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!

Cultivating Peace

It’s late and I’m sitting in a cozy spot by the fire. The tree is lit by a strand of little red lights that sparkle as they reflect off keepsake ornaments. I’m sipping tea that smells of fresh peppermint and sweet chamomile. The tea and soft blanket around my shoulders warm my body and mind and I look at the gifts, prettily wrapped with heart-felt intentions, under the tree. I remember that the holidays are about love and a special kind of light that glows soft and steady.

I withdraw to the peace of this moment when I need a break from the hustle of the holiday Cultivating Peaceseason. I visit this peace every day by closing my eyes and breathing into the gaps between the chaos. I escape to that peace by the fire before getting out of my car to go into the next store. I can rest in it before opening my laptop to shop online or email the family about holiday plans. It’s so important during this special time of year, to create pockets of time to remember what the holidays are about. There will be chaos, there will be obligations, we will encounter the greed, guilt and consumerism that come with the holiday season. But we can withdraw from all of that. We can look within and return to that cozy place by the fire. We can breathe into silence and keep the stillness with us throughout these crazy days.

Once you create a place for peace within and learn to return to it, create your scene for others. Sit close by the fire and let the silence comfort you and your loved ones. Share a cup of peppermint tea and a blanket. Enjoy a soft, heart-felt conversation. This is the warm holiday spirit we’re all trying so hard to create and provide for our families and friends as we move frantically about the season. Remember that spirit resides in peace; peace within, peace with the members of our families, peace with the universe, peace in silence and stillness. Cultivate holiday spirit and peace this season and bask in the warm, soft glow of love and light.

As published in the December 2013 issue of Curious the Tourist Guide

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.