• Personal Development

    Forgiveness

    forgiveness

    “You shouldn’t hold a grudge. Just let it go!”

    Forgiveness means you have another chance to start again. Often, that means evaluating the person who behaved hurtfully to determine whether the harm was intentional or accidental.

    Well-meaning people frequently admonish those who have been seriously hurt by another person to forgive the one who hurt them. If the person did not normally behave that way, it makes sense to forgive. Everyone has reactions they regret and bad judgment once in a while.

    But when the person possesses no empathy or compassion, when they not only refuse to take responsibility for their long-term pattern of damaging behavior, but they blame someone else (often the victim!) and play the victim themselves, victims of this kind of person find it hard to forgive. Because the perpetrator does not feel sorry or regretful, and often feel fully justified in their actions, the injured person cannot even begin to consider forgiveness.

    They blame you when they’re the perpetrator.

    So this situation will bind you to the hurtful person with the strongest of cords. You hold these cords in your hands yet you pull them taut every time you immerse yourself in the past. By holding onto your feelings of pain, anger, and betrayal, you give that person free access to your mind and your soul, your entire inward person. You give away your power to someone who wants to control you. As long as you go back into those memories, you live in the past and give up your sovereignty to someone who does not deserve it.

    Separate yourself …

    By seeking to forgive the person, you cut the cords that bind you. Acknowledge that the person who hurt you does not or will not understand how they have hurt you. You also acknowledge that they don’t care. You are not saying that it’s okay that they hurt you, or that it wasn’t that bad, or that it doesn’t matter.

    Quite the contrary.

    … and release.

    By forgiving them, you release their hold over you. By forgiving, you show that you do not intend to keep diving into the bad emotional experiences that you have had with them. You won’t think about them at all. For anything! You sever emotional ties and remove their hold on you. You will no longer accept their valuation of you, nor will negativity from them be tolerated by you any longer.

    Forgiveness in this sense means simply letting go: letting go of the pain, the memories, your history with this person, sometimes letting go of the person. It is not condoning, letting it slide, and saying it was okay to hurt you.

    You are not to blame.

    Forgive yourself for those times when you might have responded in a less-than-ideal way. Who wouldn’t have? You were not the problem; you never were the problem.

    Ultimately, forgiveness removes obstacles to perceiving your relationship with this person clearly. Once you remove the obstacles, you will be free – free to choose to walk away from the person and your relationship with them, and to have a new beginning (but not with them). Forgiveness gives you a chance to separate yourself from the painful situation, and from the person who caused it – and if it takes separation to bring you peace and wholeness, then do it.

  • Personal Development

    The Polarity of Butterfly Phoenix

    Polarity Butterfly Phoenix
    The Polarity of Butterfly Phoenix

    “There are two sides to every coin.”

    My parents used to tell me this, and being somewhat of a literal mind, I couldn’t see why they thought they needed to point out the polarity of coins. It was obvious!

    Now I see the deeper meaning behind the metaphor. Polarity characterizes many aspects of our reality. So when you understand how the polar nature of something works, you have deep insights into how you can make your own reality better.

    So …

    The Butterfly

    The Butterfly represents transformation of self. If you allow yourself to be changed by both the joys and vicissitudes of life, you evolve into a higher, purer individual more aligned with your gifts and purpose. The Butterfly represents Being.

    The Phoenix

    The Phoenix represents your path and purpose. Transformation isn’t an end in itself. Rather, it equips you to walk your path and fulfill your purpose. You have gifts that only you can share flowing from your unique talents and knowledge. The Phoenix represents Doing.

    The Polarity

    The polarity of butterfly phoenix represents both aspects: you must be before you can do, but you must do if you are to be. Moreover, you create your reality in this way, as well as meaning for your life. You are meant to be more than just a consumer of goods and information.

    Butterfly Phoenix Community

    If simple consumerism satisfied you, you wouldn’t be part of our community. You joined us here because you can see more; you know that life offers more, and you want to be part of a community that sees it too.

