Monthly Archives: May 2013

Letting The Spirit Take The Lead

Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience. – Sonia Choquette.

Many people who know me will laugh at the fact that I’m writing a blog post about the spirit and intuition.  After all, my father-in-law dubbed me “All Business” for a reason – I favor efficiency and non-emotional responses to daily life stressors.  But I’ve always had a very rich “inner life.”  I’ve simply kept my musings private.

Today, however, I’m going to share my thoughts about an interview of Sonia Choquette (Ph.D. in metaphysics) I watched.  If you read her credentials, she sounds a little whacky (psychic, vibrations expert, etc.).  However, if you listen to her speak, she’s fairly inspiring. images-1

By way of brief background, Ms. Choquette’s mother was a WWII survivor who’d been separated from her family and ended up in a work camp where she then lost her hearing.  She was rescued by American soldiers at the age of fifteen (one of whom she married), and went on to have seven kids.  She taught her kids that she survived the war by choosing to listen to her inner voice instead of the voices around her.  Thus began Ms. Choquette’s education about intuition, visualization, and spirit.

She actually shuns the word “spirituality” as a mental construct, and prefers people approach life in terms of being “spirited” (let your spirit lead you/be authentic).  Ms. Choquette asserts that when people lose the light in their eyes and the smile in their heart, it is because they’ve lost their spirit.  The way to reclaim it is to actively remember and identify the things you love about living: hot tea in the morning, a walk in the woods, playing with your kids, reading a love story, and so on.  Make a list, engage in those activities, and repeat them to yourself at various times throughout each day, and you will call your spirit back.  Let those things guide your choices in life, too.  When you are engaged in something you love, you open up and let go of the left-brain.  Everything becomes “thoughtless” and natural…and therein is peace.

A big roadblock to happiness is pain.  Ms. Choquette suggests that pain comes from the ego, not the spirit.  The ego judges something as a failure or rejection, so you experience pain.  To reframe it from a spirit perspective, disengage your ego and think “what did I learn from this experience,” and then it won’t feel as painful.  It is simply a lesson, nothing more or less.  She also claims that this aids in forgiveness, because you learn to accept an incident for what happened without attaching more significance than necessary.

Many people don’t know how to tap into the spirited side of themselves.  Ms. Choquette offers a few simple steps:

  1. Consider intuition a natural part of your being/brain;
  2. Expect it to work (just as you expect your ears to hear or eyes to see); and
  3. Name it and claim it (speak about the vibes/gut feelings, etc.) in a positive way (don’t say “this weird thing happened”…say “this amazing thing happened”).

By actively taking these steps, your openness will create a vacuum to pull in this sixth sense.  She likens it to looking at the stars.  At first you notice a few, but the longer you search, the more the sky starts to explode with lights.  The Milky Way is always there…you didn’t “create” those additional stars, you simply paid attention and noticed them.

She has written a number of books (none of which I’ve read), in case you are interested in reading more.  Again, I don’t advocate permanently shelving your left-brain, but I do promote the idea of listening to your intuition, opening yourself up to the possibility of things in existence despite not being able to see or touch them, and learning to separate the ego from the experience.  If you can sit through the opening credits with an open mind, I’d recommend watching a few minutes of the video interview I linked above.  She is rather delightful and uplifting.

In any case, I’m going to approach my weekend with a spirited outlook!  How about you?

xo-Jamie

 

 

Love and Sacrifice

Memorial Day brought into sharp focus the tremendous sacrifice some people (and families) make for the benefit of others.  Although many of us will never be called upon to risk everything for anyone, we all make sacrifices and compromises for the people we love on a daily basis. IMG_2171

I’ve been thinking about this dynamic a lot because my new work-in-progress features a hero who is genuinely self-sacrificing.  While this quality makes him very likable, his own personal happiness takes a back seat too often.  As a result, I started to wonder about whether or not making sacrifices for love is a good or bad thing.

