I Succeeded Because I Tried

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”

Elbert Hubbard

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Last weekend, I debuted my new business venture Pure You: Awaken Your Authentic Self at the New Visions Celebration of Life Expo in York PA.  This popular holistic health expo attracts everyone from reflexologists to Reiki masters as well as vendors selling products including crystals, jewelry, essential oils, & books.  It was the perfect place to share the philosophy of Pure You & the services I offer.

I’ve often described the idea of birthing a new idea to birthing a baby.  A mother doesn’t give birth expecting a child to come out fully formed as a veterinarian or fashion designer; she knows it’s a baby who will develop as it grows.  Ideas are exactly the same.  They, too, evolve over time.  I kept that in my mind as I set up my booth, arranging the banner, business cards, & flyers promoting my upcoming workshop “Light in the Darkness:  How Dreams Illuminate Your Soul”.

I’m not going to mislead you.  Putting myself out there in a new way was scary.  There were feelings of vulnerability, a fear of acceptance, & moments of self-doubt.  All I could do was reject the negativity & stand in the knowledge that no matter how Pure You was received, at least I had the guts to try.  I had the courage to make my dream a reality.  I know myself well enough to know that if I didn’t put my heart & soul into this venture, I’d have a lifetime of wondering “What if…” in addition to the understandable feeling of failure that results when I don’t even try.  That’s not my style.  I’ll always be a dreamer & I’ll always do my best to make my own dreams come true- being the hero in my own life story.

My best advice to any dreamer longing to make the dream a reality…Don’t let fear paralyze you.  So what if something you try doesn’t turn out the way you want?  By trying, you are opening the door of possibilities that remains forever closed to those who “settle” for what is.  Stand in your own power.  Be the co-creator of your life.  Success comes with trying.

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Spring Beginnings

Mourning doves coo from rooftops & robins happily chirp on bare branches, announcing the arrival of Spring.  “Welcome back, everyone!”, I say with a smile, always glad to see animals return to the area.

Smaller birds are gathering straw & twigs for the nests they are building in my 14-room bird “palace”.  Soon, baby birds will be heard calling out to their mothers, “Feed me!”  Last month, my boyfriend took down the birdhouse, cleaned out last year’s abandoned nests, replaced rotting wood, & raised the birdhouse back on its post to make it an inviting space for expectant moms.

Birdhouse

Look closely, the middle room on the upper level is already someone’s new home.

Bright greens, yellows, & purples replace the greys, browns, & whites of winter, brightening my mood as well as my yard.  After months of drab neutrals, pops of color dance before my eyes.

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daffodils

I can’t help it; I’m excited!!  I want to clear away the dead plants that no longer feed or shelter wildlife.  I want to throw open the windows so the brisk breeze can deliver freshness & positive energy to my home.  And, I want to give myself a thorough “spring cleaning”, too.  For me, this means releasing thoughts, habits, & experiences that no longer serve the greatest & highest good.

What has been outgrown?

What should be nurtured?

If we tune in to nature & tune in to ourselves at the same time, we’ll find that what’s happening around us is happening in us as well.  New ideas flow like sap.  Dreams blossom into reality like crocuses rising from the decaying leaves.  Seeds planted in our lives mirror the seeds planted in the soil.  The interconnectedness of all things…

Baby Steps

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, & endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”  Henry David Thoreau

I gravitate to inspirational quotes like this when I’m preparing to go in the direction of my dreams & hoping to meet with “success unexpected in common hours.”  Keep talking, Thoreau; I hear you & I know you’re right.  And while I’d like to stride confidently in the direction of my dreams, more often than not, I take cautious baby steps instead.  Why?  Because I can’t see the destination & running in the dark seems a certain way to trip & fall.  I prefer baby steps, slow & steady.  I’ll pick up speed when I’m more sure of where I’m going.

Change is scary but staying in a situation that you’ve outgrown, that makes you unhappy, or that causes you to compromise your Self is scarier.  I know this from experience.  A little over a decade ago, I was in a position where I had to ask myself, “Is this really how I want to spent the rest of my life?”  The answer was an emphatic “NO!”   I couldn’t articulate exactly what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want.  That’s the time to take a baby step, when the dream is germinating but hasn’t pushed through the soil into the sunlight of awareness.  Baby steps are perfect for when you aren’t sure which direction to walk, you just know you don’t want to stand still.

