HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY REINVENT YOURSELF

In my last couple of posts, I wrote about how my life had completely been dismantled.  I also wrote about how I was using this summer to initiate my rebuild.  I call it my Summer of Reinvention.   As I’ve been sharing my story, I have been hearing similar stories reflected back to me.  Many of my clients and friends have been going through similar life demolitions, and are ready to start the process of reconstruction.  What most of them are missing, though, is the knowledge of how to do this.

How does one go about creating an entirely new life while sitting in the ruins of the one they’ve spent so many years building?  Well, I absolutely believe that the answer to this question will always be as unique as the person asking it.  That said, though, there are some tools that can be useful to help the process along, especially when you’re back at the beginning.

These are the tools that I’m using to help rebuild my own life.  I guarantee that at least a few of these practices can help you, too, to get more clarity, more motivation, and more enjoyment out of creating your dream life … whatever’s happening in your current life.

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TOOLS FOR SELF-REINVENTION:

  1. Honest Self Analysis.  If you’re like me and many other folks, you probably know what you don’t want.  You might even be savvy enough to know what you do want.  But many of us are lacking a clear and true picture of what we’ve got going on right now.  It’s impossible to make optimal effective changes if you don’t know what it is you need or want to change.  So, take a little time to evaluate what’s really happening in your life right now.  How are you operating in the world?  Are you proactively making things happen, or reacting to whatever comes along?  How are you viewing the world?  Through the lens of abundance or scarcity?  What do you have that you want?  What don’t you have that you want?  And what do you have that you don’t want?  What do you believe is truly possible?  In short, what are you currently working with, and what can you do with it?
  2. Get Grateful.  Now that you know where you currently stand, it’s time to show a little appreciation for the good you’ve managed to garner for yourself.  Openly express gratitude for the awesome things you’ve accomplished.  This will align you with the good stuff you’ve already got working for you.  Then, while you’re at it, express gratitude for the things you want to have in your life.  And express that gratitude as if you already have them.  You can do this by writing in a gratitude journal (my choice), or thinking your gratitude, or speaking it aloud to yourself or to others.  The how is not important, it’s the true feeling of gratitude being expressed often that helps to energetically magnetize you to more of those things you want. 
  3. Use Your Imagination.  This is where things get really fun!  Step 3 is about daydreaming.  This is your time to imagine the life you want in all its shiny new awesomeness.  Visualize what you look like in your new life.  What do you do every day?  Where do you live and work?  Where do you go and what do you do in your leisure time?  Who are you spending time with?  Get as specific and detailed as you possibly can.  Then continue to daydream like this every single day.  The more you imagine yourself living the life you want, the sooner you will find yourself creating it naturally and with little effort. 
  4. Use Visual Aids.  This is one of my favorite tools for reinvention.  I am a visual person, so it really helps me to get some clarity around what I want and what that looks like as a big picture.  There are several ways you can integrate visual aids into your work.  Vision boards are one of the more popular choices.  Gather images that represent the life you want to create.  Attach them to a piece of paper, cardboard, plywood, etc..  Then keep your board in a place where you can see it everyday.  The images provide visual stimulation and support to keep you consciously (and subconsciously) focusing on your goals, which keeps you activated and motivated to ultimately manifest them.  You can also do this the virtual way by creating a Pinterest board for yourself that can be your online vision board.  You just need to make sure to look through it every day.  Other options are to create an avatar of the version of yourself that lives this new beautiful life, create a painting or drawing that symbolizes your life in some significant way for you, or you can even regularly put yourself in places in have the look and feel of what you’re trying to create for yourself.  Get creative.  Get visual.  And get manifesting.
  5. Turn In Your Oscar-Worthy Performance.  One of the quickest ways to create a new life for yourself is to just start living it regardless of your current circumstances.  Just think like an actor preparing for a role. Want to billionaire?  Go shopping in luxury boutiques.  You don’t have to buy anything, but being there will allow you to feel like you are the kind of [super wealthy] person who shops there on the reg.  Want to be a sought-after public speaker?  Join a Toastmasters group to start getting the feel of speaking regularly in front of live audiences.  Want to have a baby?  Do some babysitting, and really get a feel of what it’ll be like to care for a child.  Whatever it is you want to have, be, or do, you can manifest it more quickly if you start acting like you already have it, are it, or are doing it. 

This is not an exhaustive list.  But these are some of the tools that I am finding to be really helpful for me, and that have proven helpful for many of my clients.  It is my sincere hope that they will work some magick for you, too. 

If you have other recommendations of tools that have worked for you, please feel encouraged to share them in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!  At some point or another, most of us will find ourselves ready to change our lives in some way.  This is growth.  This is evolution.  It’s always nice to know that we’re not going through it alone!

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Living the Tower Card: Watching My Life Crumble Around Me

There’s a card in the Tarot known as the Tower.  It’s usually the sixteenth card in the Major Arcana.  The classic imagery is of a, well, tower, that has been struck by lightning to its total destruction.  There are sometimes images of people falling from the tower to their demise, too.  It’s a pretty intense card.

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image courtesy of pinterest

Here’s what Aeclectic.net has to say about the Tower card:

In a moment, it is over. The Tower is rubble, only rocks remaining. Stunned and shaken to the core, the Fool experiences profound fear and disbelief. But also, a strange clarity of vision, as if his inner eye has finally opened. He tore down his resistance to change and sacrifice (Hanged man), then came to terms with Death (Death); he learned about moderation and synthesis (Temperance) and about power (The Devil). But here and now, he has done what was hardest: he destroyed the lies of his life. What’s left are the foundations of truth. On this he can rebuild himself.

Many people read the Tower card as negative, and fear it’s presence in a spread.  I, however, almost always see it as a good thing.  For most of my readings, the Tower card tells about a complete breaking down of the foundational beliefs and perceived truths upon which we once built our lives, making space for the rebuilding of new truths and ideas that more accurately reflect the evolved person we have become.  It’s sort of like the old Etch-A-Sketch toys that erase everything previously drawn when you shake them up a bit.

