Archives for posts with tag: gratitude
(n) the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
(v) have as one’s intention or objective.
I can remember as far back as my early college working days in the Boy’s Department at Nordstrom doodling on notepads.  What did I want to be when I grew up?  I would create a radial system of spokes seemingly shooting me off to my destiny.  One arrow pointed toward children.  I loved them, and I was good with them.  I spent my entire adolescence babysitting, leaving a 12-hour workday with one family only to move on to a 6-hour work night with another family.  Kids were my lifeline.  I relished in their joy, spontaneity and humor.  I could even withstand the tantrums and meltdowns.  Another arrow directed me to medicine.  I always loved biology and could marry it with my love for children by becoming a pediatrician.  But I loved the arts and culture, too.  Scientific discovery was not my idea of a canvas.  I wanted a channel for emotional, artistic expression, whether it be mine or someone else’s.  More arrows led to other interests in the areas of design, entrepreneurship, strategy & innovation.  Soon enough, what was supposed to be my yellow brick road became an explosion of ideas with little to no cohesion.  For years, I drew the same picture with the same image, resulting in more and more confusion about the direction in which I wanted to take my life. 
By late-2004, I knew I had to change my career path.  Yet, it wasn’t until 2006 that I decided to pursue my original intention to become a doctor.  I applied and was accepted into a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program.  Life would be set for me until kingdom come: post-bacc for 2 years, medical school for 4 years, residency for 4 years, and if I wanted a specialization, which I did, then X more years.  I would start at 27 years old and not re-emerge until at least 40.  I no longer had to waffle over what I should do with my life.  I felt a huge sense of relief to be rid of the aching desire to find purposeful work, to live a purposeful life and to do something I loved.  Yet, something within told me that this was not the right choice.  Instead of feeling liberated, I actually felt suffocated.  In lieu of joy was dread.  These were not feelings I thought I should be having when I was about to embark on my life purpose journey.  Being a strong believer in gut responses, I took heed and dropped out of the program on the day I was supposed to start and moved to Los Angeles.  It just so happened that I was more excited to move to Los Angeles without a job or any idea of where my life would take me than to start my journey to become a doctor.  From there, life weaves in and out of various jobs and paths in an attempt to take control of my destiny.  Even as recently as last June, my desire resurfaced, and I was beckoned to try again. 
While my interests are still many and varied, I have been better able to narrow down my focus, which has given me a sense of direction that I had lacked years prior.  Most importantly, during this leg of my journey, I have confronted some very important mindset shifts, which has allowed me to become a lot more realistic about what purpose means and how to find it. Below are some of my lessons learned:
Purpose Comes in Many Guises
For many years, I clung onto the belief that purpose was tied solely to career.  I felt that having the right career in an area that I loved was what living purposefully meant.  Now, I realize that purpose permeates across all aspects of life.  Purpose is what drives decisions and choices made everyday with regards to family, friends, home, health, etc.  I can have the purpose to be a good daughter, as well as the purpose to have a career I love.  All of them constitute purpose.
Purpose Is Another Word for Intention
This leads me to my next realization that to have purpose means to have intention.  When we think, say or do something for a specific reason, then it is purposeful.  A way to make life filled with wonderful purpose is to align thoughts, words and actions with our value system so that they are meaningful and authentic.  I cook healthy and hearty meals to serve my family.  When I do this, I feel imbued with a sense of purpose because it is my way to show my love for them.
Money Can Be Part of The Purpose
A major breakthrough for me has been my relationship with money.  I always felt money and purpose had an either/or relationship.  However, after staring at my budget day after day, I concluded that money is a key factor in my happiness, well-being and health.  Money is a freedom tool for me to continue my health journey, explore more adventures and give to my family and friends in ways that I would like to.  For me, money is part of my purpose.  I have shifted my expectations and criteria so that I can accommodate my needs and wants much more comfortably without feeling greedy or guilty!   Anything that serves you should be part of your purpose because that will help build the foundation needed to create more and more fulfillment.
Security Increases Purpose’s Bandwidth
I realize that when my life feel scarce, a lot of my energy is dedicated to worry and stress in order to take care of basic necessities.  However, when life is abundant and my needs and wants are taken care of, I no longer have that energy drain.  Instead, I can channel my energy into more productive and creative outlets that allow me to deepen relationships, generate new ideas and create more abundance.  Fear of loss is replaced by a gratitude for all the opportunities that are now visible without the cloud of worry.
