Silencing Our Own Voice

Silencing Our Own Voice

I remember when I brought her home for the first time.

Betsy, I called her. I’m still not sure why. But, Betsy would be her name going forward.

She was beautiful, perfect in my eyes. She being my first electric guitar.

Me? I was gonna be a rock star. I already had the hair.

There was only one problem.

I had always wanted an electric guitar, and I had heard that Mr. Britto on Smith Street had one he was willing to sell. My enthusiasm convinced my Mom that she should let me spend the money I had saved and buy it. It was $40 back when $40 was a lot more than what $40 is today.

I didn’t know how to play guitar when I bought it, but I assured Mom that I’d learn. Taking music lessons didn’t quite excite me, no matter how good I was at playing scales or “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. I had a few friends who played guitar, and I was able to learn a bit from them. Ultimately, I sort of just dabbled with it, occasionally made some noise, and eventually Betsy ended up under my bed in the case I first brought her home in.

That one problem?

I never really thought of myself as a guitarist.

A few years back I found the guitar while cleaning out a closet. Immediately my mind went back to that 14 year old wide-eyed, long haired version of me. Eventually, though, I started thinking about what I hadn’t done with that guitar, about the music I didn’t make with that guitar. Like, why didn’t I?

Because I never allowed myself to do so.

What holds us back from being all we were created to be is our belief system. How we see ourselves pretty much determines what we are willing to allow ourselves to be. In music. And in life. Our identity of who we accept ourselves to be regulates everything. If our beliefs are limited, so, too, will be what we are willing to allow ourselves to become. In music. And in life. I never really saw myself as someone who could confidently play the guitar, and I met those expectations with precision.

I used to regret lots of things, things far more significant than not learning to play the guitar. But the root cause of all of those regrets was the same. A belief system limiting what I accepted as possible for me. Even if I told myself I wanted to be more, I was never going to let me do or accomplish anything more than my belief system would let me.

Regrets can crush you or they can be the fuel that moves you forward. I’ve opted for the fuel route.

The good thing about any limiting belief is it can be changed. First you need to be open to the reality that you actually have them and self-aware to compassionately notice them. Not everything we think is true. We just think it is. But when you identify or suspect thoughts which are limiting in nature, you have the right, ability, and obligation to change them.

But that’s on you. Nothing on the outside can change what we are unwilling to change on the inside.

Is there something on the inside that needs to change in order for you to fully express who you were created to become?

Challenging what I think has been such a critical tool in my overall growth, especially what I think about me and what’s possible for me. The mind which can create limitations can also destroy them.

It works both ways.

The guitar? It now hangs on my office wall. I have no desire to learn to play it. Rather, it’s there to remind me of what self-imposed limitations can look like. In music. And in life.

What’s holding you back?

What music are you not allowing yourself to make?

Your music, your voice, is far too important not to be fully expressed.

Santa, I Never Should Have Doubted You

Santa, I Never Should Have Doubted You

It was a special week.

I met Santa.

Twice!

My kids didn’t understand my enthusiasm. They’re at the age where they’ve long outgrown the Santa-down-the-chimney narrative. This “Santa guy” was just some guy wearing a red suit and a fake beard. For me, though, that didn’t matter. I’ve gained a new understanding of the Santa story.

It’s about believing.

It’s about the magic.

I remember many a Christmas morning hearing the kids run down the stairs to see if Santa had, in fact, left lots of toys. I remember their wide-eyed enthusiasm as they ran back up the stairs and into our bedroom to tell us that Santa had indeed showed up during the night. Magic. Pure magic.

And then at some point they figure it out.

The magic was over.

I guess that’s what “growing up” does to us all. It tends to suck the magic out of almost everything.

Over the years, yup, I’d lost my sense of magic. And not just about Christmas. I’d lost the magic of life. Adulting sort of got the best of me. Life became ordinary, often repetitively mundane. That’s what I chose to accept. That’s what I chose to believe.

What if I chose to believe something else?

It’s not so much about Santa. It’s more about what we are willing to believe about life and our own self and our own experience. How much magic do we simply not allow ourselves to see or experience? How often do we let “logic” steal our joy, draining the magic out of the magical moments of each new day? Of the magic in the things we routinely take for granted?

Even the magic of a new day itself?

As a child all I needed to do was believe. I was open to the possibilities of what I didn’t fully understand. Why can’t I again choose to see the magic in the things the adult me learned to see as just ordinary, to embrace that childlike wide-eyed wonder toward life itself and the gifts that life provides each of us if we simply choose to see them as gifts?

Maybe that’s what Santa has been trying to teach us all along?

The Surprising Benefits of Thinking Like A Sunflower

The Surprising Benefits of Thinking Like A Sunflower

It was the strangest thing.

A sunflower growing in the gutter.

My gutter.