I bring this up here, because I am currently living the Tower card.  Fair warning:  This post is going to be raw and real.  There will be no sugar-coating here.  If you have no interest in reading about the intimate details of the lives of others, you may want to click over to a site featuring kitten memes, or whatever you’re into.

I am not exactly sure when the lightning bolt actually struck my tower.  Well, that’s not entirely true, if I really think about it.  Perhaps it would be best to say that my tower has been sustaining some pretty potent damage over the past couple years.

My time at Kanekiki Farm on the Big Island of Hawaii was definitely instrumental in creating some cracks in the foundations.  I experienced an entirely different way of being in the world while I was there.  I was fully submersed in a supportive, cooperative community.  I was encouraged to, and given the resources to, take a long, hard look at how I was living my life, how I was connecting with others, and how I was sharing myself with the world.  On the farm, our foods were raw, our emotions were raw, and our interactions were raw.  It was simultaneously glorious and heartbreaking, terrifying and exciting.  And my experiences there really ignited a spark of new awareness deep within me.

After Kanekiki, I spent the rest of the year traveling the globe, sometimes with a companion, but mostly solo.  With every new country visited, I felt new shifts in my foundations, new cracks in my walls.  I found myself hastily patching rents where I could, but my heart wasn’t really in it.  This was simply the reflexive response to the fear brought on by the drafts from these chinks in my shelter.

Instead of feeling the freedom I was craving, I found myself feeling more and more trapped.  I was living in the most stunning exotic locations, and all I could focus on was how miserable I was feeling.  I would be surrounded by new people, new opportunities, new experiences, and instead of reveling in it, as I had expected to, I found myself shrinking in a mindset of lack, of loneliness, of fear.

Oh, the shame of it all!  Shame of feeling these dark and heavy feelings in these light and beautiful places weighed down on me.  It was so heavy and so brutish that it began to shake the walls of my tower of identity, leaving me with real concerns about whether or not I could sustain it all.

There was a brief reprieve when my sister joined me in Greece for her birthday.  But soon that came to an end, and, with it, my time of wandering the world.  Things just got shakier after that.

I returned to the States with no real plan, no money, and no idea what to do.  I knew I had changed so profoundly since leaving my home for Hawaii all those months ago, but I hadn’t really had time to process who I had become or, rather, who I was still becoming.  I was lost, but I took refuge in my tower.  It might not be as sturdy as it once was, but it was familiar, and that felt safe.

After several months of questioning, wallowing, and job-hunting, I finally decided to start my new life in Austin.  I arrived with a job, but no place to live, and still no money.  But I was feeling determined to make it work.  I spent three months living in my compact sedan.  I kept telling myself that it was an awesome adventure, but when I got really honest with myself, I was met with embarrassment, discomfort, a strong sense of failure, and yet more shame.  I didn’t choose to live like this.  I was living in my car because I couldn’t afford to live anywhere else.

How could I be living like this at my age?  What’s wrong with me?  I have no house, no partner, no kids, no community, and no clue.  Why can’t I get my life together?

This, I believe, was the final lightning strike that collapsed my already shaky tower.  It kindled that inner spark born at Kanekiki, and the whole thing went up in flames and came down in a tumble of stones and bones.

Knee-deep in rubble, I realized that I have been living my life half asleep for a very long time.  I have been operating from a place of knowing what I didn’t want, but having no idea what I did want.  I will never be able to cultivate a life that makes me happy until I understand what it is that will make me happy.  Out of the debris of all the challenging experiences during my journey, I was able to start piecing together a new picture of what I want my life to look and feel like.  I began to have a clearer understanding of what I want.  And in that moment, I began the slow and steady process of rebuilding my tower.

I’ve made some progress, but, as with any construction gig, there have been setbacks.  And I really have no clear idea when my completion date will actually be.  I’m still undergoing some pretty intense moments of destruction, too.   It’s like I’m now in the dance of one step forward, two steps back.

Once in Austin, work was slow to start, but with just a little time, I built a strong base of wonderful and loyal clients.  (Add a new layer of bricks and mortar!)  This allowed me to find a better living situation.  I still didn’t have a ton of money, and Austin is a crazy expensive city, but I was lucky enough to find a room for rent in a home in one of my favorite neighborhoods.  It was in walking distance to a grocery store, to my job, to downtown, and to a free public natural springs swimming pool.  It was unbelievably cheap, too.  (Yes!  Add a brick, please!)  I would be living with two other folks around my age – an artist and a yoga instructor/musician.  (Awesome!  Another brick!)  It sounded amazing.  I was so grateful to be out of the car, and into a proper house.  But I soon realized that, while the price and location were perfect, the living situation was not.  One housemate was great, but the other, the one who was there all the time, was very, let’s just say, difficult.  I was doing my best to hold space for him, to send him love as a fellow human being who was doing his best in this world.  But, I was sitting in a pile of rubble, man!  I just didn’t have the internal resources to manage that crap.  So, my fledging foundation took another hit.

Then I decided to move to Asheville, to be close to my sister and her new baby.  Meeting my niece for the first time really filled me with love and provided some unexpected clarity.  Moving here, and seeing her nearly everyday, continues to do so.  More bricks in the walls!  Hooray!  

But, my new job, which seemed so bright and shiny before I moved, is starting much slower than I’d hoped.  And no one working there is ever as busy as I was at my job in Austin.  This concerns me.  Potential damage could come of this, though I’m trying my darnedest to stay positive.

Another wrecking ball came to tear down some of the new building when my car, Gertie, finally gave up the ghost.  So, now I have no car, a job that has yet to convince me it will pay my bills, and no second job – as my second job was as a delivery driver … which kinda requires a car.  (More rubble.)

Luckily, my sister has offered to share her car with me, so all is not lost.  (And … add a few more bricks, thank you!)

But, still, here I sit in a construction site of a life that looks like it’s being overseen by Animal from the Muppets.  My life is a mess.  Nothing is certain.  I can’t read my blueprints because I’ve been crying.  A lot.

