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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The Language We All Speak

“There's nothing you can do that can't be done. Nothing you can sing that can't be sung ... All you need is love, love. All you need is love.”  -The Beatles


I've Been Thinking...

At the beginning of the week, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to write about this morning. I had been thinking a lot about how unscripted the world feels, and how it sort of mirrors my own life’s trajectory.

What I mean is that I feel like I’m basically making things up as I go these days. And where I’m going is shorter than where I came from. That feeling can either be very anxiety-inducing or freeing, depending on the day.

But then, a few things happened that made me want to write about love instead. I wasn’t called to the topic just because I had finished binge-watching “Modern Love” on Amazon (a TV show based on the NY Times column, both which I recommend). No, I was called to write about love because, in a deeply profound way, I think it’s our common denominator. It’s our common desire. It’s the feeling that we all want more of, and that we (and our world) desperately need right now.

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4 Steps to Walk Away the “Winner” of Any Argument

A fight between two people (lovers, spouses, family members) is a kind of psychological battle often filled with personal attacks, accusations, and dredging up past mistakes. When both parties are exhausted, or one grudgingly concedes, the fight ends—for the moment. But nothing has changed; resentment has just gone underground until it’s dug up again, and hostilities soon resume.

But it needn’t be this way. There’s a little known “magic” that can stop any fight in the moment and helps prevent the next one from getting starting. It’s the result of what we can call “relationship jiu-jitsu.”

Jiu-jitsu is an ancient Japanese martial art based in “the art of yielding.” The combatants use special “moves” to turn an opponent’s energy back on them. But here, I’m using the term psychologically, where the opponent isn’t a person you’re fighting. The true “opponent” to be overcome is a negative, lower level of consciousness in each of you that blames the other for the punishing pattern you’re both caught up in.

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See Beings, Not Bodies

What happens when you look at someone?

The Practice:
See beings, not bodies.

Why?

When we encounter someone, usually the mind automatically slots the person into a category: older, younger, your friend Tom, the kid next door, etc. Watch this happen in your own mind as you meet or talk with a co-worker, salesclerk, or family member.

In effect, the mind summarizes and simplifies tons of details into a single thing – a human thing to be sure, but one with an umbrella label that makes it easy to know how to act. For example: “Oh, that’s my boss (or mother-in-law, or boyfriend, or traffic cop, or waiter) . . . and now I know what to do. Good.”

This labeling process is fast, efficient, and gets to the essentials. As our ancestors evolved, rapid sorting of friend or foe was very useful. For example, if you’re a mouse, as soon as you smell something in the “cat” category, that’s all you need to know: freeze or run like crazy!

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You Don't Have to Live With Guilt

Do you know that it is completely possible to heal your guilt? I did it and so can you!

I grew up in a family that constantly used guilt as a form of control. Sometimes the guilt was somewhat subtle, such as “Fine, do what you want,” said with a blaming tone. Other times it was blatant, such as my grandmother (who lived with us) saying to me, whenever I didn’t do what she wanted, “How can you do this to me? You are so selfish.”

As an adolescent, if I came home five minutes after my curfew, I would hear my mother hissing at me from their bedroom as I tried to tiptoe into my room, her voice dripping with anger, “You’re late again. You know I worry about you.” My mother had many ways of making me responsible for her feelings – from her intense anger to her victim tears. I was always to blame.

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How To Get Others To Love You

How do you get people to like you?

How do you get people to love you?

How do you get people to validate you? 

The more time and energy you spend trying to get other people to love you, focusing your energy on being a certain way in order to get love, only causes you suffering. 

Realize, you don't have the power to make other people love you. 

The more time you spend to make people love you, the more disempowered you'll become and you will suffer. 

Watch Kute Blackson as he shares the keys to get other people to love you:
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Forgive

Are you holding onto feeling wronged?

The Practice:
Forgive.

Why?

Forgiveness is a tricky topic.

First, it has two distinct meanings:

  • To give up resentment or anger
  • To pardon an offense; to stop seeking punishment or recompense

Here, I am going to focus on the first meaning, which is broad enough to include situations where you have not let someone off the hook morally or legally, but you still want to come to peace about whatever happened. Finding forgiveness can walk hand in hand with pursuing justice.

