The Surprising Benefits Of Staring At The Sun

The Surprising Benefits Of Staring At The Sun

Cranes from dollar bills. Flowers from straw wrappers. Give my daughter something to fold and she probably will. It’s quite a joy watching her create something beautiful from something ordinary.

My origami skills, I’m afraid, leave a great deal to be desired. Although I do feel like I’ve been the one who has been folded.

Life has a way of doing that to us, it’s own version of origami, often folding us without us even being aware we’re being folded. Folded by the critical comments, unhealthy actions, and toxic opinions of others, especially in the formative years of our own self identity. Such folding impacts our experience and expectations, time often turning those folds into deep creases, continuously pressed even deeper into our psyche, reinforcing who it is we tell ourselves we are.

I’ve been folded and contorted into neither a crane nor a flower. I am just me, my final shape yet to be clearly defined. But folding is always a part of our evolution.

My journey into better understanding life and, in particular, my life has been a meandering maze of diving more deeply into me. Yes, I’ve been folded and molded and shaped into who I am today. But is who I am today who I was actually created to be? Like, are the labels and traditions and limitations I’ve accepted as true not actually the truth inherent with my creation?

Questioning something as significant as your identity involves a process of self awareness and examination. Sort of origami in Continue reading “The Surprising Benefits Of Staring At The Sun”

The Most Important Valentine Of All

The Most Important Valentine Of All

It probably would never work.

My idea for a new holiday.

It would be like Valentine’s Day, but the focus wouldn’t be on expressing our love towards a significant other.

It would be on expressing our love towards our significant self.

It often feels so much easier to extend love outward than it does inward, doesn’t it? To shower others with the cards and the candy and the flowers and the fancy dinners. But to shower our self with such objects of affection?

Probably not.

It’s too bad. Because we are equally worthy to receive from ourself the same love we are far more comfortable giving to others.

Perhaps when asking others to be your Valentine, maybe you could ask yourself as well?

Self love is never optional.

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

Self Image And The Validity Of Limitations

Self Image And The Validity Of Limitations

It was anything but a graceful fall from grace. On some level I knew it was supposed to happen. So, on a different level I made it happen.

I was playing well above my head and my head knew it. I had climbed a bit too high on the corporate ladder, higher than I felt I should have. So I did what I needed to do to keep me aligned with the vision I had created for myself by my self.

We often blame self sabotage as the reason we crash and burn, how we at times seemingly act in ways which undermine what we feel are our best efforts to grow and change. Career, diet, and relationships are all prime ares where despite our best efforts we end up working against ourselves.

In order to keep ourself our self.

Do we really see ourself as being that successful? Of being in that great physical shape? Of being in a healthy relationship?

No, it’s not really sabotage. All we are doing is self regulating, returning to who it is we believe ourselves to be. Realigning with that all-powerful inner vision which controls and regulates what we subconsciously feel is possible for us. We get what we expect Continue reading “Self Image And The Validity Of Limitations”

Self Abandonment & Embracing The Voice Of Authenticity

Self Abandonment & Embracing The Voice Of Authenticity

Somebody told you a story. Perhaps just once. Perhaps several times. But stories have a way of taking root, especially in the impressionable and fertile mind of a child. Even well intentioned story tellers have no idea how that story could impact the life trajectory of that child.

Stick and stones. Yes, they can break bones. But names and labels have such a power to hurt you and your sense of who you are. More specifically, of who you think it is you are.

And who you think you are is perhaps the most important story you’ll ever tell yourself.

As a boy, I didn’t get into too much trouble. I was the third born, coming into this world six years after the second born. I was kind of left on my own, staying within the parameters that were set for me. On one occasion, though, my failing junior high school grades gave my Dad the opportunity to vehemently express his disappointment in me. Not in my grades. But in me, the person. His son. A new story was told, and stories have a way of taking root in the impressionable and fertile mind of a child. Especially when that story comes from your Dad.

And take root it did.

In hindsight, what Dad was trying to do was motivate me. A lifelong factory worker, he wanted me to live a different life than what he was living. His was a hard life, a paycheck-to-paycheck existence. Up early, grabbing as many extra hours as he could. He wanted more for me, and the harshness of his tactics was his way of trying to show me. I see that now, but the young version of me was far to emotionally immature to see that. Dad spoke. I had no reason not to believe him.