But this is what happens when we are letting go of old limiting beliefs, old structures of identity and old paradigms of perceived truth.  Those old thoughts and behaviors fight back.  We have to struggle with them a bit in order to get them to release.  Sometimes it might seem like they are winning, and this is when the tower begins to falter.  But other times we can subdue them and make some real progress in the reconstruction of this new tower, this new life, this new identity.

It’s like Jen Sincero writes in her book, You Are A Badass:

[Your Ego, aka. your old limiting belief system] will do everything it can to stop you from changing and growing, especially since you’re attempting to obliterate the very identity that you and everyone else has come to know as “you”.  Growth ain’t for weenies, but it’s nowhere near as painful as living the life you’re living right now if you’re not really going for it. 

I’m determined to stay with this rebuild as long as it takes, but I sure do hope there’s more progress than regress from here on out.  I’m using my Summer of Reinvention to experiment with new practices and routines that will help me to be more productive, more actively engaged, and more blissful (of course!) in my life.  I’m feeling really hopeful.  And I am feeling some momentum.  And that feels good.

Have you ever had an experience in which everything you held to be fundamentally true about your self/life completely fell apart?  If so, please feel welcomed to share your experience, and/or what tools you used in your rebuild.  I’d love to hear from you and connect over this shared experience!

Thanks for taking the time to make it all the way to the end of this long and confessional post.  I am so grateful for you!

Wishing the most blissful of experimenting,

melanie

Summer of Reinvention

It’s been a minute since I’ve been committed to regular updates on this blog.  I’m glad to be back and sharing my journey once again.  If anyone is out there reading:  Thank you for following along.  If not, well, that’s okay, too.  Writing is an important tool for me to help process and track my personal growth and wellbeing. 

This return to regular posting is part of a bigger life restructuring for me.  After nearly two years of nomadic wandering, I am finally setting down roots for a while.  If I’m honest, it’s long overdue.  But, if I look at the big picture, and get even more honest, all that wandering had to happen to allow my arrival at this place in the present moment.  So, I allow that all the discomfort is worth it.  (Discomfort, after all, is merely an alert that I’m not allowing my desires to be fulfilled.  The alert is what motivates me to make positive change.  It’a a good thing!)

There are a lot of cosmic factors playing into this restructuring, which I’ve dubbed my Summer of Reinvention.  (I’m giving this season this moniker, because I like titles and it gives me a clear theme to work with for a specified time.)  For starters, at my birthday in April, I transitioned from a 9 year to a 1 year.  This is part of the recurring numerology cycles that we experience through life.  The 9 year is a time of wrapping up loose ends, purging the last dregs of what doesn’t serve the higher good, and generally going through a massive inner/outer housecleaning in preparation for the transition to a new cycle.  The 1 year is all about starting over, but with the added wisdom of lessons learned in previous cycles.  There tends to be more clarity, motivation, and momentum in a 1 year.  It’s not always super immediate, though.  I liken it to my favorite quote from The Tortoise and The Hare:  Slow and steady wins the race.  This is time to reorganize, set goals, and set up strategies for how to reach them. 

Astrologically, we are about to enter the eclipse season.  Mars is retrograde.  Jupiter has been retrograde.  Mercury is about to go retrograde.  And undoubtedly, many other transits are conspiring in the heavens.  Since I’m merely an astrological novice, here’s a snippet from one of my favorite astrologers, Charlie Cross (astrologyally.com) to explain the current landscape a bit better:

This Thursday’s New Moon initiates Eclipse season, but we’re already in the midst of some strong astrological weather.

Tuesday, Jupiter stations direct after having been retrograde since March. The Sun has been opposing Pluto for a week (which will be exact on the New Moon, and then present for another week), and Mercury has entered its retrograde shadow.

Altogether, there’s the sense that this week is a turning point on a journey that will quickly ramp up in intensity through the next couple months.

This Spring and Summer, Jupiter’s retrograde has had us tuning our navigational compass, questioning our maps and guides. At the end of this process, we ought to feel more mature, less able to be fooled, and ready to jump into a more substantial adventure.

The Sun’s opposition with Pluto is an encounter with the intense, naked truth. It demands that we live authentically, taking seriously our deep sensitivity and discarding that which doesn’t serve us. Pluto offers us riche, if we sacrifice (make sacred) unneccesary compulsions and reclaim that which we’ve pushed to the shadows.

So many star- and planet-fueled energies to aid in my process of reinvention!  Another astrologer, Shannon Gill Jones (www.shannonjonesastrology.com), has this to say about eclipse season: 

Eclipse season is a portal time. A time when the universe opens up and showers upon us cosmic seeds of reorganization in a catalyzed fashion in order to wake us up and propel us forward on our evolutionary journey. Expect the unexpected!

So, you can see that there is a lot of cosmic energy supporting this reorganization and reinvention.  And thank goodness, as I will take all the support I can get during this process.

What are some of the ways I’m navigating this process?  I’m so glad you asked!  It’s still unfolding, so I reserve the right to add/delete/change any of this as I go, but for now, here’s a list of the activities and practices I’m using to make this reinvention successful:

