A Time for Reflection and Growth

I came across this post on my other blog while preparing for a workshop I’m hosting at my yoga studio on Reflection and Resolutions. I thought it a fitting time, days away from the new year and my birthday, to see exactly what difference a year makes. I did lots of hard work and some serious manifesting in 2013! Here is the post as originally published on the Kristin Daemon journal blog.

Today is my birthday.  I feel fortunate that my birthday comes along with the fresh start of every New Year.  As an adult, I have come to appreciate this and take advantage of that opportunity to check in with myself and look at how far I’ve come, not only in the scope of a new year, but also in the greater scope of my life.  

Our lives stack up so quickly and so densely that it’s necessary for us to look back at intervals after time has made sense of our experiences and removed us from the emotion and fog of it all.  Every year we take on new responsibility and obligations.  We meet new people and have new relationships; we also mourn the loss of people and relationships, and alternately welcome and resist change.  As beings in constant motion, experiencing things on both physical and emotional levels, it’s rare that we take time to sit still and reflect and recognize our process and acknowledge our progress.  When we do take time to do this at the beginning of each year, it’s important to look at these experiences objectively and not to judge anything we did as a mistake or a misstep.  Everything positive and negative we go through leads to a bigger bank of knowledge about ourselves and the world and helps us evolve and make better and better choices moving forward. 

It helps to consider that we often don’t notice the little changes a thing takes to grow, be it a child, a pet or a plant.  But to an outsider looking in who only sees that progress intermittently, the small changes along the way contribute to a great body of change over a period of months or years.  Our lives and our personal progress work like that too.  When I think about all the little changes I made over the course of this year that stacked up to put me here in this time and place under an entirely different set of circumstances than the year before, the progress I made, though it didn’t feel like it along the way, was quite significant. 

Like most people, I think, I tend to get wrapped up in the discomfort of a moment or a series of moments and it’s hard to see the big picture and see that the moments of discomfort I’m feeling during this period of great change are actually baby steps in the right direction; a direction that will take me to my end goal, a life where I get to live my dreams and my passions.  So instead of looking at the discomfort in these moments as obstacles or challenges and dwelling on the sense of unease they create, I need to start looking at them as growing pains.  Instead of feeling down or sad or impatient that I’m not exactly where I want to be right now, I need to appreciate that these moments are exactly what I need to be going through in order to experience expansion.

So now, I set my intentions for a year full of surprises and gifts, challenges and knowledge.  I will leave behind my fear, anxiety, stress and worry over the unknown and choose to embrace it instead.  I will leave behind my unhealthy attachments and create a life of freedom, choices and adventure. 

Happy New Year!

Invoking Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance and good fortune.  She is the embodiment of balance, beauty, grace and wealth. We call to Lakshmi with gratitude when we get a raise at work, discover our purpose or witness a spectacular sunset. We must not forget to ask her blessing when we pray for financial freedom or creative inspiration. Lakshmi’s presence and energy in our lives, whether we are aware of them or not, bring us to appreciate the beauty of our relationships, our surroundings and our experiences. She eases us out of one beautiful moment and leaves us with an innate knowing that another moment will come to capture beauty in a different way, so that we are ever in love with and inspired by life.

Lakshmi is feminine, powerful and the essence of all things that are beautiful. When we consciously invoke her, she is the means to all things we crave in life.  She is the polar opposite of filth, lack and fear. She is a radiant beam of light, love and fulfillment.

What can we do in our everyday lives to embody that radiant energy of the goddess? We can start by making our homes clean, clutter-free environments where we cook healthful meals that nurture our bodies and those of our families.  We can take responsibility for our finances by paying our bills on time. We can stop spending money and energy on material things that will do nothing to improve our quality of life in the long run. Sit and listen to beautiful music that warms the soul instead of zoning out in front of the television, think fondly and without bitterness of past loves. Send light and love to them and to friends and family you miss or who may be ill or depressed. The universe responds to these gestures. When you pay attention and begin to shift your perspective from negative habits and reactions toward positive ones, your soul and spirit will feel light and pure and your body energized, healthy and strong.

Let the goddess into your life and embody her brilliance and beauty. Make your life a place she wants to visit, stay and live. Bring in fresh flowers, light candles, burn incense. Build her a beautiful shrine and pay homage to her presence in every aspect of your life. Have gratitude for the blessings she bestows on you, whether her gift is the money you use to buy groceries, the sweet smell of a garden, or a view of sunlight glimmering on the ocean. And remember that, if you surround yourself with vulgarity, Lakshmi will not stay. She wants to live where there is warmth, respect and appreciation, just like the rest of us.