Baby steps are also a great way to proceed when the journey seems overwhelming.  For example, when I graduated from college, I had a mountain of debt that seemed impossible to repay.  I had no idea how I’d pay it off but I knew drowning in debt wasn’t an option for me.  Giving up is never an option for me.  I paid $10 here and $100 there, month by month, until it was finally gone.  Baby steps.

Am I writing this for you, dear readers, or am I writing this for me?  Yes & yes.

It’s time for a baby step.  To be continued…

Autumn: A Different Harvest

I absolutely adore autumn; it’s my favorite time of year.  We sleep with the windows open, snuggled under blankets as the temperature outside drops to a chilly 47 degrees F.  By afternoon, a warm breeze flows through the room, reminding me that summer may be gone but not forgotten… not just yet anyway.

Local farmers have set up stands to sell their gourds, pumpkins, corn, & flowers.

They are harvesting their crops & in a way, so am I.  Both of our harvests are the result of seeds we planted.  Some seeds are bearing wonderful fruit in my life.  For example, I’ve put more attention on who & what I value most– my boyfriend, my pets, my friends & family, creativity, nature, & spirituality.

As a result of the seeds I planted, I am aware that my authentic Self is separate from my experiences.  I am not my job.  Accomplishments & failures are  opportunities to learn & grow but do not define me.

On a more humorous note, some seeds did not bear fruit this year.  I planted seeds of intention for new opportunities to come along but so far, a multimillionaire has not called to say, “I want to fully fund a spiritual/creative retreat for women & want you be the director.”  Nor has anyone emailed to tell me, “I love the art you are selling on etsy.com.  Would you like to be a full-time artist & never worry about money again?”  I’ll be replanting these seeds next year 🙂

I reverently enter this autumn season, knowing that I can only harvest the seeds I nurture throughout the year.  I hope your seeds bear fruit for you, too.

Ritual- For the Spiritual Journey

In the workshop that I’m leading, I asked the women to write on a slip of paper either a fear that they would like to transform into fearlessness or a hope they’d like to manifest in their lives (an activity designed by Elizabeth Fisher for her Rise Up & Call Her Name workshop).  We briefly shared what we wrote, for by saying our prayers aloud we give them greater power.  Then, we set the papers in a bowl & set them on fire.  This ritual symbolically transformed our fears into smoke & raised our hopes on the air to be heard by the Divine (whatever form that entity takes for each woman).   Spontaneous yells & cheers erupted as the last ember faded into darkness.  It was an incredibly poignant moment for us all.

Ritual, the 9th in my series of 12 collages for the Spiritual Journey, honors all of our meaningful rituals from simple ones such as greeting the sun at dawn (like the figure in the collage is doing) to something more complex like a marriage ritual.

Rituals, from the simple to the complex, should align with your true Self.

As I’ve written before, rituals mark the important transitions in our lives & connect us to what matters most.  What rituals do you perform?  Are they meaningful or do some need redefined to align with who you are now?

Permission to Let Go

I had an epiphany while walking the dogs last night.  (Keep in mind that my epiphanies sometimes occur only after I’ve figuratively beat my head against a wall not once, not twice, but three or more times!)  I realized that I’m trying to change things that aren’t mine to change.  You’ve probably felt this way at some point– helplessly watching a friend battle addiction, a sister suffer in a bad relationship, or a co-worker compromise their principles for the safety of a paycheck.  Perhaps, your concerns are even bigger– animal cruelty, global warming, or the state of our nation’s educational system.

When we care passionately, we want to help.  When we care passionately, we want to fix it & make it all better.  When we care passionately, we sometimes have to let go.  This makes sense to our brain but takes longer for our heart & soul to admit.  “Yes, I know that but I can’t give up.”  The bottom line is that we don’t want to give up because we see it as a sign of failure.

Giving ourselves permission to let go of things beyond our control isn’t failure; it’s an opportunity to redirect our time, energy, & emotions in a more productive & positive way.  Maybe it’s time for some soul-searching.  Am I putting my energy where it can do the most good?  Should I take that energy & put it elsewhere?  Approach your Self with love, compassion, & empathy.  It’s not failure to let go of what wasn’t yours to hold in the first place.    Peace.

Who Gets To Say?

When should a widow start dating again?  When should a person adopt a new pet after one dies?  When exactly should we accept our loss & get on with life?  Who gets to say?  After all the loss that 2011 brought to my life, I’ve learned a few things…

1.  Feel What You Feel When You Feel It— That means crying when you want or lying around in pajamas all day watching old movies.  It means being sad one minute & happy the next.  It may even mean feeling 2 or 3 emotions at once.  It’s ok to feel what you feel.