  1. Getting clear on what I want.  In high school, I had a fairly clear picture of what I wanted.  I was going to go to college.  I would become a doctor (a neurosurgeon, no less).  I would get married and have kids.  And I’d live happily ever after.  About a year into my time at university, I realized that this dream was no longer true for me.  I was changing, growing.  And that was fine and good.  The problem was that I shifted from a place of knowing what I wanted, to knowing what I didn’t want.  And somehow, I’ve managed to stay stuck in that place ever since.  I wasn’t even aware of it until I started exploring the Law of Attraction in earnest over the past couple years.  It took me a while to wrap my brain around the idea that I was approaching goals (and life) from a negative point of awareness by neither having clarity around what I truly desired, nor what was motivating those desires.  And once I was able to fully understand that, it’s been a slow journey of shifting my perspective toward the positive point of knowing what I do want and what I hope to gain by fulfilling those desires.  I’m still honing my vision, but I have a much better idea of what I’m moving toward in my life – rather than what I’m moving away from.  That leads me to …
  2. Setting specific goals.  I sometimes struggle with setting big goals on paper.  I mean, I enjoy the process of writing the goals, but I often neglect the action steps needed to achieve them, and, therefore, end up failing before I even begin.  So, in lieu of writing out a big list of over-arching goals, I am starting small with some consistent action plans.  I have created a calendar for myself that includes dedicated times for all the things I want to work on during the week.  This includes, of course, the more mundane obligations like going to work, feeding myself, and the like.  But I’m also scheduling time for fitness, writing, working on personal business tasks, cultivating social connections, practicing meditation, and other activities that either excite me or bring me closer to my desired vision for myself.  I may not get everything done every day, but having it laid out for me on my calendar makes me more aware of how I’m spending (or wasting) my time.  It’s gentle, built-in accountability.  And the more I do, the better I feel.  The better I feel, the more motivated I am to keep doing it, and to do even more.  It’s a beautiful snowball effect. 
  3. Enlisting support.  This one has been a fail for me in the past.  I have been historically rotten at asking for help.  When embarking on something challenging, I have a tendency to want to keep it to myself until I have perfected it enough to bypass the embarrassment of the messy beginning stages.  This, of course, is total bollocks.  It’s in the messy beginning stages that I am able to allow myself to be truly vulnerable, to let go of expectation, and to allow myself to make mistakes … mistakes which inevitably blossom into new wisdom and skill.  Without support during these not-so-perfect stages, it is easy for me to give up and fall back into old tried and true patterns.  Without support, I’m more likely to continue down a path that doesn’t serve me – that, in fact, only perpetuates what I don’t want – just because it’s familiar and I’m pretty good at it.  (Again … bollocks!)  So, this summer I’m enlisting the help of others to not only keep me accountable, but help bolster me when I’m feeling discouraged by the lack of competency that inevitably comes with learning new things. 
  4. Investing in myself.  This is yet another area in which I have historically been remiss.  Having been raised a good Southern girl, I often put the needs of others before my own.  And while this can be a fine practice once in a while, it’s very limiting on the reg.  I’ve recently been consciously investing both time and money into my own wellbeing … even against those inner voices that have been spouting refrains from the chorus of scarcity.  “You can’t afford this!” they cry.  “I can no longer afford not to do this!” I reply.  I’ve enrolled in an intensive year-long coaching training course.  I’m doing some health coaching with a mentor to try to correct my D, B12, and Iodine deficiencies.  I’m investing in the supplements needed to correct those deficiencies.  I’m committed to getting more regular bodywork.  I’m making time for physical fitness.  I’m setting a priority around getting enough quality sleep.   I’m starting a women’s circle, which is an investment not only in myself, but in my community.  These are just a few of the ways in which I’m investing in myself.  I hope that more opportunities will arise as I continue down this path.  So far, I’m feeling really good about these investments, and, I suspect, the returns will be even greater than I can imagine.

There it is.  The crux of my plan for my Summer of Reinvention.  May the sharing of my experience serve you in some positive way.  If you have tips, ideas, or thoughts to share, please feel encouraged to leave a comment below.  I love receiving other perspectives!  Until next time …

xoxo,

melanie

Ashes to Ashes … Dust to Dust

 

(This post originally appeared on my professional website:  www.experiments-in-bliss.com.  Find additional information for living the blissful life of your dreams there.)

Transformation has long been a recurring theme in my life.  I feel like we are all always transforming, always evolving, growing, changing in some way or another.  Some of us do this with awareness and intention, others with complete obliviousness.  Still, change is constant.  However, sometimes change gets upgraded to CHANGE.  There are moments in some lives that herald intensely profound, fundamental, life-shifting transformation.  In Shamanic traditions, these profound shifts are often called dismemberments.

This is just as it sounds:  It is a total dismembering of the Self and Soul in which we tear apart the life and self-image we’ve spent a lifetime building to create space for the re-creation of a new life that more closely aligns with our soul’s true purpose.  It is sometimes light, easy, and enjoyable.  But, for many, it can be a heavy and confusing string of gut-wrenching challenges that can drag on indefinitely.  This puts me in mind of the Blondie lyrics:  “She’s so dull … come on, rip her to shreds!”

According to Tim at Alchemists Journal, “there are likely many degrees to which we experience a dismemberment reflected in our daily lives.  I’m sure it is often not even noticeable, just a graceful shift in course.  Sometimes, however, much greater transformation seems to be required, one in which every aspect of our lives is offered up for possible demolition.”  Either way, the outcome is a shiny new life of purpose and contribution and, presumably, bliss.  Tim continues:  “That’s … the reason we ultimately surrender to it:  Our soul is already awakened to the potential we are in the process of fulfilling.  As we are laid bare, reduced to the most fundamental aspects of ourselves, our soul’s calling can be much more easily heard.”

According to Nancy Sherwood of Traveller’s Joy, “dismantling anything takes time, and the ego does not like this loss.  But the Spirit can be strong, and can transform apparent death into rebirth.”  I liken this experience to the Tower card in the tarot.  It’s about totally leveling the foundational structures we’ve built for ourselves.  Everything we know to be true is challenged, questioned, scrutinized, and either validated, or deemed no longer relevant and discarded to make space for something better suited for the current environment.  Many people view the Tower card with fear and disappointment when it appears in a spread.  But I have always revered it as a great harbinger of Hope.  It’s an opportunity for refinement which, if taken, can lead to beautiful new experiences and greater ease on life’s journey.  Keeping this attitude during a period of dismemberment can be decidedly helpful.

Sherwood also makes an interesting point here:

“Space is defined as a feminine aspect in Buddhism, and form a masculine one. The dance between the two is what takes place here on earth, where form has been given such a major role that it is dismembering the earth itself.”

I understand her to be observing the imbalance created in our ‘civilized’ modern lives.  Where once we had much more balance between the feminine and masculine aspects of energy in our world, we now offer much more weight and power to the masculine – form over space, action over reception, external over internal, and, accordingly, extrospection over introspection.  Under this paradigm we are not only faced with the challenges inherent in a lack of natural balance, but our resources for how to process information and experience on an interpersonal level is diminished.

