Tag: self-awareness

How to Create Conscious Intention

How to Create Conscious Intention

I’m pretty sure she changed her intention!

Do you remember the last time you made a declaration of intention not to do something? I sure do! In fact, a perfect example leaps to mind. Scott, (my husband), loves sardines. He introduced them to my sons when they were teenagers and they shocked me by actually trying them. (He’s always had more persuasive abilities with them than I have had. Sadly.)

Of course, Scott and the boys also thought I should try them, as I never had. I stated it clearly then, and have repeated it dozens of times since, “I have no intention, whatsoever, of trying sardines. Ever. End of subject.” My very clear statement of intent has not deterred  them from trying again every time they open another odoriferous can of something only a feline should find palatable. My intention remains crystal clear and intact.

Can you remember such a time in your life, when saying “no” felt rock solid? Intention is packed with energy. We feel this energy most acutely when we state an intention about something we don’t want to do and have decided not to do.  However, when we apply our intention toward something we would like to do, things get a little more complicated and mind-field a little muddier. The energy doesn’t seem to stick.

EXPAND YOUR LIFE

A much wiser cat!

An intention not to do something is easy. It leaves plenty of room to change our mind without fear of leaving a trail of guilt or remorse behind. I could eat sardines tomorrow and any remorse I might feel would only be about the discomfort of the experience. It would give the guys a thrill and tomorrow I could restate my intention as if nothing happened. . . or, and it’s highly unlikely. . . I might abandon my intention and sit down with the cats.

Stating an intention to do something, however, carries with it a different sort of commitment. More importantly, it open us up and begins to expand our awareness.  Imagine this: I create an intention to try sardines. What’s the first thing that happens? Panic sets in. Fear. Uncertainty. A desire to abandon my intention.  It demands that I ask questions. What am I afraid of? Is it the physical displeasure? Or is there something more to it?

Your intentions are probably not about sardines. They are more likely about worthier goals. We all aspire to things that feel a little bit out of reach. When we want to bring our aspirations into reality, forming and spending time with our intention is the perfect teacher and an invaluable guide for the process.  It prepares us for the changes that we are inviting into our lives.

Creating an intention consciously is a request to the Universe for the opportunity to expand and grow; it is opening the door of our creative energy and releasing it into the world. We must be ready to wield this energy and allow it to wield us.

Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

The value of truth seems to have lost its influence. 

The world keeps turning. I get up in the morning to the sun, and go to bed each night with the moon and the stars shining their light on my broken heart. The world is a “hot mess” as my young millennial friends would say.

Navigating life now is not an easy task! Walking the medial way, with one foot in the world and one foot in Spirit, isn’t easy to do under “normal” circumstances!  Now, it feels impossible, and yet it is certainly an excellent opportunity to practice! I, like many I talk to, long for simpler times.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH AS I SEE IT

What is the Truth?
I woke up this morning feeling exactly like Alice in Wonderland. ART BY: David Hoffrichter

I keep choosing, every day, to speak the truth as I see it; to ask the questions, explore the answers, look for what lies beneath the surface of things. Even as I try to be kind about it, not attacking or name calling, my words seem to cause sparks to fly.  People rant at me and call me names.

In the past week, I was called a bigot, a pseudo-intellectual, an irrational feminist, and a few other choices names I’d rather not repeat here.  The nastiest, meanest comments came from men, who I previously believed were highly rational, intelligent, educated men. The comments I received from women were angry and upset, more aimed at the belief that I should be taking about the politics on an aging site, nor should I take sides. I weigh this question constantly.

“JUST GET ALONG!”

The most common concern I’ve heard from women has been, “don’t you think you should play nice and just accept what is happening?” To this I say, yes and no.

Nothing infuriates me more than the part of our culture that wants us to get on board with the status quo. What we are experiencing right now IS NOT NORMAL. It is not business as usual, and I won’t pretend it is. I protested in the 60’s and my values with regard to peace, love and acceptance remain the same. I’ve never been a fan of the establishment, but this is going too far!

NAME CALLING HURTS!

It hurts being attacked.  Conflicting feelings rise to the surface, adrenaline pumps through my body and I’m suddenly in fight or flight mode. I want to lash out, and with my weapon of choice write an epistle explaining exactly how and why I am not what they say I am.  When I realize that more conversation would be pointless, I sink into despair. What am I to do with all these feelings now?

ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

I have no choice but to go inside myself and ask the hard question. Are they right? Do their labels fit?

