Human Hibernation: a Forgotten Art

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Does winter get you down a little? Or a lot? Do you sometimes wish you could just sleep it away—at least for a little?   For those of us in northern climes especially, it’s dark. Although here on the Gravel … Continue reading

Find 15 Minutes, Even When You Have No Time

I gave a client of mine a VERY tough challenge in our first call. It made her twinge and squirm “just enough” that I knew it would start her out in the direction she was seeking.

I offer it to you as well… are you ready? This is for the DOERS in the group. For those whose schedules are jam-packed because… PRODUCTIVITY! And being productive means being in action, doing some-thing. This is for those who have NO TIME.

Here it is:

At some point in the day, stop, sit down with a cup of tea (or wine if you wish) and … do nothing for 15 minutes. No book, no magazine, no cereal box, no food, no music, no podcast. Nothing. Cat/dog/ in the lap— OK.

Put a timer on for 15 minutes and simply observe:

Your thoughts

Your squirming

Your feelings of needing to do SOMETHING

Your feelings of feeling like you’re being unproductive and therefore… (fill in the blanks)

Your impulses to stand up and DO SOMETHING

Your breathing

Your relief that you DON’T have to do anything.

Your discovery that you actually like this. Or really hate it…

Don’t write any of this down… just sit.

 

Repeat this for 12 days. In a row.

Yes, I heard you freak out just a little! That’s OK. I did, too!

For awhile, and perhaps a long while, this will make you feel very uncomfortable. And weird. This is good.

Stay with it. No matter what. Cringe and squirm and stand up and down and walk around in a circle. Grunt or yell. Notice how much noise you’re making in this quiet 15 minutes of nothing. Brain noise, emotional noise, physical noise.

AFTER the 15 minute Do Nothing session, you can journal or write some notes. Or get up and do something productive…

My clients complain they have no time. They want more time freedom. There isn’t enough time.

There is. We all have 24 hours— just like Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa, Michelle Obama, Helen Keller, Einstein.

This IS time. We simply make weird and wonderful choices in how to make use of the time given us. Some lead us forward; other uses are distractions and derailers.

One of my teachers said,

“There is no time at all and all the time in the world.”

And this is what I believe: that daily quiet time gives us the opportunity to listen deeply, hear our inner voice; quiet time allows us to openly view our lives, honestly and clearly. Spending quiet time, alone, gives your mind an opportunity to re-boot, to re-set, to find itself a new order.

Here are 5 ways to put 15 minutes of quiet time into your day.

  1. End your work day 15 minutes early. If you need to set a reminder for this, do so. Have the tea ready to pour. Put everything down and turn everything off. Shut the door if you need to. Put a sign up if necessary. Here’s a sample sign:

I’m taking 15 minutes of silence to end my day.

If you are on fire, call 911. If the building is on fire, call 911 and pull the alarm if it’s not ringing already. I’ll hear it.

Other than that… if the police have come to the door and look really serious, please interrupt me.

Ditto Justin or Sophie Trudeau, Blake Shelton, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen, Rick Mercer, anyone from Dragon’s Den or any of my family (although they’ll completely understand.)

  1. Schedule it. Literally put it in your calendar like you do your meetings, lessons, kids’ soccer and date nights. It can be anytime of the day. Treat that space with respect. It is sacred time.
  2. Get in to work early. When I was teaching, I would get to school earlier than everyone. If the weather was crappy, I’d go down to the gym where there were few distractions, and do qi gong. During the season when I didn’t bike to work, I’d get off the bus one stop early, which happened to be at a park, and do qi gong there. When I rode… I’d stop as well.
  3. Get out of your office during lunch. Too many of us sit at our desks, eating and working. Not only is this bad for digestion, it’s bad for productivity, it’s messy and your energy tanks. http://www.foods4betterhealth.com/4-reasons-eating-at-your-desk-is-hurting-your-health-5734
  4. Cut out TV, social media scrolling, internet surfing. We all know it’s a huge time black hole. Turn your screens off by 9. Use a timer for ‘free time internet time.’ I practiced piano for an hour a day. It was a limited time. Apply that principle to your screen time-wasters. 15 minutes. BAM! Easy Peasy.
  5. Let a little housework, laundry, cooking or yard work go. Just 15 minutes of it. Get someone else in the house to do it. If you are alone, get someone in to help. Nothing will blow up.

