It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Is Your Caretaking Covering Up Your Heartbreak?

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Jenny grew up with a narcissistic mother who was incessantly demanding attention and demanding to have her way. Her mother would get furious when her husband or children didn’t do what she wanted them to do, or didn’t pay enough attention to her. Jenny, not wanting to be like her mother, learned early to be “nice” and go along with things rather than speak up for herself. She decided that the only way to not be demanding like her mother was to always work conflict out by herself – never voicing her feelings to anyone. In order to do this, she had to deny the heartache or heartbreak she felt when others were unloving to her.

 

She was treated the same way she treated herself…

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I'll Meet You in the Middle

middle
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
 —Edith Wharton


I've Been Thinking...

Happy May! 

Can you believe it’s already May? The speed at which life is moving this year feels both rapid and slow at the same time. I, for one, am trying my darndest to hold that paradox. I don’t want others to aggressively push me head-on into a post-vaccinated world. I want to take my time to sit with the changes that are unfolding and listen.

I listened attentively this week to President Biden detail his sweeping historic plan to put our country back on track. It’s a huge agenda that includes tackling child poverty, racism, gun reform, police reform, climate change, crumbling infrastructure, and our own polarization. Biden ended his speech by reminding us that he needs all of us to play our part in saving our democracy, protecting our democracy, and showing the world we can all come together to do so. It’s time for us to take notice and get moving. I’m ready.

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Rest Your Weary Head

rest

Are you thinking too much?

The Practice:
Rest your weary head.

Why?

The traditional saying that’s this week’s practice has been sinking in for me lately. Thoughts have been swirling around like a sandstorm about work, things I’ve been reading, household tasks, finances, concerns about people, a yard that needs mowing, loose ends, projects, etc. etc. The other day I told my wife: “I’m thinking about too many things.” Know the feeling?

By “head” I mean the cognitive aspects of experience such as planning, analyzing, obsessing, considering, worrying, making little speeches inside, going back over situations or conversations, and trying to figure things out. “Weary” means being fatigued due to continued exertion or endurance, sometimes also with a sense of being dismayed, even depressed; its roots as a word have to do with the effects of a long journey. Basically, your tank is running low.

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Hitting the Wall and Not Giving Up

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For the past two and a half years I have been working hard on writing my first novel. Along the way I have discovered how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know about writing fiction.

After publishing 11 non-fiction books, I considered myself a relatively talented writer.
Big mistake.

Imagine if you were a house painter who took up painting portraits and expected your first work to hang in a museum. That’s how big a difference this was for me. Oy.

I am so happy that I didn’t know how steep the learning curve was going to be or I would have never made the attempt.

A few days ago, I “hit the wall.” 

Marathoners will know exactly what I am talking about as most have experienced “hitting the dreaded wall” at Mile 20.
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The Work Of Our Lives

openfield
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
—Maya Angelou

I've Been Thinking...

Good morning. Good day. Good evening. No matter what time you read this essay, my hope is that you find yourself in a good place to take it in.

I know that’s not an easy ask for most of us, especially now. I know there are so many things that go into feeling “good" or even just "good enough.” I know that for me, it’s hard to feel good if something feels off in my life. It’s especially hard if something is off with someone I love, or if anyone in my family or friend group is upset or struggling. After all, relationships are so important to our overall well-being and to our sense of self, our sense of community, and our sense of belonging. 

But this week, it wasn’t my personal relationships that brought me down or left me feeling off-kilter. It was the images in my news feed. It was the image of the U.S. Capitol police officer's family. It was the image of Alex Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, with his hands up as he was gunned down by Chicago police that left me aghast. It was the scenes in the courtroom and on the streets of Minneapolis. It was a white man aggressively confronting a Black man in his neighborhood, telling him he didn’t belong and to get the hell out. It was the news of eight people gunned down in Indianapolis.

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Four Steps to Making a Fresh Start in Life

freshstart

Many of us have done drastic things trying to make a fresh start in life. But no matter what we do, nothing seems to change. Outer conditions may be different, but inside we're still the same. If changing things outside doesn’t make a difference, where does a genuine fresh start begin?

The answer lies in four connected steps:


Step One: Learn What Prevents Us From Making a Fresh Start 

Our plans to make a fresh start have not delivered the new life we’d envisioned. So the first fact we need to understand – that runs completely contrary to our usual ideas of starting over – is that we can't plan to do it.