LakshmiSoften your angry, worried face. Put away doubt and insecurity. Take a deep breath and feel into the beautiful softness of your heart. You have a choice in everything you do; in every action you take. You make a choice to insult or inspire. You choose to compliment or condescend. You can choose to clean your dish or let it sit dirty in the sink. You decide whether to have a cigarette or take a deep breath. The decisions we make slowly become habit. These habits turn into negative or positive cycles and the momentum builds so the pattern, no matter how healthy or unhealthy, becomes a lifestyle. It is harder to change an entire lifestyle than it is to make consistent, positive choices and to have gratitude for the results in each moment.

Whether you’re witnessing beauty in another person, in an experience or in your surroundings, know that true beauty has the potential to wake up the heart and is strong enough to feel like an emotion.  When we express gratitude for these moments, Lakshmi and the universe conspire to send us more.

As published in the October 2013 issue of Soulwoman eMagazine. Visit the website and find my contribution to this month’s issue, Traveling a Path Paved by Purpose on page 53!

Beach-Wise

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient.  To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith.  Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches.  Patience and Faith.  One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”

–          Excerpt from Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

There is a peace I find watching the sea that is unrivaled for me. Ironically, I also fear it. I am afraid of going in not knowing what lies beneath the dark water. But as I sit and watch from the safety of the shore, knowing life and an unfathomable depth reside below the surface, I realize its divinity. I become captivated by the roar of the crashing waves and torrid swells erupting into gentle laps on the packed sand. The sea is so dynamic and restless that it seems to be alive; as if it had a central heartbeat giving pulse to the waves.  Seaside Sunset small

The ocean’s roar replaces the rapid fire thoughts going off in my mind. I find stillness in myself by the sea as I leave the movement to the waves. I breathe deeply the salty sea air, which sets a tingle of clarity and spirit racing through my mind and body. My capacity for faith expands when I think of such a force as the ocean being divinely created. Nature has created this environment, immune to our electronic noise. The absence of technology, civilized buildings, electricity or pollutants makes the presence of spirit and divinity close by and obvious here.

When I’m standing on the beach, breathing in the water’s healing air, I’m not thinking of being anywhere else. I’m living in the moment; watching, breathing and feeling its impact on my body. I am receiving her subtle lessons and wisdom. She is teaching me peace in these special moments and gifting me serenity in the absence of thought, reaction and movement. I find the rolling waves of the sea to be a perfect metaphor for existence. They are dynamic and bold and contain within them unlimited potential for life, learning and beauty.

As if her dynamic beauty was not enough, she proves her magic and reveals her internal beauty by leaving behind treasures with the waves; gifts of stones and shells. When I wander the beach collecting seashells, I am not thinking to myself, “I want to find a perfect shell in iridescent lavender with gold flecks.”  I let the sea surprise me and show me something I never thought to seek. In much the same way, people, experiences and opportunities flow into our lives every day and leave behind learning in the sands of our minds. By letting life gift us opportunities and ideas this way, by allowing the universe to give and pull its treasures in waves, we acquire the ability to let go; to relinquish control and act as a vessel for God and the universe to work their magic through us. With these gifts, we grow in our own capacity to act as teachers; waves of wisdom and learning for others.  20130524_132010

Wisdom is like inspiration in a way. One may find it where others would not and interpret it in a way no one else is capable under their own set of life circumstances. Inspiration and wisdom help us to overcome the fear of discovering our essence in the dark depths of our minds, bodies and souls. Through meditation, walks in nature or sitting and watching the ocean, we make room for creativity, solace, and discovery. In closing our eyes and turning focus within, with patience and faith, the potential for learning and knowledge is infinite.

The sea prepares us with stillness and peace, which are necessary for acquiring wisdom and becoming acquainted with our own power, health and purpose. Listen when the sea roars for silence of the mind. Slow down, appreciate her magnificence, and bask in those moments of beauty and peace.

As published in the June 2013 issue of Soulwoman emagazine.  www.soulwomansanctuary.com

Life Inspired by Travel

Travel blows apart my routine and suspends my everyday reality. Travel creates space for inspiration and the destinations I visit provide fodder for my creativity. When I arrive in a new place, my senses are shocked and often overwhelmed by new sights, smells and sounds that entice my taste for adventure. When I travel, I escape the distractions of home and get the distance and freedom I need to download new thoughts, answers and ideas, which become inspiration for reacquainting with myself.

314952_10150447425750086_900955566_nThe people I meet, the thoughts I have and the things I experience while traveling inspire many things in me. Sometimes they inspire me to write, take photographs or draw. Other times to learn new languages and try new food. What travel always inspires me to do, is live differently.

I strive to incorporate the cultures of the places I visit into my everyday life. Not with the things I buy, but in the way I live. I have been inspired to downsize, relocate and develop better relationships because of things I’ve learned and how I’ve grown through travel. I return with new and better ideas about my ideal experience from every adventure.  I return from each place with a new perspective and better understanding of the world.

