Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Strong Woman

A Strong Woman. Many have different ideas or definitions about what a strong woman is in today's world. Strength is defined in many different ways: Muscle. Attitude. Status. Religious. Sense of Self. All elude to strength but offer different examples of how strength is demonstrated. Muscle strength is physical; a man or a woman can feel strong if he or she can physically overpower another, be it in an abusive relationship or in sports situation. Attitudinal strength may reflect a self-righteous “in your face” attitude, or a snobby condescending demeanor. Status strength reflects a variety of examples, including economic, financial, career position, even social position. Some feel having more of something - material things, money, influence, or friends in your corner - gives one position of strength to influence over another person or situation. There's religious strength, in which some with their belief doctrine of choice strong arm others into their way of thinking in the name of God, be it through pious judgment, having an “in” with God, or a pious righteousness that God's sword will "right" a situation. And finally, there's the Sense of Self – a concept many give little consideration.

The Sense of Self is an inner knowing of one's personal truth - who she is through and through. She knows her history, her role and responsibility in it, her strengths, her values, her human weaknesses. One recognizes the need to maintenance her sense of self through self-reflection, and is honest in this task, feeling no need to pretend to be someone she isn't. Her heart is open, unconditional, loving, and forgiving. A sense of self is strong because it's light – holding no resentment, no grudges, no self-pity. A strong sense of self affords comfort in one's own skin, flaws and all, and doesn't need to mask anything or be something she's not. A strong sense of self needs nothing outside of itself to feel valued or worthy; she meets her own needs, knows self-love, self-respect, and self-confidence without any outside validation.

The above quote about “A Strong Woman” describes a woman with a strong sense of self. Her principles are clear, those to which she holds herself without expectation of anyone and everyone to follow suit. A strong woman is honest with her emotions and about her own feelings, owning them rather than placing blame on others for experiencing them. With a strong sense of self, a woman opens her heart to healing, accepting responsibility for all her choices made in the past, forgiving herself and all others involved. With this healing, she is capable of feeling deeper love for and acceptance of others, no matter their personal choices or how they show up in her life. Through the healing of past experiences, she gleans wisdom, and when Life throws a curve ball, she digs into the wisdom held in her Sense of Self to find what she needs to manage her way through it towards love, forgiveness and peace again.

A strong woman passionately loves all, standing strong on behalf of those she loves and for herself in the strength of personal empowerment rather than in the overpowering of another. A strong woman's strength is quiet, internal, not the the swing of a sword, the cut of one's tongue or the stepping on or over another. Her inner strength is spiritual, as well as practical. Her strength is soft in its quiet presence within, but strong in its effectiveness. That inner strength allows her heart to open wide and love generously, freely, and deeply. When another attempts to hurt her, this same heart reconciles within itself, forgives, and loves anyway, but now standing stronger in her personal power. Strength is knowing one's own feelings and freely sharing them with others and with herself from the place of "I feel", fearlessly, honestly, genuinely to express one's truth, rather than from the place of "you make me" to hurt, blame, manipulate or coerce another.

Strength is indeed an essence within, a knowing of one self, an empowered sense of self. The Sense of Self takes time to develop; in many ways, it involves a rennovation, a tearing down and a rebuilding if one has suffered many years of heartaches, heartbreaks, carries unresolved grudges and resentments, or is consumed with anger and bitterness. This rebuilding shifts the outwardly swing of the sword, the slaying with words, the explosion of emotion as power to the quieter inner power of knowing, self-confidence, and solidified foundation of truth built with the bricks of values, character traits, principles and standards that support and reflects one's personal presentation of Self in the world.

A strong woman is one who feels deeply and loves fiercely. Her tears flow just as abundantly as does her laughter. A strong woman is soft and powerful. She is practical and spiritual. A strong woman in her essence is a gift to the world.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Attention Everyone! Leave Tebow Alone!

I have had enough of this Tebow business!

First, for the record, I am a Denver Bronco fan, I love Colorado which was my home for ten years, and I am THRILLED with Tim Tebow and what he offers to the Bronco franchise.

Second, I don't care if Tebow wants to kneel down in prayer, kneel with both knees on the ground and bend all the way over, make the sign of the cross or raise his hands to the sky to thank God in prayer and praise.

Third, I admire Tim Tebow for sticking to his spiritually religious beliefs and who he is, and. . .

