Authenticity

Written by Danica Crawford

4/16/2013

Know your truth, live it and share it!

We all have our individual gifts to offer.  Give yourself time and space to deepen your awareness of personal authenticity.  The pay off of knowing yourself is unlimited.  

Release yourself from limiting your expression.  We all come from a pure loving nature.  Find confidence and self love with- in your own greatness.  

Show up with your being.  Allow others to see who you really are and what you stand for.  

Allow for others to express themselves with respect. 

What is Authenticity?

Written by Morgan Smith

5/1/2013

What is authenticity? 

According to dictionary.com authentic means “not false or copied; genuine; real.” That which is authentic is “supported by unquestionable evidence” and “entitled to acceptance or belief because of correspondence with known facts or experience.” 

According to Wikipedia, authenticity is “the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit or character, despite external pressures.”  

To me, authenticity is strength in character; courage. When someone is courageous, it is not that they are fearless.  True courage is being able to overcome fear.  In the same sense, true authenticity is to feel the pressures of the world and it’s ‘shoulds,’ and to chose to be yourself regardless. 

Philosophers, too, have agued deeply about the meaning of this word. To Kierkegaard, authenticity is, “a state of being achieved by facing reality, making a choice and then passionately sticking to that choice.” To Neitzsche an authentic man is someone who, “elevates himself over others in order to transcend the limits of conventional morality, in an attempt to decide for one’s self about good and evil.” 

However, regardless of your definition of authenticity, several facts underlie all these definitions. First, individuals are in a social and material world, and experiencing social/material pressures that are totally separate from themselves as people.  Second, individuals are fundamentally responsible to shape their own beliefs, act upon them and tell the truth about them. 

Finally, it is important to tease apart authenticity and uniqueness.  Being authentic does not mean that you need to behave outside of the norms of society.  Science has shown us that, as a species, we are more alike than different, and often one’s own true path will correspond with social norms.  But, in order to truly be authentic, one must be willing to do the work to understand the drives and motives behind societal prescriptions for behaviour and be willing to accept or reject them on their own grounds, rather than simply because they are prescribed. 

What Gets Between Us and Authenticity

I think that it is obvious to say that, inherently, most people strive to be authentic.  We naturally want to be our true selves.  However, I think that it is also safe to say, few people succeed at that all of the time. So what gets between people and their true selves?

Fear of disconnection

As Ms Brown points out in the video, connection is the most important thing. 

According to her, “connection is why we are here,” it is “what gives us purpose and meaning.”  All too often, it is this deep need for connection and a desperate fear of not having it, that keeps some from being themselves.  

This is the paradox of chasing affection.  If one alters one’s self in order to receive love, one may receive love.  However, it is the altered self and not the true self that is loved.  The fear of disconnection creates the very  disconnection that it fears. 

Need for perfection

Striving for your ‘best’ self is not to be confused with striving for your ‘authentic’ self.  We all want to be our best and I think that sometimes we sacrifice our authenticity in order to feel closer to that ideal persona. We stretch the truth a bit; amplify our virtues and downplay our weaknesses in order to get what we want.  In the moment if feels good; we are liked and excepted for our great qualities. However, over time, that voice of truth creeps in and reminds of that we don’t quite fill those shoes.  That in some sense, this stretching, makes one a fraud.

The truth is we are ALL imperfect and struggling. It’s has always been funny to me how easy it is for my to accept imperfection and struggle in others, when it is simultaneously so hard for me to admit myself. Again paradoxically I think that letting go of the need to be perfect at everything will allow one the space to get great at something. 

Avoidance of discomfort

Who wants to feel bad? No one.  And when one feels bad it is almost instinctive to numb that feeling.  We all have our ways, be it banana nut muffins, beers, cigarettes or embarrassing television shows, we all find our tools to avoid our pain.  Sometimes it is uncomfortable to be authentic, and we numb that pain. Unfortunately, as Ms Brown so aptly points out.  We cannot numb selectively. If you numb fear, disappointment and loneliness you also numb joy, gratitude and laughter.  It’s a package deal. 

This is the sad truth about avoidance.  If you avoid the bad, you are also avoiding the good.  Then you feel worse, avoid some more, and the cycle continues.  And I think sometimes we lose ourselves in the avoidance. 

