One’s Legacy

Since it’s Mercury Retrograde, it’s a time to reflect and review.  There are also influences from the outer planets which signal great change.  Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn both challenge us to transform old structures.

In other words, we’ve got a perfect opportunity for a do-over.

I would guess that most of us at least attempt some kind of self-improvement.  We go on diets, we get a haircut, we go on retreats.  But what are we aiming for?

In the end, perhaps we should consider how we would like to be remembered.  And then live that way now.

How would you like to be remembered?

 

 

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Wanna Learn Some Stuff?

One of my resolutions for 2013 was to learn something new.  Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for.  This past year has been full of life lessons, mistakes, and do-overs.  I am grateful for all of the learning I’ve done this year, and grateful for the teachers.

I’d like to share two sites in case you’d like to learn some groovy stuff too.  The author is the same for both, and she is a wealth of information.  Stop by, learn, and enjoy!

Farm at Coventry

Homestead Herbalism

 

SFLP: Part 8

At the beginning of this program, we talked about inner baggage, guilt, and things that weigh us down.  I’ve kept my posts here to a minimum and allowed time and space for thoughtfulness.  After all, anyone can give advice, pontificate, and wax eloquent.  But really, the DOING is up to you.  So how have you done on the internal part of this program?  Have you let the mental chatter slow you down and prevent you from tackling the physical parts of this journey?

I’d like to come full circle for this final post of the SFLP.  Have you uncovered those hidden things which hold you back from being truly and simply fit?  Are you finding that your motivation to exercise or eat right is REDEMPTION rather than FOR JOY?

For the rest of this week, keep your notebook close by, and write down your thoughts on “doing for joy rather than for redemption.”  See if you can find the source of your need for redemption in there.  You might just find that you aren’t so bad after all, and not really in need of “fixing.”  And then, maybe, just maybe, you might find yourself free to enjoy exercise and wellness because you want to!

New Year’s Resolutions

Calvin & Hobbes

It’s only December 10th, but already I’m thinking about New Year’s Resolutions.  For most of my adult life, I have written out my resolutions every year and then carried the list around with me in my handbag.  I take my resolutions seriously, and this year is no exception.  I think I have good company in saying that I am really ready to put 2012 in the rearview mirror.

Several years ago, I came up with an astrological way to write out my resolutions.  I write one resolution per zodiacal sign, so I end up with twelve goals for the year.  Each zodiacal sign has a general theme, and put together, they cover just about every area of life.  Here are the general symbolic meanings for each sign:

ARIES–assertiveness, identity, expressing the self

TAURUS–security, patience, material things

GEMINI–communication, versatility, adaptability

CANCER–emotions, motherhood, connection, the home

LEO–creativity, generosity, heart, playfulness

VIRGO–efficiency, organization, public service, humility

LIBRA–balance, harmony, diplomacy, relationships

SCORPIO–passion, transformation, power

SAGITTARIUS–higher learning, meaning of life, adventure, travel

CAPRICORN–authority, structure, discipline

AQUARIUS–groups, society, friends, reform

PISCES–forgiveness, spirituality, compassion, dreams

So, with this list in hand, I write one resolution or goal based on each theme.  For example, I might come up with a Cancer Resolution of “focusing on being a great mother and making a warm, happy home for my child.”  Or I could write a Virgo Resolution of “giving at least one day of volunteer service per month.”

Do you write resolutions?  If so, how do you choose them?

 

The Downside of Awareness?

Awareness, I think, is one of the better qualities we can cultivate.  By paying attention and by striving to know ourselves, we can turn experience into wisdom.

But sometimes paying attention turns into navel gazing, where we get so focused on our own thoughts and our own Self that we forget to live in the real world with the other human beings.  Or we fall victim to spiritual materialism, as described by Chogyam Trungpa in his book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (http://www.shambhala.com/cutting-through-spiritual-materialism.html).  There is a fine line between being aware and being egocentric.

Recently I came across two interesting items that highlighted this phenomenon of going down the proverbial rabbit hole.  The first was a television show on the National Geographic channel about the Mayan calendar and the now-infamous date of December 21, 2012.  The documentarian travelled to Guatemala and, through an interpreter, questioned several locals of Mayan descent.  He asked them about the so-called Mayan prophecies.  To a person, every one of them stared, nonplussed, at the interpreter and claimed no knowledge of such a prophecy.  Now, my Spanish is sufficient enough to know that the interpreter did indeed ask the question that the documentarian wanted, so there was no mix-up there.  Why the denial, then?  Perhaps everything could have been staged.  Perhaps there is a conspiracy by Mayan descendants to keep the knowledge secret and away from the white men.  But I think the more likely explanation is that the locals were aware enough of the Mayan calendar to know that 12-21-12 is just another day in the great circle of life, but not so overly aware and full of self-importance as to make it into a big deal.

I read about the second item in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno.  According to their findings, in cultures where older women are viewed as respected elders, menopause symptoms are almost unheard of.   The authors even state that osteoporosis is extremely rare in those cultures where achieving old age is seen as a sign of divine blessing and great wisdom.  But here in the West, where eternal youth is valued, women experience hot flashes, headaches, and forgetfulness.  In fact, Western medicine classifies menopause as a disease.  They conclude that if our Western society would adopt a different cultural view of older women, then menopausal symptoms would cease to be.

The point here, in my opinion, is that our perspective is indeed our reality.  So is your reality one of spiritual materialism and navel gazing, where your thoughts imprison you in an apocalyptic world filled with hot flashes and night sweats?  What do you think?

 

Elephant & Rider: A Tale of Motivation

As a sports coach, one of my jobs is to help motivate.  I suppose, ideally, each person would find her own motivation, but we all have days when we are a bit off, so I know that at any given practice, at least one person will not be at her best.  And some days,  the whole team might be suffering from a general malaise.  Sigh. . . .

In his book The Happiness Hypothesis, author Jonathan Haidt writes about a Buddhist metaphor for motivation.  The conscious mind is the rider, and the unconscious mind is the elephant.  As the logical one, the rider is able to see the big picture, to plan, and to reason.  The elephant, then, represents emotions and impulses.

Bottom line is that each of us needs to learn how to train our elephant.  By being patient and not necessarily acting on our emotional impulses, we can find the key to motivation and self-improvement.

One of the things that helps me train my own elephant is to find that which is greater than the “quick fix.”  Remember, that emotionally-driven elephant is a heckuva lot bigger than the rider.  So I have to find something REALLY compelling to keep that elephant on the road I choose.

In a sports setting, I can use motivators that might seem a little negative or taunting.  For example, I might push an athlete by asking, “What are YOU going to do for this team?  What are YOU going to give RIGHT NOW?”  I often encourage my team members to find out what they are made of, to push more than they thought they could give.

But in a personal setting, when you don’t have a coach yelling in your ear, how do you dig down deep and wrangle that elephant?  Are you able to focus on that big-picture goal and wisely and gently keep your elephant’s eyes on the true prize?

Who guides your actions, elephant or rider?