Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Light is Upon Us

People seldom understand the power of repetition. What is repeated over and over can become enduring: what is done in a moment is seldom lasting. If farmers do not tend to their field every day, they cannot expect a harvest. The same is true of spiritual practice. It is not the grand declaration or the colorful initiation that means anything. It is only the daily living of a spiritual life that has meaning. Our progress may range from dull to spectacular, but we must accept both. Each and every day should be linked together, strung into a long line of prayer beads. ~ Deng Ming-Dao

The long-anticipated date of December 21, 2012 is approaching. We are entering into a very special time in history. It's a time in which we must to truly open our hearts not only to new beginnings but to true transformation. You have probably been hearing about this date for quite some time. It signals the end of the Mayan calendar and the close of a 26,000 year cycle. There has been much anticipation and many predictions, many negative and downright scary, about this time in history. 

This date indicates that we are moving into a period of great change. We are all being brought back to our authentic divine self, to where are soul has always resided. It's time to accept the gift this date brings and each step into a natural state of love, peace and oneness. We are moving from separateness to connection with the Divine.

The light is upon us. How do we step into this light that is flooding our planet? How do we move from the difficulties in this world and that each of us may be facing and embrace this magnificent energy? The answer lies with you. The world truly does transform one person at a time. We each have the God-given power to not only change ourselves but the planet. It's time to shift from fear to love. As we commit to our spiritual practice and growth, we are each contributing to the raising of the consciousness of all.  

Believe in and trust your capacity to change not only yourself but the planet. Know that there are angels, guides and many light beings guiding and supporting you through this time of transition. Be open to calling upon them. Set your intentions for 2013, open your hearts, pursue your passions and honor your spiritual practice every day and watch how your life transforms.

With love and blessings this holiday season and all the best for a miraculous New Year.

Victoria and Lois

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Choosing an Authentic Life

A Beautiful View from Dawn's Balcony
A few months ago, we came upon a post by a woman named Dawn (@islandblog) on Twitter. Upon reading her profile, we were immediately intrigued. Here was someone who had been a big-city lawyer, decided to ditch it all and move to a tiny island in the Bahamas. What we especially liked was reading Choosing the Better Life, her personal blog that's full of wonderful posts about her experiences and all she is learning about herself.

So many of us imagine what it would be like if we could pack up, move on and begin a new kind of life – especially in a beautiful setting such as Tuscany, the south of France or an idyllic island surrounded by Caribbean-blue water. We dream that our struggles, both within and without, would somehow magically drop away and that all would be different - and better.

The reality is that we follow ourselves no matter where we go. We can’t expect a change in lifestyle to make our challenges disappear. But there are times when a new way of life is calling us - and we should heed its call.

When we are able to listen to our own hearts – through prayer, mediation and the like - we can find clarity. We become better at seeing who we really are and what we really want. It might very well be a decision to live a life that's very different from the one we've been leading. If so, we are not escaping a life we are having trouble managing. Instead, we are being led to a life that’s in alignment with our authentic self.

In Dawn’s case, her decision to create a different kind of life came from an understanding that she was not being true to herself. She had never fully identified with being a lawyer. It was her identity to the outside world, but not a personal fit.

Many of us live with an identity that has never felt right to us. It's one that we've developed over time from our interactions with the world, the expectations of others and a desire to feel safe. We're so often afraid to let that old identity go. It’s become a friend and we fear who we would be without it.

A Sailing Regatta Offshore Dawn's Island Home

Dawn writes:

In this Choosing the Better Life blog, I have referred to "inner nudgings" - simply my label for the quiet guidance we all have inside, regardless of what we call it, or what we consider its source. Those inner nudgings are very important to me because - when I listen to them - they have helped guide me toward decisions and actions that have brought so much good and joy to my life. And when I have ignored them, I have paid dearly. I also have found that, for me, those inner nudgings start out quietly.

