Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Intentional Awkward Pause

The Intentional Awkward Pause is a very effective tool in becoming a better listener and conversationalist. Usually we try to avoid awkward silences at every chance, but here's a way to become comfortable with pauses and use them to our advantage.
So often we think we are listening, but we're not. We have a person talking to us, voices in our minds talking to us, opinions blaring about this or that, all the while our friend thinks they have our full attention. It can be tricky to fully pay attention to someone, especially when you are bored with what they are saying or if you are so excited you can't keep your mouth shut.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone was telling you something you could completely relate to and after every sentence you wanted to interject with an excited agreement or point of advice?
This is where the IAP comes in handy. Here's how it works:

A person is talking to you and once done with their sentence they pause. (This is where you would normally come in.) Instead of saying something right away, intentionally wait ~3 seconds before replying. By not saying anything right away, the person speaking might continue to open up to you. They might realize the solution to their problem on their own, or feel a desire to connect to you deeper because they can feel you are listening. This gives you the chance to see them, not just for what they are saying but how they are saying it, the emotions underlying their words.

For me, using this tool keeps me patient and present in the conversation. It makes me appreciate the other person's expression and their perspective rather than force my own onto them.
I suggest you try it and see what happens, comment below if you see any differences in your interactions ^_^

I found this cool trick from a woman on YouTube named Marie Forleo. She has a show called MarieTV where she talks about creating a life and business that you love! Check her out!

Monday, July 28, 2014

I can't say no to love

Sitting in my basement is making me depressed. Not because it's dark, or smelly or dusty. This is the exact place where I used to sit all night and talk for hours, laugh about the smallest things that seemed like the biggest. This is where I've been spooned and kissed and loved and made to be the most important person in the universe. And that's gone now. The very person who I shared these fantasies with ignores me, is angry at me, probably wants to wipe me from his memory. All because I couldn't say no to love.

I was barely 16 when he confessed his love to me. He was 24. He was a traveling rapper with red flaming hair who could probably have any girl he wanted, and he wanted me. I had never had a real boyfriend before. I didn't know how to kiss. I barely knew how to talk to him! But I wanted to know. I wanted to know what it felt like to be held and adored and in love. On the golf course that night, I felt like my heart was beating so loud it was distracting me from thinking. All I could do was listen to him communicate his feelings and absorb. I was a sponge, full of a mysterious liquid and I liked it. This was the first time we were ever alone together...

Over the next few months, we started to have 'a thing.' It became more serious over time and we truly were falling in love. This is what I wanted. This is what I had never had before.

Time challenged us to be what we had become. Were we just friends who happened to love making out and sleeping next to each other? Were we in an open relationship? Did we want to just be together? When did monogamy mean kissing the other's best friend on her birthday? Did I want to be in a relationship at all?..

We were in a cosmic dance, I became him and he became me. We shared ideas, feelings, desires, beliefs, fears. We slept under the stars together, made love in the forest, hitchhiked across the country, motivated each other to save the world and become our best, we asked questions, provided answers. The lines blurred and my heart was tied up to all these feelings and dreams, intentions and promises. It was beauty to the point of tears. It was romance to the point of heartbreak. It was sensational to the point of bursting.

The past couple of years, my mind has revolved around him and me. What we created and what we were going to create. As we grew closer, as we discovered our similarities, marriage came into the future picture. My 17 year old mind couldn't think of saying no so I said yes. It wasn't formal or concrete, but it was spoken. It was committed and proclaimed. And if I said no, pain was inevitable, right?

How could I hurt the person who says he loves me more than anyone else in his life? How could I hurt the man who says that he has never felt as connected to anyone more than he does to me? How could I take that away from him? How could he give me the power to do so?!

I couldn't say no to love. At the beginning of this relationship, I was so innocent, so unexperienced, I didn't know what I was getting into. I had no way to conceive of what my heart would go through, how I could be shaped and molded by this man.
At that age, I wanted to be with him for the experience more than I did to be with him specifically. I had nobody to compare him with, no ideal to reach for so I had no reason to say no.
He on the other hand had plenty of past experiences, one night stands, fights, heartbreaks and sex that he knew exactly what he wanted. He knew what kind of girl he wanted to be with for the rest of his life!
I was just happy to be exploring myself, to feel this much affection and pleasure and share it with another human being.

