Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey (ok, me)

Jack Handey world quote

As my personal world has been a little chaotic lately I find myself drawn away from writing, which is therapeutic for me. It’s like an anchor or better yet…a bread crumb trail. I go back and read through a few blog posts and remember the frame of mind I was in when I wrote each one and it’s a little eye opening. Just like a journal (which almost all highly successful, society improving contributors have kept) writing allows me to visualize the evolutionary path I’m walking down. We are headed down the path whether we write about it or not, but keeping a journal is like painting or singing…it gives a voice. And it shows us patterns and somewhat sketches an outline of where we’re naturally headed. I suppose blogging is more like writing a song and showing up at the coffee shop to sing it, but it feels much the same in reflection.

Amid the chaos lately of job hunting, getting my soon-to-be 18 year old son signed up for classes at his college in the fall and fixing his car (which was t-boned recently -he’s ok btw), I’ve been asking myself a question. Please feel free to have a laugh as I did too, ….How far am I from greatness? The reason I laugh is because from the outside looking in my life has never seemed less stable. To be fair it’s been a roller coaster of changes, from divorce, followed by a few relationships that didn’t work, to moving twice and some job hopping thrown in there. Now I’m job hunting again and possibly moving again, but there’s a shift. My approach is different and to be clear I’m different.  I want to explain without seeming too far off the deep end but here goes…

If you remember the Mayan calendar ended in December 2012? Coincidentally the same month my 15 year marriage ended. Well one theory about that calendar ending (besides people thinking the world would end) is that is was possibly the end of an era. The Kali Yuga. A Kali Yuga is a dark time (the darkest) of which we humans cycle through here on the physical plane. During this yuga we’re not at our most elevated enlightened and connected selves. We’re battling it out -dark and light, good and bad, righteous and evil, moral and destitute. But there are other eras that are much lighter… i.e. the golden era, likely the time when the Egyptian pyramids were built. They built stone pyramids in the exact center of the earth that lined up with the constellations precisely and we still don’t know how they did it or how they used the pyramids entirely. And as all things are cyclical here on earth, we will cycle back from this Kali Yuga through lighter eras eventually back to a golden era. And so as metaphysical scientists and cosmologists have theorized, perhaps December 2012 was the ending of a dark time and we are now on an upward accent.

That’s a pretty good parallel to my life and it relates to why I feel different. I’ve cleared a lot of “baggage” (sorry to my ex-husband because that sounds negative), but really it’s a positive. Him and I were able to let go of something that didn’t work and that’s not easy to do. Especially when you’ve invested 15 years and have 3 dependents. Yes since that time I’ve cleared even more. If life lessons are ever a -nose to the grindstone, get down and study for finals, you better learn quick- pocket of time, that’s where I’ve been. That’s where I am.

And as the singular, so goes the whole, we can all ask ourselves…How far am I from greatness? The answer took me on a little tour. First I thought of people that I’ve considered to have led great lives. Besides the Sages of which there are many, other people have demonstrated incredible courage, dedication, leadership and certainly greatness. Martin Luther Kind Jr., Joe Medicine Crow, Esther Afua Ocloo, and Harriet Tubman to name a few have all showed incredible determination and strength. After some reflection on their lives I’ve realigned my belief about greatness. When we are really up against challenges and obstacles, our greatness lies in coming out whole on the other side; or better yet, coming out improved. Now I’ll admit often many of our “challenges” are self-created limitations, but if we are unaware of how we created those self-limiting beliefs then overcoming them, even just becoming aware of them, is a very real obstacle to tackle. And sometimes our challenge is not overcoming self-limiting beliefs..sometimes life (or karma) just deals us a very hard blow and it’s our time to walk through the dark night.

Whichever obstacle we face I know one thing…we are all facing something. 

I recommend The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope for more on the topic.

And just to keep it light…

Jack Handey bum quote

…Am I the only one who misses Jack Handey from SNL?!

