by C.HeavenNezCree Kirby
If it hasn't happened already, there is going to be a morning when you awaken, stumble to your bathroom, stare into the mirror and feel uncomfortable with who you see looking back at you. You may see a new line on your face or notice an unfamiliar plumpness taking up residence around your jawline. Those things can be fixed, easily. A slather of face cream nightly will do the trick on those pesky wrinkles. But what happens when you look past your own eyes and see something much more painful. A dream unfilled, the lingering effects of childhood bullying or the ache of self doubt that may be dancing just under the surface of your soul.
Healing these issues takes time, but it's time well spent. And, you'll need to step out of a comfort zone or two to conquer this healing. You can't do it alone. Here's the thing - we, humanity - are a collective bundle of energy dispersed in many bodies. Fascinating, huh? We are all connected. When a piece of our spirit falters we need to connect to with a kindred spirit who can infuse us with positivity. I can hear someone thinking, "What if I have no friends?" Check this out. It's gets even more interesting. The person you need, the kindred spirit you need is right there inside of you.
See, something as simple as saying hello to a friendly cashier or exchanging a smile with a gentle stranger passing on the road is enough to allow the light back in. Being in the collective positive energy sparks our personal life force. That spark is what we need to jump start our SELF back into a place of love.
Getting outdoors is mandatory even if it's done in "baby steps". Each day, take another step forward into the breeze and I guarantee one morning you will wake up and find that you are back in love with who you see in the mirror. If you need something more concrete to get you back into a long-term relationship with yourself, here's a list. Start checking :) See you in the light.
1. Pay attention to your emotions. They don't lie.
2. Be okay with not being okay
3. Smile - at your reflection, even if it hurts.
4. Talk to someone, and if there is no one, get it all out by journaling. It truly does help.
5. Understand that no matter what, you will be in a long-term relationship with yourself. Make peace with that, right now.
6. Meditate and pray daily.
Four lessons that can simplify your life!
by C.HeavenNezCree Kirby
Who hasn't had a moment where they felt like they were being unfairly judged? Let (s)he among us who has never made a rash mistake in judgment cast the first proverbial stone! I see there are no hands in the air. Yes, I can see through my screen, but that's another blog for another day.
This space right here is dedicated to The Four Agreements. Author don Miguel Ruiz crafted an impeccably simple guide for navigating through life when he wrote this little book. The approach that is laid out in this book is so simple that it's scary to think how difficult we make life. Essentially there are four agreements that we need to make with ourselves:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
When I was the Director of Arts Education for a non-profit based in Los Angeles, I worked with teens in grades 9-12. Our facility had computers that were made available to the students each day after school. I decided to set the password for each computer to "AlwaysDoYourBest". Imagine how that phrase sinks into your mind if you have to type it everyday. Imagine the sweet joy it brought me to hear a student ask for the password and another student would shout back across the room, "Always do your best". See, for me, this agreement held the most weight. I felt that if I do this on a daily basis, and I can get the people around me to do this, then the other agreements would be easier to keep. Stay with me as I explain how.
In order to not make assumptions you have to ask questions. This can be intimidating in an unfamiliar setting. It's even harder when you are the person that everyone expects to have it all together. However, in striving to always do your best, you realize that you need as much information as possible to make the decisions that will set you up for success. This approach is similar to old adage of "measure twice, cut once". This also means that you can't attempt to decipher what a person means. If you're confused, ask. If someone says, "Good Morning" and you don't understand, then go ahead and ask them what they mean by good. Okay, that's kind of funny. I would giggle just a little if someone asked me that. But don't let that stop you from getting the clarity you need. Don't make assumptions so that you can always do your best.
You smile at someone on the street and they look down or barely return the gesture. Your first impulse may be to get upset and pass all sorts of judgments, decide they are rude, etc. Before you let your imagination wander to the bad side, put on your empathy armor and walk a second in their shoes. Maybe they just ended an overnight shift after being on their feet for ten hours. Perhaps their bills are piling up and there is no solution in sight for them. The bottom line is their failure to return a beaming smile has nothing to do with you. Neither do the millions of other thoughts and small doings that people perform on a daily basis. Don't take anything personal. Doing so only takes away time from you always doing your best.
Finally, and this is super important for you to always remember. The words we speak have power. Words are magical and as sure you can curse someone out you can bless them up. Too often we feel that all silence needs to filled, but allow yourself to think before you speak. Because once those words are out of your mouth there is nothing you can do. Apologies don't erase it and you can't literally take it back. Your words represents you and you are on a mission to always do your best, so be impeccable with your word.
I encourage you to gift yourself a copy of The Four Agreements by don Miquel Ruiz, find a quiet space to take it all in and promise yourself that you will always do your best.