If I plan a new start, that means I've envisioned a new position, power, or possession by which I will enjoy a sense of newness. The problem is, everything I imagine doing or becoming is a variation of past experiences and dreams. And clearly, nothing I pull from my past can bring a fresh start. It’s just a reconfiguration of an old idea that didn’t work the first time around. Our image of what it means to be a new human being is a product of our past, and it is what keeps us from making a real fresh start.

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Your Unique Happiness Quotient

Unique Happiness
Happiness is what we all chase, although differently. This is also because everyone experiences happiness differently. It is actually the gauge of man's feelings living within his personal environment
 
Feelings, some people seem to realize, are highly overrated. And yet, what is man, if he is not going by his own feelings. Chasing happiness and joy, is basically chasing your own inherent feelings.

WHAT KIND OF FEELING IS HAPPINESS
Katherine Mansfield has described it as the most rapturous moment, like the glowing sun. We all chase some sensations, but these sensations only come to us when we least expect them. 

POSITIVE FEELINGS
It is the belief of most people, that we could find happiness, if only we knew where to look for it. It is a state of Self understanding.
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Life…It’s About Building Circuitry

Life…It’s About Building Circuitry

“This is who you are and this is what you’re doing…” I say that often so that you’ll start to remember the truth—that you are a cosmic being. 

My question for you is, how often do you remember that you are a truly cosmic being?

What I mean by that is, you’re made of the universe—you are universal energy. We, each of us, are the unified field of energy packed into a body. There are no exceptions.

We are this Soulful Self coming into a funnel, into a channel, into a body, and expressing out into the world. And our job here is to remember that’s what is really going on.

Pause a moment and ask yourself, “How many times, a day, a week, a year…do I remember, I AM a Cosmic Being that’s having an experience here on earth?” Rather than a human being thinking I’m seeking a spiritual experience. 

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Stay The Course

staythecourese
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
—Audre Lorde

I've Been Thinking...

This week, The Open Field will publish its second book. It’s called The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self by my friend Martha Beck.

I’m beyond excited and beyond humbled to be the home base for Martha’s newest offering. As I told her and my brother Timothy (who wrote The Call to Unite), if you had told me a year ago, two years, or five years ago that The Open Field would be publishing books (with Viking/Penguin) that truly matter with purpose and intention, and that the first two offerings would be from two writers and thinkers who I love and admire, I would have said that it was an impossible dream.

I tell this to you today in case you, too, have a dream that feels impossible. I tell this to you today to inspire you forward, to encourage you to stay the course, to believe in God’s timing, and to assure you that dreams can, in fact, come true.

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286 Hits

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Dropping The Scale

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Like everyone, I was taught that justice is blind, then given a scale to weigh and measure everything. Then, I was told on the sly that everyone peeks and puts their finger on the scale. And years later, after tumbling through the labyrinth of almost dying and waking up, I chanced upon the words of a man who lived fifteen hundred years ago who said that the urge in us to save a child from falling in a well is what makes us human. This was the Chinese philosopher Mencius and he used this image to define the notion of Ren. It makes me think of my first dog, Saba, who as pup in the snow for the first time fell into an iced pond. My heart pounded and without any conscious choice, I was in that pond lifting her back into life as she was sinking. It makes me think of my oldest friend, Robert. When I came to after having a cancerous rib removed, he was over me with a washcloth on my head. It makes me think of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal where two hundred years ago a janitor was revealed as a healer. There is now a wall of crutches from all those he lifted back into life. It makes me think of the ancient shamans who somehow believed that to lay hands on the ill with an open heart would draw the toxins from their bodies and their minds. It makes me think of Jesus telling the wealthy merchant to drop his scale and enter Heaven now. The truth is that, like so many of us, I have been burdened by the hell of weighing, when Heaven waits in the things that matter that can’t be weighed. In truth, I owe everything to those who have saved my life and yours, dropping everything to pull us from the fire.

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3 Lessons from Creating Inspired Work and the Life of My Dreams

creating purpose

Are your ideas crippling your chances? An inspired life has different parameters and party favors. Throw away everything you think you know. Because this is Float Your Boat University. It’s a different curriculum for a different way of life. 

I want to give you a tangible example of how thinking differently will help you create differently . Here are 3 lessons from creating/leading a writing group I called “Freewriting Fridays” for twenty years. Read on, if you want to grow your dream career/business, empower your relationships, or get out of your head and be led-- by the wild mojo that makes things happen. 