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Turning The Tables on Turkey Day Trauma & Trepidation

Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving? 

What happened to Fall?

Although the song says "Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays," the fact is that most of us experience a sense of dread as we envision our upcoming holiday gatherings and being around our family.

Feelings of resistance, anxiety, and resignation start to bubble up as we anticipate the drama and dis-ease that will undoubtedly accompany the candied yams and pumpkin pie. As we contemplate the upcoming holiday, our minds naturally drift back to Thanksgivings past and any hope of warm and fuzzy feelings turn cold as we think about our family dynamic and the scenarios that consistently cause trauma and trepidation at our Thanksgiving table. Situations like: 

  • How do I once again try to explain to my family why I have to bring my own food since I eat vegan or gluten-free? 
  • What can I do to appease my parents and in-laws, who are all divorced but expect us to show up and make their Thanksgiving meal the most significant one? 
  • How should I handle it this year when, at the last minute, my sister-in-law once again decides to invite four more people to dinner? 
  • What do I do when Uncle Bob inevitably brings up politics?
  • How do I not get pissed off at my family when they stay glued to the television as I do all of the work in the kitchen?

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Marry Your Conscience

Have you heard about the studies that say we are a reflection of the five people that we spend the most time with? That’s right! We become most like the people we most like!

When you look around your life, who or what do you see?

Are there people who inspire you? Are willing to be straight with you? Hold your greatest dreams and visions?

Or are there people who are more apt to choose harmony over truth, even when it comes to situations that are not in our highest?

Years ago, I attended a ceremony in which Jay Leno, the comedian, was being honored. Accepting the award and thanking all of the people who supported him in his career, he of course singled-out his wife. In speaking about her and the success of their long-term marriage, Leno said:

"Marry your conscience. Marry the one who makes you want to be a better person."



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What we become when obstacles are removed for us

What’s standing in your way right now? A relationship that’s no longer working but you don’t dare to end? Parents who won’t support your dream to become a musician because they want you to be lawyer? Your fear of being judged so you don’t show who you really are and live behind a mask your whole life? Whatever is getting in the way between you and whatever it is you’re trying to be or do, you’re probably wishing that you could will it away or that someone would take it away for you.

Life is not always smooth sailing, as we all know. Throughout our lives, we encounter obstacles—both external and internal—that prevent us from getting what we want or where we need to be. They invoke all sorts of emotional reaction from us. Sometimes, we feel annoyed. Sometimes, we get angry. And sometimes, we become afraid. But never do we feel glad about them. We often see them as unwanted roadblocks that delay our journey and bring us inconvenience and unnecessary suffering. But do we ever ask ourselves why they are even there? If we don’t deal with obstacles, what would we become?

Chicken or jerk?

One of my friends is raising an only child. She and her husband are very protective and they do everything to make life easy for their son to the extent that when the boy was 10 years old, he didn’t even know how to eat a meal with a fork and a knife. One time, we were having lunch and she got a phone call from him. Her son was 14 at that time. He was at the train station and asked if her mother could pick him up and take him home. So, we had to quickly end our lovely meal.

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Bursting the Super Woman / Super Mom Bubble

Wake up. Work out. Make breakfast (for everyone). Drive the kids to school. Drive yourself to work. Take the kids to all their activities. Bring them home. Make sure they’re doing their homework. Make dinner (for everyone). Be a mom. Be a friend. Be a daughter. Be a lover. Go to bed. Repeat.

Okay, so maybe not everything on this list applies to you personally, but I’m sure there are some others that are unique to you that you could swap in – and then some. As women, we are often expected to do ALL. THE. THINGS. And let’s be honest: our families, coworkers, and others learn to expect this from us because we are so darn good at making it look like we really can do it all! The reality, though, is that with so many balls in the air, something is going to drop. 

When something does inevitably drop, what’s your reaction going to be? And perhaps even more importantly, how are you going to react on a daily basis to the juggling act you’ve got going on?

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Wabi Sabi Love

Some say the hardest part of life is dealing with the other humans.

Unlike most cats and dogs, people behavior is often not predictable. (or sometimes too predictable and that can also be maddening!)

Figuring out how to manage my feelings and judgements about people, and myself, has been a long-time mission and when I discovered Wabi Sabi, that made a big difference (most of the time).