And take root it did.

Perhaps you, too, have had the opinions of others impact your perceptions of who you think you are? Maybe you’ve been told at some point in your life you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not beautiful enough, you’re too emotional, you’re a lot of work, you’ll never amount to anything?

The stories we tell ourself will define us. They shape our expectations, shape our actions, shape what we feel is or isn’t possible for ourself. These stories can cause us to abandon who it is we really are in order to live a life consistent with who it is we’ve been told we are. Because we will become who we think we are. We will build a world around those stories, a world in which we will regulate our levels of abundance, worthiness, and even our own perceived lovability. We will fill in life’s pieces accordingly, reinforcing the stories further. We will always attract just more of the same.

A different life requires a different story.

A story in which we embrace our truest self and never needing to abandon it.

When we embrace our authentic self, we will attract and create a world around us full of people and opportunities and relationships which will support our most authentic and purest self. That is the life we all were created to live.

We do get to decided which stories we accept as true.

Actually, we’ve been doing it all of our lives.

So why not embrace a story which supports the life we know we really want to live, the life we were created to live?

Uprooting an identity is hard work. But if you don’t start, you never will.

Your authentic self? It is still within you. It’s alway been there. It’s as beautiful as you’ve always known it to be. It just needs for you to tell yourself a different story.

The Voice of Authenticity is calling you.

Abandon your stories which no longer serve you, and you’ll never again have to abandon the most important person you will ever know.

You.

Photo by Chela B. on Unsplash

What To Say When You’re Having Coffee with God

What To Say When You’re Having Coffee with God

It was quite surreal.

I was sitting at a round wooden table in a busy coffee shop having a nice conversation. With God. He looked a lot like I thought He would look like, sort of an older version of the images of Jesus I’ve seen all my life. Same eyes.

Surprisingly, no one else in the coffee shop knew who He was. Oblivious, they were simply going about their collective days, too busy to notice perhaps?

Or, maybe He was there just for me.

At some point during our brief time together, I worked up the courage to ask Him an important question. An important question I’d been seeking answers to for most of my life.

“God?”

“Yes, Pete?”

“Am I worthy to receive the abundance of blessings of the Universe, to become all I have been created to become?”

God paused, put down His coffee, and looked me square in the eyes.

“Have I ever told you that you’re not?”

And with that, God stood up, and with a wink and a smile left me alone to reflect upon His answer.

It was quite the dream, but the message was anything but.

God has never told me I’m not worthy. He’s has never told anyone that they aren’t worthy. Yet somehow life has a way to often create a disconnect between who we are and who we think we are. And who we think we are is often much less than God’s intention behind our creation.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded of our worth, of our value, of our significance, of our birthright to allow and receive the blessings inherent with our own creation.

To allow ourselves to become what we’ve each individually been created to become.

Unless God tells you otherwise.

And He won’t.

Receiving The Gift Of Receiving

Receiving The Gift Of Receiving

It was a priceless, transformational moment.

I was sitting on one of the player benches, just trying to catch my breath. The family and I were at the local ice rink, enjoying a couple of hours of ice skating just after Christmas. As a kid, ice skating was a regular weekend activity during the fall and winter months. My skating skills were never that great, but I managed to do OK. Now, some 40 years later, my daughters’ interest in skating has gotten me to lace up the skates once again.

Time has not improved my skating skills.

Apparently, Kyle thought I was pretty good at skating.

He said I was an expert.

I have no idea who Kyle is. He looked to be about 10 years old, enjoying some skating with his family. As I was sitting on the bench, exhausted, Kyle stopped and asked if he could tell me something. Surprised, I said “sure”. He said “you’re an expert at skating. I’ve been watching you skate and you’re really good…like an expert.”

Kind of stunned by what I heard, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.

I’m glad I didn’t respond as instinctively as I often do.

My initial thought was to somehow try and convince Kyle he was wrong. In my mind I’m really not that good at skating. But instead of doing what I’ve often habitually done, I did something different.

I simply smiled and said “thank you”.