From a macrocosmic perspective, there seems to be some dismemberment work taking place in the world of late.  The #metoo movement, #blacklivesmatter, natural disasters, and upheavals in the political arenas are clear evidence of this.

On a personal, microcosmic level, I have been experiencing a very profound dismemberment adventure.  Upon my relocation to Austin, I joined a Shamanic women’s group in an effort to meet people, and reconnect with the spiritual community in the city and the spiritual community within myself.  Our group meets regularly for Shamanic Journeying as well as Goddess Culture exploration and celebration of the Divine Feminine.  It’s been very powerful and healing for me to be a part of this circle of women exploring our relationships to Spirit.  The journey work we do is very similar to the Internal Family Systems work I was doing just before I left Durham.  I’ve missed doing that IFS work, and am grateful to be exploring this kind of self-guided, but guide-supported internal work again.

During the past two journeying sessions I have had experiences of my physical body being completely dissolved into ash and crystal glitter dust, respectively.  Neither experiences were frightening for me. In fact, they were liberating and beautiful.  I felt safe and loved and protected the entire time.  When I shared my experiences with the group, one of my mentors told me about dismemberment journeys within the Shamanic school of thought.  This was the first time I had heard this particular phrase; though, of course, the idea of death and rebirth are shared by many of the world’s religions, myths, and cultures, and was very familiar to me.  Having this new lens through which to view my experience has been very enlightening.  I already was aware of the fact that I am in the midst of a long and drawn out transformation of some kind, but I, in my Ego-driven mind, assumed it was because I was actively making choices to create change.  And, while, to a certain degree, this true, it’s also hubristic.

When I look back over the past couple years, noticing the plans I’ve had and the way those plans were (or were not) made manifest, it is clear to me that I am not the primary driver here.  Every day I become more aware of new opportunities to come more fully into what I can only describe as my True Self.  And while it’s very hopeful and exciting, I also notice myself dipping into my bag of tried and true modes of avoidance.  These behaviors that I’ve picked up along the way to distract me from the discomfort of deep and powerful Change always show up when my Ego is feeling challenged for control of my life.  I am grateful for the awareness of it.  And I am hopeful for the strength to dismember those disruptive patterns, too.  I know my Soul is fierce and strong.  I also know she has the courage and fortitude to be soft if I can only let her.  (It’s this that seems to be most challenging for me.)  So, these visions in which I am being reduced to nothing but tiny bits of earth, and rebuilt as a more complete, updated version of myself provide me with invaluable encouragement that I am on the right path and I am equipped to succeed through this part of my journey.  I have a spiritual community available and willing to act as my support system.  I have a physical community available and willing to act as my support system.  And I can do this.

Should you find yourself in the midst of a dismemberment journey, whether gentle or brutal, you may find the following tools to be helpful.  Either way, I wish you love and strength and softness on your path!

TOOLS FOR NAVIGATING POWERFUL LIFE TRANSFORMATIONS:

  • Seek out a professional guide.  This could be a Shamanic Healer, a mental health professional, a certified counselor, a religious teacher/advisor, or a group experienced with navigating big life changes.  Having this kind of trained guidance can not only provide comfort and structure to your transition, but it can make the experience much safer, too.
  • Find some personal person support.  Tell a friend or family member what you are doing, and enlist their help when things are feeling challenging or during those times when you need to establish new routines and new ways of integrating with others.
  • Practice some form of meditative strategy.  This can be Shamanic Journeying, or any other kind of meditative practice that resonates for you.  Since these kind of life-altering transformational shifts are often initiated by the Soul, it is helpful to have a vehicle in which you can regularly converse with your Soul in its own language.  Any ‘meta’ practice will do as long as you feel a connection to the spirit realm, or soul level, when you practice it.
  • Document your experiences with Spirit.  I really enjoy journaling post-journey to document my experience.  I gain added insights when I go back and read, and re-read, those entries.  Some people like to paint, compose music, or choreograph dance.  The possibilities are endless.  Choose a form of documentation that feels powerful to you and that allows you to express your experience in a way that gives you access to it again and again.
  • Pay Attention!  Start to notice your life more fully.  Be aware of new opportunities opening up for you.  Notice people, relationships, experiences coming into or leaving your life.  Be mindful about any learned habitual responses to the discomfort you may be experiencing.  And even search for signs of discomfort that you might be trying to bury in shadow.  This is a time of Change, and watching it all unfold with focused awareness can make for an incredibly rich and informative experience.
  • Get out of the way.  It can be tempting to try to control everything that’s happening during these times of intense transition.  And it’s perfectly fine to be an active participant in your life.  But there’s a fine line between active participant and steamroller.  If you find your attempts at directing energy in a particular way are being thwarted at every turn, then maybe recognize that there may be a better direction for that energy.  Get out of the way and let Spirit guide you toward what that new direction is.
  • Keep calm and carry on.  It may sound trite, but, really, the best thing you can do during this time, in my humble opinion, is to relax into it.  Try to keep a positive outlook, remembering that your Soul is guiding you to greater heights.  You are never asked to do anything more than what you are capable of doing.  And it really is going to be fine.  Sometimes when we stop struggling, we realize it was the struggle, not the situation, that was making things so unpleasant.  So, shift your gaze to the positive.  Become your own Pollyanna.  And enjoy the ride.

Once More With Feelings …

I’m feeling some deep, heavy feelings.  This moment feels choked with them, almost as much as my throat and my thought bubbles are.  I was wondering if it is a result of all this tension at Kanekiki, but when I sat with that thought, I discovered that those experiences are merely flavoring the soup … they aren’t the stock.

I have decided the best way for me to work through this emotional experience is just to dive into it and swim about and see what greets me.  This is never easy for me.  In fact, I think the fact that it isn’t easy is a huge component of what makes it so powerful and so necessary.  I feel Pele is working on me again.  It’s like she’s giving me one more big, beautiful, painful gift before I leave Her island.

