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: www.jodichapman.com.

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.