Strategies for Moving Toward Authenticity:

Authenticity, for me, is a bit of a moving target.  My authentic self changes and I have to constantly change how I express it.  I never really feel as though I have arrived but these tricks have helped me feel as though I am getting closer to my authentic self all of the time:

1. Know without a doubt that you are worthy of love and affection. 

2. Accept that you are imperfect. Let go of the past, it does not define you.

3. Define yourself and stick to your definition. Brene is a researcher/storyteller. Who are you?  If you are not sure pay attention to what excites you, or try asking a few people that you love. I don’t know is not an acceptable answer. Figure it out. 

4. Be willing to show up with your truth and be vulnerable even if it is uncomfortable.  Feel it all; both good and bad.

5. Act as if it is easy to be authentic and you love your authentic self.  Eventually this will be true. 

6. Develop a core group of people, such as this group who know the authentic you and will hold you accountable to be that person.

The Energy of Self-Love

5/26/2013

I would like to ask a personal question - how much do you truly love yourself?

I believe it is important to ask yourself this question to become more conscious of how self-love affects the choices you make in your life. Are you making decisions based on how you want to feel, or are you choosing to please others before yourself? We all resonate at a certain frequency. When we vibrate at the frequency of self-love, we are sending a message to the world that we wish to be met at this nurturing place. In turn the universe will reflect back energy that honors you and your worthiness to receive. Being awake to the deeper significance of your choices, and what you are energetically broadcasting to the world, will make you more conscious of the things that are showing up in your life. Without a doubt you will start to receive more of what you do want and less of what you don't. 

This is your life; it is your authentic creation. You have a duty to live true to yourself, with integrity; and authentically communicate your personal message to the world.

Self Love Awareness

6/9/2013

Here are a few ways to become aware of your Self Love!


1.     Write down all the compliments people give you this week. 
2.     Begin to notice how you speak to yourself.  If you catch yourself saying nasty things… say them to yourself in a sexy voice.
3.     What do you need to forgive?  Consider yourself, others, life… 
4.     How do you relax?  
5.     How do you have fun? 
6.     How do you treat your body?  
7.     How intimate are you with self?  Maybe take yourself on a date. 
7.    Self Love book –  Get creative!  Make a book about how amazing you are! This is not a dream book… but rather a current honest love story about you.      Some things you may choose to include: Pictures Magazine cutouts What fills you up? What makes you special? What do people compliment you on?  What accomplishments do you feel good about?  How do you contribute? Make a list of what are you grateful for about yourself! What are your go-to ways to de-stress or connect. Make a list of favorite music that makes you feel great. …  

Personal Reflections on Money

Written by Morgan Smith

9/13/2013

For a long time (and, I am embarrassed to admit, until fairly recently) I held the false belief that money and passion were mutually exclusive. My slightly younger self, rationalized that if I spent my time ‘chasing the almighty,’ I would be left with no time to pursue my heart.  Service and kindness, are not profitable ventures. And any true achievement requires suffering – not the ease and freedom of wealth. That is not to say I had to live on the streets, I have always believed working would sustain you.  But ‘doing good’ and ‘being wealthy’ were definitely two distinct bubbles in a vein diagram.  As a poet once put it, “capitalism raises you, but you have to step on someone else to get there.”  “Not me!” I naively (and maybe I little boastfully) preached to whoever would listen, but mostly to myself: “I will choose passion and purpose over money - every time.” It is also possible that I may have looked down my nose a little at those around me who chose more practical careers. I may have even used the term ‘sell-out.” I created an over-simplified mythology for myself where, one by one, my peers were slowly giving way; abandoning their talents and interests for good jobs, so they could afford trivial comforts.  Not me though, arrogant me, would definitely not succumb to these primal urges, I would resist, and in so doing, I would hold on to my dreams and do something that mattered. At the time, I was not entirely sure what I was pursuing… but I knew with absolutely certainty that it was the opposite of money.

Ha!

