New Year, New You

How are the first few days of your new year going?

Do you want to live out the phrase, “New year, new you”?

Of course you do! You’re following my site because you’re likely interested in personal growth and this means we’re continually trying to improve ourselves and striving to be the best humans we can.

So here’s my insider’s tip: Make goals. 

Dig within. Write down what you want to happen in your life this year.

What do you want to accomplish? What good would you like to attract in your life? What blocks do you want to remove? Where do you want to grow? Where do you want to go? Be specific!

This is how you do your part. The rest takes care of itself.

See, goals give us direction. They send out a powerful message to the universe on a conscious and subconscious level. They serve as an affirmation for us, our life, and our ability to choose.

New year, new you? Make goals.

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This New Year – Make Mistakes

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself.

Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
Neil Gaiman

Walnuts and Rice

Here’s a fun exercise to try if you haven’t heard of it before:

walnuts-and-rice

Take a jar, a handful of rice (enough to fill the jar) and a handful of walnuts. If you put the rice in first and then the walnuts, you’ll find that there is not enough room in the jar for both. But if you put the walnuts in the jar first and then the rice, they both fit fine.

What’s the lesson?

The walnuts are our priorities. The things that matter most in life.

The rice is everything else. The small stuff. All of life’s little details.

walnuts-and-rice

When we do what matters most to us first, the rest of life kind of just falls into place. Life always works itself out when we have our priorities in line and we put our walnuts first.

Desire

Desire is a funny thing. It can range from a slight want to an all consuming obsession.

But it’s always in our head. And our minds can play tricks on us.

Think about a time when you’ve wanted something so bad and finally got it. It wasn’t exactly what you thought it’d be was it?

For example, I really wanted another dog. I mean really wanted one. The desire almost took on a life of its own- keeping me awake at night, scrolling through photos of shelter dogs in need. Eventually, I got another dog. But I forgot about the totality of what this means. Housebreaking, chewing, barking. Sure, it’s great having another dog, but there are drawbacks to it, as well.

There always are. For everything you gain, you lose something else. And we tend to forget this when consumed by desire. We forget to look at the totality of the picture and how our want fits into that.

I think it’s important to remind ourselves of this whenever we begin to feeling the aching of desire. We can never see the whole picture but we can do our best to look at our wants through a larger lens.

Most importantly, we should be grateful for what we already have and remember that what we have right now, is all we really need.

How Much Do You Love Me?

I recently rescued a puppy and as dogs always do, she’s teaching me a lot about life. Dogs have countless lessons to teach us and I’ve written on this subject before, but puppies, I’m finding out, have even more!

As a rescue, I’m unaware of what life was like for my puppy before coming to me. She has a lot of trust and anxiety issues, as many rescue dogs do. I have another dog, who has been with me since he was born, and the three of us have been in constant negotiation since the new puppy’s arrival. It seems with every new experience, the dogs are working amongst themselves to figure out who’s the boss. Whether it’s a bed, chew toy, food, or my attention. They’ve spent the greater part of our first few weeks together determining which one of them gets what, and when. The puppy will even try to play this game with me. She wants to know who’s boss.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert.

“There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. ‘How much do you love me?’ And, ‘Who’s in charge?'” (Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love)

Raising a rescue puppy, or any animal for that matter, is confirmation of this truth. At our most basic and animalistic level, it really all boils down to this. 

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What are you thankful for?

thankful

I’m thankful for waking up today. For the ability to breath and walk and laugh. I’m thankful for fresh air. That when I walk outside I feel safe. I’m thankful for other people. Old friends with whom I share a history and strangers whom I have yet to meet. I’m thankful that I can trust people, because I trust myself. I’m thankful for clean drinking water and that I never have to worry about when my next meal will be. I’m thankful that I have a warm place to sleep at night and a roof over my head.

It’s mind boggling, really, when I think of everything I have. It’s a wonder every day isn’t Thanksgiving. Indeed, it should be.

Imagination and Prayer

As we age, imagination either overtakes logic/memory or logic and memories overtake our imagination. Imagination is the road less traveled but it is the pathway to prayer. Prayer and imagination are directly proportionate. The more you pray, the bigger your imagination becomes.

A good test of your spiritual maturity is whether your imagination is getting larger or smaller. The older you get, the more faith you should have because you have experienced more of God’s faithfulness. It’s God’s faithfulness that increases our faith and ultimately, our imagination and dreams.

God wants us to keep on dreaming until the day we die. If we keep praying, we’ll keep dreaming. And vice versa. In fact, praying is a form of dreaming and using our imagination is also a form of prayer.

Halloween Irony

There is great irony in our celebration of Halloween.

mask-halloween-irony

Think about it…

Halloween is a day when many people enjoy dressing up, wearing masks, and pretending to be dead. Ironically, most people spend the other 364 days of the year dressing up, wearing masks, and pretending to live.

The Intersection of Death and Creativity

As the saying goes, “Genius is sorrow’s child.”

mourning

Psychologists Christopher Long and Dara Greenwood recently investigated the connection between death and creativity. They asked a group of undergraduates to write humorous captions for New Yorker cartoons. Some of the students were first primed with subliminal messages of death. These students produced cartoons judged to be more creative and more humorous. The conclusion is that the inability to acknowledge and mourn loss leads to a shutdown of vital creative impulses. On the flip side, the resolution of loss allows for a fresh start and renewed access to sources of creativity.

Mourning, it seems, is not only vital for our mental health but for our creative lives as well.

This might explain why a disproportionately large number of creative geniuses lost a parent, usually a father, at a young age. A study of some 700 historical figures found that 35% lost a parent by age 15, and nearly half by age 20. The list includes Dante, Bach, Darwin, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf and more. These creative geniuses possessed not only an ability to rebound from suffering but also to transform that suffering into creativity.

Life is Our Greatest Teacher

“In fact, life is our greatest teacher. Whatever we are doing can be instructive, whether we are at the office, or talking to our spouse, or driving a car on the freeway. If we are present to our experiences, the impressions of our activities will be fresh and alive, and we will always learn something new from them. But if we are not present, every moment will be like every other, and nothing of the preciousness of life will touch us.”
― Don Richard Riso, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types