Anyway, I still don’t know how far from greatness I am, but I like to think I’m closer to looking back in the near future and seeing those challenges faced and maybe, hopefully, I’ll be a little improved.

I hope you enjoyed this fairly random blog post, and if you feel inspired to share, please know I welcome your comments and love connecting with you all!

with ♥, Brooke

 

The Ramblings of Ego and Other Fun Stuff

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“Where the attention goes the energy flows” -unknown, but said in a yoga class.

I was in yoga class last week and my awesome teacher started with a quote that made my ego immediately get grumpy. It was such an automatic response that I almost laughed out loud, but I was too busy pouting. Now I’m laughing… she said, “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” In my head, I said “Oh no, that is wrong!! For sure. That can’t be right. Is that right? Wait, if that’s true…shit.”

I am laughing now because it was such an obvious moment for my ego to get really triggered, totally blow up like a puffer fish and be caught red-handed. I worked it though my head during the entire class and the week since.

Where is the kernel of truth in her statement?…If I admit that the way I do one thing is the way I do everything then at my worst I’m lazy, over-indulgent, apathetic, and tend to feel sorry for myself (although I’ve been conscious of this and working on it for a while now).  But other days I’m super charged, energetic, feeling clear headed and grounded. Am I the only one living life on the edge of my own making having a very-mini-bipolar existence sometimes? 🙂

Fast forward a few days when a friend was over and he saw me interacting with my 17 year old son. I was having a typical struggle about him coming home too late on a school night among other things. I was upset, but not willing to have a full blown fight. This is the common teetering I find myself doing with him…being a good strong parent and drawing firm lines but also not SO hard that he continually hates me, (sometimes it’s ok) or worse, continually hates himself. My friend was witnessing this and said, “You do this with him…back and forth. Why don’t you just make a decision to be one way or the other and stick with it?” …and ah, ha! The yoga moment came back to me, the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.

So the way I do things is…I teeter, but I know in truth we all do. It’s when the ego steps in and says, “I got this. I’m going to do this my way and see where it goes.” And for me it pretty much goes straight to the toilet. I can hear my Dad’s favorite saying in my head, “Ego stands for Edging God Out.” When we take the reigns we think we are in control. We assume we have control and usually, -eventually that leaves me pleading, “please God can you take over now?”

Another epiphany I had a few weeks ago should have made her statement ring true in yoga, but again, ego was standing firm on blocking that. I was working from home and in a bit of a slump. Not feeling like I could get more done than the basics. This went on for a few days and as I looked at my dogs the familiar guilt set in…I hadn’t taken them for a walk in 2 or 3 days. They were starting to blend in with the couch cushions. I should be a better dog mom. I thought, “how can I be a better dog mom?” and right away I  heard, “I’m not going to be a better dog mom, until I become a better person.”

Yes, that message came to me weeks before the yoga class and I still almost missed the connection. Thank you ego. But in this quote I’m reminded of the good in my experience:

“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice
because thorns have roses.”
–Tom Wilson

We all battle with ego whether we are aware or not. Ego is our thorns, but ah, to have roses. Beautiful roses. When I am blessed to remember God and ask for His help there is no better day for me. When I hand it over to Him, it removes the pressure to figure things out, get my life right, even to be a better dog mom. These are things my ego wants...but if I take away all the wants -the roses can bloom. Dear God, thank you for your beautiful roses!! I am one grateful puffer fish.

Please feel free to share your ego triumphs. We can knock it down, step by step…or perhaps pebble by pebble. Let’s do it laughing and share the fun! 🙂

with ♥, Brooke

 

 

 

Let’s Get Grateful to Ground Zero

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Sometimes I can feel a blog post coming on like a fever and other times its a slow deliberate walkabout. The latter of the two has been my most recent experience.