And while I’m thinking about the fact that I’m leaving this place, I am recognizing that I have so much sadness and apprehension around this leaving.  I feel an umbilical attachment to this place that keeps telling me I haven’t finished feeding yet.

I feel a strong attachment to the idea of coming back here … sooner than later.  And coming back to Hilo, not Kanekiki.  While I appreciate so many of the charms of the farm and of Puna, it is not where my heart feels most full.  And it is only when I remove myself from it that I am able to fully recognize this.  I feel sadness for the sadness that this news might elicit from some of the people at the farm.  I feel a strong surge of gratitude for the relationships with which I’ve been gifted during my time there.

One thing I am feeling pretty strongly right now is a growing sorrow and anguish surrounding my relationship with one particular friend.  I’m feeling joy and love, too, though.  It’s become very clear to me how much I honor and appreciate this friendship.  Recently my friend set off to explore some new opportunities.  These explorations appear to be leading to a new path for my friend, one that is less concurrent with mine.  I am facing some strong feelings of personal irrelevance, separation anxiety, and even heartbreak.  I’m delighted that my friend is being embraced by a community that is supportive in so many new and wonderful ways.  I must be honest and confess that I also feel jealousy that I am not finding this for myself so easily.  And I feel some pretty unexpectedly powerful sadness at the idea that do not seem to have as prominent a place in my friend’s life now.

I recognize that this is part of the ebb and flow of life.  I recognize that sometimes we are aligned with certain people during certain experiences to share and gain certain gifts, and that once those gifts have been processed and those experiences navigated, it is sometimes time to move on to whatever comes next.  It is not definitive that this relationship is complete at this time.  But, either way, I am learning the importance of taking time to mourn when I have needs that do not get met, or do not get met in my preferred way(s).  It’s up to me to seek out other strategies for meeting my needs.  It is not for anyone else to meet my needs.  It is not for anyone else to provide for my fulfillment.  That is my job, and my job alone.  Others might willingly contribute to my joy as they are walking their paths alongside me, but, ultimately, only I can make sure I am making choices that bring me joy.

I’m in Hilo this Sunday morning.  On my own after two nights with some other friends here in town.  Tonight I stay in the hostel.  I’m having a second breakfast at a local cafe.  I’m writing my feelings and eating my meal amid the din and kinetic energy of the Sunday morning crowd.  I’m recognizing just how much soul nourishment I get from being here … being a part of the flow of the moment.  I feel more connected, right here, right now, to the world community and the flow of life than I have in all my time at the farm.  What a strange and unexpected awareness.  What a welcomed clue to help me make the decisions soon awaiting me.

This is becoming clear:  I don’t want to invest in Kanekiki.  I don’t want to commit to one particular way of life or way of being.  I don’t want to root down in any one particular place.  (How many times must I learn this lesson?)  I want to experience so much more.  I want to make my decisions in the moment, as options arise and as my feelings and needs dictate.  

I am choosing to eat a cooked [vegan] breakfast this morning without shame or guilt or fear, because it sounds good right now.  And I will let it nourish me in the ways that only this meal can.  It might not be the optimum choice for my physical nourishment, but it provides a less tangible form of nourishment for me:  It feeds a part of my soul that is needing this particular kind of sustenance in this particular moment.

I had a wave of awareness wash over me as I was walking to town this morning.  I became aware, in a very powerful and specific way, that I want money in my life.  I want abundance.  I am ready to be a magnet for money, and I am retraining my thoughts and patterns toward abundance and away from the scarcity mentality that I’ve been carrying like an albatross for most of my life previous.  (Another recurring lesson!)

I recognize that I am coming to many of the same understandings that my friend has come to this same weekend.  We are receiving similar messages from different sources.  She is getting hers from a group of new friends and new adventures, and I am getting mine from a room full of strangers and a few stolen moments with my Self.

I’m feeling inspired to create a life of wealth and passion and joy.  I am feeling inspired to rediscover my passions.  I am feeling inspired to define my life by what makes me feel most alive.  And to redefine it moment by moment as I grow and evolve and transform.  As with most of the influential experiences in my life, my time in Hawaii is proving to be a chrysalis for some very potent and transformative growth.

I am so grateful.  I am grateful to Pele.  I am grateful to Hawaii and her inhabitants.  I am grateful to the ocean.  I am grateful to Kanekiki and everyone who has touched my life there.  I am grateful to my family and friends who continue to support and love me no matter how strange my thoughts, words, and actions might seem to them.  I am grateful to my Self for being able to navigate these experiences, and for being open enough to go through this learning process and to allow this growth.  I am grateful for being brave enough to be with my discomfort and my fear and to nurture these feelings and appreciate them and give them voice to share their stories with me.  I am grateful for this moment.  I am grateful for this life.

New Year Resolutions – 2017 Edition

It’s January!  My word, but the passage of time seems to move faster and faster in this age of immediacy.  This is one more reason that I am so grateful to be living in a place that keeps a slower pace.  (Thank you, Kanekiki, and thank you, Big Island Hawaii!)

As per usual, I have compiled a list of Resolutions for this fledgling year.  As a reminder, I view Resolutions in what I believe to be a purer view than most tend to do these days.  To make a Resolution simply means to resolve to do something.  It’s basically like making an agreement with myself.  And since the agreement is with myself, I can make the executive decision to allow these Resolutions to change and evolve over time if I’m so inclined.  After all, I will be changing and evolving throughout the year.  Why shouldn’t my Goals?

I also like to remind myself that Resolutions, as I put them forth, are Goals intended to cultivate more bliss, passion, health, and love into my life.  These are not chores.  These are gifts.  Gifts I’m giving my Self.

So, here are my Resolutions for 2017.  There are fewer than in years past.  I think this is largely because I am living a more authentically blissful and healthy life, so I need fewer Goals to bring more of this magick into my life.  And that, to me, shows me that my Resolutions have been working for me.