The ancient Japanese practice of Wabi Sabi is about finding the beauty and perfection in imperfection… in all things old, worn, imperfect, and impermanent, from broken pottery to driftwood and beyond.

In my world, I expanded it to be Wabi Sabi Love, to find the beauty and perfection in behavior and things that make us crazy.

It’s essentially about finding the gold in the dark.

Shifting your perception.

Changing your story.

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Addiction to Story-telling

Being able to tell great stories, and being addicted to story-telling, are two very different things.

I was at a social gathering speaking with Robyn, a woman I had just met. At first, it sounded like she was a very interesting person and a good storyteller, but after a few minutes I noticed that we were not speaking WITH each other – she was speaking AT me.

I also noticed that I was unable to connect with her, and I started to feel very bored. Being used to noticing and acknowledging my feelings, I thanked my inner child for the information she was giving me – my boredom – which was telling me that Robyn was likely addicted to story telling.

Robyn was using story telling as a form of control to capture my attention and drain my energy. She was counting on the fact that she thought I would be too polite to walk away in the middle of her story. She was wrong about my being too polite!

I do try to be polite, but

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Belonging to Each Other

Mother Teresa writes that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. These three talks explore the causes for severed belonging, and pathways to deepening the felt sense of belonging to our own body, heart and spirit, and to all beings. Together the talks offer a natural and powerful progression of loving kindness or metta reflections, that when practiced regularly can open us to the peace, joy and freedom of trusting our mutual belonging.

Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe.” ― D.H. Lawrence
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The essence of loving kindness is this openhearted quality of friendliness. It’s sacred. It’s precious. As Mother Teresa described it, when we sense that belonging that comes with friendship, we really touch peace.

We close in that spirit to sense in your own heart the intention to befriend the life that’s within you. And take a moment to hold the life within you with the quality of care. Feel in your own words your prayer to befriend this life – to love yourself into healing.

Widening our attention to sense those in our lives – those close in, those that we don’t know, all beings – to sense that intention to discover our belonging to all of life everywhere. And in that discovery to know the joy and peace and freedom of being awake and alive. ~ Tara

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Love Shared Thru Art

A few months ago, when I traveled from Alaska to Arizona I loaded into my car what I wanted for my new living and creative space. It wasn’t much; some clothes, a few pieces of art and some family pictures.  I also grabbed a couple of old race photos. I chose what inspired me or reminded me of our life with younger children. I knew the house, we would eventually decorate in Arizona, had a much different vibration than the house in Alaska.  The majority of what filled our walls in Anchorage would remain in Alaska.  

A very large tapestry had been hanging near the back entrance to my husband’s office space.  It was placed where only those that entered thru a private door, might have a moment to notice it’s uniqueness.  This piece is about six feet tall and three feet wide. It was hand woven with brilliant hues of purples, golds, browns, greens, blues and reds. A sheep, winged animal and goat is the collective theme. These creatures were created by wide strands of yarn beautifully woven together. It reminds me of a far away place, from long ago.  It felt almost too big for the wall. Over time I noticed something magical hiding in this art. When the time was right, it would come to life.  

As we began to plan our move, we discussed what might work in Arizona.  This particular piece had been grabbing my attention. I often paused by the door, admiring the colors and shapes.  Sometimes I could feel the pull of ancient wisdom, love and even healing touching my heart. I could even feel smoky fires from a very long time ago. With my husband’s blessing the woven art was taken down and slowly, over land and sea made the journey to a new home.  

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The MOST Important Love RULE

Many of us were taught the “Golden Rule” as kids:

“Do unto others as you would like to be done unto.”

This works well most of the time EXCEPT when it comes to love.

With your soulmate you want to practice the Platinum Rule:

“Do unto them as they would like to be done unto.”

“This requires that you understand their “love language.”

If they prefer “words of affirmation” or “touch” over “gifts” or they prefer “acts of service” over “quality time” give them that.

With the Golden rule we tend to give our partners what we want, thinking that the things that make us feel loved are the same for them.

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Try a Softer Tone

How do you talk to people?

The Practice:
Try a softer tone.

Why?