Fourth, while he honors his personal religious beliefs, I appreciate that he doesn't use moments when asked about them to proselytize or “convert” anyone by shoving them in our face or down our throat.

Okay, that said, I am sick and tired of Tim Tebow being used by everybody as a weapon for a religious war of righteousness!

To the people who criticize and ridicule Tebow for his sideline knee bend, be you atheists, angry former Christians, twice a year Christians, agnostics, and yes, Christians who are just pissed off that Tebow is that good and beating your teams: Get over yourselves! If you believe or don't believe in God, fine. If you have a bug up your hind-end about God and Christianity, fine. If you believed in God and feel God let you down in life, or let your favorite football team down, fine. Please just mind your own business of hating, non-believing, and resentment stewing. I respect your position. Its your spiritual journey, or perhaps, for some of you, your non-spiritual journey. It's between you and the Power above, or for some of you, that which “doesn't exist.”

To the Christians who criticize those aforementioned for criticizing Tebow for his sideline knee bend, be you fundamental, mild to moderate or extreme Christians: Get over yourselves! If you truly believe in Jesus Christ and that all will answer to Him upon death, let the Big Guy deal with those who you believe will burn in hell after being dealt with on Judgment Day. Please just mind your own business of believing and praising. I respect your position. Its your spiritual journey. It's between you and J.C.

And hey, one more thing dear Christians, stop using the Muslims as your weapon in your religious war against those who rail on Tebow in the name of their non-belief! Just as those who condemn Tebow for owning and living his faith, so have the majority of Christianity condemned the Muslims for owning and living their faith. But what do you do? You use them as your righteous justification for Tebow to practice what he believes when you can't respect what Muslims believe and their right to practice it? Unbelievable, not to mention hypocritical!

Tim Tebow just wants to play football and worship God his way. He's minding his own business. Now if everyone else, non-believers of God and/or Jesus Christ, Christians, and Muslims alike would just mind their own spiritual, non-spiritual and religious business without exerting energy on Facebook, in the media, in the pulpits in the name of Jesus Christ, Allah, and that which “doesn't exist” to arrogantly condemn others for not seeing their beliefs their way, this world would have less war, and more of what I believe God and Jesus Christ want from all of us to begin with: Love, Peace and Harmony.

God bless Tim Tebow. God bless the Denver Broncos. God bless us all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Am a Quotes Addict

I am a huge fan of quotes, as evident by two quote apps on my iPhone and a few quote websites on my Favorites list. I'm especially a fan of quotes designed with intention to inspire, motivate, encourage and support positive and productive action. Some quotes are intended to hint sarcasm, sardonic humor, cynicism, and reflect life's little ironies.

I always find people's choices of quotes interesting because the quotes they tend to share are often a reflection of who they are and their attitudes in life. I stumbled across the above quote by Herm Albright, which upon first blush sets up the reader for an expectation of something positive and inspiring, but then reverses it to sarcasm and cynicism. Herm Albright was notorious for these kinds of statements which he shared as a writer for the Saturday Evening Post. He viewed the world through the lens of cynicism.

In working as a spiritual life coach and teacher, I meet a lot of people who talk a good talk, and project a facade of positivity, goodness, and optimism; however, if you pay close attention, their words, their actions, and the thoughts they share with others contradict this outward persona. We all have our moments of human weakness in which we lose our spiritual or Christian-principled center; but consistent contradiction reveals the hypocrisy through how one expresses him or herself in conversations, behaviors, and attitudes.

We are spiritual beings living in a human experience. Spiritual essence (vibrations) are those expressions of emotion and feelings that feel good. Examples include love, joy, peace, harmony, compassion, joy, elation, grace, etc. The human Ego-driven essence are emotions and feelings that don't feel so good: anger, cynicism, annoyance, upset, resentment, vindictiveness, complaints, etc. Spiritual expressions are higher vibrations, and they feel good within oneself, and they feel good when shared by other people. Ego expressions are lower vibrations, and they don't feel as good when experiencing them firsthand or when shared by another. So when we read Albright's well-known but misleading quote, we are lured in by a hopeful spiritual vibration (positive attitude) only for it to convert to an Ego-driven lower vibration (intention to annoy).