Follow Your Joy to Find Your Purpose
At the very base of our purpose is to feel joy.  I have no doubt in my mind that our lives are meant to be filled with peace of mind and joy of heart.  When we fill our hearts with joy, we are living our lives as they are intended.  So, when in doubt, listen to what your heart is telling you and follow the path that is filled with love and light. 
With Love, 
(v) watch over in order to protect or control.
(n) a person who keeps watch, esp. a soldier or other person formally assigned to protect a person or to control access to a place. a device worn or fitted to prevent injury or damage.
We learn at an early, impressionable age why and when we are worthy and lovable: I love you when you are good; I love you because you listen to me.  In traditional archetype fashion, mothers are the nurturing, caring souls who shower us with unconditional love.  All we have to do is be ourselves in order to gain their affection.  Their love is all encompassing and always forgiving.  We walk forth into our lives with a love that serves to promise us that we always have love and that we are worthy of it.  In contrast, fathers are the judging, demanding souls who provide us with conditional love.  Their love is based on achievement and accomplishments.  We must do and have in order to win their approval.  In this love, we become equipped to handle the rest of the world we encounter as adults.  
Yet, life is not this cut and dry.  It never is.  
From what I can tell in my own life and others from observation and listening, love seems to be mostly conditional.  I don’t believe it’s right or wrong.  No judgment.  I believe this is just a natural by-product of the entangled web of  human relationships that get passed down from generation to generation, like an oral tradition or rite of passage.  Perhaps as part of our own life’s lesson, we are being gifted so that we can better learn how to love ourselves and others.  Eventually, we see beyond what we thought was pure, unconditional parental love into the deeper wounds, co-dependent natures and insecurities and fears that really drive behavior, including how, when, what and why we love.  Even when love comes from a best intention, it may still miss the mark.  Love often greets us in the guise of pity, disrespect and control.
Throughout life, we condition ourselves to become acceptable to others, oftentimes shutting off who we really are and what we stand for.  In our attempt to fit into the norm and to not stand out too much, we present to impress.  After playing a role for so long, it’s hard to get in touch with the person behind the mask.  It’s even scarier to think about how our lives will change once we take the mask off. 
We spend so much time guarding, protecting and controlling.  What are we trying to prevent in our lives?  In this era of empowerment, shouldn’t we be trying to discover our authentic selves and voice?  The grip of past hurts and potential disappointment has us paralyzed so that we can neither give nor receive any love.  We have barricaded our hearts in, sometimes even not letting our adult selves in to soothe our inner child.  We grow older never healing, never learning how to receive love and, worst yet, never learning how to give love. 
I have had the greatest opportunities to face my truths head on.  I know that I want to live a life that is full of love.  At times, I am more concerned with what others can do for me and how I can better receive love.  I lose sight of my belief that my purpose is to serve others, and the best way to serve is to give love. 
Below are the ways that I have been trying to take my own guard down:
Observe Your Truth
First, you must find your personal truth.  It is time to see who has been residing behind the mask.  Take baby steps.  Start by just observing you and your life.  Listen to your words.  When you speak, does what you say resonate with you – is it your truth?  Follow your thoughts.  When you are doing something, is the activity you’re engaging in bringing you some sort of satisfaction – do you like it?  Watch your company.  When you hang out with co-workers, friends and family, do you enjoy spending time with them – is how you are using your time enjoyable to you?  Then, start to dig deeper.  Figure out why you do or don’t like something.  It seems so simple, but when we have been living on auto-pilot, you will find that it takes time, patience and work.  Remind yourself to tune in, and don’t beat yourself up when you tune out.  Your truths will be revealed slowly and surely.
Say Goodbye Gracefully
Always, whenever you are letting go of someone or something in your life that you have valued and cherished, there is going to be a sense of loss.  There are times when you will probably want to run back to the way things were because it’s comfortable.  Hold on and sit tight.  These moments will pass.  Be comforted by the fact that you are embarking on a soulful journey that promises fulfillment because you are living a life that is designed by you, by the divine in you.  The hints, messages, voices and gut feelings are our paths to our own enlightenment.  Take whatever time you need to say your goodbyes.  They served a wonderful purpose, and now, it’s time for you to move on.
