in communities of all sorts is being able to help those around us.

What an amazing gift is that question: What may I do for you?

I spent so many years thinking I was Ms Independence, I refused help at every opportunity unless the situation was dire. I apologize. I had no idea.

Because the mortar of a community is the help we give each other.

We offer help for a thousand reasons. We see that we can do something for someone they cannot do for themselves. We see that we can ease someone’s burden by shouldering it with them, or taking it over. We see that we can give them a break from challenging circumstances by relieving them, or distracting them,  for a while. We see that our assistance can be of great comfort.

Sometimes we help when it isn’t a nice thing for the other person. We may be stepping on them to make us feel bigger. We may be taking over because we think they are doing it wrong. We may be doing it to try for extra credit from an authority figure. This is not being supportive. If this is what you are doing, stop it and apologize, to yourself first if you can.

Sometimes we offer help when we don’t really mean it, and then create situations where we can’t follow through, anything from double booking ourselves to headaches, throwing out our backs, even landing in the hospital. If this is a pattern for you, you will benefit so much by addressing the pattern’s source, that original situation if you can find it, or at least considering your ambivalence.

For some of us, we have withdrawn into a kind of shell, as though we wish to protect ourselves from humanity. We bring our life in, tight and small, and hold it clenched around us. We become self-absorbed, selfish, and, while it may seem like we are full of self-love, it is often the opposite that is true. We hate ourselves.


No, seriously. So much of what makes us unhappy is clench, tension, stress. As we relax our bodies, relax our minds, and emotions, we make a lot of room for nice stuff. Like a dry sponge expands with water.

On the other hand, some of us go overboard on the helping others. We do for and do for and never do for ourselves. We often feel some kind of guilty thing, as though we are trying to make up for having been born. We burn out, we get sick, and still we do for and do for. Pretty soon, many of the people we are doing for wish we would just stop, and take care of ourselves for a while, they may even ask us, but we ignore them until we break down somehow. And, unless we address our existential angst, we will just repeat the cycle. Ew.

Using Creative Questions loosens all of this up. Why do I choose to help? How do I relax? What makes me feel supportive? How do I feel when I am helpful?

The more we can relax into our natural lives, the easier it is for us to help, and to accept help.

How have I changed from trying to help from clenched to helping from relaxed?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07282013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Learning Lightness

Learning Lightness

Once upon a time, there was a mystical land. Pleasant meadows, and parks, and little forests were it’s outer boundaries; welcoming, interesting. As one traveled deeper into the land, things got a little wild. the forests got darker, and tangled, the lakes and shining pools filled with sucking swamps and quicksands, the fruits grew bitter and scarce, and the skies seem perpetually grey and greasy.

But the intrepid traveler who made it through was rewarded beyond measure, for at the heart of that land was beauty to fill the soul. The very air seemed to sparkle, and carried the scent of only the most fragrant flowers and delectable fruits. Blues skies shone, with fluffy little pink clouds, and the gentle breezes caressed the skin at the perfect temperature. Simply standing still in this land could lift the heaviest heart and make it light.

This isn’t a fairy tale, my dear, but rather it is Youland. And Meland. And, while our middle territory, that unconscious swamp land full of old traumas and mislearning, resentments, betrayals, and unsupportive beliefs, is different for each of us, each of us has one. The good news is that we also each have that beautiful land at our very core.

As we work through our emotional and behavioral stuff, we forge paths through that dark, middle land, Addressing and resolving those issues allows the joy, peace, and satisfaction of Weland to flow out to our conscious lives.

We can also make the connection with our thoughts and attitudes. like receiving happiness signals via satellite. The connection is a bit more tenuous, but still available, and grows stronger the more we practice.

For most of us, we tend to get stuck in that middle land of ick. We get caught up in the dark emotions, we get tangled in the dark thoughts. We make decisions that support the bad feelings, support the unsupportive beliefs, and give strength to our mislearnings.

To change that, we need to practice, as we do with any skill we want to acquire. If we are learning a new language, we need to practice. If we are learning to play an instrument, we need to practice. a physical skill like dance or martial arts, the same thing. So it is with happiness.

To practice happiness, there are things we can do. We can ask good Creative Questions: Why do I feel light? Why is it okay for me to be happy? What makes my happiness support me and my people?

To practice happiness, we can practice shifting out from the crummy place into our light place. I find my quickest path is through gratitude. What else am I grateful for? What else do I appreciate.