Linguists like Deborah Tannen have pointed out that most communications have three elements:

  • Explicit content – “There is no milk in the refrigerator.”
  • Emotional subtext – Could be irritation, blame, accusation
  • Implicit statement about the nature of the relationship – Could be one person gets to criticize and boss around someone else

Many studies have found that the second and third elements – which I define in general as tone – usually have the greatest impact on how an interaction turns out. Since a relationship is built from interactions, the accumulating weight of the tone you use has big effects.

In particular, because of the “negativity bias” of the brain – which is like Velcro for uncomfortable experiences but Teflon for pleasant ones – a repeatedly critical, snarky, disappointed, worried, or reproachful tone can really rock a relationship; for example, John and Julie Gottman’s work has shown that it typically takes several positive interactions to make up for a single negative one.

How?

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Creating Heart-Level Connections & Community

“What are some of the ways you honor yourself?” 

This isn’t me asking you that question. This came out of the mouth of a young woman, smiling broadly after taking an order for breakfast at a cafe in San Diego that has become my most favorite restaurant in the world (and I am a foodie so this is a BIG statement!

I’m here now hosting the first weekend of my DreamQuest Mastermind—a seven-month small group intensive I offer once a year. When my team picked me up from the airport Anna and Jenn had already been there and had been raving about it so we all decided to go straight there, our car was laden to the brim with bags and boxes, me suitably jetlagged ready to experience something new. 

I had just been immersed in the airport lounge experience of multiple TV screens reminding everyone how, why and who they shouldn’t feel good or safe about and continuing the propaganda of division and distrust, the droning conditioning we’re constantly being subjected to. Headlines confirming fear, lack, and hatred sprinkled with just enough hope to keep us hungry. Maybe today something good? Nope, but almost. Keep watching!

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The real beauty of allowing kids to blossom as they are

When I saw this picture on Instagram, my heart just sang with joy. The caption read, “This is the morning Amma popped down the stairs and said: ‘Look! I’m Abby on the top and mommy on the bottom!’” Amma is the youngest child of Glennon Doyle, author of New York Times bestseller Love Warrior and married to two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women's World Cup champion Abby Wambach. She was given the freedom to be herself by allowing her to wear whatever she wants. While that might seem too simplistic or even trivial for many, this is a type of empowerment that helps a child grow up to be confident, self-assured and secure.

My soul was celebrating upon seeing this little girl who is allowed to be herself, respected for what she wants and honored for all that she is. Speaking from my own childhood experience, not many children are blessed with this kind of upbringing. Having been raised in a strict Asian culture, the message that was drilled into my head was, “You’re the child, I’m the parent. You don’t have any say on anything. You just obey and do as you’re told.” This includes something as “simple” as dressing up.

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How can we find balance on the path of love?

This is the path of love. The path of the heart. Like all paths, it is fraught with pitfalls and traps, and most of our emotions are either in the service of our minds or our frightening things that overwhelm us and make us afraid so we protect ourselves from them.

So we come through life a little bit like hungry ghosts. We are beings that have huge needs for love, but seemingly it’s like we have some kind of amoeba that doesn’t allow us to digest our food. So, though we get love, it goes through us and then we need love all over again. This conception is so deep within all of us that we’ve built an entire reality around it, and we think that’s the way it is; that everybody needs love and that if you don’t get it you are deprived, and that the more of it the better, and you need it every day from everything. In that sense it’s like an achievement; you see people that are achievers. The minute they achieve something it becomes irrelevant, and their awareness turns to the next achievement because they are addicted to the practice, not to the goal.

The predicament with loving is the power of the addiction of the practice of loving somebody; of getting so caught in the relationship that you can’t ever arrive at the essence of dwelling in love.

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Sometimes it’s Hard to be a Loving Adult

When do you find it especially hard to show up for yourself as a loving adult?

All of us are, at times, challenged in being a loving adult.

Most of the time I can be a loving adult just by deciding to be. But there are times when I find it extremely difficult, and that’s when I need someone to step in and help me. For me, it’s when I’m exhausted due to not having slept well for a number of nights, or when I’m sick – which fortunately is rare for me. At these times, I just can’t get my frequency high enough to connect with my guidance, and without my guidance, I’m lost. I feel like I’m trying to navigate life with a blindfold on.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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