Am I a pseudo-intellectual?  I’ve never thought of my self as an intellectual, so that one was lost on me as a true reflection of myself. However, by asking the question I began to see the perpetrators projection. The particular label came from a man who, even at 16, took abundant pride in his intelligence. He believed his intellectual abilities made him superior. Sadly, all these years later when we reconnected I discovered that he has not grown past his arrogant, narcissist ways. He still needs to be intellectually superior, and when he feels threatened, he does what all great thinkers do, call people names.  I told him he was behaving exactly like the President-Elect, which he was. He didn’t like that a bit and unfriended me. I now consider it a victory to have stirred that particular pot!

A bigot – that one got me.  A bigot is “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions” – this coming from a man who unfriended me because he didn’t like what I was saying on Facebook. Am I a bigot? We all have our blind spots so I’d have to say yes, I’m intolerant toward some who hold different opinions. Our president-elect would be one of them. Trust me, I am working on this. I long to find a place of acceptance that does not mean acquiescence.  Right now, I can’t see the divine in this man just yet. In fact, I tend to think he’s evil incarnate and see it as my job to speak out against him.

COMPASSION FOR ALL WHO HAVE BEEN & WILL BE DISAPPOINTED

Beyond that, I have deep compassion for the people who elected him believing he would change their unhappy lives. I have less compassion for the meanness and hatred that a few carry and choose present to the world. I want to say, show me your misery, this I can understand. But anger, rage, hubris, entitlement? And yet, tolerance is tolerance. I’m working on it.

Here’s what I do know. The women before us modeled tolerance and acceptance as a virtue, and to some extent it is.  They did not feel free, however, to rebel or speak up when perhaps they should have.  We feel freer to do so, and yet the past that lives on in us often keeps us feeling guilty and wrong when we do.

Making nice is not always possible, nor is it human. We have a wide array of thoughts, feelings and reactions. it is to our detriment to keep them buried. They will erupt when we least expect them to and it won’t be pretty.

THERE IS A TIME & A SEASON

There’s a time to fight and a time to stand down. There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent. We must each in our own way and find a balance between speaking our truth and taking time for deep reflection. None of us are totally clear on what we are fighting for. Those who are, seem to be fighting one particular battle. Maybe that’s the best any of us can do.

We must continue to ask ourselves challenging questions:

  • What am I really angry about?
  • Are there unacknowledged feelings and thoughts beneath my anger? Are the thoughts I’m thinking true?
  • This feeling of fear, what is it really trying to tell me?
  • When have I felt powerless before? How was that similar to what’s happening now?
  • Is this situation triggering feelings I’ve had all my life?
  • What are those feelings?
  • Can I be proactive in giving myself what it is I want from others?
  • Have I taken time to sit in silence?
  • Have I expressed my feelings honestly?
  • When I speak my truth am I using “I” statements?
As I navigate these strange times, I take comfort from the wisdom of great teachers.

“Wholeness is possible only through the coexistence of opposites. In order to know the light, we must experience the dark.” ~ Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that is the one that is going to help you grow.” ~ Caroline Myss, Defying Gravity

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman. . .have faith. . . there is yet time.” ~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” ~ Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel, Author of Night, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” ~ Elie Wiesel
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” ~ Elie Wiesel

Navigating Family Drama – Crazy Relatives and Jousting Fests

Navigating Family Drama – Crazy Relatives and Jousting Fests

Family Drama
Pyrography and acrylic paint on oak panel – 12 x 8 inches – Jousting colours from Sir Thomas Holme’s Book of Arms. Originally published/produced in England; before 1448.

Family drama shows up in everyone’s life at one time or another.  Who doesn’t have at least one relative that drives them slap crazy? I know I sure do! In fact, there was a time when there were more family members who agitated me, than those who didn’t! Going to family gatherings was like trying to take a nap in a brier patch! I invariably walked away battered and bruised and completely exhausted. I felt depleted for days after and churned inside like the hand cranked ice cream maker we pulled out to try to smooth things over.

In all honesty, I walked away from these family jousting fests hating myself more than I did anyone else. I’d argue with myself about all of the issues, who was doing what and why; what was driving them, what I could have said or done differently for a different outcome. If I just said the right thing in the right way they’d understand, or they’d see my perspective. Then I’d get mad at myself for getting so worked up over it all! Why did my mind have to sort and chew, sort and chew, for hours or days after? Let it go, I’d remind myself. But, I didn’t listen so round and around my mind would go like a Merry-Go-Round gone rogue.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Of course you do, because there’s not a soul alive who hasn’t found themselves mired in family drama at one time or another and ruminating about it afterward. It’s human nature. At last, I have figured out why we do that, and why the drama happens in the first place.

Family drama is designed to create chaos in our lives in order to inspire us to change and grow. It’s a wake up call, a prod to get us moving in the right direction. It’s a law of the universe and a part of the very reason we are alive on this planet. There’s no getting away from it no matter who we are or how far we run. If we do run, it will follow us … if not in the precise embodiment of family, then in our mates and co-workers and bosses.