2017 RESOLUTIONS

  1. I resolve to continue to build my personal yoga practice.  Asanas 6 days a week.  Working up to alternating the full Ashtanga primary sequence with the full Sivananda sequence by year’s end + daily pranayama + PT/abs exercises.
  2. Cultivate full and easy lexicon of Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication (“Giraffe” language).  Practice communicating with NVC enough so that it becomes my natural language.
  3. Hike as much of the Appalachian Trail as brings me joy!
  4. Get a reliable, mechanically awesome truck.
  5. Stay low fat, raw vegan all year … joyfully!
  6. Build my Experiments In Bliss business so that it’s both enjoyable and profitable.  Make at least $X/week from online business by year’s end.  Publish three ebooks:  recipe book, raw vegan holidays book, Living in Bliss book.
  7. Meditate daily on love, gratitude, bliss, and/or peace.

That’s it.  Simple and sweet and sure to help me continue to live the most blissful, healthy, abundant, love-infused life ever!

Happy new year, beautiful beings!

Namaste,

Melanie

Best Skincare Practices + DIY Home Facial 

 

 

Today I’m going to share some of my best skincare practices with you.  Being a skincare professional as well as a woman of a certain age, I have tried a plethora of potions and notions to try to keep my skin as healthy and happy as possible.  Through years of research and trial and error (and, eventually, success!) I have developed a pretty fool-proof plan to keep my skin looking and feeling young, beautiful and glowing.  In fact, I get compliments on my skin all the time – even from strangers on the street!  People are often surprised to know my age when I divulge it, commenting that I look so much younger.  I’m constantly being asked what my secret is.  And the answer is …

… it’s no secret at all!  It’s good, simple, healthy living!  There is a caveat with that, though.  “Good, simple, healthy living” means different things to different people.  In many cases, what is commonly believed to be healthy and natural is simply not so.  It is just the current conditioned way of perceiving healthy and natural.  I truly believe that the way I live is in much closer alignment to true and natural health, and that shows in my appearance.  To that end, I’m going to share my not-so-secret secrets for amazing skin with you right here and right now!  Plus, as a special bonus, just because I like you, I’m going to include my favorite DIY home facial regimen for all skin types at the end of the post … so keep reading!

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My Best Skincare Practices are:

  1. Get a lot of good quality sleep!  I aim for ten hours of sleep every night.  Most people really need between 8 and 12 hours of good sleep nightly for optimal health (and optimal skin), despite what the current accepted ‘wisdom’ tells us.  It’s during sleep that our bodies are given the time and rest needed to make repairs and manufacture new cells.  This is the time of elastin and collagen production, which are two very important components of firmer, more resilient skin.  It’s also the time for repairing things like scars and discoloration and, yes, pimples.  Give your body the time and rest it needs to heal itself and you will see miraculous results!
  2. Eat fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables!  Eating a low fat raw vegan diet consisting mostly of sweet fruits and tender leafy greens is ideal.  Everyone I see transitioning to this more natural way of eating very quickly develops the same amazing results:  a clearing of blemishes, the return of a rosy bloom to the complexion, and a healthy glow that instantly makes them look younger and incredibly beautiful and vital.  It never ceases to amaze me the transformations that can take place in one’s appearance with such a simple (and delicious) change in diet.  However, if you are unable or unwilling to consume only ripe, raw fruits and vegetables, then at least add more of these amazing foods into your daily diet.  Try eating a smoothie bowl for breakfast made from a blender full of ripe sweet fruits like bananas, mangos or papayas.  Then have four or five oranges before lunch.  Add a large green salad with dinner.  Your skin (and the rest of your body) will thank you for it.
  3. Stay hydrated!  If you are already eating a largely fruitarian diet, you will already likely be as hydrated as you need to be.  But, if you’re eating any foods other than ripe, raw fruits and tender leafy greens, then you will likely need to supplement your diet with lots of liquids.  Purified water or spring water from the source are, of course, ideal options.  Herbal teas and  fresh squeezed fruit juices are good secondary options.  Generally speaking, the drier your insides, the drier your outsides.  And the drier your skin, the more wrinkles you develop, the more congested your face is (read: more pimples), and the more likely your skin is to flake and crack.
  4. Use less stuff on your skin!  I know this one might sound a bit radical what with people everywhere telling us we need tons of different products to fix tons of different problems.  But I’m here to tell you, the less you put on your skin, the more beautiful and healthy it will be.  When we apply a specific packaged product designed for a specific targeted need, our skin has to work hard to filter out all the extra preservatives and emulsifiers and various and sundry other chemicals (natural and/or synthetic) that it doesn’t need in order to make use of the ‘action’ ingredients for which we bought the product.  Those action ingredients may or may not give you the results promised, but with the use of these products come new problems as a result of the toxic byproducts caused by our skin processing all those chemicals.  What cosmetics companies don’t want you to realize is that using all these fancy specialized products actually cause our skin to look worse in the long run than using nothing at all.  A person who is living in optimum health will have naturally beautiful, healthy, young-looking, glowing skin.  Plain and simple.  However, if you are not living in optimum health, as many people in modern society are not, there are simpler ways you can address some of those negative effects of less healthy living.  Don’t wear makeup.  Or, at least don’t wear a lot of it.  If you must use makeup, stick to things like mascara, eye liner and lipstick.  This will allow you to play with a number of makeup looks without adding too many chemicals to your skin.  Also, use simple, natural foods when caring for your skin.  Yes, foods.  Your skin absorbs everything you put on it and sends it into your body for processing, so keep your skincare products simple and clean.  Check my DIY Home Facial below for ideas on what to use to clean, treat and pamper your skin in a healthier, more natural way.
  5. Get regular sunshine!  Yes, I know, the current recommendations are to keep skin always protected from sunshine.  But this is faulty logic.  This is blaming the sun for the sins of the unnatural and unhealthy lifestyle.  Sun doesn’t cause cancer.  Exposure to sun can exacerbate already unhealthy cells in a body that eats a standard modern diet, gets too little and/or poor quality sleep, endures unnecessary stress, and takes in toxins by the boatload in the form of cleaning products, personal care products, recycled air, automobile exhaust, and even the sunscreen they are told will help protect them from the very cancer it contributes to.  But the sun, itself doesn’t cause cancer.  Our bodies are designed to work in harmonious conjunction with sunshine.  It is understood that the Cradle of Life, the birthplace of the human species – was a warm, tropical environment.  Our physiology suggests that we are designed for warm, tropical living.  Our body relies on regular direct sun exposure to perform vital bodily functions.  It is unhealthy and unnatural to deprive our skin of that regular direct exposure.  So, here’s my recommendation:  If you are living a healthy, low fat raw vegan lifestyle, then don’t wear sunscreen … ever.  If you are living a lifestyle in which you are eating fast food, meats, dairy, lots of cooked meals, and lots of fats, are overworking, over-stressing, under-resting, are perpetually dehydrated, and using a lot of commercial products for home and body, then use sunscreen.  But, regardless of your lifestyle, give yourself at least 10-20 minutes a day – every day if possible – of direct sun exposure without sunscreen.
  6. Find ways to increase mental and emotional poise.  This is a fancy way of saying ‘relax’.  Learn to cultivate equanimity in the midst of the chaos and tension of modern life.  Practice yoga, do some breathing exercises, meditate, journal, take walks … whatever it is that allows you to decompress and detach from your monkey mind … do that.  The stress you carry in your life shows up on your face.