My ex-husband was out of town for 10 days traveling and so of course I had my kids while he was gone although normally we share custody. After 14 years with my kids in a 2 parent home (full time of course), why should 10 days straight be anything but normal? I guess after 4 years of divorce, Buddha Mama has really started to appreciate her “me” time. 🙂 In fact, sometimes when the kids go back to their Dad’s I get really ambitious and tidy up the house top to bottom so I can enjoy uninterrupted clean for a few days. …and TRUST ME for a mom with 3 kids and 2 dogs this is *true joy* Then I get to a hot yoga class and pick up food so I don’t have to cook. It’s pretty great.

But back to 10 days straight… I made it by the skin of my teeth. Was it the fact my 17 year old son was using his dad’s vacant house as an afternoon clubhouse? Or the tattoo he was unrelentingly working me over to get? Or maybe it was my 14 year old daughter who decided she must die her hair pink immediately?! Or (…yes, there’s more) my 9 year old’s multi-weekend 10 hour a day dance recital activity that my ex-husband conveniently missed entirely? Well I will admit, the hair is now pink but thankfully we avoided the underage tattoo experience. …Whew, I’m telling you, skin of my teeth.

It was 10 days of fun and a bit of frustration. The usual going-ons around here. But I’m so grateful for one thing…the one thing that gets me sane and puts my head on straight when I start to go off the deep end. It’s the one thing that shifts EVERYTHING. I’m grateful that I can get grateful. I’m grateful I can remember how to slow down the auto-pilot, ego-driven, enjoys-occasional-bitching self and get grateful to ground zero. It takes me back to the bottom where I can start fresh. Here’s the definition:

noun: ground zero
  1. 1.
    the point on the earth’s surface directly above or below an exploding nuclear bomb.
  2. 2.
    a starting point or base for some activity.
    “if you’re starting at ground zero in terms of knowledge, go to the library”

So if I take a few minutes and really sink into the feeling…the momentary escape from the nuclear bomb going off in my life to the base point of calm and refreshed- the shift is undeniably profound…and a buddha mamas is reborn.

Here’s my trick to getting grateful when I’m super rushed and spiraling into oblivion; I keep a personalized list on my phone in the “Notes” app of inspiring affirmations. Pretty simple really, but when I’m sitting in line at pick up or ready to crash and burn after dinner it helps. Directly from my phone:

  • I am grateful for my experiences and my ability to learn from them
  • I welcome more love into my life. Love that feels light and not heavy. Love that is healthy and pure is part of my experience
  • I give love away easily and I receive love easily
  • I forgive myself for judging myself in the past
  • I am open to discovering new options in my life. I am open to receiving new ways of being
  • I love myself for my huge capacity to experience love
  • I am experiencing love and support in the safety of the Universe at all times (yes, I borrowed this from the sticker on my door-see previous blog post)
  • My world is filled with love and devotion to God. It infuses my life with meaning
  • I trust God has me in His safekeeping

And one more thing I experienced recently while contemplating about this post…

My 9 year old was furiously mad at her sister the other night. I went upstairs to tuck her into bed and she was lit up in anger. Instead of trying to solve the problem or rationalize with her I said, “let’s try something that usually helps me when I’m upset..” and we made a list going back in forth about things we were grateful for in our lives. She was incredibly creative saying things like, “I’m grateful we have an army that keeps us safe.” And…”I’m grateful you’re healthy mommy,” And, “I’m grateful that I have fashion.”

Her list was all her own and it made me think we should all have such honest truthfulness with ourselves big or small. I would like to add to my list …I’m grateful I have a non-dairy creamer that I LOVE with my coffee, I’m grateful I have dogs who are such great listeners, and I’m SO grateful to have readers on my blog! 🙂

If you feel inspired please feel free to share your grateful-list or your story. I love to read your beautiful messages. -thank you for sharing in advance!

with ♥, Brooke

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to My Story and Hello to My Future

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“Be alert and present and see that your identity is not from your past story” -Eckhart Tolle

I’ve been tossing around an idea in my head. Kind of like playing pass, the idea started and I revisit it often and add a new element now and then, keeping the ball in play. (wow, go me, I used a sport reference!) I’m not sure if it started with listening to some Kyle Cease stuff or reading Eckhart Tolle.