How often, when someone expresses an unexpected compliment toward us, do we find a way to try and minimize it? As if we couldn’t possibly be what the other thinks we are?

For me, I’ve noticed that had, in fact, become an instinctual response.

As we go through our life journey we develop a story about who we are. We listen to others, often those we look up to, and their comments, either intentionally or not, greatly shape the vision of who we think we are. We also learn about the power of comparison and how that can further shape our limiting beliefs, further eroding our worthiness and solidifying our vision as someone who shouldn’t be on the receiving end of complimentary words.

And it works both ways. Think about how often we offer someone a compliment or strong positive feedback only to be met with a response somehow trivializing our opinion. If you take the time to notice, you’ll see it’s quite prevalent.

I’m certain that my skating skills are not close to being at the expert level. But in his mind, I was pretty damn good at it, so much so that he actually approached me to tell me what he thought of my skating. With his honesty and sincerity, I felt Kyle deserved a “thank you” and not an explanation as to why he was wrong.

I was touched by Kyle’s actions and words. I hope he continues to express his positive opinions to others when he sees fit. I didn’t want to ruin this experience for him. I didn’t want to show him through my own words what minimizing yourself looks like.

Thank you, Kyle, for helping me be better at being me.

Sometimes allowing yourself to receive a gift is more important than the actual gift itself.

photo credit: Ben White via Unsplash

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.

What Are You Allowing Your Life To Become?

What Are You Allowing Your Life To Become?

I was THIS close.

Many years ago I found myself in position to do something rather unlikely. I was about to beat Russ Lavoie in a tennis match. Unlikely, because, well, I sucked at playing tennis. Russ didn’t suck at tennis. Russ was very good at tennis. He took lessons. He had a coach. He had great equipment. He even had the proper tennis clothing. But there I was, with a borrowed racket, an Aerosmith T-shirt, and a pair of Converse All-Stars, on the cusp of beating the best tennis player I knew.

But then I didn’t.

It started as us just lobbing the ball back and forth. Russ’ dad was there, a rather intense man, and he wanted to make it more meaningful. “Let’s make this a real match.” Right from the start I was outperforming Russ. I don’t even think I knew how to keep score in tennis. But Russ’ dad did, and boy did he enjoy reminding his son that the kid in the Converse All-Stars was getting the best of him. Sort of his way of motivating Russ. And demotivating me at the same time.

To say I was playing way over my head would be an understatement. With no training or coaching somehow I was holding my own and winning far more games than I though possible for me. I was actually up two sets to none, needing just one more set to win the match. As Russ’ dad would remind him he was getting beat by me, as in the me who should never be able to beat a trained and well-coached tennis player, it got me to thinking that maybe I really shouldn’t be able to do what I was doing after all. Maybe dad was right. And eventually I proved him to be so, dropping the last three sets of the match and saving Russ from certain parental humiliation. 

Yes, Russ beat me, but on some level I had actually beaten myself.

I thought of this experience when I was reviewing the past year of my life. It’s become a tradition of sorts in the weeks just before my birthday. I conduct a review of the past 12 months. The highlights as well as the lowlights. How did I spend my time? Intentionally or reactionary? Of the things I told myself I wanted to do during the year, what did I actually accomplish and what didn’t I get done?

Overall, it was a very good year of personal growth. But I always have a question for the items on the What Didn’t Get Done list. “Why not?” Why didn’t I get this done? Sometimes there are external factors involved. Sometimes in hindsight I realize I actually didn’t want to accomplish what I told myself I did. Sometimes, though, the painfully honest reason things didn’t get accomplished is I simply didn’t allow myself to.

We can set very specific goals with the absolute most perfect of intentions and develop and implement a consistent action plan to achieve them. But unless we allow ourselves to achieve them we never will.

In my mind, even though I was just a few points away from beating Russ, on some level I knew I wasn’t supposed to. The image and expectations I held for me was inconsistent with what I was accomplishing. At some point the inner voice always wins and we adjust our actions and behaviors accordingly. I told myself I wasn’t supposed to win. And I didn’t.