To my credit, I did actually dig this trench and live in it.  I didn’t just talk about it.  Eventually I did find something to pursue and for ten years, I chased a far off dream. Something I loved. Something I thought meant something; something that, in my mind, contributed a small, but important good.  But strangely, it never quite worked.  I could never take it to the level I wanted, because something always got in the way. Get this – I never made enough money  I worked really, really hard. I learned things. I got measurably better. By my own definition I was living the dream.  I was doing something I loved, I was getting paid to do it and darn it, I was good at it. I did always have another job and a few extra projects on the side but I was doing it. I always had enough money. But just enough, because that is how the story went.  In truth, I just pushed my finances under the rug. I managed to almost completely ignore them except for the brief moments when the ATM would scribe sad balance sheets, which I would then immediately deposit into the trash with the stealth of a ninja; as if the truth would soon self-destruct and I could continue ignoring the problem. Life was good, but not good enough. I was not moving forward. Although my work brought meaning and passion, my path was not sustainable. This hurt. Money is how worth is ascribed to work, and although I was very proud of my work, my paycheck was a constant reminder that those around me did not seem to value my contributions as much as I did. I was struggling to hold it all together. My financial instability made me feel ashamed, but I felt unable to let go of my ideology of doing what I loved. I was exhausted and depleted but I kept soldiering on, as if I had no choice. This was the story. The story I had told myself for so long. I would pursue my heart’s path, but it would bring me neither wealth nor ease. This was my sacrifice. This was how I wanted my story to go because that way, my ultimate contribution would be righteous. I would have done good for the sake of good, and not for my own personal gain. 

Oh Ego…

“So…. how’s that working for you?” I remember my dad asking me so many times as a child and then so many more when I was a teenager. And when I finally got around to asking myself that question about my finances, I couldn’t help but answer, “not so good.”   Right before my eyes, my false beliefs began to crack. So I started asking myself questions. Lots of questions. Mostly dumb questions, but eventually I arrived on, “what if you were wrong. What if there is an intersection between passion and money. What if it is possible to make good money doing what you love? What if it doesn’t have to be such a struggle.” It sounds stupid, as I read that sentence again now. Childish. But I somehow vilified money in order to craft story where I was a hero forgoing wealth for some greater good. To be fair, it is actually kind of a good story – a parable of sacrifice. There is something in the mythology of martyrdom that has a certain pull with me.  But after wearing those heavy clothes for years, I found them to be a heavy burden.  I was weighed down by my beliefs and my abilities were constricted by the size of my convictions. But the moment I realized that it was possible that, just this one time, I was wrong, things started to change. I started to notice people around me who were doing good work, work they loved, and making descent money.  Then I looked harder and found others doing good work and making lots of money.  Moreover, others’ wealth did not diminish my view of them – if anything, it enhanced their ability to more good work.  Not only is it possible to do good and earn good – but if you can make it happen, you are rewarded with an amplified ability to do more.  All at once I started to see money as more like a useful tool rather than evil villain. Just like food, shelter, wellness and community if I looked after money – it would look after me. 

So now what…

After having figured this out. I again feel like a child. I pushed these things aside for so long, I am behind the curve now.  I look around and see some of those people I had once judged for abandoning their dreams for good jobs, and I find myself now envious of the secure lives that they created for themselves; solid platforms for good things. I, on the other hand, I am just beginning.  I have almost nothing to my name. I have invested everything in two fledgling ideas that may or may not go anywhere. But now, at least, I am working on it. Although I am still striving to make decision that follow passion, I am no longer willing to blindly follow passion anywhere. Instead I will choose to follow only those passions that lead to places where there is the income and opportunity required to contribute at the next level.  I want to be inside the intersection of passion and abundance. I am playing the game.  I have always aspired to be a game changer, but until recently I hadn’t really grasped how deeply you need to play a game in order to change it. To be honest, sometimes I miss my childish ignorance, because it was easier. However I would not go back for anything. Seeking a profitable passion may prove a steeper path and there are undoubtedly many people who are way ahead of me.  But I don’t care; this path is taking me where I want to go and I can’t do anything but follow my heart.  Moreover the journey from my old path to this new one, has been an interesting process for me. Through this experience, I was really able to see how my beliefs impact my experiences and life outcomes in profound ways. It also makes me curious about what other limiting beliefs I may have, and how they are impacting me. But for now, at least, I have been given a gift: a new outlook and a new prayer: may I be wealthy so that I might have more to give. And, I am genuinely excited to see where this new awareness guides my life. 

To anyone out there reading this, I pose two questions, “what do you fundamentally believe about money?” and “how is that working for you?”  I invite you to take a ten minutes and just think about money. Write down anything and everything that you think. Don’t judge yourself or hold anything back. Just write it down and let it go. After the ten minutes stop. Take five minutes and just look at this list. Don’t do anything.  Feel the words. Live in that reality. Then immediately take five minutes and write down the core beliefs that you want to have about money, using only positive statements. Look at that list everyday for a week. See what happens. I sincerely hope that opening this can may bring you as great of a gift as it brought me. 