    We are glad you are here, and we hope to offer you encouragement, support, and balance on your journey. Many wishes for much growth and transformation in 2019 and beyond!

  • Personal Development

    The Key to Change

    “And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been … and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it … great things.”
    ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, 1892-1910

    The new year holds such promise, with its clean slate and its fresh beginning. We can almost feel the field of infinite possibilities unfolding before us as we look ahead unencumbered by our past that we left behind in the old year.

    We feel passionate, hopeful, eager for transformation, seeing the world with new eyes so that the world looks new again, filled with the promise of “things that have never been”.

    We believe that this time, things will be different, we will be different, and our lives will become what we want them to be. We even understand the magnitude of the effort and time involved in the transformations we ask of the new year, and are willing to put in that effort and time to accomplish them.

    So how do we find ourselves in the same situation we left behind, year after year? How do we lose sight of the bright shining future we envisioned for the new year yet again?

    The key lies hidden in plain sight, as it so often does: at the new year, we choose to see the possibilities, we stoke the fires of desire for transformation, for evolution, for growth and change, and perhaps most importantly, we let go of the past, releasing it to stay in the past, in the old year that’s ending.

    You see, as long as we’re holding onto the past, we can’t create a new future. As long as we feel emotions like anger, regret, sorrow, grief, frustration, annoyance, vengeance, we are tied to the past by the strongest of cords.

    The key to lasting, effective change is simply to allow the past to stay in the past instead of holding onto it by reliving our emotions.

    During the holidays, we have a break from our routines, along with a festive spirit and (hopefully) time away from work to relax with family or friends. Because we have broken our routines, our minds have become more open to new possibilities, and our focus is on the future.

    We often feel emotional about what the future could hold as well, and we’re ready to open our hands and our hearts and let the past fall out and lie amongst the ashes, where it belongs, while we turn our eyes and minds toward the horizon and the shining new year rising before us, replete with promise and possibility.

    This year, keep your eyes on the future. It will be bright, because it will be what you create. Allow the past to remain behind you, unseen and unfelt. You have lived through it once; carrying the past with you will not mitigate its effects; rather, you will strengthen it by pouring emotional energy into it.

    Pour your emotional energy into your future instead, into the infinite field of possibilities lying before you. You have the ability to choose the future you want to walk into; you can create the life you want to live. Study the possibilities with an open mind and an open heart, thrill with the possibilities, infuse them with positive emotions, and start working to manifest your dreams.

    It’s time to set down your baggage and leave it in the past. Turn your eyes to the horizon and embrace the promise of the new year.

  • Personal Development

    Being Before Doing

    You must become that which you want to be first and let the world follow in your tracks…. Your world faithfully and accurately reflects, not what you have put in an order for, not what you have correctly and clearly asked for, but the person you are! *  ~Genevieve Davis

    Every great work is just that: work, that someone did. Someone took an action which produced a result. In our scientifically oriented, mechanistic culture, nothing happens without an introduction of work into a system. Without work, a system by nature moves toward entropy –  disorder and chaos.

    Even in the art world, masterpieces and not-so-masterful pieces are called “works of art”. Like everything else, art is something we do.

    Nothing happens until someone moves something.

    This scientific view, this cause-and-effect perspective, is the perceptual framework that defines western civilization. It’s a good and a valid perceptual framework, but like any framework, it can only show us part of the entire reality.

    Our mistake arises when we see part of the picture but believe we’re seeing the whole.

    The disconnect between “western” and “eastern” medicine, science, and philosophy stems partially from this clash of perceptual frameworks. The western viewpoint says that the whole is the sum of its discrete parts and is defined by their specific functions; the eastern perception is that everything is a reflection of the whole and contains the whole within itself.

    Even in the west, we acknowledge the idea that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

    Stepping beyond our perceptual frameworks….

    Take your eyes off the obvious to see the possible.

    Perhaps we should step back and look at our ideas of working, of doing, because maybe we’re putting the cart before the horse; maybe we’re looking at the end result of a process but thinking that the result sprang fully formed from an isolated action or set of actions.