 

What Will Happen?

No one will die or be injured. You will arrive at the end of 15 minutes fully intact. Also more relaxed, feeling less stressed. And you will be more creatively and productive around the RIGHT things.

Over time, with this practice, your breathing will begin to slow down. The cray cray of the concrete mind will calm down. And a miracle will happen. Time and space will appear. Out of thin air. You will create time for yourself.

More importantly, your inner voice will start to speak—quietly and slowly at first, because you’ve probably spent a pile of hours listening to outside influences and voices and shoulds and what ifs and why don’t you’s and here’s another to-do list and shutting this poor inner voice down.

Over time, another voice will be heard. The one that wants to feel a certain way at the end of the day—or the week— or your life. The Voice of Wisdom (and we all have it) that truly knows who are are becoming. The Voice that Knows what is needed next. For YOUR next steps on YOUR journey.

And THAT is the voice that you must TRUST will come forward. That is the voice that we all want to hear. That inner, truer, subtler voice, which may come through really loudly (as in “FINALLY! You’ve got enough space to HEAR me! THANK YOU!).

The Challenge?

The challenge will be to know which is the inner voice and which is the outer. It’s tough, I can tell you. It’s hard to really distinguish between what you think or wish were the inner voice and what truly is. In fact, we may not ever hear entirely the ‘true’ inner voice. It may take us into the next lifetime or the one after that. But we can all become more attuned to a truer inner voice.

That, my friends, will take time.

For now, go back to the beginning.

Make a commitment to sitting still, in silence, for 15 minutes. Breathe and follow the breath. Experience the sensation of your body on the chair. Dream, friends, dream! And Listen.

And let me know what happened! Or didn’t.

 

 

Don’t Push a Rope

Hello friends!

WOW! There has been a disturbance in the Force in my life these past few months (that’s another post!) leaving me now more than a week into 2016 with no solid, tangible Plan and few Actionable Steps. It’s an uneasy place for me to be— to not have very much in place— AND, I’m okay with it for now. Because….

Mercury Retrograde is gracing us with its presence until January 25 (it began on Jan 5) and I will go on record as saying, “I LOVE Mercury Retrograde!” It lets me slow down and not fret when things go a little awry. Start out with Plan A and wind up with Plan Q? Fine. Expect everything technological to go smoothly? Good luck.

Some Mercury Retrogrades hit me more strongly than others. It may do you as well. So far, this one just feels slow and a little muddled. Rather, I feel slow and a little muddled: I have yet to hear my morning chimes go off this past week so I’ve been getting up late.

Mercury is a mental sign and rules anything to do with communication and connection: telephones, self-expression, transportation, air travel, computers, speaking and writing, mental clarity (you have less) and happens a few times every year. It’s nature’s way of saying, slow the heck down!

7 Ways to Navigate Mercury Retrograde:

RE is the Word

Re-do, review, re-member, re-search and double check and triple check… everything. This is a time when we may miss appointments, double book, forget, put the wrong date in the calendar, read the date wrong in the calendar, arrive late. So will our friends and clients.

Do not assume you’ve got the right info written down. You may not have the whole truth. Check again.

You may need to re-do things more often than you’d like or ‘just’ when you thought you had it right. Like this post…

Just let it go… when it happens, it happens.

Technology, Transportation, Timing!2 elephants pulling wagon

Computers and technology can go awry. You may not get the voicemail or you may miss the email, or think (as I did one day) that you’d sent it. There’s just something about “connections” that can be a little off.

Pay attention to things like flight and train times: there may be weird delays. I don’t know the stats, but I’m curious to know how much more luggage finds alternative routes than usual during Mercury Retrograde. It’s happened to me.

Numb Tongue

Watch your words—written and spoken. You may have “foot in mouth” disease.