  1. The Sweeter Plan: Everything Has Its Own Form:
To create an inspired life, I couldn’t force things—which, as it turns out, is a bit of a bummer for a control freak.

But there is already an innate expression or form that exists. When I first began my writing group, I met 5 people who wanted to write. We tossed around times. “I can only do Friday mornings,” said Ralph. The rest of us paused. We could do that. And Freewriting Fridays was born. Ralph came once. But Freewriting Fridays continued at the same very unusual time for more than twenty years—and attracted the souls who were meant to be there.

There’s always something that wants to happen in a situation. Try discovering it instead of fighting it. This is organic creation.

Today, I see this with the talks and events I do on the road. Each trip has its own signature. I look for the gifts, treasure hunting instead of collecting disappointments or brooding over what’s not happening. Believe me, the mind is born to rummage. So, I rummage for promise instead of pain.

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223 Hits

How to Handle Emotional Triggers (Especially the Ones You Thought You Already Worked Through)

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I personally know how frustrating it is to feel as though you’ve fully worked through something, processed a trigger, and handled your emotions… only for you to get triggered again later. This is something I’ve been dealing with a lot this last year and talking with many people about. Why is it that we do all this work, only to be surprised by a triggering event later on?

It’s so frustrating when this happens, especially if you’re anything like me and you want to think through things and not feel through them. Sometimes it’s not natural to feel, so when you’ve put in all this emotional work, it can be pretty discouraging to realize there’s more work to be done. 

But why is there more work necessary? How do we get that work done? Why do triggers keep happening? Don’t throw in the towel. We’re going to dig into this aspect of handling emotional triggers right now.

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351 Hits

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: In Those Moments

photo_by_donald-gianiatti
Sometimes, after she falls and before

she gets up, she takes a deep breath.

And in those moments, she stares

briefly into the Center of Things.

It calms her. For in those moments,

she drinks from something older than

her life. Other times, the same thing

happens when reading a passage from

a book that opens her heart. Or when

hearing that lift in a song that makes

her think of looking at the stars as

a little girl. She never knows how to

speak of these openings. It’s as if

the still point of her life rests on

the bottom of all trouble like a

weighted pearl. And an invisible

string ties it to her heart. And

every once in a while, the pearl

of life tugs at her heart, forcing

her to fall and remember that

there is nowhere to go.



A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, describe your own firsthand experience of how being stopped opened you to more than just your life.

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Honoring Your Authentic Self: THE FIFTH ENERGY!

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When asked about how he was able to create lifelike, detailed forms from blocks of marble, Michelangelo answered, “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”

And so it is with your authentic self. You don’t need to create your personal truth; you simply need to remove everything that is standing in the way of self-expression. And the biggest obstacle is usually fear. 

Rejecting Limits on Your Voice or Your Truth

When your fifth energy, the energy that corresponds to creative self expression, is unbalanced, it’s common to feel that you don’t have a right to express yourself. This lack of harmony can lead to fears about speaking up, for fear you’ll be judged, mocked, censured, or otherwise rejected. 

But we cannot be totally free unless we are committed to telling the absolute truth — to others and to ourselves. And this takes courage! Often, we can be led to believe stories that it is safer to fit in, or that we have to earn our worth before we can speak up. Many people have had to fight to be heard, or maybe you were punished for telling the truth. Maybe you were, like me, taught how to fit in, and that being different was dangerous. 

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Killing Buddha (it’s a good thing)

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Did you know that the personal growth world has a dark side? And that not all the superstars of this world walk their talk?

I have spent more than 30 years attending personal growth workshops, working closely with the teachers of it, and have been in a rare birdseye place to observe what goes on. 90% of my experiences with the teachers and their teachings were very positive but I saw some things… out of control diva behavior, falling on the floor sloppy drunk, profound arrogance, and I’ve read about male yoga teachers taking sexual advantage of their students, etc.

I’ve learned that it’s true, we teach what we need to learn most, and that most of us interested in personal growth deliberately come to it in search of healing, which is why the teachers are teaching it in the first place. They had a core wound, found a solution, and now want to share it with the world. So, we don’t always want to be too quick to judge them (unless their behavior is abhorrent or criminal) and make room for their imperfect humanness.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Resilience

Photo-by-samuel-ferrara

Somehow, when I face what is mine to face and empty myself of all that is agitating me, I go clear like a lake after a storm. It is then that I can see through to the bottom of what is me, only to see that I share that bottom with all other beings. When I face my heartache and reach its bottom, there is the bottom of all heartache which is both comforting and renewing.