    So let’s look at producing a work of art so we can see the process behind the result; that will equip us to apply it in useful ways to the other areas of our lives.

    If we’re going to paint a picture of a vase of flowers, we first have to get a vase of flowers, whether that’s an actual vase with flowers in it, or a picture of a vase with flowers, or a memory of one, or even an imagined picture of one. Then we just pick up a paintbrush and transfer that image onto a canvas or a building or watercolor paper.

    If we sit down with a musical instrument, we need a piece of music to play on it. We get the sheet music, or a recording of a piece of music, or our memory of a piece of music, or an imagined piece of music. Then we just play that piece of music.

    “But,” you object, “I don’t know how to paint a picture or play a musical instrument!”

    The how is the process: not the mechanistic, step-by-step, painstaking instruction to replicate the object in a new medium. Not at all. That’s part of the work that produces the end result, the end of the process.

    The process begins not with working in a medium to produce a result, but with becoming a person who can and will create that artwork.

    Art isn’t created in a vacuum.

    It’s created in the soul, the heart, the imagination of the artist.

    You must be what you want to create first. If you want to create something beautiful, you must have a beautiful soul, one that loves and is attracted to beauty – not shallow judging of physical good looks, but the deep appreciation of beauty within the object of your vision.

    If you want to create art that promotes social justice, it must first live in your soul.

    If you want to create art that demonstrates the beauty or the power or the majesty of nature, you must first love, appreciate, and understand it in the deep parts of your heart.

    Notice there’s no mention of talent.

    Talent usually means that someone can be good at something more easily than others can. The rest of us have to work harder to be just as good. But there’s almost nothing that can’t be taught to someone who wants to learn, and once s/he masters the techniques, s/he immerses her/himself into the expression of passion and emotion and gratitude, and that person can produce art that moves people, art that means something.

    The person expresses who s/he is, and what emerges from that expression is art.

    The same holds true in every area of our lives. When we express who we are, what emerges from that expression is our life. Our experiences reflect – at least to an extent – the person we are, and the beliefs we hold. Of course, the people around us and our circumstances affect the kind of life we live, too:  if we can barely feed our families, then we likely won’t be making scientific breakthroughs or writing classic literature.

    Nevertheless, despite bad circumstances that may be beyond our control, some manage to have homes filled with happiness, children who feel understood and appreciated, and friends who seek them out.

    Yet others, perhaps even those in fairly good circumstances, have rather average lives. These people have chosen, for whatever reason, not to be extraordinary, not to seek beauty, not to understand themselves. They have chosen to live by default, responding to every situation but never creating, living their lives on autopilot. Maybe this even describes you.

    What would your life look like if you chose to be extraordinary?

    What makes your soul sing? Who could you become to give voice to that song? How could you give expression to the beauty and depth and passion in your soul? Where is the inspiration?

    Life is not doing. Life is becoming. Being is enough, and yet being isn’t static. It’s changing, flowing, charging, calming: being is becoming is being.

    Be the voice for the voiceless, if that sets your heart on fire. Express beauty – or pain or anger or social injustice or any other important message through a medium that appeals to you. Change the world, or change your world: it can only happen through being.

    Be the kind of person people want to be with. Be the kind of person who lives a message. Be the kind of person whose life deeply touches other people.

    Be your passion.

    Being gives life meaning and purpose. Being makes a life well lived. Being makes a difference.

    * Davis, Genevieve. Becoming Magic: A Course in Manifesting an Exceptional Life (Book 1) (pp. 62-64). Kindle Edition.

  • Personal Development

    A Small Change in Perspective

    A change in perspective can bring about healing. I think we often underestimate the importance of spiritual and emotional healing. The wounds aren’t visible, so they’re easy to hide.

    But they’re there, causing you pain, stopping you from reaching your potential, leaching the joy from your life, preventing you from finding satisfaction or contentment.