This also applies to social media. When in doubt, leave it out! What you say or write can be more easily misinterpreted.

This is especially a good time to write what you need to and then go back and re-read and check your tone and meaning! (and spelling!)

Sign on the Dotted Line signing Napolean marriage contract

It’s not a great time to sign contracts or make firm commitments; however, it IS a good time to review them. If you can, wait until after January 25 when there will be more mental clarity. And you may receive more information that helps you decide and commit.

It’s not a good time to launch… a project, programme, book, a course. You can do it AND it may take some interesting turns. But it IS a good time to connect with people and let them know what’s happening! And a good time to do that final review of details.

You can use this time to go back and fix something that you may have rushed out the door or rushed through. I’m taking some time to look at how I did my colouring book and looking to sense what’s next. I’m happy not to feel pressed to push something out the door!

It’s a good time to tidy up details and finish up projects, to tie up loose ends. Spend some time connecting with old friends, former clients, your connections on FB and LinkedIn. Set up some catch up calls.

Do you need to do some clutter clearing? Go for it! You’ll feel like you’re making progress AND you’ll get more space!

Expect the Unexpected

You may lose things… and find them later in an unusual place. When I lose things during Mercury Retrograde, I assume they’ll show up— but, the lost things have their own timing, so I do a lot of waiting!

Things and people from the past may show up unexpectedly. Surprise! (YOU could be the surprise in someone else’s life!)

Making Mercury Retrograde FUN!

Have you ever wished the world would just slow down and let you get caught up?

Ever wanted some time to think a little before making a big decision?

Have you been moving so quickly you think you may have missed something? And you’d love to have time to re-evaluate, review, reconsider, research revise your plans?

Ta- DA!!! It’s here! You can do it now.

Take advantage of these three weeks.

push and pull a ropeGive yourself permission to not go full out. This is a time of inner reflection. Don’t push a rope!

Resist the temptation to be swept along in the mass thoughtform of the frenzy of New Year’s resolutions and all the external pressure to achieve and drive and push and climb. We’re in Capricorn, the sign of climbing the mountain, so we can remember there are many ways to climb a mountain. Many mountains to climb and many different kinds of mountains. Take time to listen to your inner self.

(And besides, January 1 is an arbitrary date. There are better times of the year to plan out the ‘year.’ So, if you’ve tried doing your planning for 2016 and you haven’t been able to… that’s OK. It’s not just Mercury Retrograde, but you don’t have to kick yourself because you haven’t.)

tea time JapanGo have tea with a friend. It’s a time to do those slower, inner, personal things we think we’ll get to someday.

Cultivate flexibility!

I’m not launching anything in the next few weeks, but I AM looking at year planning with a different eye this year. I’m currently calling it Living and Planning Your Year with the “Heart in Mind.” Sound good?

More later on that.

Teafully yours,

Sharon

PS. The most interesting thing I’ve seen today… the New York Public Library has made 180 000 digitized items available for free. These are high-res images of documents, photos…it’s astonishing. These items have fallen into the public domain and can be used by anyone! They’re looking for people using them in creative ways , too! What a browsing experience!

The images in this post are all from the collection!

NYPL Digital Collections

Three Mercury Retrograde Hacks— (How to LOVE Mercury Retrograde)!

Forget the doom and gloom about Mercury Retrograde (those 3 or 4 three-week periods every year when it seems that nothing connects). There’s lots to love about these times, once you get that you need to double check every single appointment, your computer may get bogged down for no apparent reason,  you may misplace things and projects begun during these times can take a unusual twists and turns.

You know these things are going to happen, so, well… let them.

It’s time to let things slide a little. Client didn’t show? You completely zoned out and forgot you’d changed time zones? You ALWAYS put your keys in that basket… and they’re not there? Rage will not beat the machine here, so, take a breath, put a smile on your face and carry on. (Dare I make allusion to a certain recent pop tune that emerged from a rambunctiously popular animated hit in 2014?)