However, if it is about something significant and I continue to question my "gut instinct" or attempt to downplay, suppress, explain away or otherwise ignore the subtle prompts from inside, those little nudgings eventually turn into something external and equivalent to a baseball bat knocking me upside the head! So, now I prefer to pay attention while they are still quiet little nudgings.

Anyway, I opened my 
Daily Word today and saw such a perfect description of this that I thought I would share it with you:

The spirit of God within me lovingly navigates my way.

A Global Positioning System (GPS) in one's car shows the way to new places, while a friendly, automated voice gives turn-by-turn instructions on how to get to a specific destination. Similarly, we have an internal GPS which we can activate anytime to steer us on our spiritual journey. My internal guidance arises through intuitive prompts, gut instinct and an inner knowing that guides me where I need to be. The voice that speaks to me is the still small voice within, which helps me navigate through any challenges. I listen for Spirit's cues when I am quiet and still, and I confidently follow the prompts to my highest good.

A Bahamian Rainbow

Dawn took a leap of faith. She listened to and trusted her intuition. She didn't expect her new life to be perfect, but she believed it would be a life that was truly hers. And she knew that that would make a difference in how her life felt.

Dawn shares the "old" story of her life and contrasts it with her "new" story:

OLD: I’m tired. I’m overworked. I’m stressed. I don’t have time for friends and fun. I live too far from family. I hate winter. I’m sick – again. I’ve had nothing but heartache in relationships. I’m reeling from emotional trauma. I let others determine how I feel. I’m lonely. My beloved dog is the brightest spot in my day. I’m Type A to the max. Life doesn’t feel as fulfilling as it should. I feel like I’m just marking time.

NEW: Endless sunshine and water views buoy my spirit daily. I enjoy seeing my family more often. I love having time to be happily domestic at home and social with many friends. Deep, steady, solid love fills my heart. I am healthy and rested. I’m content within myself. I’m still highly organized and detail-oriented, but I can go with the flow, too. I take each day as it comes and am open to how the future will unfold. I am thankful for the abundance of good and Grace in my life. I still love my dog but we’re no longer co-dependent. :)

Dawn from Choosing the Better Life

It takes courage to rewrite one's story, but our genuine story is always there just waiting to be embraced. Thanks so much, Dawn, for being such an inspiration. We applaud your openness, your spirit and you desire to make your life the best it can be.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Book Review by a Woman Who's Chosen the Better Life

Dawn, Our Book Reviewer
In recent months, we've had the good fortune to strike up an online relationship with Dawn, the author of a great blog called Choosing the Better Life. Since we first connected on Twitter, we were intrigued with what this beautiful woman - with a beautiful heart - had to say about leaving her life as a lawyer behind and creating a new life for herself on a small island in the Bahamas. 

Below you will find a lovely review of our book, A Little Book About Something Much Bigger: The Gift of a Spiritual Practice, that she recently posted. We hope you enjoy it.

Dawn writes:

Hello, Better Lifers! Well, here comes another “first” for me - I’ve been asked to write a book review, which I present below. First, a little background . . .

In my About page, on the eve of my blog launch, I commented, “Although I won’t talk much about God here, spirituality is an important part of my life. My faith has deepened throughout this journey, and my soul thrives in this serene environment.” Over the next few weeks in the life of my new blog, I proceeded to write – with great response from readers – about spear-fishing, making my favorite hogfish dinner, differences before and after my island move, random bits about island life and other island-living posts. A month later, inspired by a morning devotional I’d read, I posted something a bit different – my thoughts about following my “inner nudgings” with a broad nod of appreciation to God/Spirit/Universe. The positive response to that little post overwhelmed me. It was my most popular post! Go figure.

Of the many readers who contacted me, one in particular struck up an online conversation with me. This lovely woman named Lois seemed to share a similar philosophy of life, and she conveyed her appreciation for Choosing The Better Life. Eventually, Lois stepped out a bit further, and asked if I’d be interested in reading a new eBook that she and her best friend, Victoria, had just published about making time for the connection to self and Spirit each day – and then writing a book review.