In this brave and tender way, resilience is accepting strength from everything that is not us. When being ourselves to the bottom of our personality, we trip into the well of all personality. When giving all our care to what is before us, we trip into the well of all love. When diving through the depth that some call soul, we swim in the depth of being. Once opened that deeply, summoning and marshalling what is dormant in us to face the situation at hand empowers our fortitude.

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Your Precious Marble Day

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“If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun."
 —Katharine Hepburn


I've Been Thinking...

Happy Spring, friends! How are you doing today? How are you feeling with all the talk about getting back to so-called normal?

Are you feeling good? Are you relieved? Are you anxious? Or are you just not having any of it? No matter how you feel, I understand. It’s a lot to take in and process. I don’t know about you, but to me, it feels like we were just talking about double masking. Now planes are filled to the max again, restaurants and gyms are reopening. And, depending on where you live, people can (and are) walking around totally unmasked!

It’s enough to give even the calmest among us post-pandemic anxiety, so breathe. That’s where you and your voice come in. That’s where our first story in the Views Above the Noise section below will really help you move forward.

Over the past few days, I’ve spoken to people from all walks of life—different age groups, different states, people on the frontlines of the pandemic, and also those who have lost their jobs—and I’ve got to say, not one person has said, “I’m going back to the way things were.” They all say, “I want to move forward, but I want to move forward differently. I want to live with more intention.” Every one of them has had a different experience, but all of them have been impacted by the pandemic and have felt the need to take stock of their life and reset. Many aren't sure what the new normal is, but they feel blessed to still be here, and they want to move forward with a new focus, a new mindset, and a new sense of purpose and intention. Me too.

That brings me to two conversations I had this week that I think will help us all do exactly that. One was about having accountability partners in your life, and the other was about a jar of marbles (yup, a jar of marbles). Both got me thinking.

My first conversation was one about where you turn for advice. My friend asked me this: Do you have at least five people to whom you can turn for sound advice? Do you have people who will tell you the truth, who will call you out when the situation warrants it, and who will keep you moving forward? 

As my friend and I discussed this, they then told me to “take those five people and smoosh them together. Then you will have you!” 

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The 2-Step Visioning Formula That Saved My Life

happypassenger Create The Life Of Your Dreams Using This Simple Yet Powerful Strategy

There’s a simple formula that can make all the difference between feeling energized, thrilled to start your day, fulfilling your purpose in life… or waking up feeling lost, dreading your day, and drained.

It allows you to live your purpose and experience life fully, instead of missing out on life, going through the motions — almost feeling like a passenger in your own life.

This practice is so simple, that I was able to apply it when I was 18 years old, in an intensive care unit, confined to a hospital bed… with no prior training or experience.

And it is so powerful, that it actually saved my life.

When you incorporate this formula into your routine, it will help you break free from the chains of old habits and patterns that keep you living a life you don’t fully love.

It allows you to escape the hamster wheel of old results — unlocking the full potential that lies within you, to achieve anything you would love.

This formula is the key to finding fulfillment, purpose and creating a life you would love living.

But before I go into the details, let me share with you the story of how I learned this powerful formula for the very first time…

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Wake Up and Work at Living in Presence

Living in the presence

Part of our essential need to be at peace is to know that we are in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, and to know it in such a fashion that nothing can come along and convince us that we are not.

Have you ever thought to yourself "I'm doing the right thing at the right time," and someone said, "No, you're not," and then everything fell apart? 

To work at living in Presence, we need only bring our attention back into ourselves, quietly knowing we are aware of all that we are, and all that’s going on around us at the same time. 

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The Gift of Failure

hot-air-balloons-flying

When things don’t go according to plan or work out how you intended, it can be a huge disappointment and let down, especially when you have invested so much time, energy, and money.

It’s easy to judge yourself as a failure and beat yourself up harshly. But this serves nothing.

When you try so hard and your dreams don’t happen, it’s easy to question yourself and even want to give up on the dream itself.

But what if there was no such thing as “failure”? 

Consider that every experience is feedback to you from the universe and every moment is an opportunity to learn something more about yourself.

Failure is simply an interpretation of reality based on your current level of consciousness.

So – What if things not working out were really a gift from the universe designed to take you deeper into yourself, forcing you to question, reflect, and let go of anything not in alignment with your highest?

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