 

1.Finish Things Up

It’s a great time to tie up loose ends, do some sorting and de-cluttering, and finish that knitting project you’ve had in the basket by your reading chair—which you’ve also not had time to sit it lately. There’s something  delightful about letting go of the pushing and striving and starting and driving and settling back into simply finishing.

2. Have Tea, Write a Letter

While your luggage may get lost, and other connections that Mercury rules may disconnect, making connections with real people is perfect for a successful Mercury Retrograde. Pull out your phone and meet someone for lunch or tea. Get caught up. Revive… or learn the art of letter writing. Go ahead. Get beyond hashtags and status updates. Dig in and learn how to write a ‘real’ letter.

3. Curl Up

Mercury Retrograde is a reflective time. It’s not outgoing and gregarious; rather it’s an inner time. When it happens in the middle of winter, you can feel completely justified in hibernating. Get out and walk, pull out the art supplies, do some journalling and dreaming.

I love Mercury Retrogrades. They allow me to slow down; in fact, they require that I slow down and become a little methodical. I can justify time to write a letter or call a friend I haven’t seen for awhile. Justify isn’t the best word. I guess it’s the knowing that it’s OK to curl up and hibernate for a little while. In doing that, I’m fulfilling the need. I’m respecting the natural cycle and ebb and flow of energy.

Having said that, I made a huge decision recently, during the shadow of Mercury Retrograde, which involved a contract and commitment and money on the table. I’m looking forward to see the twists and turns it affords me! (I’ll get back to you!)

 

 

 

Just One ‘Little’ Thing

A single grain of sand can bring a large wheel to a standstill. One little thing can completely STOP something from happening. One voice speaking out. One missed piece of code. Just a fraction of a degree off a right angle on the wall of a new building. Just one little thing.

Changing just one little thing, one little habit will alter the trajectory of an entire life.

If it’s true that there is no neutral, that everything we think, say, or do either adds or subtracts from the quality of life, then it comes down to those little things we do, or don’t do, that make a life of meaning or one that feels somewhat wasted.

Think back to a turning point in your life. There —you can see where just one little change in your thinking, one response to a life event, one decision, one point you came to— life changed.

To live a meaningful, successful life, we need to take charge of the little things we do every day. Those little things that are easy to do and… easy not to do.

Here’s the one little thing to begin today, and to do every day for the next 7. You have to track it, too. Write it down — I find paper is better than digital for this— on a calendar or on a small chart with 7 boxes after it. Check off each day that you succeed. Release the inner critic when you don’t.

Every day for the next 7 days, stop for 5 minutes and sit quietly. Set a timer. Just sit. In nature if you can, looking at it if you can’t, looking at a beautiful image if you’re in a cubicle. Breathe and watch your breath.

That’s it.

If you want the premium version, at the end of the day, as you lie in bed, ready to sleep, do a simple review of just that practice. Did you do it? What did you observe?

You’re done. Sleep well.

 

Better to Start Than to Be Perfect

Image

This website is a clear example of simply starting and not waiting for perfection. Clearly VERY imperfect and incomplete. And if you were to click on most of the tabs there would be nothing, or something out of date, or something completely irrelevant to life as I know it. And yet… I’m writing.

Being incurably curious about everything and seeing the connections and patterns that run through seemingly disparate ideas and concepts, it’s nearly impossible for me to tease apart the connections to find The One Thing that I’m to do.

This leaves me in a constant state of multi-directionality (seeing the possibility of going in every direction, it being the right direction and the right connection), which can lead to either paralysis and seeking chocolate or scurrying about my office from one corner to the other with no particular like a mouse one of my cats may be chasing (and never catching).

Even this post has perambulated. Fewer than 200 words and I’ve written and deleted several hundred.

The point is to START.

When all options are equal, (and equally interesting) it’s more important to choose than to choose the right one. Sharon Little

Waiting for everything to be right and planned and strategized and written out and listed and scheduled and evaluated and sorted and decided upon and perfect and vetted and focus grouped and surveyed and properly packaged does not work for me. And probably not for you, either.

There is a place for all of that.