[tweetthis]”In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” — Deepak Chopra[/tweetthis]

Family drama exists to push us to listen to ourselves … to our intuition, our heart, our soul, and to bear witness to our values and beliefs. The universe offers us this gift so that we might grow into our very best selves. Contrary to the way we’d like it to be, we can only do this by wrestling with our demons.

Only, we don’t. We don’t listen. We don’t engage. We don’t take hold of the challenge we are being offered. We don’t tune in to rumbling and urging inside of us that is pointing us in the right direction. We shove the noise aside and pretend to be someone we’re not. As a result, chaos ensues, and the chaos is all inside of us. It’s not reality.

WHAT FAMILY DRAMA IS REALLY ALL ABOUT

I will give you one small example. In anticipation of my son’s upcoming wedding, where of course family members will assemble en mass, I had an imaginary conversation with a particularly irksome relative who will remain nameless (not out of respect, but I value my life. :)) In my mind’s eye, I stood there, my feet planted solid as a rock on the ground, my hands on my hips, my body squared … (I’d like to note that I absolutely never take this stance), and I looked the person straight in the eyes and said, “what is it about me that you hate so much?” Of course, even in my imagination the individual didn’t answer. I’ve been asking myself and the imaginary replica this question for decades without a satisfactory answer.

[tweetthis] Dysfunctional families have trouble knowing where they stop and others begin. — David W. Earle[/tweetthis]

The silence I encountered, where the answer was supposed to be, caught my attention. It pushed me a step further. I realized I was asking the wrong question. So I tried again.  “What is it about me that reminds you of something about you, that you don’t like?”  This time I got a few glimpses of possibilities, but I’d done this before as well, and it wasn’t helpful. What I think I know about them is only a guess and, after all, I can’t change them.

Later, while washing the dishes it hit me. I was not only asking the wrong question, I was asking the wrong person! I needed to be asking myself the questions: “What is it about them that reveals something in me that I don’t like or can’t accept?” Bingo! It was like opening a floodgate. Each time I dared to look a little closer, I saw something new. The more I pushed myself to look and examine myself the more I began to see the two of us were really kindred spirits! We should be best friends!

This shift in perspective was eye-opening. I could see the gift the situation was offering me.  I was able to disengage from the mind games I was playing and take a hard look at myself. The individuals issue with me is still a mystery, but I am much clearer on my issue with myself.  Will the individual push my button again? Probably. I believe, however, that I will  respond differently; from a place a little bit deeper inside of me that will reflect back a clearer picture of who I really am. His crazy will be his and mine will be absolutely my own. No co-mingling of  crazy.

Everyone who comes into our lives can teach us something about our self-esteem or lack thereof, our self-acceptance or lack thereof, our gifts and strengths, and our shortcomings and shadows. What we see in them is a reflection of what is inside of us.

Family gatherings stir us up because we have so much unfinished business from our childhood. We like to think it’s over. It’s not. Not by a long shot. As we get clearer on who we are, and grow in acceptance and love of ourselves, the family drama slips away. It’s not that everyone else changes, although they might,  it’s that our reactivity to them diminishes. Our energy stays inside of ourselves.

Reflection Questions:

Who is your most challenging family member?

What do they reflect back to you about yourself?

When you examine the reflection can you get beneath the surface?

Is there a hurt or scar buried there?

Can you bring this wound to the surface and look a little closer?

Can you grieve the hurt?

Can you love that little child who was doing the very best she could?

If you need support in dealing with your family drama, reach out to me. 
Manifest Me – One Year Later

Manifest Me – One Year Later

writer, freelance writer, poetI began this blog a little over a year ago. It’s hard for me to fathom how far a person can travel on the inner journey in such a short period of time. When going through change and upheaval it seems, at times, interminable. The thing I’ve noticed over the years, however, is that real change takes time, not to mention serious commitment and focused attention. When we dabble in change nothing really happens. On the other hand, if we dive in hook, line and sinker with plenty of support and guidance, deep, lasting change can occur.

When I decided to start this blog, I only had a vague idea of what I was meant to do here. I knew intuitively that I needed to be more honest in my writing – to write more from my heart and less from my head, but beyond that I didn’t have a clue what that would look like.  I lived my life in the shadow of so many things that were not me. It was time to dig deep and find the courage to excavate and express the real me. The universe, or God, or whatever exists to see us through these things, always shows up to meet such desires and yearnings with exactly the thing we need. Crystal was the angel that delivered the goods in this regard. She knew where to lead me and what to do to give me the support and direction I needed.