But basically I like the idea of not being defined by my story. Yes, I have 3 kids. Yes, I was married young for almost 14 years and I’m not anymore. Sure, I’ve worked as a landscape designer, retail designer, blah blah blah… There are so many labels we attach to ourselves and wear like jewelry, or worse…shackles. We voluntarily sign up and define who we are so easily and then feel confined. For example:

I’m a man
I’m a wife
I’m an entrepreneur
I’m vegan
I’m a giver
I’m a musician
I’m Jewish
I’m Catholic
I’m a democrat
I’m a republican
I’m a mom
I’m a cat person
I’m a fighter
I’m a writer
I’m a doctor

Well I for one am sick of labels! I mean really…I am truly tired of hearing my own story, repeating it over and over. I guess because I’m single and go on first dates fairly frequently I have the opportunity to hear myself and I feel it’s incredibly limiting. None of my past defines who I am. Especially the not-so-good choices I’ve made (of which I forgive myself and hopefully learned from).

“Knowing yourself is to be rooted in being, instead of lost in your mind” -Eckhart Tolle

So what then or who am I? Instead of repeating my story I’ve started saying other things in my head like…

I’m not a divorcee (and in my heart I’m not). Not because I still want to be with my ex, but because our relationship lived a long time and it came to a natural end. “Conscious uncoupling” as they call it. It doesn’t mean I have to join a subculture of sad divorcee’s does it?

I’m a mother to many things besides my children. …i.e: my dogs, my self, the birds and lizards I feed in my yard, sometimes my friends, and sometimes my parents!

I’m not always a woman. Okay, this one is tough since I consider myself to be fairly feminine, but it’s true. I make money, pay the bills, make the house rules, clean out the garage, take out the trash, meet people on Craigslist, build a bbq, and fix my kitchen sink. These are all things I do and some that I previously thought were a man’s job…so?

Some labels are good, some bad, but none of them really express me 100%. I have to admit there is a faint voice in my head saying, “…somebody is having a mid-life crisis!” (hehe, …the voice thinks it’s quite funny).

I’m wondering if I should show up to the next date and tell him, I’m not a divorcee. I’m not even a woman sometimes and see if he heads for the hills. Probably better if I leave my rant for the blog, but it’s tempting.

Besides if I leave my story behind I will open new doors…explore the unknown…create new positive experiences…live in the moment!! These are things I sincerely wish to cultivate in my life and they are entirely free. And I believe they will fall into place when I take off a layer of labels and …just let go. “Hello future”

Please feel free to share your labels and triumphantly leave them on the blog where they belong. 🙂

with ♥, Brooke

 

A Little House Miracle and the Dark Side of the Morning

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Sunrise Encinitas January 2015

I love the chorus of Selina Gomez’s new song…”Who’s gonna walk you through the dark side of the morning”

And it kind of goes with the story below so feel free to click her name and listen while you read. 🙂

When I moved into my current house over 2.5 years ago I was in the frame of mind it was temporary. I won’t be here long I thought, just a stopover. Looking back it was a coping mechanism in order to avoid feelings of unsettled confusion about the challenges of being a single divorced parent.  I was often asking myself, “where is my life headed now??” That feeling of not having answers and really wanting familiar stability was getting the best of me.

Six months after moving into this house the relationship I was in -that I had high hopes for, ended leaving me even more confused and slightly depressed. One morning I woke up and was feeling pretty emotional. As I had coffee in the kitchen I thought about how sad I was that my life was deflated. It’s like postpartum of divorce -the emotional responses followed by a few broken relationships leaving you disillusioned with that part of life. I remember having the sensation that the ground beneath me wasn’t solid. Since I’ve been emotionally stable most of my life (as far as I know) this was pretty scary. Am I going to be okay? How do I pull myself out of this? I quickly started a downward spiral from fear into panic.