I’ve done the Act on the Impulse and Start Without Any Clue What I’m Doing or Where I’m Going as well. There is a place fo that as well.

I had this on my wall for ages. I’m not sure its presence on my wall helped me DO anything, but it may well have.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation.

There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!”  W.H. Murray

SO… don’t wait for circumstances to be perfect. You’ll be dead before that happens. Trust that once you move, you can change direction. And just to be clear. There WILL be mistakes, bloopers, false starts and slightly embarrassing results. They’re inevitable. Instead of running from them, embrace them, look for them… but START.

Now, go… start on ANYTHING. Even for 5 minutes.

Doing It Cause I Said I Would

NASA Sees Hurricane Sandy as the "Bride o...

Pre-Frankenstorm, which isn’t going to hit us directly and which is a better word than Frankenweenie, I think. Sunday night. Rain. Cat on forearm, anchoring me, connecting with me, purring.

This, Day 13 of my 30-day post a day challenge, is an exercise in persistence, commitment, discipline, imagination and learning. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

At this point, I don’t care about links, about comments, about new likes or follows. I don’t check. And if you’ve liked the  a post,  or follow the blog, thank you and I’ll check in on your blog at some point. But right now, this is for me. I need to do this. And I need to write something of . At least for me… and maybe for others. If it’s of value to you, let me know. If not, that’s OK, too.

What IS this?

I decided to post something every day for 30 days, starting on October 12, the new Moon of Libra, come hell or high water, the latter of which is much more likely and indeed, were I living in Wawa, Ontario, or in the path of Hurricane Sandy, would be even more probable. I could ostensibly beg high water if I wanted to quit. The hell part, well, that could have been in BC had the earthquake been stronger and/or further south.

This is meant to establish a rhythm, a steadiness from which I can expand. It’s manageable and doable. If I set the bar higher, it would be difficult to succeed. Small wins, small steps towards a more productively creative, a more predictably creative, a more prolifically creative life. Writing is part of that.

I seek to live an imaginative, creative life (and I blog off and on about it here) and I’m trying to get my soul-infused act together, which means, for me, to create rhythm in my life and to be consistent about things. Oh, and to not get so distracted by… well, pretty much anything. The problem is I’m interested in everything and have some capacity to manage many things. And so I do. Or, I did… more than I do now.

But , I still try to put too many things in a day. Even today. Once I finish this, I have a meditation to do, which I should have done earlier today, but didn’t, and there was more, but I’m committed to doing it…and so…

I do  this, and mark my steps along the path with stickers as I wrote earlier. No one would yell at me if I stopped. I could stop. No roof would fall, the world wouldn’t end and I could start something new.

But I won’t and… I won’t. Somewhere in me, and it’s been going on for a time this year, there is a deep-seated drive to do more, other, better, different, beyond, what is possible and potential not just probable. I have a clear vision of where this will lead, but am not sure yet of everything that will carry me there. I do know that I have to do this. Now.

Tomorrow is the Full Moon of Scorpio. Following this cycle and rhythm is part of the need that I’m meeting— using the energies of the time to move myself forward.

My astrologer friends have spoken about the following in connection with this full moon, in no particular order. I add them here just as fodder for thought.

  • Scorpio brings the hidden into the light
  • it’s the sign of death… not necessarily physical, but, yes, that, too.
  • the esoteric keynote is Warrior am I and from the battle I emerge triumphant
  • the US presidential elections always occur during Scorpio (wonder what it would look like in, say, Taurus or Leo… or any other time!)
  • this is a time to truly choose the spiritual, soular, higher self path and battle the forces that would keep us more engaged with personality distractions and lower drives.(quelle joie!)

Bottom line: can I/we live from our higher principles, no matter what… come hell or high water?

I’ve chosen a particular head of the Hydra to deal with during this Full Moon time. You can read a bit about it here. And, like this challenge, and the other daily practices I’ve committed to, I am going to battle this one to … its death.

Frankenstorm… referring to what could happen when the storm that just passed us and Hurricane Sandy get together for a meetup— a pretty good name for the Full Moon of Scorpio time,   I think.