Hmmm, I certainly hadn’t anticipated this direction when I started the blog. However, I was interested in reading their book anyway. Moreover, I decided that I’d better follow my own advice to pay attention when opportunities cross our paths, and this was certainly a new type of opportunity for me. So, I told Lois that I’d be happy to read their book and would consider writing a review if I was still comfortable with the idea after reading their book.

Fast forward to present . . . I have since read their little book, and it is a delight. Without reservation, I offer Choosing The Better Life’s first book review!

“You had me at ‘Hello.’” You know that now-classic line from Jerry Maguire? Well, that’s how I felt upon reading the very first line of this little book. Even before the Table of Contents, the authors set the stage with an introductory quote from Henry David Thoreau, “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” It just grabbed me. Certainly, I could relate to that. Of course, not everybody has to hit rock bottom in order to turn their lives around, but, especially as I’ve found through conversations with others about their own version of Choosing The Better Life, dark times often serve as a catalyst for change.

As I turned the page to the first chapter, the introductory quote to that chapter grabbed me again, “Turning points announce themselves through a variety of vague symptoms: deep restlessness, a yearning with no name, inexplicable boredom, the feeling of being stuck.” (Gloria Karpinski) Ahhh, yes, those subtle feelings surely resonate with so many people. But how many of us are able to recognize them as turning point opportunities?

I continued to read and to recognize so much of myself in the authors’ comments and observations – I felt like they were talking to me! The ultimate point of the book is the authors’ successful attempt to condense and share from a multitude of resources specific techniques that we can use to create a spiritual practice and incorporate it into our daily lives. As Lois and Victoria wisely state, “This isn’t an overnight process, but more of a piecing together of little ‘aha’ moments that, in time, become something much bigger.”

The authors present six chapters, each with a specific theme and tangible suggestions of what to do to incorporate the principles into our daily lives. To put it all in context, Lois and Victoria bravely share their own stories with us. Throughout, I found myself identifying with these lovely women who write comfortably, as though they were chatting with you over a cup of coffee. They conclude each chapter with brief lists (you know how I love lists!) of suggested exercises and ways to create new habits.

As with Choosing The Better Life, you’ll recognize in their book an overarching theme of gratitude as a basis for how we live our lives. “By appreciating what we have, even when we’re struggling, we open the door to joy, abundance and peace . . . Many of us are used to seeing what we don’t, rather than what we do, have in life. In doing so, we hold ourselves back from seeing the abundance that is already present – and we hold ourselves back from creating more.”

The authors also do a wonderful job of tackling the concept of prayer, which, in my opinion, is a tricky topic because so many people have such strong and/or preconceived notions about prayer. For me, Lois and Victoria nailed it. They outline my own evolution of thinking about prayer. They describe prayer just as I have experienced it – especially in times of despair and in how to identify the answers to our prayers – and they explain how we can use prayer effectively in everyday life. Victoria and Lois emphasize that prayer is available to each person in their own way – “It means different things for different people, but for us prayer is an open and heartfelt conversation with God” – and they offer suggestions for how to tap into it.

Additionally, Lois and Victoria describe how to simplify our cluttered lives and quiet our minds. They write about how to find clarity. Oh, if I could have read that section (indeed, the whole book) a few years ago! In a very bad place and time in my life, I was stuck on “what to do.” In this confused state, I prayed for months simply for “clarity.” Eventually, I figured it out – finally seeing what had been before me all along – but what a difficult, drawn-out process! Lois and Victoria point to an easier way and reminded me, “Pay attention to what’s in your heart, not in your mind. Be honest with yourself and go deep . . . It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed and frightened as clarity is gained and what’s been buried rises to the surface.” With their confident, supportive tone, the authors assure us that if we continue on that path, it will get better. And it does!