To practice happiness, we can attend to our physical postures. Do I have a grumpy face on? Smile all the way up to your eyes, make those crinkles! Hold it for around a minute, and your brain starts releasing the feel-good neurochemicals. Are my shoulders slumpy? Bring ‘em back. Are they pulled back too tightly? Soften them forward. As I walk, are my feet pointed away from center? Bring ‘em in, let the toes point straight ahead.

The more we practice happiness, the easier it is to get there. The more we practice feeling light, the easier it is to get there. The more we practice peaceful and relaxed, the easier it is to get there.

You deserve it.

How have I changed from thinking I am stuck in crummy to practicing happiness, lightness, and peace?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07272013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sluicing Out the Basement

Sluicing Out the Basement

Harmony. Concord. Peace. Stillness. Calm. Tranquility. Serenity. This is our core, this is our strength to weather whatever comes at us.

As we grown up, we come to see that all the freaking out we did when we were raw, young things, was pretty silly. We see how it made us feel worse, got in the way of finding solutions, upset the people around us, and generally strewed dischord all over.

Fomenting drama is only fun for the person fomenting.

I speak from experience. Creating drama was a family tradition. I could do hysterical sobbing for hours. Really and truly. Hyperventilating, shaking, all that stuff. Boy, I could get myself worked up. I said that I was sensitive. I came to discover that I was actually really insensitive, that all that drama was only for me, I imposed it on you, who didn’t enjoy it, and that it came about because of all sorts of unresolved trauma in my past.

I hate to break it to you, but we all have unresolved traumas in our past. Live is full of stuff, and some of it throws us for a loop.

So many of us want to pretend that isn’t true. We don’t want to think that stuff happened to us that makes us act like we do, that makes us hide our amazing true selves behind all sort of strange behavior.

We want to say, “That’s just how I am.” Or, “It’s human nature.” Or things like that. We don’t want to take responsibility for our own lives.

I like to think of it as cleaning out our emotional basements, and it really makes a difference.

There are so many different ways to do this, you can find the ones that work best for you. For some of us, remembering and feeling our way through the experience is best, for others, using bodywork techniques, and not remembering is the best way. The manner doesn’t matter. It’s the doing that’s important.

Imagine you are sitting in a space where you feel really safe, quiet, and peaceful. Now, imagine that space with people arguing, or maybe being violent with each other. Perhaps they are shouting, or throwing things, or otherwise hurting each other.

It kind of makes it challenging to maintain your peaceful self. Why do I choose to resolve my past?
(Ok, now clear your lovely peaceful space out again, blow away the bad vibes.)

This is the sort of stuff we keep tucked away in our emotional basements. Scary stuff with our parents. Feelings of betrayal by siblings, parents, friends, teachers, and so on. Resentments about junk that happened a million years ago, relatively speaking. Old angers, old griefs, all these things can clog up the line to our peace.

By getting help to resolve it, in whatever manner works for us, we strengthen our connection to our perfect self, our core self. We can enjoy life more, everything is easier, we have more fun, and take better care of ourselves, and our loved ones.

How have I changed from clutching my past to my chest to letting it really and truly go?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07262013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Your Freedom Scale

Your Freedom Scale

What’s your freedom count these days? On a one to ten scale, where do you sit?

Freedom is a strange and fluid thing. I know people who are walking around, who could be doing anything, who feel locked up like a maniac in solitary, and have heard of people in hideous prisons who feel free as the birds in the sky.

Where do you sit on the freedom scale?

Family, home, work, activities, emotions, habits, thoughts, dreams. How does your stuff stack up?

Cuz here’s the thing. freedom comes from the inside out.

Am I spending time thinking about how trapped I am in my dead-end job, or my abusive relationship? Am I spending time thinking about how much pain I’m in or how much debt I have? Do I think about how I can’t instead of how I can? Do I spend time bitter about what isn’t instead of enjoying what is?

The quality of my life is up to me. You can find examples all over the Internet of people who have it way worse than we do, who still have lives they love living.

How do they do it?

They are asking really good Creative Questions. They ask things like, why do I love my life? Why do I enjoy myself? How is it so easy to have fun? What make me feel satisfied?

We can choose to be happy, we can choose to look up. We can decide that we will enjoy our lives. We can decide to feel free.

Freedom from the inside out starts with your thoughts. We need to start thinking in a positive and creative manner. How can this situation be an opportunity for me? Why would this make my life better? Why do I choose to feel free? How do I feel when I feel free?

How do I feel when I feel free?

That is a powerful question. Especially for those of us who feel trapped. This is one practice, to really let seep in deeply. For those of us who feel trapped, it may be like knowing what we don’t want, and having no idea of what we do.

Feeling trapped and knowing only what we don’t want, worrying our weaknesses,  will keep us small and sad.