Need to Develop a Good Habit? Try stickers!

I used these for my private music students… and now, they motivate, reward and inspire me!

I use stickers, coloured dots and check lists to track my good habit creation. Just like I did with students when we were changing behaviours. Really. I respond to stickers, coloured dots and check lists. I make up games to get them! They are visual. I see them. Day after day. They motivate and reward me. (I’m pretty easy to satisfy. I guess I’m pretty self-directed.)

I DON’T want to see a missed day and eventually, the new habit becomes, well, a habit. I’m a pretty good self-checker.

In my head, at least, consistency is not my strong suit. But I KNOW that repetition is the mother of learning (thanks second year University Russian course—it’s a Russian proverb—and piano practice) and I also KNOW that I get more, better work done when I have my personal practice aligned.

Of course, that sounds all nicey nicey. Knowing and Doing are two different things. It’s hard to find out what works.

I have apparently stumbled upon the way that works for me. For now. I’m hoping this ‘game’ will let me play into a series of good, productive habits that will allow me to create and produce more… and better.

Right now I have several ‘behaviour projects’ underway. And tracking systems to go with them all!

  1. 40- day Mantras on Abundance and Removing Obstacles (thank you Lakshmi and Ganesha)— sticker in my planner
  2. 30-day post-a-day blogging challenge—pink dot on the tracking page
  3. Morning pages—sticker in the planner
  4. Meditation—ditto
  5. 10 000 steps a day walking goal—green dot on the tracking page
  6. stretch, do qi gong, yoga every day—planner
  7. 30 min/day reading of something intellectually challenging —planner

The morning practice is key.

I’ve had several versions of this for nearly 20 years. In the last years before I left teaching, my practice included biking 20 km to work, going into the gym and doing tai qi, leaving by 4:15 and not taking any work home. When I took the bus, I’d get off one stop early and do tai qi in the park, then walk to school. There are lots of ways to develop a habit. Now that I’m at home every morning and needing to accomplish other things, I have a different practice.

Here’s what I do now.

I get up early, make some hot water and fresh lemon juice and get my body awake. I prefer tai chi/qi gong to yoga on the whole. In the summer, I do a form of qi gong called Tao Yin Fa, outside on the grass. I learned it in the summer, and we were outside. I’m a certified practitioner/teacher. There’s a resonance there.

Last winter, I received a Rodney Yee yoga DVD—Yoga for the A.M. For me it’s more important to do something than to choose the right one. I make things simple. Follow the order. Don’t think, don’t fart around with it. Just get on with it. I’ve now resurrected a Tiger Shamanic Qi Gong DVD and put that in the mix. Doesn’t matter. As long as I do something for 15-20 minutes.

Morning Pages

Julia Cameron coined the phrase. Millions have joined the practice. Three pages, stream of consciousness writing. Sometimes it’s profound. Sometimes it’s a to-do list. Sometimes there are diagrams, a shopping list, a wish list, a what not to do list. Sometimes it’s just scribbles. Literally. Or, when it feels like there aren’t words, I write things like “keep writing” or “blah blah blah” or “pen paper scissors porch marble nightstars chocolate blah.” And then I’m off.

It clears my mind like qi gong clears out the chi-webs that form in the night.

Mantra Meditation

I’m on the third 40- day practice. That’s 40 days in a row. Every day. Without a miss. If I miss, I have to start again. Sometimes I’ve had to do it just before bed. But I do it. And that’s the point.

If I can build these small routines into a consistent positive habit, then I figure I can add larger ones. One step at a time.

I also use an emWave with that. This is a biofeedback device developed by the great folks at the  Institute of HeartMath, who researches stress, emotions, heart intelligence, coherence and more. I play a game. I only repeat the mantram when my heart is in partial or total coherence. This means it takes longer than if I simply repeated the mantra.

Meditation

This active form of meditation focuses my mind on a seedthought and orients me towards that for the day. It’s a method of soul contact and integration and includes the Great Invocation and, often, the Gayatri.

THE GREAT INVOCATION *

From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into human minds.
Let Light descend on Earth.