    Those wounds were almost always inflicted by someone else. Regardless of whether they intended to hurt you, or not, the wound is there, and it stays because when you got hurt, you accepted a belief about yourself.

    You can learn what those beliefs are by looking at the behaviors you have when you feel thwarted or unable to move forward. Eavesdrop on your inner dialogue. Sometimes the words aren’t even expressed but a part of you knows what the words would be.

    Examine that belief in the light of day as the adult you are now. Is it really true? Was it ever true? If a powerful swell of emotion rises as you look at that belief to question its validity, emotion that makes you believe it’s true about you, then you have found the one (or one of the ones) causing you trouble.

    It’s time to let go of that belief. It isn’t true, it doesn’t serve you, and it keeps the wound from healing. Get an outside perspective from someone who respects you but is uninvolved, if you have trouble seeing that the belief has no relevance to you.

    All you need is a small change in perspective.

  • Personal Development

    Everywhere You Go, There You Are

    I was a cheerleader in high school. Every time we got on the bus for an away game, we would sing: “Everywhere we go, people want to know, who we are! Who we are! So, we tell them! So, we tell them…!”

    As we go through our lives, everywhere we go, people want to know who we are. The question is, what do we tell them? And, more importantly, what do we tell ourselves?

    I used to tell people that I am a single-mother. I used to tell people that I am a woman business owner. These are two examples of self-labeling that I stopped using.

    Now, I tell people that I am a mother. What difference does it make if I am single or married? In the end, I am still a mother, plain and simple. I tell people that I am a business owner, regardless of being a woman.

    The labels that we attach to ourselves can, and often do, become a burden in our lives. When people attach labels to their everyday existence, we fall into the trap of limiting beliefs.

    One of my favorite stories to tell is the day I told my neighbor that I was “just a secretary”. She responded, “If you really believe that, then you will always be secretary.” Mind blown! It was true. I had limited my life to a single vocation that never had a hope of rising above it. I stopped telling people that, and more importantly, I stopped telling myself that.

    What are you telling others and yourself about you? Today, ask yourself, what labels can I remove from my life?

  • Personal Development

    Inner Peace Through Forgiveness

    The most difficult apologies to accept are the ones we will never receive. Sometimes, so much time has passed that the person or people who hurt us are no longer a part of our lives. How do we forgive someone who has caused us pain at our deepest levels, when we can’t, or don’t want to, speak to them face-to-face?

    Forgiving and forgetting are two very different things. We are physically incapable of forgetting events in our lives, especially those that have caused pain. We are hardwired to remember pain as a means of survival. This is what makes it so difficult to “just let it go”, and creates the trigger effect.

    In situations where the hurt is deeply traumatic, we need to first seek out professionals to assist in processing the powerful emotions. The professional can help us to try to understand what has happened and process how we feel about it.

    There is no shame in seeking professional services. Millions of people do it every day.

    But, what about the every day kind of hurt and pain that is inflicted? Disagreements or misunderstandings between friends and family, or even co-workers? The key is to get the hurt out of your system, before it festers into resentment or worse.

    • Write about it. Write down every detail of what you remember happened – on paper; not on social media. Create space in your mind and life to do this. After you write it all out, read it to yourself. You may want to read it out loud. Once you have written and read it, tear it up, shred it, or even burn it. Create a symbolic gesture of being done with it.
    • Meditate on it. Using focusing and visualization techniques, imagine yourself holding your hurt as a balloon and when you are ready, let it go and watch it float away. Again, creating a symbolic gesture of being done with it, and it is no longer a part of who you are. It doesn’t have to be a balloon. Use whatever feels right for you.
    • Choose to move on. We do not have to continue reliving hurt. We have the power and ability to make the conscious decision to move on. It’s one of those, ‘that was then, this is now’agreements we make with ourselves. It won’t happen overnight, but the more we choose to acknowledge the feelings and then let them go, the easier it becomes and the lesser the hold it has on us.
    • Live Well. They say the best revenge is living well. Although we have a tendency to hold onto the hurt feelings from the events in our lives, the person who has hurt us isn’t thinking about us at all. They are living their lives as though nothing happened. Hard to accept, but it’s true. Don’t invest in resentment and hurt feelings. The key is to keep our focus on living for our own happiness.