I did a little digging to get at the psychology behind the interplay among sacrifice, compromise, and love.  First, let’s clarify the difference between sacrifice and compromise.   Aaron Ben-Zeev, PhD, wrote an article about this very topic in which he defines a sacrifice as giving up something precious in order to gain or maintain something (e.g., giving up a career in order to stay home with kids), and a compromise as giving up the pursuit of a prospect of something better in order not to risk an existing situation.  Thus, in his words, the realm of sacrifice is an actual realm, whereas compromise is an imaginary realm.  For this reason, he argues, “The potential loss in compromise is more emotionally painful because it involves unfinished business; the person might not accept the compromise and might be constantly aware of its negative aspects. Sacrifice is less emotional as the person has willingly made it and has no further doubts concerning its value and necessity, unless the person begins to regret it.”  So, now that we understand some of the mental/emotional gymnastics engaged by any decision to compromise or sacrifice, can we do these things repeatedly and stay happy in a relationship?

Bjarne Holmes, Ph.D., has written an article discussing that very topic.  The answer?  It depends!  Apparently small daily sacrifices make a person feel more committed to their partner, even if the sacrifice doesn’t make the partner happier, unless (a) the sacrifice is having a really stressful day and is expected to make additional sacrifices, or (b) the partner rarely makes sacrifices in return.  This makes sense to me, because I do feel good about myself when I make a sacrifice for someone else unless I feel taken for granted (or am having a really crappy day).

Amie M. Gordon, M.A., has written a few articles on this topic as well.  Her “Pros and Cons” article touches upon some of the concepts in Dr. Holmes’ piece (such as reciprocation), but cushions it by claiming your partner is more likely to reciprocate when you sacrifice.  She further clarifies her point by addressing the importance of being authentic to one’s own needs, and communicating those so your partner recognizes your sacrifices and compromises.  In a separate article, she raises a number of questions you should ask yourself before making a major sacrifice, such as how committed you are to the relationship, would the partner reciprocate if in your shoes, does the partner recognize the sacrifice you are making, and is there a better solution or compromise?

Bottom line, it seems that sustaining a loving relationship does require on-going sacrifices and compromises, and while each one may not always make you feel happier in the relationship, you can’t maintain a long-lasting relationship without some degree of sacrifice.  You have to let go of the consequences in favor of valuing the love you have, be mindful of the sacrifices you ask be made for you, and look for mutually acceptable compromises!

What do you think?  Is there a balance in your own relationship, or are you making too many sacrifices, or asking for more than you are giving?  Or do you believe that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything for love?

Now I’ve got to go work this information into my current story!

xo-Jamie

Getting Zen With JT

Sunday Song time!

My Justin Timberlake infatuation is well-known among my close friends.  Love his voice, love dancing to his songs, LOVE his SNL skits, and even respect his foray into acting.  In fact, my crush is so out in the open, my husband gave in and took me to see the SexyBack tour when it came through Madison Square Garden.

When JT disappeared from the music scene for several years, I felt a little bereft!  So I was excited for the release of his newest album earlier this year.  I should have known to calibrate my expectations, though.  Totally NOT into the 80s vibe of first new release, Suit & Tie.  In fact, of all the songs on the The 20/20 Experience album, there were only two I was willing to purchase:  Mirrors and Blue Ocean Floor.

You may have heard Mirrors on the radio, but you may not be familiar with Blue Ocean Floor.  It is a very different kind of love song, having a bit of a meditative quality.  I really love listening to it at night, or when I want to daydream a little (whether about plotting something in my books, or simply letting my mind roam).  It actually would be nice to play when you’re spending a little private time with your best guy, too!

Take a quick look at the lyrics.  I think they speak to that “soul mate” ideal we’re taught to crave.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I don’t subscribe to that idea in real life, but I still can appreciate the beauty and appeal of that special someone who somehow knows your every thought and feeling without any effort.