As the book nears its end, Lois and Victoria conclude, “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a huge epiphany. Although this happens for some, it’s more of a small series of moments that moves you into your higher self.” That’s how it started for me, and now, as I now continue down this road, I’ll put to use what I’ve learned from this book. Echoing my own philosophy from a recent post about not being a Pollyanna, the authors point out that “life will continue to show up and present challenges. But you’ll notice a difference in the manner in which you react to these situations. You’ll handle what comes your way with a new trust and understanding – and an awareness that all is unfolding as it should. As the challenges arise, you’ll now meet them with a new grace and ease.”

The book is “a little book” indeed. It will not bog you down in length or style of writing. Rather, it is a delightful, uplifting, quick read – one that I found myself going back to at different times, re-reading and re-visiting parts, using it as a toolbox as the authors intended it to be. The book is well-written, organized and concise. It is heartfelt and wise, helpful without condescension, and supportive of readers at all points on our respective journeys. I loved how Lois and Victoria synthesized so much material into a simple approach combining it all. Their approach is accessible to every person, regardless of religious affiliation and regardless of whether you are brand-new to the ideas presented or have already started down a spiritual path. As the authors write, “Begin where you are now.”

Lois and Victoria are warm and wise women. Best of all, these two friends are simply “regular” women, balancing marriages, children, houses, finances, self-image, activities and the hectic pace of life. They get it. They are relatable people. They have figured it out for themselves, and now they are generous in sharing what they’ve learned for the benefit of the rest of us. Already trying to choose a Better Life for myself each and every day, I learned new techniques, gleaned new insight and am refreshed and inspired again by this book. Thank you, Lois and Victoria!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Accepting What We're Trying Our Best to Ignore

There are times when things happen that are just too painful to process - and so we don't. Instead, we lock the hurt away deep inside and try our best to do anything but work it through. In essence, we are paralyzed with fear, although we may not know it at the time. When we hide our feelings about what has happened from ourselves, we are freezing a part of our heart and soul. 

Accepting what we don't want to accept is no easy task. But it also takes a lot of energy to keep  these feelings at bay. Resistance is hard work. We must allow ourselves to look at what we don't want to look if we are to live a life in which every part of us is fully engaged.

Take time during your spiritual practice each morning to ask God for the willingness to go where it hurts. Pray for clarity and acceptance, keeping in mind that life is unfolding as it should. Breathe deep and work on releasing the deeply-felt anger, disappointment, sadness or pain. Trust that God is there to support you through it all.

We think of James Taylor's song, Frozen Man, as a wonderful metaphor about thawing one's heart after something difficult has happened and coming fully back to life. Listen to this beautiful song about what it feels like to "come around again."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Let Water Soothe Your Soul

"Le Bain" by Alfred Stevens

Despite our best efforts to think positive thoughts, be grateful in our hearts and have faith that all is unfolding as it should, there are days when hope just fails us. We see someone we love who's hurting and we can't shake the sadness we feel; we come to the end of the month with not enough money in the bank and we panic; or we want to believe in ourselves but the old tapes keep playing over and over again in our head.

One of the best ways to return to a place of emotional equilibrium is to get ourselves into water. Water has a wonderful way of restoring us to a place of clarity and inner peace.

The next time you find that you just can't shake a bleak mood, run yourself a bath. Be sure to add some bath salts while you do. Bath salts are very therapeutic in a variety of ways. The are calming and help to create a sense of well-being. In addition, they soothe body aches and are good for the skin.

Etsy is a great place to find some lovely combinations of all types of salts. Here's a few that we really like:

"Renew" Bath Salts
$15 by Herbivore Botanicals
"Meadow" Bath Salts
$18.95 by Wild Rose Herbs
"Oatmeal Milk & Honey" Bath Salts
$4.99 by Ashla Designs

Add about 1/4 cup of the salts to the warm water. Let yourself soak for at least 20 minutes. While doing so, spend some time in quiet meditation. Close your eyes and deepen your breathing.