    By holding onto pain and other emotions, we chain ourselves to our past, preventing growth and progress.

    We are not saying it was okay to hurt us; we are saying we no longer allow the pain to define us.

    When we seek love, beauty, and kindness in the world, the world becomes a much friendlier place. When we seek compassion, mercy, and grace, we open ourselves to positive experiences and leave behind that which insults our soul. Accept the apology you will never get by acknowledging and processing the feelings associated with the event, and then live well ~ for you.

  • Personal Development

    Hygge and Lagom: The Key to Contentment

    Hygge lagom comfort
    Comfort and conviviality in just the right amount.

    What my Great-Aunt Dagmar knew about hygge and lagom,  and why you might want to know about them, too.

    ‘Hygge’ and ‘lagom’ are Danish words, and the Danes have built their entire culture around these ideas. In addition, the concepts characterize most of Scandinavia as well as France to one degree or another. The concepts describe a worldview, a mindset that colors the way one sees everything and goes about life.

    Books have been written about hygge (not so much about lagom) because the concept encompasses so much. But it really applies to every area of life. ‘Hygge’ means a sense of coziness  and pleasant warmth, finding comfort and fulfillment, indulging in beautiful experiences of togetherness, and feeling satisfied with just the right amount of everything. Socioculturally, it means warm friendships and family relationships, hospitality, conviviality, and loving joyful tolerance toward all.

    Quality bests quantity

    My Aunt Dagmar first taught me these ideas when I was a very young child. Whenever I went to her house, she served me hot milk with a splash of coffee or tea and a spicy cookie or two. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on pillows on her comfortable dining chair, watching her hold her delicate china teacup and trying to do the same with mine.

    When we drank our tea, she told me that one or two small butter cookies with cardamom, ginger, and just a touch of sugar were indulgences to be savored slowly and in the company of people we love – far better than eating an entire box of mediocre cookies alone.

    She was right.

    hygge lagom rose
    Much sensory pleasure, but ephemeral in duration.

    She always prepared indulgent food, she grew award-winning roses in her Minnesota garden, she walked barefoot with me in the stream behind her house. But she always had “just enough”, never too much. Ultimately, she was living the ideas of hygge and lagom, immersing herself in comfort and pleasure, in just the right amounts.

    With regard to food, this concept is the real reason behind the so-called French Paradox. Many theories have been put forward about why the French people traditionally have eaten rich indulgent foods yet have stayed slim and healthy.

    Fill your senses, not just your stomach

    It isn’t the wine, or the fresh fruits, or the fresh air. The French understand the value of slowing down to prepare delicious foods, and to eat them leisurely with family and friends.

    The wine, fresh fruit, and fresh air add to the pleasure. But it’s the appreciation of the complete sensory and emotional experience of eating well, together with people who mean something to us, that fulfills our deep needs for companionship, security, and meaning.

    Because this gives us a sense of physical and emotional satisfaction from our food, we don’t need to continue eating to feel good.

    Mindfulness is key

    Mindfulness is key, being present and actively experiencing what we’re doing: cooking, eating, playing with our children, driving, visiting, working. Above all, life is about our experiences. So often we fail to be present in our lives, physically there but mentally abroad; we need to buy the mug and the T-shirt because we missed the experience.

    Certainly, that realization was the greatest gift my Aunt Da gave me (other than her unconditional love and encouragement): she reminded me to appreciate the present moment — to experience deeply with all my senses whatever I was doing — by living that way herself, and by sharing her experiences with me.

    So today I try to incorporate that mindful attitude toward my family and friends, spending time doing pleasant things with people I love; toward food and cooking, immersing myself in preparing wonderful comfort foods; toward gardening, tending my (non-award-winning) roses and herbs in the garden; and, remembering, most of the time anyway,  to be mindfully here in the present moment.