A positive attitude isn't intended to solve problems, but rather to be supportive energy in moving through problems with a higher (spiritual) vibrational demeanor. Having a positive attitude with the intention to annoy another person is simply Ego-driven lower vibration, thus a reflection of spitefulness. Yes, those with negative, bad attitudes may very well be annoyed by those who hold positive attitudes; however, holding a positive attitude with the intention to annoy others is in and of itself a negative attitude, a lower vibration.

Regardless, I choose a positive attitude because I believe in holding a higher vibrational belief system that supports me in creating positive experiences in my life. It also attracts more joy, love, peace and harmony in my life, the feel good stuff. Once in a while, bad attitudes hook us in, bringing us down to that lower vibrational space in life. We must become more aware of when this occurs so we can pull ourselves out of it with pure intention for a better experience. We also encounter bad attitudes from co-workers, families, strangers, etc. I strive to help others shift out of those dark places into a “bright side” optimism. Of course, not everyone is willing to go there, because it feels better to be a victim and feel pitied. But if we want to truly experience joy, love, harmony, and more “feel goods” in our life, we can learn from yet another famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Pricetag for Freedom

There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love. I am a whole complex package. Take me, or leave me. . . .Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don't fit your idea of who I should be and don't try to change me to fit your mold. ~Stacy Charter

The above statements resonate with me because I've had to stand up in my life and say, "Enough is enough, I am not doing this anymore! I'm not tolerating verbal, emotional or societal abuse because I choose to be who I am, live my life according to my values, and believe in what I deserve in genuine relationships and a genuine life."

Where are you fitting into someone's mold? How are you negotiating who you are in exchange for material goods, security and comfort, or for love and acceptance?

I started standing up for myself in 2003. I was involved in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship with a man who was controlling, critical, and angry. When I expressed how I felt, I was shut down, my words taken out of context, manipulated into statements of attack against him when what I expressed were my feelings. My world was a life in which I lived walking on eggshells, never certain how anything I said would be interpreted. In this “loving” relationship, I had to be someone I wasn't; be who he expected me to be, everything from how I washed fruits and vegetables to how I addressed his displeasure about work or family or social issues. I was expected to agree with everything he said, without question, without looking at any of it from the others' point of view. If I did express my thoughts that differed from his own personal perspective or opinion, I was against him, nonsupporting, and failing him as his mate.

It took a while to realize I was not living my life from a place of personal power. Chris Michaels, author of Your Soul's Assignment says, “We all reach that point of authority in our lives – that place where we can no longer stand pretending to be something we're not just to please other people. That is the point of power in our lives – a personal declaration of independence. It's also the point in life where. . . we become less tolerant of others whose only interest is to make us feel bad and wrong.”

I eventually found the courage to leave this relationship. It was a three-year road towards freedom, for my ex continually reappeared, clinging to our connection with humbled apologies and proclamations of true change. His actions showed otherwise as his resentment and the anger festering beneath this facade of humility surfaced quickly. He refused to leave me alone because he was angry: at me for daring to stand up to himself; at himself and his choices leading to the demise of our relationship; at those closest to him in his life who betrayed him, hurt him, caused him pain. I finally freed myself from being a target of blame for his unhappiness. And only until he healed past betrayals, grievances and disappointments would he find the inner peace which he sought in making anyone who challenged his maltreatment and behavior miserable. He felt better about himself by devaluing and demeaning me, which is what bullies do when they are unhappy or insecure. Bullying is abuse in the form of picking on others, bad-mouthing others. Bullies secure sympathy from others, often placing the blame on another for whatever misery they experienced in their life. My ex-boyfriend drew me into this web with stories of his ex-wife cheating on him, how his alcoholic parents abused him verbally and never showed love for him; how co-workers did him wrong, etc. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. In addition to learning how to stand up for my life, I also learned there are two sides to every story.

I feel empathy for my ex-boyfriend, and the road he's traveled, but I don't deserve being his punching bag as a cure or relief from his own miserable life. Just as I have the personal power to make choices that create a better life experience for me, so does he; so does anyone. He eventually got help, and like most people who have a few months of counseling, he believed he was “changed.” This experience in 2003 launched me on an eight-year journey that continues of healing, forgiveness, and rediscovering who I am and my God-given gift of personal and spiritual power. When I let anyone dictate to me who I am, how I should show up and be, what choices I should or shouldn't be making, or how I should live my life, I hand over my personal power to another human being. I cannot control anyone's choices or actions in his or her own life, or even towards me. I can take action to stand up for myself, and walk away on the high road, head held high knowing I do so from a place of authentic truth as a Light of God. My value doesn't come from other people's opinions of me, but rather it comes directly from my connection to God. This holds true for everyone.