Feeling free, knowing what we do want, building from our strengths, acknowledging our weaknesses, connecting with each other; these are ways we live our natural lives of happiness, peace, satisfaction, and prosperity.

How have I changed from jailing my life to choosing to live freely?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07252013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What To Do When You Feel All Fail-y

What To Do When You Feel All Fail-y

Here’s a lovely thing to think about; how things used to be before you got so wise and stuff.

Recognizing where we’ve come from to get where we are is an important skill. When we take a few moments to reflect on our passage, several nice things happen. One, we give ourselves a boost, acknowledging our accomplishments. Two, we see that we really can make significant changes in our lives, in our behavior, in our thinking. Three, we see that, at our core, we are the same, and we are amazing.

I love to observe my ebbs and flows, which are especially easy to see in my qigong practice. I am very interested in the process wherein we feel awesome; accomplished, productive, satisfied, capable; and then, with more practice, we feel awkward, thick, fail-y, and incompetent.

It seems to me that I get the awkward feeling as I am transitioning to a new level of competency. I had it a lot as a kid, when I was learning new skills all the time. I usually go to “what’s wrong with me?” which is a terrible creative question. Put it on your list of Don’t Ask These Questions. Why am I successful? How am I accomplished? What makes me patient and gentle with myself?

When we are in that weird part of leveling up, it is a nice practice to look as far back as we must to see the depth and breadth of change we have made for ourselves. Perhaps you’ve quit a terrible habit like drugs or alcohol. Perhaps you’ve left an abusive relationship or a bad job. Perhaps you’ve transitioned from blaming victimhood to taking responsibility for your life. Perhaps you’ve made your bed for two weeks in a row. Whatever it is, however big or small, give yourself some credit.

Count it, acknowledge yourself. How do I know I am evolving? Why do I choose to change? What makes me proud of my accomplishments?

When we decide we want to change something in our lives, in our behavior, there are things we can do to make it so much easier.

Don’t Worry.
Don’t Intellectualize.

When I open up my heart with these suggestions in play, things happen quickly, easily, and gently. When I open up my heart in this manner, my need to control and rein things in diminishes. I feel softer. I feel more receptive. I feel free, and somehow more connected or engaged.

So, let me officially congratulate you on your accomplishments. You have done a wonderful job, and we are all very proud of you!

How have I changed from feeling low and thick and inadequate to seeing the power of my own evolution?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07242013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Choosing Choices

Choosing Choices

How many choices have you already made today? To get up with your alarm clock, to have breakfast, what to have for breakfast, maybe what to wear, what route to take to avoid the traffic, where to park.

Maybe it was to ignore the alarm clock, wake up late, race to get ready, race to work, feel crappy because you were late.

Maybe it was to get up super early, go for a run, or some other movement practice. Shower, leisurely breakfast, dress for work, take the train or bus in, arrive feeling calm and peaceful.

Maybe you don’t get up at a certain time, or have daily obligations out of the house. Maybe your obligations are around the house, caring for your family, housekeeping, gardening, and so on.

However it goes, you are choosing and choosing and choosing.

Many of our choices have become habit, but even then, there is the option to unchoose it.

Choice is the most powerful of all our super powers, learning to master it, to control it, will do more for the quality of your life than anything else. Learn to do this, and you’ve got it made, baby!

There are some things you need to do for that to happen easily. Seems like there always are, and seems like they are often the same things.

We have to become aware of the act of choosing. We have to notice that we are doing it. And we have to believe that we have choice. When we believe we are victims, we believe we have no choice, or only bad choices. Changing that mindset is the first step.

We have to have a sense of what we can choose. When I was training in NLP, we talked about the need for at least three choices to have a sense of choice. When I am feeling stuck with what seems like one choice, I can often get myself unstuck by coming up with crazy, outrageous options. Opening the mind to it’s creative genius, making up silly stuff, can get things lubed up enough that real solutions emerge.

We have to commit to making that choice. I used to think I wasn’t committed to anything, that there was nothing I did every day. Once I started to look at my life with open eyes, I started seeing all sorts of things I was committed to. Yikes! I don’t want to be committed to *that!*

I want to be committed to a wonderful life. I want to be committed to vibrant health. I want to be committed to vital prosperity. I want to be committed to useful, joyful, peaceful, expansive, engaged, connected, innovative, clear, shiny, sparkly life.

I am the only one who can do that for me, and I do it by choosing it. Over and over.

How have I changed from feeling stagnant, to choosing to choose?

(c) Pam Guthrie 2013 all rights reserved 07232013