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!

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.

The Path to Transformation

It’s easy to talk about the positive aspects and outcomes of transformation.  It’s easy to look at the before and after pictures of our lives and recap for others what steps we took to get from point A to point B.  What is difficult to understand, especially while it’s happening in our own lives, is that although deeply gratifying, the path to transformation can be a long and arduous one.   Transforming, which, by definition means changing form, is painful and it’s easy to become lost, lonely, and afraid along the way.

butterfly

Whether you have chosen to take on a life altering transformation, experienced some catalyst that has landed you in the midst of it, or you are being led to contemplate the journey, my biggest advice is to tune into your heart.  Turn off the noise and fear being generated in your mind by the ego and close your eyes.  Focus regularly on your breath and on the peace and silence that lies within your heart.  The capacity of the heart far outweighs that of the ego.  You hold in your heart all the courage you need to move your life forward and listen to the quiet rumblings of your spirit.  Once you have awakened to the voice of your spirit, you will develop a natural desire to grow and expand.  You will begin to realize how unfulfilled you have become by the control, power, and material possessions that define our Western society’s idea of success.  Begin to answer the callings of the spirit by paying attention to the things and people in your life who allow you to be creative, vulnerable, compassionate, and embody the true essence of your being.  With this new perspective, acknowledge and accept the emotional attachments you hold to people and things in your past that you are ready to release and welcome new, more gratifying relationships and experiences into your future.

With the realization that what you have in the present isn’t enough, comes the fun part of brainstorming and playing with ideas about what you do want in your life and where and how you want to do it.   Think Big.  Maybe you’re being called to move to a new city, try a new career, or kindle the flame of an artistic talent.  Maybe it means calling in a new system of spiritual support, developing deeper friendships, or pursuing a relationship with someone who sees and respects the authentic person you are becoming.  This fun and crucial part of the transformation process is about creating this ever-evolving vision that will become the reward for your efforts.   Transformation is about bringing change and renewal to your entire being and way of life and purposefully molding it into something more beautiful, fulfilling and honest.  This new vision for your life will be your constant motivation.  If you become uninspired by your vision at any point along the way, it’s okay, even important, to evolve that vision in to something even bigger, better, and more beautiful.

Now, from the safety of your caterpillar body, you can see in your mind’s vision the beautiful butterfly you were meant to become.  You see the potential that lies inside of you and are ready for the season of transformation it will take to get there.  You begin to build up the bravery and energy it will take to fuel this evolution and there is no denying the amount of dedicated work, effort, and courage it will take.

This is when the real work begins.  Throughout the course of your life, you put down roots with every decision you make, with every relationship you engage in, and with every task you take on.  Transformation requires the laborious work of digging up these roots and making sure they are replanted in a way and in a place you really want to live.  During the process of uprooting, you will be severing ties that no longer serve you.  It will be difficult and emotional, but from it, you will gain freedom from a life that is suffocating your soul.  During your transformation, you are growing in your capacity for love and acceptance.  You are welcoming the adventure of new and exciting prospects that you have created room for and which will shape the beautiful being you are becoming.  Fortunately, along the way you will begin to build the muscles for this work and it will become easier to see clearly what you want to draw into your life.  With small successes, you will become even more motivated to find happiness and fulfillment.  Though you will still experience highs and lows, anxiety and fear, eventually you will become lighter and less attached to the previous state.  It will become easier to make new kinds of decisions, take new kinds of risks, and give yourself more time to gain new perspective through travel, conversation, and ideas.

At some point, you will come to the realization that the things you’ve drawn into your life are things you can’t believe you ever lived without.  You’ll realize that in the past you were coasting along, just getting by in a world where existence was meant to be so much more.

So during your season of transformation, when you are feeling lonely and confused or like a ship lost at sea, it’s important to dig deep and keep working to get yourself to the other shore.  There is no going back for there is no room in your previous existence for the expanded, enlightened being you have become.  When you are feeling anxious and afraid, tune into the heart’s peace and listen for the wisdom you need to continue along this new path.   Take time to reflect on how far you’ve come; from the old cave of despair and angst to an outlook of passion, excitement, and clarity at the future you are creating.

As published in the March 2013 issue of Soulwoman eMagazine.

www.soulwomansanctuary.com