With each breath in, feel yourself taking in all that's light and good in the world. As you breathe out, let yourself release the toxic feelings and thoughts you are holding on to.

As you relax, remember to let go and let God. Find your way back to knowing that all is as it should be. We think you'll find a big difference in how you feel by the time you're done.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Interview With Jodi Chapman of Soul Speak

Jodi Chapman
A few weeks ago we were honored to be featured on Jodi Chapman's Soul Speak. Jodi is developing quite a name for herself and for good reason. She does a wonderful job writing about something that matters so much: listening to your inner wisdom and pushing through your fears. And she knows how to build a vibrant community of like-minded souls.

Here's the complete post:

And here's the question and answer part with us both - hope you enjoy:

I think it’s wonderful that two best friends wrote such a beautiful book together! Can you share a bit about your friendship?

We grew up five miles apart from each other and went to the same pediatrician, but didn’t meet until well into adulthood. When we did, we quickly became friends and discovered that we shared a passion for travel. That discovery led to the creation of At Your Leisure, a small company (just the two of us) that specialized in planning honeymoons and personalized European itineraries for clients.

After a number of years, life moved us in new directions. We closed the travel business but remained best friends. Now, almost twenty years later, we find ourselves in a new partnership together, that of writing books. As we continue to navigate our lives – with two homes in Connecticut, two marriages and four kids in different phases of life between us – we have embarked on a journey to live a spiritually-based life and to share what we’ve learned with others.

What inspired you to write this book together?

We really wanted to share what we had learned and experienced with other women. We wanted to share the tools that have created such profound shifts in our own lives. It’s our hope that this book will guide others to step into their own power and connect to the Divine.

Can you tell us about your spiritual journey – how you began, your beliefs, and your individual practices?

It really began with Victoria. Six years ago, she began reading books on spirituality and never stopped! Inspired by what she read, she trained in various spiritual traditions and energy healing modalities. During this period of time, she began sharing what she was learning with Lois. Somewhat apprehensive at first, Lois soon realized that spirituality had nothing to do with religion. As she began to open her heart, and as she began studying and practicing herself, her life began to transform. Both of us are deeply committed to our spiritual practice and use all of the tools we write about.

Which of the practices listed in the book are your favorites?

Beginning each day at our personal altar in prayer and meditation – and ending the day writing in our gratitude journals.

How do you define the soul?

The soul is your true essence and spirit that was created long before you arrived here in physical form and will continue to live on long after you leave this physical world. It is eternal.

What does your soul want you to know?

The soul wants each of us to know that in every moment we are one with the Divine. That it is the place from which we receive our true guidance. That we must live from that place.

Because May is our Month of Meditation here on Soul Speak, could each of you please share your meditation practices with us?

We have found that keeping it short and simple works well for us. The most important thing is to make sure that you quiet your mind every day and be open to receiving the guidance the Universe is always sending you. Breath work is an essential part of any meditative practice.

Lois writes:

I meditate for ten minutes in the morning at my personal altar in the bedroom. I sit before it, light a candle and ask God to join me. When I feel God’s presence, I begin to meditate.

Victoria writes:

I prefer to meditate two or three times a day for five minutes at a time. My favorite is a walking mediation. When I walk in solitude, I can truly quiet my mind and feel Divine presence. Guided meditations on CD have also been a favorite, especially when I was first starting out.

I love how you alternate sharing your personal stories in each chapter. Was it difficult to share such deep, personal parts of yourselves?

This really was the hardest part of writing the book. Our personal tales may be rather short and to the point, but they reveal very intimate parts of some of the places we’ve been in our lives. We realized rather early on that, in order to help others who might be struggling, we really had to dig deep and give of ourselves. This meant going into our shadows and sharing them with the world.

You write about the difference between intentions and goals: intentions come from the heart and goals come from the mind. I love that! Do you set daily intentions or do you set them when you feel called to do so?