Find Your Like
Now that you start to realize that not everything fits as neatly and nicely as it did before, it’s time to start venturing out with your more authentic self.  There are parts of yourself that need to be expressed, nourished and nurtured.  If you have gained a new interest or skill or mindset, find others who you can share them with.  You will find a safe space to really tap into these new parts in a way that won’t be judging.  Instead, you can help challenge each other to explore the boundaries of your newness so that you feel comfortable in your skin.
Gain Grounding Confidence
Over time, as you start to feel out this more authentic you, you and your life will start to gain traction on this new path.  The key is to keep following what feels right for you, despite what others think.  Let others own their judgments because that is more about them than it is about you.  You are very brave and courageous to embark on a journey that resonates with who you are and what you believe in.  Find your competence.  Know your strengths.  Be aware of your limitations.  Stand tall in your power. 
We will always be vulnerable – our wounds will always be there.  Yet, when we stand in our truth, our authentic self and our power, we have been given the greatest gift.  We have the compassion to forgive.  We have the will to act in alignment with our values.  We start to believe that we are worthy of love.  As our heart grows, so does our capability to receive and, best yet, give love.  As your heart power grows, you will start to release the expectations of how and what you want others to give to you, you won’t be so mindful of how much or how little others are giving, etc.  You will only be concerned with what you are giving to others. 
With Love,

Day 28 – Thanksgiving Thankfulness – This Moment: In this moment, the past does not matter, and the future does not exist. In this moment, I am forced to relinquish my burdens and release my worries. The weight lifts, and I concern myself with only those things that are within my control. In this moment, space diminishes, differences melt and time stands still so that all that is left is our togetherness. For this moment that I have with you, I am forever grateful. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Thank you. Xx

the quality of being universal; existing everywhere
of, affecting, or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.
I love running along the West Side Highway.  Its paved paths, scenic views and fellow runners provide the perfect mix of utilitarianism, inspiration and motivation to keep me going.   
The path closest to the West Side Highway serves bikers while the waterfront one serves runners.  I typically opt to run on the biker path, prudently sticking to the far edge of the narrow lane so that I minimize my nuisance to the bikers racing by me.  I like it because it is the path of least resistance.  It is the first path I encounter of the two.  Since getting me out to run in the first place requires a strong dose of willpower, I am overly eager to start running the millisecond my heel hits the black pavement of the biker’s path.  The bliss of starting so that I am that much closer to stopping outweighs the desire for full frontal waterfront views. 
Today, for whatever reason, I decided to cross over to the runner’s path.  Most of the path has uninterrupted views of the Hudson River and our neighboring New Jersey cities.   I was imbued with a sense of Godliness, which, to me, means nothing more than feeling humility, connection, gratitude and joy.  I felt honored to be spending my present moments in a city I feel so connected to; I felt energized by the surrounding stream of people whizzing, pedaling, pacing trying to get up and get out, just as I was; I felt a connectedness to the energy pulsating abuzz, knowing that we were breathing one universal breath; I felt grateful for the support, love and kindness that is gifted to me everyday by my family and friends.  At the sound of my alarm, indicating when my one-way 10 minute trek was up, I pivoted into my run homebound. 
Toward 14th Street, there is a break in the path that directs runners inward in order to pass in front of the large sports complex that makes up part of Chelsea Piers.  Runners are disconnected from the waterfront for a few short minutes, yet in that timespan, the scenery changes drastically.  At the point where the path starts to break off, I entered a small crooked curve partly enclosed by several wooden boards.  It created a tiny enclave.  In that enclave, I saw bags of trash, which caught me by surprise given how well the rest of the path is maintained.  My eyes probed furthered.  I caught sight of a homeless man crouched behind the wall of trash bags.  For at least that very moment in time, this enclave acted as this man’s home. 
After a quick left turn, I excited the enclave and resumed direct forward motion.  A man passed me in the other direction, and I wondered if he would see the homeless man sitting there.  I wondered how many people pass through that enclave and see him… or not.   