We gave each other our hearts, but I decided I wanted to take mine back. I needed to. I can't stay the 16 year old girl who craved romance now that I know what he wants, what he is seeking, and who he is. It's not fair. I don't have what he wants, I don't want what he wants. I had to let him go so we could be set free. I need to make my own decisions, learn life lessons from my point of view and not what he had done or regretted not doing. I can't share all of my desires and feelings and beliefs with anyone! I need to give myself the time and patience to grow, to compare, to understand, to listen.
It's hard to let go of someone you relied on for so long, someone you trusted would be there for you, would be your provider.
I am still shaken and heartbroken and messy, but I'd rather be that way then pretend to be solid and strong and stable. I can't pretend that I know exactly what I want. I can't pretend to be satisfied.
There's so much in this infinite world for me. There are so many people to meet, places to visit, ideas to consider, and feelings to share.
 I simply can't say no to love.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

They way we treat them.

The way humans treat animals. From our perspective, we would love to think that we treat them kindly. We give them homes, we play with them, we pet them, we take them on walks, we make nature documentaries celebrating their beauty, we breed them and cross breed them, we make idols out of them even. 
But, from their perspective I don't think we come off very nice. We lock them in cages, we force feed them bland pebbles of dehydrated meat, we ride on them for entertainment, we force them into zoos where they have little space, we cut down their habitats to create farms where we put them into factories to be raised for food, we cut up their bodies and eat them, we take their eggs and babies, we take them out of the oceans in mass quantities to make money off their carcasses, we do scientific experiments on them, we attach images to them to justify the way we treat them, and so much more.

Now, I know that sounded awful. And most people haven't been to a slaughterhouse or behind the scenes of a circus elephant's life, or in a laboratory testing tumors on cats so we don't think about it often, or ever. But, as a species, we are destroying the other species of this planet. And I think it's time to take some Response Ability. Because we can change it. 
We've all seen commercials for the endangered life of polar bears or pandas on tv and wanted to cry. We've all seen the little tags for the WordWildLife, an organization that funds conservation action around the globe. So we know that things can change, we see these changes and want to help because this planet is beautiful! It's so rich and abundant, the biodiversity is a joy and it brings us happiness to learn about new species. So let's keep it that way.

So my question is, why do humans feel the urge to dominate over the other creatures on this planet? I thought we were stewards, not slave masters! It's sickening to see a man kick his dog for barking excessively. When animals get hurt, we can physically feel it. We can feel the suffering of animals. If you have ever seen a slaughterhouse video (which I recommend everyone should to know the truth) then you know that animals do suffer. And we can feel their suffering.
I'm done hearing the pish posh about how animals aren't sentient creatures. OH REALLY? Well then, tell me why a mother cat stays with her babies, teaches them how to defend themselves, feeds them, cleans them, LOVES them. Dolphins are shown to have a better social memory than we do. They remember the sounds of their companions, even after they have been separated for 20 years! When one dolphin dies, their family stays with them and honors them, like a sort of funeral. Animals have the ability to express intentional behaviors, they have complex nervous systems, detailed communication centers in their brain, they have the ability to express emotion with their voices.

Animal sentience is a fact that we can no longer argue. There is profound and large evidence proving it. Coming from that basic understanding, we can take action to protect them, make sure they have what they need to live full, healthy lives and die a natural death- not caused by our violence and technological misuse. 

For me personally, realizing the sentience of animals was enough to make me stop eating them and their products, stop buying leather, buy products only if they are 100% cruelty free and not tested on animals, etc. This motivation was caused by me being EXPOSED to the truth. 
If you have not yet seen it, please watch the documentary Earthlings. You can find it free on youtube below in the link:

This is not about going vegetarian/vegan or becoming an activist, this is simply about respecting the life on this planet. Honoring the free will of animals and saying Yes to their life. Humans are very powerful and we have the opportunity to destroy this planet or create paradise. The choice is in your hands. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Response Ability

Ever wonder if humans chose to incarnate here in these bodies or if we were commanded to by some mysterious godly force or maybe even another race of human-like beings.
Ever think about the ability to choose every thought we have or choose our attitude about the circumstances in our lives?
If you know about the Law of Attraction you might watch your thoughts because you know that what you think is what you get.