From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into human hearts.
May the Coming One return to Earth.

From the centre where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide all little human wills –
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.

From the centre which we call the human race
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.

Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.

* adapted version
__________________________________________

This is a slightly adapted wording of the Great Invocation which was given out in 1945. In accordance with the changing consciousness and language of humanity as we enter into the Aquarian age, this “adapted” wording for the Great Invocation is offered in the hope that it will encourage wider distribution of this world prayer.

Many religions believe in a World Teacher, knowing him under such names as the Lord Maitreya, the Imam Mahdi, the Bodhisattva, and the Messiah, and these terms are used in some of the Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish versions of the Great Invocation.

Men and women of goodwill throughout the world are using this Invocation in their own language. Will you join them in using the Invocation every day – with thought and dedication? By using the Invocation and encouraging others to use it, no particular group or organisation is sponsored. It belongs to all humanity.

Reading for 30 minutes

I used to read while I was eating breakfast. I didn’t time it, but now that I read for 30 minutes (and time it) I realize I wasn’t reading so much then! And it’s the light stuff… Treatise on White Magic, Esoteric Astrology, and starting tomorrow or Monday, I’m heading into  a new pattern: I’m rotating through The Secret Doctrine… and four others, as yet unchosen.

I’m going to shake things up, though, and work at 3-5 books, 30 minutes a day, a different book for each day of the week, for the energy of the day, or just set them out and pick one up every day. We’ll see. As my father-in-law used to say, usually just before he played a nasty prank on someone, “Ya gotta have fun sometime.” Again.. more important for me to do something than to do the ‘right thing.’

30-Day postaday Blog Challenge

I’ve been sitting on the fence about blogging for several years. Rather, I’ve had blogs, but have had no strategy nor plan. Failing to plan=planning to fail. (quote attributed to Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and Alan Lakein. I’m going with Win and Ben) It’s been hit and miss to say the least. Mostly, I haven’t shown up. If you don’t show up, you don’t get results. Go figure.

So I decided to push myself to post something every day. Just for the practice. Without pushing for followers, without pushing for comments, without expecting anything. The project is to post something every day and learn. I started on the New Moon of Libra. So far So good.

10 000 Steps a Day

I’m not achieving this and didn’t fully expect to. Plus I was sick for a couple of days and my blood pressure was really low for a day. So, this week, I’m giving myself a break. The realistic target is 5 000 a day and 10 000 several days. When it’s not pouring rain and I’m not in the car, it’s easier. But it isn’t difficult at all if you do a few 20 min walks.

And so it goes. Brendan Burchard, in The Charge, talks about 30, 60, 90-day learning projects. Rather than start at the beginning of the month, I’m working with the first of the month, the new moon, the change of zodiacal sign and the full moon. This gives me a chance to get something underway before a new pattern begins.

We’re in Scorpio, so I’ve set a challenge (which I’m keeping to myself for now) and the Full Moon is coming up, so I’ve set a mental pattern to change over the next 6 months)

And I’m going to use stickers, coloured dots… and maybe even some gold stars. They’re more interesting than simple check marks, no?!

Looking for other ways to inculcate a good habit….

To the Money Monkey on My Back—Time to Get Off!

Pennies

Canadian Pennies (Photo credit: shareski)

10 cents a week. A penny to charity. A penny to university. A penny to gifts. 7 cents to spend as I pleased.

That was my allowance at the age of 6. In principle, a good idea. Teach me the value of a penny, teach me to save, teach me to give, teach me to choose how to spend limited resources. The 10% rule. 10% to yourself. 10% tithed. 10% for long-term. Only spend 60% of what you earned.

There wasn’t much money then.

The reality. $.01/wk=$.52/year x 12 years (to get me to 18)= $624, which would have paid for, as I think about it, one year’s tuition at the time I was ready to go to university.

I remember discussions about spending 25 cents a week on the Boston Sunday Herald. I remember we bought a white tinsel Christmas tree at 50% off after Christmas one year. We made do, but we also didn’t know any different, so it wasn’t a big deal.