The most important thing to remember about intentions is that they come from the heart and reflect who you are, not what you do. We set our main intentions for the year on New Year’s Day and refer to them often. In addition, we set intentions when we feel inspired to do so. It may be on a particular day at the start of a new project. It’s all about following your own heart. There really is no right or wrong way to do this.

Victoria mentioned that Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a great way to release limiting beliefs and stale emotions. For those of us who are just learning about this, where would you suggest we go to learn more about it? How has it helped you in your own life?

YouTube is a great resource. It has lots of “tapping” videos that are very instructional and will help you get started. You can learn lots about the process from Carol Look, an EFT master. Visit her webpage and subscribe to her newsletter here. Nick Ortner is the producer of “The Tapping Solution,” a documentary that came out a few years ago. Order the movie online or take a look at his great website here. As the number of EFT practitioners is growing rapidly, you’re sure to find one in your area.

Victoria writes:

EFT has helped me to release blocks from past issues that I didn’t realize where impacting me at the time. It’s helped me to work these issues through and release them. It’s really one of the main tools that guided me and allowed me to write our book.

What do you hope that everyone will take away after reading this book and trying the exercises in each chapter?

Learning how to create a spiritual practice and incorporate it into your life need not be complicated. But there’s such an abundance of wonderful material available on spirituality that figuring out what to do or where to begin can feel rather overwhelming. Our intention in writing this book was to condense and share, from all that we’ve learned, what’s really resonated and worked well for us. We know that every journey begins with that first step. Our hope is that this book provides what’s needed for other women to take that step on a long, fulfilling journey to creating a life of peace, purpose and abundance.

I see that this book is the first in a series that you are writing. What’s next?

We’re presently working on a couple of projects. The first is a short workbook designed to help others discover and live their true life purpose. In addition, we’re outlining the second book in the series which will be about taking readers deeper into their spiritual journey.

Anything else you would like to share?

We’re very grateful to all those reading this post.

Thank you, Jodi, for giving us this wonderful opportunity to share our message with others!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Show Up, Believe and Keep Asking

By Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
Despite all we might do to keep our vibration up, our thoughts positive and our connection to Spirit alive, we still have days where we feel life is coming at us from all sides. And when it does we can feel stuck, confused and very alone.

At these times, let the Universe know you’re looking for answers about what's going on in your life. Ask: “What do I need to understand about what’s happening?” “What do I need to see here?” A perfect time to do this is during your time spent in quiet meditation and prayer each morning.

Going to sleep with a concern or question in your mind is also a good idea. During the night, not only is your physical body asleep but your ego mind is as well. This puts you more in tune with your intuitive guidance.

Let the Universe know that you’re ready and willing to know the truth about a given situation. Getting a response might take a day, a week or longer – but the insight will come.

It will feel like you’re standing at a door and knocking - and then knocking some more. You’ll need to be patient, calm and believe. But when the clarity finally arrives, it will feel like a precious gift. You will experience a relief and a knowing. The door will have opened to a deeper understanding of yourself and of life.

Be Grateful for Who You Are

By Nicolai Fechin
When we make the decision to live with a thankful heart, something magical begins to happen. No matter what, the gifts are always there. Spend time each day looking for and acknowledging them (a gratitude journal is always a good idea). Then watch as your life slowly transforms into one of joyful abundance.

Don’t just look around you - be sure to look within yourself as well. Remember to be grateful for your wonderful gifts. Seeing the best in yourself is not something you may be used to or are comfortable with. As you spend time making the connection to your truest self through your spiritual practice, you’ll get better at it. And that’s a good thing, for truly appreciating who you are is vital to living a life that radiates from the heart.

God creates each of us with special gifts that are uniquely ours – and each one of them is your gift to the world. It’s always nice when others notice, but they need to be recognized, appreciated and treasured by you. Perhaps it’s your kind heart, your sense of humor or your ability to be a good listener. It’s time to embrace these gifts, whatever they might be, and let them truly shine.