I call the innate choosing function within every person, our Response Ability. We exercise this Response Ability every single day, every moment, every thought, every feeling. For example, you wake up and have endless options for what you want to do that day, what you want to get out of that day. Maybe you take a shower, maybe you go jogging, maybe you call a friend, maybe you write a 5 page paper on why you love being Irish. Besides just what we do we also exercise our Response Ability in how we think. So you wake up and maybe you dread getting out of bed, or maybe you jump out of bed excited and ready to take on the day, maybe you get up slowly and stretch enjoying the first breath of the day, maybe you start crying because you remember some tragedy that happened last month, maybe you get up and feel so confused as to what you really want to do...

All of these responses are chosen. Wanna know why? Because despite our circumstances, despite our relationships, our lifestyle, our finances, our appearance, every single person in the world has the opportunity at every moment to say: 'I am going to be my best today. I am going to remain optimistic despite what my life looks like because I know everything is just getting better, I am getting healthier, I am making better decisions and choosing better feeling thoughts because I know I can have what I want. I am the creator of my life and I will not settle for anything less than beautiful and joyful and fulfilling. I am going to live a life I love because it's simple. I am going to utilize my resources and have gratitude for what I have.'

Even though many of those thoughts might be hard to choose for a person who's depressed or someone who is extremely unhealthy, we always have the ability to improve our thinking even just a little bit. If we practice this Response Ability conscientiously and take RESPONSIBILITY for everything in our lives we can no longer fall victims to our own lives. This might sound terrible to some because it's a hard thing to do, but it is the most satisfying, empowering, life enhancing thing we could ever do for ourselves.

Once we decide to change, nothing can get in the way. Consistency is key, just like exercise or learning to play and instrument, or learning a new language or riding a bike. Improving our thoughts takes consistent fine tuning as we learn to feel better and see life as a ride instead of a burden.

If you want things in your life to change, you have to change things in your life.

One positive thought is more powerful than 10,000 negative thoughts.

You reap what you sow.

If you continue to think what you've always thought, you're going to get what you have always got.

A great exercise to start thinking better thoughts is to write it down! Ask yourself what you want? What makes you happy? What foods make you feel good? What things do you want? What do you want to learn? Anything that gets you excited, feeling good, and inspired.

I will write more posts about this topic so please keep checking for new articles and Keep Going! You have already come so far!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Saddest Picture From Space

200 miles from Earth, a man sits in a spaceship looking down over the beautiful planet we know as home. He gazes down over the lights, the darkness, the contrast. Then as he realizes the location of the spectacular illumination, his heart sinks and tears pour from his eyes, but he cannot look away. 
This is the sight Alexander Gerst was witnessing when he might have experienced what I wrote above. The location is Isreal and Gaza underneath blaring rockets and bombs exploding in the night. Anyone looking at this photo is witnessing murder, despite the disguise of elegance and luster, despite the distance, despite your definition of murder. If you were to zoom in, you would see people dying, bloodshed in the streets, cries and screams in small towns, people panicking, and parents trying to reassure their children it would be alright even though they don't believe it themselves. 
We can't visually see any of this in the picture, we can imagine it, we can feel it and we know it hurts. And It doesn't have to be this way. 
What makes people so angry that they resort to killing each other? What makes people feel so much resentment that they cannot control their actions? 
I have a certainty that anyone who could hurt people are very hurt themselves. My maternal instincts want to hug the violence and rage out of them and ask them, what hurts? What is wrong? I want to hold them while they cry. I want to talk their anger right out of their hearts so they can surrender to what feels good. 
Even though these thoughts are sad and difficult to bear, it's important to acknowledge the internal struggles going on in the humans propagating wars. It's important that we as witnesses do not propagate the war inside ourselves by harboring blame or resentment for these people because then, on a smaller scale, we are just doing what they are doing: projecting our pain onto others so that they must suffer with us. 
I ask that you forgive and love these people, have compassion because they are human just like you. I know you have gotten made at someone at one point in your life. You've hit someone out of deep anger or hatred. You've yelled and screamed at someone you love. You may have even killed someone.
War is a larger expression of those same emotions. The same feelings you have felt are the same feelings that are causing the war. Once you understand that, it's easier to have a little compassion for terrorists or serial killers because they are people too. And they just need  love.