At first, my mind entertained thoughts of responsibility and ownership.  Then, thoughts of my own life interrupted me abruptly.  I was asked to recall all of my moments in need during my past and present, and most importantly, the generosity and kindness bestowed upon me by family and friends alike in order in order to provide help.  There are no questions.  There is no judgment.  There is only a helping hand when I need one.  In this moment, I was reminded that I should do the same for others.  He is me.  I am him.  We are one. 
If we are to create better for ourselves, we must create better for everyone. 
My ego-driven self has been very focused on my wants and needs as of late, as I examine my purpose, search for a career path and plan for my financial security.  However, there is always space to do more for others.  I remind myself that giving does not always have to be quantifiable.  It is a way of thinking, living and being. 
In the meantime, I am finding my own way to serve the needs of those around me.  Below are some of the ways that I am learning to give.
Remember Our Universality
Our judging minds play an active role in everyday life as we sort and sift through immense amounts of incoming data.  It serves to categorize and qualify so that we can understand and make decisions.  However, these judgments can also act as a disservice to us.  When we start to live life as an us vs. them model, we fail to see our interconnection.  Yet, we are all born of the same energy, of the same love, of the same creative force.  We breathe the same air.  We drink from the same water.  We walk the same Earth.  We wish on the same constellation of stars.  Within us resonates and resides all of us.  
Love Unconditionally
When we can start to truly accept that we are all one, compassion comes much more easily.  When I faced my own truths about my life and the times of my need, I saw myself in that homeless man.  I could understand what it was like to face challenge after challenge and to need help.  Circumstances don’t always arouse compassion, especially when personality and behavioral differences are magnified, but beyond that, there is still an essence to which we can connect – the intent, the embrace, the empathy.  Just the other day, a jarring voice spoke abruptly: Just do it!  I was trying to read my book, so it felt disruptive and annoying.  Then, I connected.  I heard a girl trying to motivate her girlfriend into action.  At that point, I couldn’t help but smile.  I have been on the giving and receiving ends of the same type of encouragement, so could relate completely to her spirit.  It was that easy.  I just had to turn my thoughts around.
Become An Observer
Over time, as we start to disassociate ourselves from our judgments, we can become detached observers of the world around us.  The world becomes this marvelous study of human interaction, behavior, motivation and emotion.  When we see objectively from a third party perspective, we can understand ourselves through others, helping us to become more empathetic, more compassionate and more loving. 
Start In Silence
No doubt feeling connected and loving at all times is a huge challenge when we are running late, feeling bad or getting stuck.  So, start in silence.  Start meditating on the universality and interconnection of all things when you have space, can be alone and feel good.  With practice, meditation will increase and expand.  Over time, just like with gratitude, or other practices, feel the connectedness spillover into all areas of your life.
These are my first steps to giving back to myself and to the universe at large.  I am reverberating as much love and compassion out there as I can, or as I remember to do.  This is the person I want to become – love. 
With Love,
reveal or disclose (thoughts or information).
I am always in a rush to get to the end.  When I was a little girl, I sometimes used to read the last chapter in a book after the first chapter to see how it ended.  When I was in second grade, I sprinted to the finish line in all my classes – if I wasn’t trying to cross the finish line first in gym class, I was trying to complete my test the fastest in math class.
This very well formed and deeply imbedded habit has followed me from my childhood into my adulthood.  I find that it likes to skip alongside me, happy to come along for the walk, run or ride.  In some sense, it is endearing because it is doing none other than what I have trained it to do for all of these years – cheer me on to go faster, be better, move quicker and, ultimately, help me achieve my end. 
I am still learning the old idiom that life is about the journey, not the destination.  I believe that they can hold equal significance – getting to know someone and getting married to that special someone seems to me to be equally awesome, working hard to complete a project then finishing it feels equally rewarding and so on.  Nonetheless, I am trying to be a lot more appreciative of the journey itself, instead of completely focused on the destination. 
As most people know by now, I am on a quest to live a purposeful life.  I am absolutely, without-a-doubt certain that we all are living part of our purpose day-in and day-out.  When I wake up imbued with gratitude and wonderment about the day’s gifts and glories, I feel certain that I was meant to live this day and experience its magnificence.  When I look my Katie-dog in the eyes and tell her how much I love her and how much joy she brings to my life, I know wholeheartedly that we have been brought together for a reason.  When my 94-year old grandmother and I share stories about our faith in love and life, our bond becomes that much stronger.  Purpose, like beauty, love and joy, surrounds us everyday.  We just have to be receptive to it.