Listen to Your Soul

Jodi Chapman of Soul Speak
If you haven't connected with Jodi Chapman yet, we recommend that you do. She's full of spirit, full of energy and loves creating a community with others who want to live life from the soul. In a word, she is wonderful. Take a look:

One of her recent post asks the question: What Does Your Soul Want You to Know? There's been lots of amazing responses to that post. Take a look, add your own and subscribe!

Here's what we wrote in answer to her question.

Victoria writes:

Our soul is the heart of who we really are. It lives deep within us and is eternal. My soul wants me to know that it is the keeper of my true gifts, purpose and mission. They await my discovery. Our souls have always supported, guided and loved us, well before we came into this physical lifetime. When we feel separate or lost, connecting to our soul will bring us back to the oneness with the Divine. Know that our souls are always calling us to create the greatness that we are – we must trust, listen and be open. It is in this space that we are lead home to a life that truly reflects our soul’s desire.

Lois writes:

My soul wants me to understand that no matter where I am in life, I am a gift to this world. Even if I am grappling with what can be perceived as imperfection in the eyes of man, I am perfect in the eyes of the Divine. And that’s all that matters. There is peace and contentment and joy to be found in knowing that to be true.

I am a gift that God has given to this world, filled with light and wondrous qualities. I am more than enough and need to prove nothing. I rejoice in that knowing that. I see the Divine in others and am thankful for their presence in my life. It’s a wonderful world and I am thankful that I have the opportunity to be here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

You Are Not Your Old Story

The Looking Glass
by Fernand Toussaint
Over the years, we’ve all created stories of who we are based on our circumstances, experiences and interactions with the world. These stories come from our own perceptions mixed with the opinions and ideas of others. We’ve internalized many of these to the extent that we believe them to be true, even if they’re falsehoods we've made our own.

We hold onto these stories because they’re familiar. They’re almost addictive in nature. We’re used to defining ourselves through them and there’s a real comfort in that. Where would we be without them and how will others react if we change our story now?

But these old stories distract us from living our best life based on what’s true for us. We must let go of what’s not real if we are to move into an authentic life of genuine purpose.

It may be hard to find the authentic story, but it’s there waiting for you to claim it. Think about your own story. What have you been telling yourself for all these years? Is it one that aligns with who you really are? Or is it a one that you’ve allowed yourself to believe for a myriad of reasons, all of them very human?

Exercise – Start to Create Your True Story: 
Clarify in a few sentences, either in your mind or on paper, what you’ve allowed yourself to believe about who you are up to this point. Thank the old story for being a good friend throughout the years, one that’s helped you navigate through life. Then let it go.

Reflect on who you really are and what you truly desire. Realize that in this moment, in any moment, you have the power to write your new story based on who you really are. 

A new story begins with new thoughts, It is a vision for yourself. Create a new and authentic story now, one that brings positive energy motivates and inspires you.

Realize that in this moment, in any moment, you have the power to create a new story. God will be at your side as you do so. You are opening the door to an authentic life.

Quiet Your Mind and Take Action from the Heart

Quiet Moment
From the Virgilla Art Etsy Shop
As you make your Divine connection each day through your spiritual practice, you’ll find yourself moving closer and closer into alignment with your genuine self. You’ll become clearer about who you really are and what you truly want in life.

We often find ourselves looking to others for advice or guidance when it’s time to make a decision or take an action step. Remember that all the answers we seek already lie within us. Quiet your mind and look there for what is best and true for your own life - and listen to what you hear.

Make sure your action steps are coming from a place of love and not of fear. If you’re confused about what your next step should be, ask for Divine guidance. When you begin asking the questions, you begin receiving the answers.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Show Your Gratitude to Others

Photo of Montmartre in Paris,
From the Chez Jolly Etsy Shop
In A Little Book About Something Much Bigger: The Gift of a Spiritual Practice, Victoria and I write about how important it is to live life from a place of genuine gratitude. While doing so, be sure to take the time to let others know how much they're appreciated. Vibrations are raised all around.