I found in this year’s annual review some of the things I didn’t accomplish were, in fact, because I didn’t allow myself to accomplish them. The person I would have been had I actually accomplished my goals was different from the person I accepted myself to be. Even with clarity of purpose and actionable intentions, I was unable to sustain the momentum needed to meet my objective. It wasn’t a lack of opportunity or tools or information which did me in. It never is. I wasn’t going to allow certain things to happen. 

I’ve become quite comfortable having uncomfortable conversations with myself. Those deep, honest, introspective conversations, free of judgment or blame. Because until I am willing to get to know the deepest me I will never be able to get to the places I know I tell myself I want to go. These conversations uncover the psychological and emotional roadblocks to me moving ever forward. They show me the self-imposed limitations, the walls and fences I’ve subconsciously built to keep myself tethered to what is and keeping me from what could be.

We will never become more than we are willing to allow ourselves to become.

In an unlimited world we all have our own degree of limitations. It doesn’t matter how they got there, what is important is acknowledging that they are actually there. Knowing you have accepted some level of limitation is often very uncomfortable. It requires a level of responsibility and accountability. Who readily accepts the blame that they aren’t where they could have possibly been in their lives?

Knowing you have accepted some level of limitation, though, is also very empowering. Because that’s the starting point to moving past them. If you don’t know you’re stuck, how will you ever unstuck yourself? How will you ever grow forward?

Most of the limits we have are silent, stealthily working behind the scenes keeping us aligned with who it is we tell ourselves we really are. They show up in our habits and behaviors, regulated by the expectations we have set for ourselves. It’s the reason why I’ve never kept off those last 10 pounds, or taken full advantage of certain opportunities I’ve had in my life. 

I never allowed myself to do so.

When you look at the highest vision of your life, what’s preventing you from being all that you envision your life could be? Is it the stuff outside of you or is there a little voice telling you that no matter how clear your vision is you’re simply never going to allow yourself to become it?

It’s not an easy conversation to have with yourself. But it’s the only way to move closer to becoming all you were created to become.

And I’m moving closer.

It’s a great day to be you.

photo credit: Aaron Clinard via Unsplash

The Most Important Resolution Of Them All

The Most Important Resolution Of Them All

His fingers were so numb from the bitter cold that he could barely even hold the match to light the fire which would soon keep him warm. Eventually the match ignited and the fire was born.

One thing about fires, though. They need to be fed. They simply don’t last simply because you’ve started one. Kinda like the fires we start in life. Fires of desire. Unless we feed them continuously they eventually go out.

New Year’s Day is perhaps the most prolific day to start fires. Fires of desire, that is. All these resolutions and hopes and dreams we decide to bring to life.  Yes, we may start such fires but how often do those fires of what we desire simply burn themselves out? Intentions create the initial spark, but without the real commitment the flames will soon be extinguished, starved of the fuel needed to maintain them. Good intentions alone are never good enough.

I’ve certainly started my fair share of fires. A great many of them have met an early demise. Simply because I never fed them. And I never really fed them because I rationalized I must have never wanted them bad enough. But the more accurate reason why many of the fires never got fed was because somewhere inside I never felt I was supposed to have the things I wanted for myself. Continue reading “The Most Important Resolution Of Them All”

Maybe Your Truth Is What’s Holding You Back?

Maybe Your Truth Is What’s Holding You Back?

“Someday I’m gonna climb that mountain.”

It’s 1992 and I’m on my way to Keene, New Hampshire for the first time. As I approached from south of the city I caught my first glimpse of Mount Monadnock. It’s not a huge mountain, but it was the tallest one in southwestern New Hampshire. That’s when I announced I’d be climbing that mountain some day.

And I finally did.

26 years later.

Self-promises and bold declarations are easy to make. But for me, at times, life has been far more talk than actually doing. Years went by as I continued to travel Rte 12, always glancing at the big mass of granite and trees, reminding myself that I’d climb that mountain some day.

Someday.

After my last birthday I began questioning many things in my life. When you realize you’ve had more birthdays than you’re gonna have your relationship with time changes. With that fresh perspective I decided to gently challenge myself and the collection of things I’d thrown into the rather thick “Someday” file. I wanted to look at each one and decide if it stays or if it goes. And if it stays, when was I actually going to do what I told myself I was going to do? Continue reading “Maybe Your Truth Is What’s Holding You Back?”