Because I have seen such happiness in the faces of Moroccans and Balinese who spend their days in the market crafting beautiful art, I have been inspired to adopt a less is more approach to my life. I have chosen to develop and nurture my own craft and live in a way that allows me to follow my dreams and passions.

Because I have been graciously invited into meager homes and nomad tents for hot tea, conversation and hospitality, I have been inspired to develop deeper connections with others. As people in other cultures have taught me to do, I start conversations asking people about their families, homes and children instead of asking them how they earn their living. I make the choice to connect rather than to pass through.

Because I have seen places in this world that take my breath away, I refuse to be locked into a home that is uninspiring. I choose, instead, to surround myself with nature and beauty.

Travel has awakened in me a desire to transform. When I experience a new culture or become a participant in something I never expected to witness, my understanding of the world is cracked wide open. There are few experiences as valuable as being out there living life. There are few experiences as inspiring as seeing what this world has to offer and gaining the wisdom of its people. These experiences are humbling and help me realize I am more like a grain of sand than the sun.

inspired by travel picGetting lost, asking myself hard questions and setting intention for my travel are ways I challenge myself and my notions through travel. I know I must remain open minded and adaptable and take risks and chances in order to experience something unexpected and wonderful. There is no way of knowing where I will end up at the end of a journey like this. When I travel, it’s as if the universe picks me up, shakes up my entire life’s worth of experiences, and then spits me back onto the ground with an entirely new perspective and trajectory. This new line of sight provides me a higher vantage point from which to see the world.

With each trip, I get the unique opportunity to figure out what in my life is working and what I want to come back to; also what isn’t working and what I need to eliminate. In this way, travel also motivates me to takes steps to change my present situation and re-visualize my future.

Human beings are all artists and require inspiration to thrive and develop individual authenticity. Every choice brings about creative action. Whether it’s choosing words or wall paint, what to wear or what canvas to transform, we have the option to think outside the box or choose from within our current patterns. Inspiration is the magic that leads us to make choices that identify our individuality and showcase our unique creativity.

As published in the May 2013 issue of Soulwoman eMagazine, which can be found at:  www.soulwomansanctuary.com.

No Place Like True Home

I crested a hill coming into the town of Wanaka and had a beautiful view of the lake and alpine mountain tops.  In November, it was spring in New Zealand and I walked down to the edge of the lake to take in the serenity of the of crystal water.  The lapping waves soothed my tired mind and the water was so clear and cool it was all I could do to keep from scooping a handful and putting it to my lips to drink.  Lake Wanaka

After a slow stroll along the rocky beach, I found a comfortable café on a bustling corner.  I’d been working and traveling for months and this was my first respite since a free afternoon in Melbourne a few weeks before.  I sat there sipping a flat white, listening to the conversations around me.  The New Zealand accent is a cross between the English and Aussie accents.  It’s more elegant than an Aussie accent and more rough around the edges than proper English.  I sat listening, losing myself in reflection.

For a small town, there was a very diverse stream of people flowing through.  An hour sitting in the café saw European backpackers, families traveling together from Asia, yuppies, hippies, hitchhikers.  The locals were also a melting pot and, from their accents, sounded to be from all over the world.

The food I’d had in New Zealand was fresh and local.  We’d had roasted pig on a spit from the farm next door.  The eggs were bright orange and actually tasted like eggs should and would fresh from the neighbor’s chicken.  The food here consistently blasted my dulled American taste buds.  I was enjoying healthful Manuka honey, gluten free pizza with locally grown and organic meats and veggies, tender legs of lamb, crisp, locally brewed sparkling cider, wine, cheese, and prosciutto I’d bought at the market from local farms.  I was in food heaven.

The locals I met in New Zealand were proud to call it home.  Chris, a server in the resort where I stayed, was from Germany and had been living in Wanaka for 7 years.  His tone was affectionate as he told me how it had become more of a home to him than Germany, or any place, ever had.  He was renting a small house on a nearby farm and talked excitedly about growing his own herbs and vegetables.  Though he pretended annoyance, he secretly loved that his landlord’s children from the big house would come and play near his little cottage and laugh at him working happily in his garden.  He loved the mountains and the skiing and felt so passionately for this country that he had relinquished his passport (a scary commitment for avid travelers and expats) in order to get his residency here.

Wanaka

Chris was so passionate and inspired by his home in New Zealand that he made me crave the experience of  finding my own true home.  I imagine a true home as a place you arrive in and never want to leave.  I’ve been searching for that place with several false alarms over the years.  I envied him for having found it.  I admired him for taking on the challenge of gaining citizenship there.  Something worth having is worth fighting for and he knew that.  I know it too.  I’m ready to fight for it…I just need to find it.