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Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Secret Garden

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” ― Frances Hodgson Burnett

A light fog hangs low on the yard this morning. Daisies and Brown Eyed Susan’s are in bloom despite the thick weeds choking the flower beds. I admit, I gave up weeding years ago when D. passed away. At first it was because I was consumed with grief, now it’s because I overextend myself with projects and responsibilities. I am not sure if this business is just an extension of grief or a habit of uncomfortable living. Either way I have made peace with my gardens and the weeds. I have taken them off my “to do” list. Instead I have a list filled with writing projects, photography projects and one day return to my studio to paint again.

The world is quiet this morning except for the lone screech of a blue jay off in the distance. Even the crickets are silent. Summer has been too cool this year for the June Bugs to start their droning songs in the still heat of midday. I love Sunday mornings, waking up before Jay and the rest of the neighborhood. It is me and the cats sitting in my office, taking our time. Wandering about a poem, writing in my journal, reading an essay I have carried in my bag all week.

Waking up before the rest of the world and especially on Sunday mornings is my secret garden. This space of quiet, with my journal, books, and the birds waking up is where I have found my courage, my voice—my heart. This is where I have learned how to take care of myself.

This weeks Inspiration to Open Your Heart is teeming with so much goodness. I hope at least one link is what you needed to read and perhaps changes your perspective just a bit.

The Importance of Journaling- I am a huge advocate for daily journaling. It has literally saved my life and mind. I began journaling when I was 10 and began a daily journal in 1994 when my son was a baby and I needed a life raft for my mind and heart. I too am plagued with the notion I need to write everyday but I often don’t see my journal writing as counting. I need to get over that.

How to Thrive in a World Where Change is Constant-  Want to Innovate? Become a Now-est. So many interesting concepts. So much innovation and change is happening in the world, it is hard to keep up.

The Power of Story by Scott Eagan- Here is a review of Once I Was Cool by Megan Stielstra. I first heard about Megan and her work listening to an interview on Other People Podcast while driving through the flat farm lands of Ohio. I was mesmerized by her candor and her story. You really need to check her out. You can listen to her Other People Podcast interview here. Then go get her book.

The Secret Garden’s Hidden Depths- I could not resist this one. I think we all need our own Secret Garden where we learn how to take care of ourselves and find our voice. I need to re-read this gem of a book.

Unurh Street Art, Hyuro Valencia- More street art that makes our city’s beautiful.

May your coming week be filled with moments in your own secret garden. ~Kira

 

 

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Mindfulness is Not About Increased Productivity.

Mindfulness Path

“Now may every living thing, young or old,
weak or strong, living near or far, known or
unknown, living or departed or yet unborn,
may every living thing be full of bliss.”
The Dhammapada

Today I read an article about how companies are beginning to embrace mindfulness programs for their employees. It seems mindfulness increases productivity. I paused and thought, “Crap, now even mindfulness is being used to be more productive. Now this is going to become another “should” I throw on the heap of expectations and crap I have to do to be good enough.” I felt rather dishearten. I closed the tab and did not finish reading the article.

I don’t need yet another siren call to do more or be more productive. The call is hard to resist, I feel my body and mind fill with temptation. In some ways, doing more, being more productive, becomes a seductive enchantment—it becomes yet another way for me not to feel or be present for what is happening. Another way to hide my heart and not risk vulnerability.

My meditation practice is the one thing that keeps me sane. I don’t meditate so I can be more productive. Sure that might be a nice byproduct at times because my mind is not as cluttered with roaming discursive thoughts as much. I also can tell you, sometimes I meditate and my mind does not turn off. It stays on wrap speed, zipping around, planning, anticipating, trying to avert trouble.

What my meditation practice does for me is it affords me the opportunity of non-judgmental awareness of what is happening in the present. It gives me a chance to remove the self judgement and condemnation for being human. When that happens I have the opportunity to open my heart, to see others as they are and allow them to see me as I am. I have to opportunity to connect. It is not about increased productivity. Mindfulness is not about increased productivity. I don’t care how people spin it.

May you find bliss in your coming day and in your awareness of the moment. ~Kira

 

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Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Summer Shadows

“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.” -Lao Tzu

The air is thick and steamy today, it is finally hot again. It feels like rain is gathering, out the window the sky is solid gray. I sit in my little office, in the dimming evening light, the fan blowing cool air, rustling the curtains. I hear the muffled low thump thump bass of music from across the street. This is summertime and I am hiding out in my office, wandering around on the internet, taking naps, reading books and trying to stay on task. I have not been too successful today. At least not to my standards.

I pile high productivity expectations onto my weekends. I internalize a self-imposed pressure because I sign up for too many classes, I have too many projects and deadlines roaming around. I consistently over extend myself. I want to be fabulous, I want to learn and create, be witty, be smart. I want to move the needle on my creative work, put more work out into the world. I find myself trying to manage my time, plan wisely, make every moment count. The more I do this, the more unfocused I become, the more fatigue sets in. I become a bumbling mess, overflowing with anxiety.