Blue Ocean Floor
 
Frequency’s so low
Heart on a string
A string that only plays solos
Rain made of echoes
Tidal wave rushing on and on
 
Under the water you scream so loud but the silence surrounds you
But I hear it loud and your fall in the deep and I’ll always find you
If my red eyes don’t see you anymore
And I can’t hear you through the white noise
 
Just send your heartbeat, I’ll go
To the blue ocean floor
Where they’ll find us no more
On that blue ocean floor
On that blue ocean floor
 
Shell made out of gold
Found on a beach
Picked up and you held so close
Rain washed out its glow
Heartbeat steady leads me down below
 
[First and Second Refrains]
 
Twenty thousand leagues away,
Catch up to you on the same day.
Travel at the speed of light,
Thinking the same thought at the same time.
Heart beats at a steady pace,
I’ll let the rhythm show me the way.
No one can find us here,
Fade out and disappear.
 
[First and Second Refrains Repeat]
 

Here’s a Youtube video you can play so you can hear the spa-like sound of the song.  Now, while I miss the kind of JT tunes I could dance around my kitchen listening too, I really like this song.  Hope you do too!

What did you think?

xo-jamie

 

When Passion Leads to Perfection

I’ve written several blog posts about the rewards of chasing one’s dreams despite rejection and other hurdles.  Today I had the pleasure of meeting with a man who followed his dream around the globe and then returned to his hometown  in Connecticut, where he is now enjoying great success.  Speaking with someone who truly loves what they do always inspires and encourages me to continue pursuing my own goals. Mikes-deskdetail_jpg

Thomas Throop, of Black Creek Designs LLC, is an award-winning furniture designer and maker driven by a romantic vision.  In his own words, he has stated, “I came to design furniture through the making process. Wood, a material of great character, depth and warmth, drove my curiosity.  It was the romance that got me. Laboring in a dimly lit shop with the intoxicating smells of freshly cut walnut wafting through the air, creating objects of sheer beauty and function that will be set out in the world and revered by their owners and their posterity.  The romance still sustains me to this day even if the reality is somewhat different and more complex.”

I honestly don’t think I could have invented a more perfect resource to help me develop my newest hero, Hank, who is a finish carpenter with dreams of striking out on his own to design and build one-off furniture if only he can find the resources. IMG_2130

Tom generously donated more than an hour of his time this morning to talk about his background, training, and current business operations.  He introduced me to sliding table saws, calipers, and incanal gouges, taught me a little bit about various grades of wood, and gave me some homework (reading materials written by the top three names in hand-crafted furniture design).

While all of the factual details will certainly help me build an authentic picture of Hank’s craft and the obstacles he must overcome to succeed, I’m equally excited about the less tangible information I received through the stories relayed to me today.  Each bit of information, insight, and artistic vision will help me create a genuinely likable, layered hero who has an earthy spirit and true passion for his art.

Moreover, I’ve gained such a better appreciation for the time and attention to detail that goes into any piece of handcrafted furniture.  I told Tom I hoped to eventually sell enough books to justify commissioning a writing desk, so I’d better get back to work!  In the meantime, if you are in the market for unique, handmade furniture, please check out his website, which contains a portfolio gallery (I borrowed a photo from his site of that lovely writing desk above), bio, video interview, and impressive list of credentials.

Have a great weekend!

xo-jamie

Raising Resilient Kids

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims of the recent tornado in Oklahoma.  On my facebook page, I’d posted this quote, which I find to be extremely hopeful:images-1

There are no greater treasures than the highest human qualities, such as compassion, courage, and hope.  Not even tragic accident or disaster can destroy such treasures of the heart ~ Daisaku Ikeda

Watching the news coverage, and reading this quote, forces me to acknowledge and revere the need for the resiliency of the human spirit.  I’m not someone who naturally handles crisis or stress well, but I marvel at those who can.  Moreover, I want my kids to learn those critical skills.  Through my work with CARES, I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of child and mental health experts.  Local therapist Ava Diamond gave community parents some insight into this very issue, which I am sharing with you in Raising Resilient Kids.

As an aside, if you are interested in helping the victims in Oklahoma, this article offers several options:  Help Oklahoma Victims