Make Stress Your Friend?

Written by Morgan Smith

10/1/2013

Stress. Basically it’s bad. Adrenaline sucks.  The negative health consequences of stress are well known and documented.

I know this. But I can still feel myself holding on.  There is something about stress that I love. Something I struggle to let go.  Stress, or at least its euphemistic cousin busyness, is the new black. Ask 100 people how they are doing, and ‘busy’ is just as common an answer as ‘pretty good’ or ‘fine.’ ‘Pretty good’ and ‘fine’ basically mean I don’t really want too talk about it; but ‘busy’ really is an invitation to ask.  Ask, and then comes the epic story of struggle and woe.  Soldiers telling proud battle tales. Wounds not wounds, but badges of pride. The busyness, the struggle; it’s martyrdom and at the same time it is storytelling.  Some of those stories are great; but some of these stories are mountains that are not really mountains, but hills seen from the vantage point of a child. But even those stories, are still somehow endearing, because those stories are built on other stories. Like ill-fitting clothing hanging over a beautiful form, you can catch still catch a glimmer of what lies underneath. Even bad stories and sad dramas remind you of good stories. Other stories. Stories that are great. Stories where heroes overcome great obstacles to achieve good. Stories that leave me feeling as though I too, can conquer the world. All good stories have struggle; all great stories have more struggle. At its essence, my life, is a story that I am telling right now. Thus the logic follows: if I want my life to be a great story – I must struggle. In some sense, it feels like I must choose between the health and ease of some hypothetical stress-free life and the power of overcoming stressful events to achieve something beyond the edge of what’s been done. Reflecting on this subject over the past few weeks I have come to the conclusion that stress, like most things, is a matter of balance. 

On one hand there are times where I am manufacturing stress in my mind out of nothing; making mountains out of molehills. I have to remember to ask myself: what if I win and the true story was that it was easy? Not that I struggled and persevered and overcame all odds. But instead, that I diligently and consistently followed a plan, and then gracefully corrected my course as needed. What if it were a pleasant journey? Smooth sailing.  It may not make for an epic story, but it really feels like a wonderful life. I am so tired of all the struggle. But I am also afraid of the truth.  If I give myself the power to end this struggle: I must first accept that I have created this struggle in the first place; that I have caused my own suffering. Worse, what if my life already is all of the things that I have been struggling for.  What if the fulfillment that I have been chasing on the other side of that goal or dream is really already here; right in my face all along. But I have been so busy looking for suffering, that I have failed to see the ease that already exists. Beautiful things are happening all around me all the time but I cannot see them; blinded my own thumbs. What if I already have everything I need but I cant see that its there because my vision is blocked by my fear that it is not.  In a lot of ways I can simply let go of some of those trivial stresses in my life.  Below is a link to a poem that really inspires me to do so. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPU3t-x3Vz4

But then on the other hand, there are those important stresses.  The other legitimate ones that come from the moments that I am pushing the boundaries and testing the limits.  It is those stresses, born out of striving, that I really struggle to let go.  So much of my identity is centered around achieving and to let go of struggle can at times feel like letting go of success. If I imaging myself living a life totally devoid of stress, it is also hard to imagine myself doing great things and chasing my dreams. However I recently came across a brilliant TED talk that brilliantly illustrated that it is not so much stress, but how you approach stress that makes it bad for you, and that some contexts stress may, in fact, be good for you. This video was a powerful illumination for me about how to use stress to my advantage.

http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.html

So after mulling it over, I have ultimately come to the conclusion that my battle with stress is two fold.  On one side I need to learn to let go of the stresses that are artificial and unnecessary. But on the other side I need to take the stresses that are important as challenges rather than obstacles, for those stresses will make me stronger. Hopefully I can find that sweet spot somewhere between striving and ease. 


Self Help vs. Conscious Living

Written by Danica Crawford

10/6/2013

What is the difference between self help and conscious living? 

I am not a fan of the concepts of self help or self improvement.  We are all perfect just as we are.  All trying our best with what we have and the awareness/beliefs we hold.  Simply resisting  growth doesn't work either.   You may choose to settle for things that do not feel right or experience more fear than love. 