I’m not exactly sure how it got there but there it was. Growing tall, fully in bloom, oblivious to the fact that flowers simply don’t grow in the gutter.

This flower just didn’t know any better. It never questioned why it was in the gutter. It never once questioned if it would ever be able to grow there.

It just grew.

Where it was.

I don’t know much about flowers, but I do know about us humans. And for many of us we simply find ways not to grow.

We think. We analyze. We overthink. We overanalyze. So much thinking and we can actually think ourselves out of growing. We use our ability to rationalize to find ways for us to stay in a state of waiting for a better environment, a better time, a better system of support. Guilty, I’ve been, an experienced “justifier” of staying stuck and waiting for things to be “right” before moving ahead.

Meanwhile, in my gutter grows a beautiful sunflower…

Often our stagnation is simply a reflection of our belief system, of what we honestly feel is – or isn’t – possible for us. And rather than confront any limitations in our internal belief system it’s much easier to focus on external conditions and factors as reasons why we’re still where we tell ourselves we no longer wish to be.

What if we were to think like that flower in my gutter and just grew, grew into all we were created to be? Never questioning our ability, our environment, the timing, nor our inherent worthiness to simply allow ourselves to grow into who we were created to become? Right here. Right now.

If we can think of ways to hold ourselves stagnant, why can’t we change that thinking to support our divine evolution?

Could it be that simple?

Just something to not overthink about.

The Most Important Decision You’ll Make Each Day

The Most Important Decision You’ll Make Each Day

If I make any noise I’m in trouble.

It’s 4:30 in the morning. The dogs are sleeping on the floor next to me. The intent is to quietly get out of bed and out of the room without waking them from their deep slumber.

It almost never works.

Within seconds of them realizing I’m no longer sleeping, I feel a cold nose on my arm and a tongue on my ankle as the two dogs, now instantly awake, spring to life, their tails acting like drum sticks beating on the bedroom door.

Often, when I’m still silently resting comfortably before I physically move I’ll be greeted by a different type of animal. 

My thoughts.

Unlike the dogs, my thoughts come to life more slowly. It’s as if they are giving me time to gain some focus and clarity before they attempt to take that focus and clarity away from me.

I’ve gotten quite good at just listening to the chatter in my head. Honestly, I’m amazed at what goes on in there. I’ve become a curious witness, just observing without getting involved in what’s being said. Just noticing.

My thoughts like to review what lies ahead for the day, any specific tasks or obligations that I need to tend to. My thoughts also have a propensity to provide me with a list of things I should worry about. It likes to tell me what could go wrong by painting vivid images of exactly what that would look like. It’s quite the artist, it’s imagery taking me to places I don’t want to visit.

Maybe it’s the years of subtle yet consistent programming which is responsible for the negative twist the mind likes to put on things. How we look at things is far more habitual than we realize. We don’t even notice. How often do we think about what we are thinking about and why we are thinking the way that we are?

As I’ve gotten deeper into my mindfulness practice I’ve learned a great deal about self awareness. I’m better able to step outside of me and listen to what is going on within me, without beating myself up if I didn’t like what I was hearing. It’s through this self awareness that I’ve been able to pick up any consistent patterns of thoughts, including the negative ones.

Only when you know what those patterns of thoughts are can you ever hope to change them, especially when those thought patterns are working against you.

I can’t seem to stop these thoughts completely. Maybe I never will. They appear much less frequent than they once were. But what I do get to decide is if these thoughts are valid concerns or just my mind doing what I’ve spent most of my life training it to do. I’m fully aware that those thoughts are there, but I don’t have to actually believe them.

The most important decision I make each day is deciding what kind of day I’m going to have. Do I listen to the fear, or do I pivot towards the thoughts which empower me and move me closer to the day I really want my day to be? It’s a choice, but only if you allow yourself to see it as such. 

Unchallenged, the dominant thought will always win. 

What about you? Do you ever just sit still for a moment and listen to the thoughts in your head? What are you saying about yourself to yourself? Are those thoughts consistent with how you want your days to be? With how you want your life to be?

Habits of thought can be difficult to change, but they can be changed.

First, you just need to know what to change.

You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are

You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are

We did it.

We got through the year we never could have expected to have happened.

So much loss on so many different levels.

But we made it through. We are still here.

If this past year has taught us anything it’s that we are far more resilient than we probably expected we were. If we were told last January what we’d be facing in the coming year I’d suggest many of us would have questioned our ability to get through it.

But we did.

Resiliency is a painful life lesson only life gets to teach us. When going through the wall isn’t ideal but it’s the only option you have. This past year has been quite a wall.

There are still walls in front of us, some pandemic related and others not. A new year doesn’t simply reset the challenges of life. Perhaps, though, we’d serve ourselves well in reflecting upon exactly what we’ve been through and see that yes, we are far more resilient than we may have given ourselves credit for.

Perhaps a small victory, but a rather important one.