Then I looked up and thought, “God help me.” And it caught my eye…

Six months of living here and I hadn’t noticed a small sticker that was on the upper right corner of the sliding glass door to go outside. A door I opened multiple times a day to let my dog in and out of. How could I have missed it? And yet here it was all along placed by someone who lived here before me and there wasn’t a better moment for me to find it. I needed it desperately…

sticker on sliding door

It was a serious relief when I read it and it actually brought me to tears. It was a miracle no doubt. Not only was I hearing an answer to my prayer in a very dark moment but it was like the house spoke to me. (Okay feel free to laugh, but it’s true!) I just stood and stared at it in disbelief. I started to feel maybe the house is a place of healing and growth. Others who had lived here felt it too and even left a message behind. And another thing I love about this house- it smells good. When I open cabinets in the kitchen that have pots or bowls a warm woody smell emanates. Hard to explain but this 30+ year old townhouse smells like solid old wood and roses. I swear I can even smell it outside walking towards the front door. One more thing I’ve come to appreciate are the sunrises from my bedroom -picture above-…they are incredible! It‘s almost turned me into a morning person. Almost.

I was recently telling my friend and mentor, “..maybe when I figure out how to experience love and support in the safety of the universe at all times, I’ll be ready to move.” Maybe that’s this house’s dharma. Its purpose is to provide a healthy space for those of us who need to learn the lesson. Okay that’s probably far fetched and reaching into a tree hugging realm but I like it. It still resonates with me since I first saw the sticker over 2 years ago. It’s a house miracle walking me through the dark side of the morning. 🙂

Please feel free to share your miracles! Those incredible moments when you know -you’ll never forget and you’ll never be the same.

with ♥, Brooke

 

 

 

 

Life By Design

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Landscape remodel 2011

I love the phrase life by design. It resonates with me for 2 reasons:

  • The idea that we can create a life intentionally designed by our deepest attractions and desires is appealing, to say the least. I love the thought we can live with true purpose and our days would be filled with meaning and value.
  • I also love design in many aspects. It’s a life-long passion that includes landscape design, architecture and interior spaces. For me the home is a sanctuary and should reflect peace, creativity and a zen vibe.

Check out my Pinterest board here for great design inspiration: “Life by Design” 

Post divorce I’ve had the opportunity to really dig into what my “Life by Design” could be. Its been like hitting the pause button or getting a re-do. Should I live here or there? Should I drive this car or sell it? Should I take that job or quit and try something else? All up to me…and all by my choosing. There’s definitely a lot of options in life. And as mentioned in my post, Fierce Breed- Single Women, for now I’m grateful that I only have to make decisions with myself. It’s one of the benefits of being single.

Choosing the best option though is another matter. I truly believe that when you make up your mind to do something or get somewhere the world conspires to help you achieve your goal. It’s miraculous actually and I think it’s sometimes how people make it look relatively easy. Things appear to manifest for them out of thin air and doors open that were otherwise completely unknown before. Those people have made up their mind 100% and dedicated themselves to the task at hand no matter what. There are no other options and so their focus is sharp and one-pointed. By way of law of attraction, manifestation or divine order the universe seems to have direct assistance in the unfolding process once the mind is set. 

Unfortunately designing my backyard was easier for me than designing my life. And the backyard was a 10 month labor of love…not easy, but absolutely worth the immense effort to get exactly what was in my head into physical form. Kind of like giving birth in a way, …and ultimately so gratifying when its over. 🙂

But living a life by design requires much more from us. We have to consider many options and beliefs we’ve previously subscribed to. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Does your job or career give you money, fulfillment or both?
  • If you have to choose between money and fulfillment which do you choose?
  • Who are you? …Mother, friend, daughter, wife, designer, blogger?? I’ve learned the list changes so I ask myself; how attached am I to those roles I’ve assigned myself?
  • What are your top priorities in life and how do those show up daily in your routine?