I always hope I can do more than I can, but reality slaps me up on the weekends. I am human and I have limitations. I know I need to pull back on a few of my projects. I need to create more breathing room. To be honest, it kind of sucks to realize I am causing my anxiety. My intentions are good, I want to create ways to share my heart with others. I want to help others open their heart. But does that work if I can just half start so many projects?

So I think I need to take inventory of what I have in process right now. I need to prioritize and make some hard choices. I need to honor my limitations.

How hard is that? I am finding super hard.

At any rate, here are links I found this week as Inspiration to Open Your Heart:

Virginia Woolf’s Idea of Privacy

2014 iPhone Photography Awards

Busy Means You’re Not Focused

I Believe In Stories by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

How to Reduce Stress by Doing Less and Doing it Slowly by Toni Bernhard

May you find space to breathe and open your heart in the coming week. ~Kira

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Open Heart Magic

Buddha light

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats

The air is cool and soft today. It has been all week. Middle 70’s, low humidity. Fluffy white mounds floating high in the sky. Smooth even days. This week Metta, or loving kindness, practice has crept into my morning meditation.

I sit at 6 am listening to early morning song birds, the dog yapping down the street and watch my breath as I move through words that open my heart. I start with myself and feel stilted and awkward.

May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I be at peace.

Slowly as I watch my breath and focus on good intentions for my teachers, I begin to feel myself soften. I think of those I interact with, like the checkout woman at the grocery store or the young man who gathers carts from the parking lot and my heart becomes wider, easier to find space to rest in.

Soon I have made my way past my friends and loved ones, past those I struggle with, reciting my intentions for good. I finally find myself wishing peace and love for all sentient beings, myself included.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be safe. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be at peace.

Sit, breath, recite intentions, repeat—30 minutes.

Now my heart is open. Now I am soft and my internal dialog is smoothed out. The gremlins of self-doubt and not good enough are tamed. Now I am able to rise from my cushion and find the magic of things throughout the day. Metta practice helps me cultivate magic inside so I can see magic outside. It is open heart magic.

 

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Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Bump in the road

I am sitting at my desk early Sunday morning, alone. It is quiet for a Sunday morning, Jay is still asleep, the cats have wandered off to find something more interesting than me to play with. The sounds of lawn mowers and weed wackers, children playing in sprinklers, motorcycles speeding up and down the street are absent. Most of the neighbors are on vacation up north for the Fourth of July weekend.

I need this respite of summer activity. This past week has been heavy with grief. It was my son’s birthday and I can’t help but remember and miss his father who died about two years ago. Also, I attended the funeral of my stepmother’s son, who died unexpectedly at the age of 41 last weekend. It was heartbreaking to witness the family’s loss. I sat in a hard wooden pew and held my stepmother’s hand as she doubled over in pain unable to take part with the service. I sat, witnessed and let my heart open to the pain and loss surrounding me.

When grief comes to visit like this I feel my heart crack open. Since D died two years ago, I learned how to make room for grief and allow it to realign what is important in my life. An impromptu dinner with my son and my partner Jay, laying on the couch listening to Jay talk about his day. A bike ride on clear blue day through the woods. Reading a book for pure pleasure. I have learned how to slow down and take extra care of myself when grief shows up. An extra nap, healthy nourishing meals slow cooked, short walks and bike rides.

This past week I put away my To Do lists, my expectations, my should’s. I cradled myself and let myself rest and replenish. I have to admit, this morning as I sit in the sunshine and the silence, I feel proud of how I showed up and I how I took care of myself the past week. I allowed grief to flow in, I experienced it and I stayed standing.

Here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart:

How to Help Someone in Pain by Megan Devine- I love Megan’s writing and work about grief. Her approach is realistic and encourages full responsibility for your grief. As I mentioned, this past week was super difficult and this post reminded me how to be present for my father and stepmother.

10 Words Every Girl Should Learn by Soraya Chemaly- I am sitting at my desk saying loudly to my cats, “Absolutely yes” as I read this post. How many times have I been interrupted or ignored but then have my ideas repeated by a man? Way too many. My early training in politeness, not rocking the boat, and being a team player keeps me from saying these magic words—STOP INTERRUPTING ME. I ALREADY SAID THAT.

9 of the Best Michigan Beaches to Visit this Summer- Most people don’t think of beaches when they think of Michigan, they think of cars and Detroit. But most of Michigan is rural woods and yes, miles of beaches. For those that don’t live in Michigan, here is a good list of beaches to visit. For those that do live here, you know where the goods ones are.

I Enjoy Guaranteed Credit of $86,400 Everyday by Vidya Sury- Time is my most precious resource and I love how Vidya has framed this idea in her blog post.

Lamp Art Project- This is simply amazing and once again shows the power of creative work to heal and give shape and meaning to life. Really, you must check this out.

May you find space in the coming week to be with whatever is present. ~ Kira

 

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