If you’ve read my posts here over the last year you know some of what has transpired and some of what I’ve learned along the way. For me, it’s been an experience that continues to spin in ever-widening circles and there is still work to be done – but there will always be work to be done – always a deeper level of awareness that we can attain – a higher consciousness we can continue to aspire toward. That is the true joy of living. Knowing there is always a richer, deeper, fuller life experience ahead of us – and as time goes on, I have found it is most often an inner experience that we crave.

Over the last year, on a practical level, with Crystal’s guidance I have been able to change my eating habits. I have been gluten, dairy, sugar-free much of the time, striving always for better than 80% free. I’ve increased my level of exercise and as a by-product lost 20 lbs. Crystal insisted that I not focus on my weight, and I didn’t. It’s always been a lost cause for me. She repeated again and again, that when we are aligned physically, mentally and emotionally with our true selves, the weight will come off.

More importantly, my brain is clear, I’m managing my PTSD better and better all the time.  I feel centered, anchored and happier more often and I have made great strides in developing resiliency.  I’m learning to ask for support, to allow myself to have support when it’s offered, and to give myself what I need when I need it.  In turn I have more to give to others.  I’ve learned to listen to myself more carefully, to follow my intuition more often and to trust that I know who I am. Is life perfect? No, and that’s okay. It’s not supposed to be. I do believe, however, that we can feel better than most of us do, most of the time.

It’s time once again to raise the ante. Manifesting Me requires reaching just beyond our comfort level as often as we can. Manifesting Me requires owning who we are as clearly as possible, lining up our insides with our outsides, not hiding behind masks, facades, or mental constructs. It requires being fully present within and without.

The next step on my journey is to raise the ante on my outward expression of true self. I am taking on this challenge by continuing this conversation more openly on my website: DorothySander.com. It will be me owning my experience in body, mind and spirit – in the world. It will be me saying what I think and feel without hiding behind an artifice or an idea. There, if you follow me, and I hope you will, you will find more of what you found here, more about what I have learned and am learning as time goes on. You will find guidance as I discover it on things such as overcoming trauma, the body/mind/spirit connection, developing deeper levels of self-awareness, and more on my own spiritual journey as it unfolds.

I hope you’ll join me there and/or add your name to my mailing list below to keep apprised of new posts, workshops, book reviews, and more. I value your presence in my life. Your experience informs mine as much as mine may inform yours. We have so much to learn from one another and so much love and support to offer one another. Please join me and thank you for being with me here throughout the last year.

Dorothy

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The Gift of Presence

The Gift of Presence

As a driver, I cut my teeth on the highways and byways of metropolitan New York. Fear of speed and traffic was not a part of my lexicon. A serious car accident, however, changed all that in a flash. My sense of security and control flew right out the shattered window with the glass that sliced my hand to the bone.

I recently attempted to take the highway to a doctor’s appointment that I always took and felt like I’d been through a war by the time I arrived. Adrenaline running through my body at hyper speed, heart pounding, hands shaking I found myself sitting in the parking log completely disassociated. I had no sense of where I was or what I was supposed to be doing. My body was numb and barely a part of me.

When faced with this daunting trip again, I decided I would take the back roads to my destination. It would be worth any extra time to maintain my peace of mind. What actually occurred was even better!

The “back roads” are actually among the most beautiful roads in this part of North Carolina as they meander through the wide open, rolling farm lands. It’s quiet, peaceful and filled with natural entertainment and a blast to drive in beautiful weather in a convertible! Bending and turning and singing my way into the quaint little artistic and bustling streets of a neighboring town, I reach my destination relaxed and even on some mornings invigorated!

Today, on my way home I noticed up ahead a stopped car and what looked to be birds crossing the road. When I came a little closer what I saw was a gaggle of geese traveling very calmly and without care from the corn field on the right to the corn field on the opposite side of the street, stopping traffic in both directions. (Traffic was me and the other guy already stopped!) They just made me laugh out loud! They were so nonplussed! Enjoying the moment and indifferent to any problems they may have been causing. They reminded me of a little group of old ladies,who are so often so totally present in themselves that they are indifferent to any stressed out goings on around them. Weighted firmly in their hips, round and rolling, these geese did not care that they had enormous wings that would quickly carry quickly out-of-the-way. They were enjoying their stroll and being together. It was all that mattered.

Wise old women often carry themselves in just such a way. No longer vexed by day-to-day scurrying about, they know what’s important. They know what matters. They know that now is the moment to savor and enjoy. There is no particular place to go that is any more important that what is. What a gift! The image of these geese crossing the road will forever be an image I carry in my mind of who I want to be when I’m a “dangerous old woman”!