It isn't always easy; I lose my footing, I stumble and I fall on occasion. But, when I pick myself up, I understand what tripped me, and I resolve to walk again, more firmly entrenched in God's love for myself, and especially for those who attempt to push me down. We all have our own paths to walk, and we walk them in our own time, at our own pace. I am only responsible for how I show up in my journey's path, and upon crossing the paths of others along the way.

Sometimes, moving forward means leaving others behind, even when we love them deeply. Leaving behind my ex-boyfriend, and others since then, doesn't mean I stopped loving them. They hold a special place in my heart and in my memory. They are wrapped with love and hope that one day they recognize their own personal power to stand more brightly in the Light of God to live a life of spiritual authenticity.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go!

It's a New Year and I sincerely hope you all safely and joyously celebrated! I bless and thank 2011 for all it provided so I may prepare to move forward in excitement and anticipation for 2012.

If you read my last post, you know I did some serious “shedding” in 2011. The year facilitated stripping myself of Egoic pride, and surrendering completely to the guidance and flow of God in my life. A few months ago in a phone conversation with my former spiritual teacher, I explained I felt like I'd spent most of 2011 “waking up” from a really bad dream. She gently stated, “Carolyn, you've been grieving for the last two years, and you're coming out of it.” It never occurred to me I was in a grief for over two years; I mean, I felt better about my mom's passing, though I still had moments. But when I stopped to ponder Deb's words, I grieved many losses that started before my mom's death, and that I continued to experience since through 2011.

Worse, I was making major decisions from that place of grief! I remember reading somewhere you are not to make any major decisions for a year after a loved one passes. Well, I certainly didn't listen to that sage advice! I moved to Evansville to be closer to a man I'd just met only a few months before and had agreed to marry. I started a new business, offering holistic, metaphysical services in an area unfamiliar with such concepts. I made poor financial decisions; I renegotiated my values for friendships. In hindsight, and gratefully I look back laughing at the whirlwind that was my life. While I wasn't so amused last summer, now I can laugh when I look back at the last three years thanks to a healing process, and jestfully ask myself: What were you thinking?!? And damn, if you didn't have some cahonas!

That wild and crazy ride had its good stuff too!! I met some amazingly warm and welcoming business people in Evansville (Rainmakers) who supported me despite not fully understanding what it was I did! I shared some fun, pee-in-your-pants laughter, and memorable times with classmates in a few wild and haphazard adventures. I had the honor to serve some incredible clients through my business, Healing Life Energy. I familiarized myself and connected within the community of Evansville, Indiana where I called home for nineteen months. I came home and reconnected with Owensboro, Kentucky, and my extended family members and acquaintances of the past. I am employed and in service to a wonderful non-profit organization serving to empower others, a mission resonating with my heart's own desire. And I'm closer to my father, committed to serving him in his aging years, and more importantly, restoring and healing my relationship with him.

For the first time in over three years, I feel like my life is in alignment, and I am exactly where I am suppose to be right now. In 2009, I made decisions out of emotion. In 2010, I made decisions both emotionally and intellectually. In 2011, my Spirit's voice broke through the clutter that was my life so I may truly recognize and know my heart. Upon my decision to return to Owensboro, everything felt right in that moment in my heart, in my soul. My “head” argued to convince me not to walk away from all that I'd achieved, none of which left me feeling happy or fulfilled. A weight released, the burden of carrying/wearing a plan, perhaps even a facade, as designed by the Human Ego.

The feeling of inner certainty, an absolute knowing within of God's plan broke through the chaos that was my life when I opened myself up to listen. Once the message was received and accepted, when I surrendered to it, allowed myself to be in the flow of Life, things began to shift in my favor. All I had to do was be present, surrender, open myself up to receive, and allow.

I regret nothing of these last three years. All of it I value, despite how things ended, that things ended as they did. I wouldn't trade it because now, I know what it feels like to swim against the current. And I now know what it feels like to swim completely in the flow of Life. Now, it's easier. Joyous. Peaceful. Harmonious. Stress-free.

Yes, I'm excited about my life and 2012, and through this blog, I will share that excitement and all the year brings forth in my experience. I'm awake! I'm centered! I'm clear! I'm ready!