For me, I want to take my purposeful life one step farther into the realm of the work that I do.  I have been so lucky to have met so many people who do love their work – either they have built something from ground up or have pursued work that they really enjoy, including my mom, who spent 20 years working as a Social Worker.  While my mom’s work was hard, she loved it; in fact, she lived it.  Her work was an extension of who she is, and who she is was an extension of her work.  She found her calling.
Throughout my career, I have wanted to find my calling.  However, timing, finances and other things were just not aligned for me to make any big jumps.  Over the past decade, I think I am finally learning (thank goodness!) that change, progress, evolution takes time – certainly not a few days, not weeks, not even months sometimes.  Change needs to be cultivated in order for it to be enacted and maintained.  In order to embrace my own change, I am slowly but surely learning to:
Follow Yummy
I was talking to my girlfriend the other night about her relationship and where she wanted it to go.  As all of us girls do, she was getting wrapped up into the question of where the relationship was going.  Instead of enjoying what she has while she has it, she has been spending her time worrying, questioning, analyzing.  I am all too familiar with this territory and need to follow my own advice.  One of the reminders I have been giving myself is to follow yummy – try it on and see how it feels.  Does it feel nourishing? Do you feel good while you’re in it, and subsequently, when you walk away from it?  Does it feel rejuvenating?  At the end of the day, I want to be surrounded by people who make me feel loved, supported, cared for and nurtured by – the things that I do, the people I surround myself with, the things that I say should be used to build up, not knock down.  While you may have a distinct picture of what that final destination looks like, make sure that the trail that leads you to it feels yummy!
Detach From The Destination
This is the hardest one because the way we typically live our lives is with the destination in mind – know where you want to go, who you want to be and work backwards to fill in the blanks.  I am not saying to release focus on a final destination but be open if the clues you find along the trail of yummy leads you to a different destination.  We have so many different motivational drivers that perhaps we have convinced ourselves of wanting a specific outcome.  It is in our best interest to take the time and put in the effort needed to ensure that outcome is truly what we want and desire.  When focused on your final destination, don’t lose sight of what the clues are telling you.
Listen for Clues
As someone told me once, “Listen for God’s wings.”  I had no idea what that meant, and after asking, she explained that it meant that messages are everywhere.  Listen, look and you shall find.  Despite whether or not you believe in a higher being or the universe, inevitably, there are signs, symbols and subconscious that do lead us to moments of clarity and direction.  So be open and receptive to the clues around us to help us unfold our journeys.
I am very much still continuing along my journey.  I have devised a compass that is giving me a solid general direction.  I believe that through my journey, I will figure out the specifics.  The biggest tool that has helped me understand my general direction has been to find what’s yummy to me.  While my sidekick is still around telling me to forge ahead to the finish line, I am so much more excited to see what unfolds in the meantime.
With Love,

supportive, hopeful, or encouraging.

To go hand-in-hand with my affirmations post, I wanted to share some of my favorite phrases that keep me in the affirmative:
All Is Well
It is so easy to focus on what is wrong.  I overslept.  I am always late.  I ran out of creamer.  My life is always running out of something.  However, when I focus too narrowly on the kinks, life can get kinda bumpy.  For me, starting off a day with or focusing on “All Is Well” is the easiest antidote to help keep things in perspective and to conserve my energy.  Instead of pulling on that loose thread and letting the negativity unravel, causing me to come undone, I try to stay focused on the things that are going well and see what gifts are being bestowed.  “All Is Well” can help pave the way for a lot less grief and a lot more gratitude.
So What… Why Not? 
Improvisation and writing use a method to help keep thoughts and dialogue moving: “Yes.  And…”  “Yes” agrees with what has just been said while “And” asks for more information.  So, in life, I piggyback off of the “Yes.  And..” technique and say “So What… Why Not?”  As I find reasons not to do something, I confront them with a “So What… Why Not?” I am forcing myself to knock down each wall that stands between me and what I want to accomplish.  “So What” also agrees with what has been said; it’s saying that my desire is valid and asks me to lay aside my fear – most worst case scenarios are never as bad as what I make them out to be!  “Why Not?” challenges those fears and excuses to deliver me to the possibility. 