2  books I’ve recently read that have helped me answer some of those questions are:

The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope, and

A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine

I love the Stoic’s way of life and the fact the philosophy provides a manner by which to live well. Like attending college today, in Ancient Greece it was a very important part of the culture to attend a school that taught young adults how to approach life…how to live. In contrast about the way we live today William B. Irvine says, “…the default philosophy of life: to spend one’s days seeking an interesting mix of affluence, social status, and pleasure. …an enlightened form of hedonism.” (p. 6)

So while pondering the writings of  Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca I am reminded that “stoic joy” is what I’m after. Life by design and all that encompasses is really about the things in life that are within our control and making the most of them by choosing wisely.

I get hope from Irvine when he says, “This strategy will specify what you must do, as you go about your daily activities, to maximize your chances of gaining the thing in life that you take to be ultimately valuable.” (p. 2)

I’m working to figure out exactly what I take to be ultimately valuable (hmm, …peace of mind, time with my kids, creativity?) and in the meantime please comment and feel free to share your valuable insights as well.

with ♥, Brooke

What’s at the Center of the Storm?

 

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Backyard sunset Encinitas, CA 1-7-14

You know when things go wonky and you feel like life has taken over? When the storm is raging and there is little you can do but keep your head above water and keep going…keep moving until it subsides? Well we’ve all been through it. …wow there is some real connectivity in that sentence to explore–we’ve ALL experienced the darkest hour (rich or poor, healthy or sick) and truthfully as life goes on we’ll experience it again. And again.

*Here’s an experiment: when you go out today and come across strangers- at the grocery store, at school pick up or the bank, wherever…be conscious to the fact that just like you, they’ve had a very dark hour in their life. Maybe their dark hour isn’t today and who knows maybe it is?…but just be aware of that knowing and see if you feel more connected to them.

My dark hour at 15 was much different than it was at 39, but my reaction to it is much the same. *Mediation.* I was lucky to find it at 15 and I knew then I would be doing it for the rest of my life. Meditation is the center of my storm. For me there is no other way to feel sane. I close my eyes and literally let go of the drama I’ve been juggling…it just falls away. And the truth is: it’s a secret weapon. I can’t explain it entirely because just like you can’t exactly explain the way chocolate tastes; you have to experience it to know it. But since I’m writing a blog here I’ll try.

What if you could just put down the plaguing thoughts for a while? What if you could escape to a tropical paradise for an hour where the worries didn’t matter at all? And the best part is, when you return to life as it was before, it’s not the same. It’s manageable! This is where if you’re just starting your mediation adventure you might need some blind faith to believe that, but it’s true!  Try it. What do you have to lose besides maybe anxiety?

“Buddha Mama”- my youngest daughter Delilah started to call me that about a year ago. I can always count on her for brutal honesty. After a bit of meditation she would say, “Mommy I really like it when you’re a Buddha Mama because you’re so much nicer and calmer.” And of course she’s right. It’s not complicated….meditation is like cleaning the windows, the light just shines through easier. …And apparently so does niceness. 🙂

In case you’re wondering how to meditate I’ll share some thoughts, but feel free to share yours too! The mind is always juggling something right? If you think about it, we never stop thinking. Ever. Even during sleep our thought patterns are still at work. So try replacing the usual thought patterns with a single mantra.

(Definition of mantra: a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation).

Kind of like listening to your favorite song over and over… you’ll gain focus when you just have one thought repeating itself and the other thoughts will fade. For your mantra, pick something soothing. You can even google good mantra and explore some.

The key is to keep coming back to the mantra when your mind runs away with another thought. They call it the monkey mind for a reason. But eventually when the focus comes and mind settles -you’ll find the REAL goods! Peace at last…

Please feel free to share your thoughts on meditation and any other helpful tools you have at the center of the storm.

with ♥, Brooke