Self help:
Believing you are not "good enough" or that you "should" be doing more is a defeating lifestyle.  I often hear  people say "I get over whelmed with all the self help books I have waiting for me to read" or "I should meditate more, do yoga..."  This wellness to do list can cause anxiety and low energy.    Self improvement can seem like a broken persons crutch.   

Conscious living :
There is always more to learn, space to grow as an individual and the benefits of living connected. 
Awareness and expansion is supported by consistency and learning from others or new experiences.  Hearing the same thing with fresh ears and being open to experiencing new ways of thinking and feeling.  Connecting with others can allow us to see in different lights and feel confident in what we have to offer. 
Taking time to check in with yourself is like watering a garden.   Give yourself the TIME and SPACE to flourish.  

The words growth, connection, awareness and consciousness really say I'm here to get the most out of life.  I choose to be present, aware and in control of my choices.   

I choose to live inspired! 

5 Ways to Re-energize Your Relationship - Spring 2018 by Tammie L. Oram

After being curled up on the sofa watching Netflix for the past few months it may be difficult to pry ourselves outside and enjoy life once again. This time of year is perfect for getting stuff done and getting our love life back on track…no more excuses!

Here are some ideas to re-energize our relationships! That’s right…date nights or days…no excuses.

1) Rainy days are romantic days…get outside and breath in the fresh air while sharing space under the umbrella. Take some time to pick up a tea and head out to your local park or walkway and be present in each other’s company. This is not time consuming nor a vigorous hike just a meandering stroll arm in arm sharing an intimate moment and the sharing of thoughts and feelings of love and laughter.

2) Farmer’s Markets will start to come out of hibernation plan on spending sometime reacquainting yourself with fresh spring greens while meeting up friends as we enjoy each other’s company and sharing energy with our community. Support our local farmer’s and bring home some spring blooms for a special someone.

3) For our Active Couples…Golf Courses, tennis courts and other opportunities are dusting off getting ready to receive the public, now is the perfect time to get outside and soak up the sun.  Once our local trails are a bit dryer head up into the local hills to hike and immerse yourselves in natures’ splendor…don’t forget to bring a blanket and some refreshments to share while being present with each other and with Mother Nature.

4) What a better way to spend some Quality Time and servicing each other while working on a common goal…yard clean up or garden planning. Now is the perfect time to put in that garden you have been thinking about and when we work together with our partners, our children the bounty we harvest will be that much sweeter.

5) Don’t forget that with the warmer weather there is no need to wear so many layers!  Skin to skin contact is the best of the physical touch.  It is said that we receive a better quality sleep when sleeping au naturel and in close contact with our loved one. It has also been said that the smaller the bed the stronger the relationship!

Helping YOU Turn Over A New Leaf

By Tammie Oram, RTC, MTC, NTP Winter 2018

To ‘Turn over a New Leaf’ means to start over, to act in a different manner or change your attitude about something. Dates way back to the mid-16th century in writing references.

First, you’ve got to exercise your brain and practice a little mindfulness by coming up with a plan. Begin by having a very specific goal such as; I am going to increase my daily water intake to a minimum of 6 glasses per day. Or I will make a weekly healthy eating plan and grocery list.  I will go to yoga a minimum of 2 times/week. Keep it simple, over complicating it leads to disappointment leads to guilt and shame and then…nothing…let’s not go there.

Second, come up with a reward system…nothing that will sabotage your results…such as an entire bucket of ice cream after eating a healthy diet for a week. Come up with something simple, something you really enjoy doing such as relaxing with a good novel, a long soak in an aroma infused bath with pretty candles flickering, make or buy something you really have been putting off. Whichever you choose have a positive mindset and intention with pre-thought…I will reward myself by________ because I have made a healthy, positive change in which I followed through and accomplished my weekly goal! Yay me!!

Third, set out reminders! Can be notes to yourself…I am doing this because…pictures of a holiday destination, set your smartphone with inspirational quotes, set up reminders in your calendar, join a motivational group where there is a leader keeping you going OR start a group for like-minded friends and family.

Fourth, avoid situations where you know it’ll lead you astray. Sometimes it is unavoidable so make a plan and stick to the plan. Example: I will be the designated driver this weekend in order to avoid empty calories and I will not sabotage my healthy lifestyle goal. Mind over matter guys…strong, determination with the plan will help you out every single time.