2.  Create Personalized Closure Rituals— Do what you think is appropriate to say good-bye & bring closure for your Self.  There’s nothing worse that the generic Amazing Grace/Valley of the Shadow of Death service where the minister has nothing more to say about your loved one than “He was a good person.”  Make the ritual as unique as the one you lost.  Write a poem, create an altar, paint a picture, have a ceremony that only you attend, or go back to a special place you both shared & simply sit in the silence.

3.  Know Your Loved One & Grief Are Unforgetable—  I have to be honest… you won’t “get over it”… ever.  You will come to terms with it, tucking it into a safe place in your heart so you can continue living but you won’t ever forget nor should you.  It’s the memories that keep our loved ones alive in a meaningful way.

4.  Do What You Need To Do To Go On Living—  I lost Pixie on December 5th & adopted Freyja on Dec. 27th.  She was a Bichon/Spaniel mix used in a puppy mill as a breeder for 3 or 4 years!  She spent the last 3 months in a no-kill shelter (Bless these shelters & the people who support them!!!)  Did I move on too quickly?  Absolutely not.  I have love to give & have the means to care for another dog.  Besides, Paco & I needed rescued just as much as Freyja did.  Life goes on.

Freyja's First Day-- A new life for a puppy mill dog 🙂

After a visit to the groomer to remove the matted hair.

Paco is overwhelmed by the thought of change.

We're all going to get along just fine.

Please consider adopting a dog or cat from your local rescue center.  They desperately need love. 

If you can’t, give of your time or money.  In these economic times, the shelters need both!

 

Seeds of Change

I recently heard “You can’t plant a 100-year-old oak tree because seeds of change take time”.  That saying connects to my last post where I referred to Janus, the Roman god of beginnings & endings, who had two faces- one looking to the past & one looking to the future.  The perfect guy to inspire “January”… the month of reflecting while facing a new year.  Hmmm, perhaps my name should be Janice as I, too, spend time learning from my past & trying to improve my future… (sometimes to the detriment of enjoying the present).

Don’t get me wrong; I’m wholeheartedly grateful for the many blessings in my life… there are so many!  But I want to continue to grow… which takes us back to the “seeds of change” metaphor.  Seeds need nurtured with patience & tender loving care.  In other words, good things just take time.  I think back on skills I’ve mastered like drawing & organic gardening.  I was patient with myself & kept trying (even as I made many mistakes).  I also think back on the seeds I didn’t cultivate like being fluent in a second language & learning to dance.  We have to be patient & persevere as we decide what to plant & how best to tend it.  It will pay off as we watch our seeds grow into saplings then mighty oaks.

With 2012 fast approaching, ask yourself what seeds do you want to plant?  What do you want to cultivate in your life?  I hope to nurture my important relationships, adopt a rescue dog who needs love as much as I need to give it, & spend more time doing the things I enjoy.  I look forward to sharing more artwork with you as well as news about a womans’ spirituality workshop I’m leading for the first time this spring.   We are, at once, the gardener tending the seed & the seed itself.  May your roots hold you close to the earth while you reach for the sky.

Art Saves

My mother gave me a wonderful book for my birthday– my birthday isn’t until October 29th but I opened the gift early because I had a feeling I knew what it was 🙂  It’s called Art Saves- Stories, Inspiration, & Prompts Sharing the Power of Art by Jenny Doh.  Mom’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect.   A friend of mine recently told me she had a kidney removed due to renal cancer & they found a spot on her lung that can’t be treated until she recovers from the surgery.  I’m stunned & feeling very helpless.  What can we do when someone we care about has to travel a scary journey such as this, alone even if surrounded by loved ones?

Marie French, an artist in the book, gave me this inspiring idea- “If you know someone who is battling an illness or dealing with a difficult period in their life, take the time to make a piece of art for them…. fuse positivity into whatever you make.”  I love that idea!!  If nothing else, it lets Linda know that I’m thinking about her & sending her love.   A message of hope, healing, & encouragement.  I’m not sure what the piece will look like yet but I’m visualizing a group of barefoot girls in summer dresses playing Ring Around the Rosey.  I’ll share the sketch & stages of completion soon but for now, I need to begin… for Linda.