There you have it.  It’s simple, really.  It’s like I always say:  We tend to get healthier, happier and more radiantly beautiful the closer we live in accordance with the Natural Order.  Find that alignment with Nature in simple living:  eating raw fruits and greens, lightening your load with minimalism, finding center with meditation, breathing fully, getting good and ample rest, smiling and laughing often.  Using our natural resources to cultivate health and wellness is always a good way to live.

As promised, here’s a good, simple go-to DIY home facial regimen for those who are looking for one.  Admittedly, if you are living a fully raw, Naturally-aligned lifestyle you will not need to do even this much work for pristine skin.  Still, it’s a nice way to treat yourself to a little indulgent self-care when you’re feeling in the mood to be pampered.  If you are not living a fully raw, Naturally-aligned lifestyle, as most people are not, then you will benefit a great deal from implementing this facial regimen into your regular practice.  In fact, you can mix and match pieces of it to create your own daily skin care routine that will leave your skin glowing with health and vitality, not weighed down with chemicals and toxic byproducts from the commercial tinctures, creams, lotions and potions sold in most boutiques and chain stores.  Enjoy!

 

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DIY HOME FACIAL

  • CLEANSE – The best cleanser I’ve found anywhere is raw honey.  Apply in gentle circles for approximately one minute and rinse completely with water.  It works for all skin types.  It’s antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial which make it great for oily and acne-prone skin types.  I recommend raw honey because it still has those wonderful enzymes in tact which provide exfoliating and skin softening power.  It’s got humectant properties which make it great for dry and mature skin types.  It’s inexpensive and readily available. There is, however, an ethical question to ask when choosing whether or not to use honey.  Honey is one of those “gray area” subjects in the vegan world.  On the one hand, it takes a lot of bees a great deal of time and energy to produce even a small amount of honey.  For humans to take that honey – and in great quantities – is exploitative.  On the other hand, bee populations have been dwindling at alarming rates in recent years.  Many beekeepers are taking on the role of stewards for the bee population as a whole, fostering careful colony expansion and cultivating species growth.  These beekeepers are supported, often, at least, in part, by the sale of honey produced by the bees for which they are caring.  It is up to every individual to decide if honey is an appropriate product for humans to consume.  If you decide to use honey, I strongly recommend purchasing it from a small-scale local beekeeper who uses ethical beekeeping practices.  If you choose NOT to use honey, African black soap is an awesome alternative that is totally vegan.  It can be slightly drying to some skin types, but is still an all-around excellent cleanser.
  • EXFOLIATE:  finely ground oats (preferably organic) OR baking soda – Mix with a little water or 100% aloe vera juice or coconut milk to make a paste.  Apply in gentle circular massaging motions.  Rinse completely with water.  *If in a hurry you can combine the oats and honey together for an exfoliating cleanser*
  • MASK:  For inflammation/heat:  cucumber – Peel and thinly slice cucumber (preferably organic).  Apply thin slices all over face.  Leave on for 10-30 minutes while you lie back and relax.
  • MASK:  For acne/congestion:  betonite (or other) clay – mix with a little water or coconut water to make a paste.  Apply to face all over OR just in areas of congestion/breakout.  Leave on until it is just shy of dry.  You will feel it beginning to draw and tighten the skin.  Rinse with water.

*Masks do not need to be used super regularly.  At most, I would do one or both of these once a week, but it’s fine to do them once a month or not at all.

  • TONER:  rose water or 100% aloe vera juice (or a mix of both) or witch hazel – Apply via spray or cotton round before moisturizing.  This will help to soothe any irritation and calm redness.
  • DAY MOISTURIZER:  jojoba oil, or any lighter oil (sunflower, grapeseed, sesame, apricot kernel, etc.), or De La Terre Sun Diffuser – Apply all over to face, neck and décolleté. (De La Terre is a holistic skincare line out of Asheville, NC.  It’s a bit pricey, but the products are super pure and simple and based around herbs, clays and oils.)
  • NIGHT MOISTURIZER:  coconut oil or shea butter (or a mixture of the two) – Apply all over to face, neck and décolleté. You can enhance the effectiveness of the night moisturizer by mixing coconut oil and shea butter, then warming them in a double boiler and adding some lavender oil and lemon balm.  Once they’ve cooled, you can then put the mixture in an airtight container (preferably glass) and apply as needed.  The lemon balm will reduce inflammation and acts as a good preservative due to its high antioxidant activity, and the lavender helps soothe inflammation/irritation and promotes skin cell regeneration.  Plus, it smells nice.  You can also just use the De La Terre Sun Diffuser if you like it, followed by the De La Terre Balm (for drier or more mature skin).