We had to buy our summer frozen treats from the freezer. Mom made them and we had to pay for them. As a young, enthusiastic photographer at age 6, I had to buy my film and pay for my own developing (this made me a careful photographer.)

When I started taking piano lessons, and there was a little more money, I had the best (and about the most expensive) teacher available. We travelled every summer—camping from the age of 13 months, to each side of the country, to Great Britain and Scotland, to Europe. Membership in a tennis club, art lessons. But I made my own clothes, planning out each season what I ‘needed’ and finding or making the missing skirt or shirt.

I learned a lot about money then.  When we travelled overseas I remember having about $100 to spend. I tracked my spending—each postcard, each doll dressed in the country’s costume, each stamp on postcards and airmail letters, each sticker for my guitar case.

My parents never told us explicitly what they were trying to teach us, but these are some of the ideas I’ve carried around about money for a long time.

  • can’t afford it
  • it’s not practical—therefore you don’t need it
  • you don’t need it
  • it’s too expensive which meant we don’t need it and it isn’t necessary
  • you don’t need what everyone else has just because they have it

I also learned:

  • material things aren’t important
  • buy quality, but not quantity (the expensive teak furniture we bought when I was in high school—now called “mid-century Scandinavian”— we still have)
  • experience—travel, for instance, or concerts, lessons, theatre— is better than things
  • if it’s not necessary, it’s not needed, therefore it’s not worth it
  • make do, compromise, if there’s a cheaper way and it’s just about as good… do that.
  • you don’t need much.
  • wanting without need is wasteful
  • you don’t need crippy crap

Really, it was about taking the middle path, which permeated our lives in many areas. Have what you need. Don’t go overboard. You don’t need very much. Simple is good. Quality is good. Quantity is bad.

I learned about long-term saving. Waaaaayyy long-term. What does ‘university’ mean to a 6-year-old? What about charity? Both were vague concepts. I put the pennies aside because that’s just what I did. I wasn’t aware of charities I could donate to and after grade 1 I didn’t go to church, so you know, I have no idea what happened to either of those little plans.

But what I didn’t learn:

  • how to save for something in the mid-term, something I wanted. Because, of course, wants aren’t important.
  • how to want something— something of value, something of quality—and save for it.
  • how to budget in the short and medium term

Result?

Mixed. And while I won’t go into personal details, a residual layer of these learnings and non-learnings colours—or discolours— my relationship with money. The relationship, although  it has steadily improved over the years, it’s still a dysfunctional one. One that will require a warrior-like determination to conquer this particular head of the Hydra.

It is time for the Money Monkey on my back to permanently. This is my Herculean quest.

Three Things I Learned Today About Consciousness and Creativity

1. On July 7 of this year,  a group of neuroscientists declared that all nonhuman animals, “including all mammals and birds and many other creatures, including octopuses,” are conscious. There is a signed document to this effect (The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals).

Science is catching up to the Ageless Wisdom teachings, which suggest that there is a kind of consciousness in all things—including a rudimentary consciousness in plants and minerals. I think the next thing will be to recognize that there is a difference between the brain, where everyone’s looking for consciousness, and the mind.

2. One theory of creative genius, originally proposed by psychologist Donald Sutherland and made more comprehensive by psychologist, Dean Keith Simonton, suggests that creative thought comes through a process of “blind variation and selective retention (BVSR).”

Basically it means that creative people go blindly through a lot of trial and error, trying man things to determine the idea’s usefulness. They have to generate a pile of different ideas. This, Simonton calls superfluity. Lots of ideas. Ones that ultimately won’t work.

Creative people also backtrack; this is retracing steps.

Often the two happen at the same time. Creativity isn’t linear. Neither is it circular. It’s more zigzagular. Probably not something that can be described on a piece of paper in a diagram.

3. Talent is important in cultivating genius (and extreme creativity). However, there are several other things that may be even more important:

  • pursuing an activity for its own sake—the feeling of autonomy
  • finding the activity important or of interest
  • feeling competent in your skills (which gives you confidence)