One can give thanks in many ways: a simple thank you, a sweet gift from Etsy or a heartfelt letter of gratitude. I've decided to give thanks thanks to my mom with this blog post. Years ago, she surprised me with a trip to Paris, complete with cooking classes, where we spent two magical weeks together. We arrived in that wonderful city on a soft summer evening in June of 1975. I was 19 years old.

Class started early at the newly-established La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine. This meant a knock our hotel room door at 7 am to wake us while breakfast was brought in. We enjoyed freshly-baked brioche, sweet butter, marmalade and Café au Lait which we made ourselves by pouring two pots of steaming hot coffee and hot milk into traditional bowls.

Vintage French Coffee Bowl
From the Vintage Decor Francais Etsy Shop

In between we rode the Metro like it was old hat, bought small packages of Madeleines from sidewalk food vendors, drank our first Kir Royale, were berated by taxi drivers for not tipping enough, walked back to the hotel after dinner each evening to burn off calories, saw Impressionism brought to life at the Musée de l'Orangerie and had no problem riding the Bateaux Mouches while sipping a bottle of champagne.
After lunch with our classmates, we'd head out for an afternoon of exploring as much of Paris as we could cover. My mother had found an incredible paperback called Turn Left at the Fountain and we'd set out each day to follow one of the detailed walking tours to a T. We had the greatest fun. We'd come home exhausted from the sun and the exercise. By the time we got back to the hotel we'd have to soak our feet in the bathtub before heading out for our 8:30 pm dinner.

A bit touristy and over the top? Perhaps. A shared experience that will last us a lifetime? Bien sûr. Thanks Mom Lois

Allowing Ourselves to Flourish

By Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
In the midst of writing our book together, we came across something that really spoke to our hearts: "God does not set us up to fail. He sets us up to flourish." What a wonderful thought to keep in mind.

As we go through life, we can try to learn more each day about who we really are. Part of this process involves reflecting on what our insecurities are and where they came from. As we become aware of them, we can work on letting them go and allowing the best parts of ourselves to shine.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite's illustrations are just extraordinary. Born in Australia in 1888, she showed a gift for drawing at a very young age and was said to have copied images from the walls of her nursery. Her mother, Annie, and her father, a professor at the University of Melbourne, decided against enrolling her in art school as they wanted her brilliant imagination to have free rein.

Most of Ida's drawings are of fairies floating on air. They are delicate, ethereal and perhaps too romantic for some tastes. But when we look at them, what we see is freedom: freedom from the lack of faith in ourselves that holds us back. These images show us what it feels like to let go of old fears and move forward with a lighter spirit and a belief in all that we are.

Begin working with your insecurities and letting them go. Trust that it will be okay to open new doors, take some risks and allow yourself to be all that you can be.

We all need to allow ourselves to show the world all that we are. And allow ourselves the freedom to feel like we're floating on air as we go through life.

By Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Release the Fear

This post marks the beginning of something new for us. For almost a year we've invested ourselves, and every moment we could find, into writing our first book together. The Gift of a Spiritual Practice is now complete and available to readers.

We've tried to put the best of ourselves into this project. As we've written about reclaiming lost connections to self and Spirit, we've had to find the courage to put ourselves out there. The completed book brings warm feelings of accomplishment and joy. But feelings of trepidation and fear have recently crept into the picture.

The doubting has begun. Was what we created good enough? Will it truly be of help to others? Did we reveal too much of ourselves?

Fear is part of being human. We need to allow ourselves to feel that fear while, at the same time, releasing it and moving forward. Every single journey begins with a decision to take that first step. Feel the fear, but don't let it stop you.

Neither one of us are big fans of 2012 pop music. But we find the song Firework by Kate Perry very inspirational and spot on.