It's not that complicated.
by C.HeavenNezCree Kirby
A few years back, I was invited to go on a hike at Los Angeles' Runyon Canyon. I'd never been, however I'd heard stories about the site and was eager to visit. It was early Fall, so there was a bit of a crispness in the air. I choose to wear a light sweatshirt, black jogging pants and my black slip on sneakers. They were super comfortable and no-fuss. Plus, I didn't care if they got dirty. I grabbed the camera I had at that time - a Canon DSLR and packed a sling bag with lenses. To say I was excited would be an understatement. First time hiking, the chance to take amazing photos and time spent with one of my most favorite people in the entire world. I was set for a day of exploring nature.
However, what I did not know is that Runyon Canyon - at noon, on a weekend day - is not really for leisurely strolling while taking serene photos of nature. Nor did I know that for my friend who is a former Marine, this was to be a workout - not a stroll about.
So there I was in my grey sweatshirt and black pants with the intention of warding off forest critters and instead I found myself in the midst of the largest Los Angeles free workout known. I watched people zip by me. Men, shirtless and sweaty - women in tiny two piece workout outfits. And my friend - the former Marine....yep, he was in the perfect clothes for Runyon Canyon. I told myself to just enjoy the moments even as the crowd of people swelled and the sounds of nature were drowned out by ringing cell phones or conversations overheard in passing about the latest party spots.
As we walked on, I stopped taking pictures when I realized my stop and go pace was slowing us down and I just tried to keep up my pace. My sling bag of lenses bumping against my leg in steady rhythm of thumps didn't help. The soles of my tread bare, black slip-on sneakers were clearly out place. I found myself unable to stay in step with my friend because my shoes simply couldn't grip the slippery sand-like dirt. There were boulders to climb up and run down. As much as I wanted to keep up, my baggage and my shoes wouldn't allow me to move deftly or nearly as fast.
I felt like a dead weight. Later that evening I looked through the few photos I'd snapped and I could see glimpses of the beauty contained within Runyon Canyon. Yet, I was consumed with thoughts of my shoes and the lack of tread.
I think in life we somehow assume that everyone's shoes will work in the same way as our own. But it doesn't work like that. We all come in with our knowledge of what the trails will look like or what the atmosphere will be and, if we are lucky enough, have foresight, knowledge or someone who is able to tell us all of the details of what to expect. Then we can plan and make arrangements so that we show up ready to participate in a way to helps us to grow.
But oftentimes we don't know what we are walking into. We enter situations with limited knowledge and a preconceived notion of how things will be and then imagine our desired outcome based on those two things.
No matter which side of the 'dress-code" we are on, we have to tread with empathy. We have to approach our understanding of how another person is dealing with a situation from a place of complete willingness to see all of their baggage and give it light.
This, I believe, is the basis for the argument of defining equity vs. equality. And even further, it provides a way to understand the saying, "some people are born on third base and think they hit a home-run." Certainly hiking uphill is easier while wearing deeply treaded shoes than slip on sneakers with a flat rubber sole. Certainly graduating from college with a $75,000 trust fund is easier than graduating with a $75,000 student loan debt. We have to tread with empathy when observing, listening, exchanging dialogue.
The ability to see another person's circumstances through their own eyes can be learned. It takes stepping outside of our point of view and allowing our ego to drop away while we process, without judgment, what is taking place in their lives. Treading with empathy means we take a good long look at the other person's "shoes" before we suggest they pull up by their own boots straps. Upon closer inspection we may quickly see that there are no bootstraps to pull.
My friend, the Marine, walked with empathy on that Fall day. I could see that he wanted to run and full-on sprint, and yes at times he did jog on ahead. But he always looked back to see about me. Eventually we walked side by side.
Tread with Empathy.
Yes. No. It's as simple as that.
by C. HeavenNezCree Kirby
There are two powerful words and both on their own are a complete sentence requiring no further explanation unless you feel so compelled. Saying yes or no are definitive one syllable statements that clearly mean what they say. You know what is else is true? The fact that you will be challenged to further explain yourself 90% of the time you use either of these words as a complete sentence. And that challenge is going to come from within. You will hear the question, know the answer, provide the answer and yet something will rumble inside of you making you provide an explanation.
You are offered a piece of desert and say "No, thank you." Almost immediately you may feel the need to explain your diet or you latest cleanse or your finicky food allergies. Trust me when I tell you, saying no is enough.
You've recently come off the above mentioned cleanse and are at your favorite restaurant. A friend asks if you are really going to eat all of that. your response, "Yes." There is no need to explain why you are hungry or why you will be making a second trip to the buffet. Saying yes is enough.
Yes and No are in and of themselves a very complete thought, so why do we feel the need to explain ourselves. One simple word can sum that up and that word is doubt. We don't trust that our instinct and wisdom are strong enough to carry our "yes" or "no". There may be a need for validation of our choices. Or, we don't want to offend, or offend too harshly. However, if you are speaking from a place of agape truth, then there can be no genuine offense taken.
You are important enough and should know that even your small words have a big meaning. Stay true to you!