My inner critic can sometimes have a very prominent voice depending on what triggers it.  The judgments create a snowball effect, leading me down a treacherous path of self-rejection and negative thinking about what I did wrong or what I could do better.  In order to stop the madness, I simply cut myself off and say, “Approved!”  There really is no right or wrong.  I acted the way I acted.  I said the things I said.  My thoughts were led down a path.  I don’t and won’t always like what I did, said or thought, but instead of wasting energy and time chastising myself, I need to move beyond into greener pastures.  Approval allows me to stop adding insult to injury and keep moving forward in a way that will serve me.  I can’t undo the past, but I can take control of my present.  Approved!
I’m Working – It’s Working
Once you start using your affirmations, you need to start moving into the territory of believing that they are working for you.  I know that even if I don’t stay exactly on plan, miss a few targets or veer off course every now and then, it’s working.  I am making the effort to make improvements to my life, and that intent goes a long way.  When I start taking action, I move even farther down the line.  When I’m working, it’s working – my goals get met and my efforts get rewarded. 
What’s The Lesson?
This is the biggest reminder that there is a lesson somewhere to be learned.  Through the pain, the suffering, the anger, the hurt, there is always something I can learn about myself – my belief system, my triggers, my desires.  When I am in pain because I feel like someone has left me, I find that I am not angry at that person, I am sad because I feel abandoned.  Having been separated from a birth mother and twin at birth, my abandonment fears get triggered easily.  When I started understanding this information, I could more easily manage my feelings of loss and separate reality from perception.  While I make sure to feel the pain, go through the grief and embrace the sadness, I also make it a point to gain an understanding so that I can cope better next time.
What I have found for myself is that slowly my affirmations have become part of my built-in belief system.  I no longer have to reassure myself that life is abundant because I know it is – I see it, I feel it, I experience it.  Life is good.  I am good.  The same thing is starting to happen with these sayings.  They have become engrained as part of my self-talk.  I can more easily recognize when my mind is being led astray by toxic thoughts, and I can more easily let them go and move into the light. 
With Love,

regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual.

I am in the middle of reading the book, ‘Anam Cara,’ meaning ‘Soul Friend.’  It is a book about Celtic culture, tradition and wisdom regarding life.  It examines the concept of the anam cara and how it is manifested in love, friendship, ourselves, old age and death. 
What strikes me the most is how Celtic tradition so easily integrated the anam cara into its heart and mind, almost as if the term ‘anam cara’ didn’t have to exist because it was a quality passed down through each generation as part of their collective unconscious.  The anam cara was a state of being, not doing. 
The anam cara not only flowed within the individual but also among the community to create a sense of unity, belonging and understanding.  The meaning is most definitely infused with divinity, grace and God, and you can think of it in these terms or in terms of compassion and love.  Either way, the anam cara was sacred to the point that rituals, prayers and even greetings recognized this in their expression.  For instance:

Regularly throughout the conversation in Gaelic, there is explicit recognition that the divine is present in others.  This presence is also recognized and embodied in old sayings such as, ‘the hand of the stranger is the hand of God.’

I am still making my way through the initial chapters, but the message has captivated me and is forcing me to rethink the way I view the world – the people in my life, the beauty that surrounds me, my environment, myself. 
It also made me recall memories from when I was working in Latin America.  Whether I was working in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia or Puerto Rico, everyone placed such an emphasis on the greeting.  In the morning, it was customary to go around and greet everyone in the office!  Depending on the country, we exchanged two kisses (one for each cheek) or even three.  My favorite person in Mexico would walk directly toward me, look me in the eyes and say, ‘Hello, my friend.’  When I left Latin America, I lost that.  I lost some of that sense of community belonging.  Sure, office politics and gossip had their place, too, but more often than not, we acted like a big family.
In my mind, the anam cara and its sanctity is another way to be grateful.  It helps me to recognize and, best of all, receive the many blessings and gifts that surround me.  The anam cara is something that I want to hold softly in my hands. 
With Love,