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<Drums Rattle Djembe Doumbek>

Rising Gratitude

October 30th, 2014

For the broad-winged hawk sitting on a wire, then rising up, spreading its wings, and gracefully soaring above me. For majesty, thank you.

For the pink sunrise that reaches across the sky during an early morning commute. For beauty, thank you.

For the October vermilion sunsets that blazes over the water reflecting the deep colors within. For light, thank you.

For the relationships that fill my life with love and laughter. For meaningful connections, thank you.

vermilion sky (2)

Posted in Gratitude | Toning the Om

Acorns for a Penny

October 22nd, 2014

AcornsWhen I think about how easy it is for me to live fully aligned with who I am with what I do, I think back to the story of selling acorns for a penny. Back when I was around seven years old, my sister, Dawn, and I filled an old blue baby carriage with acorns from our street. My sister and I would walk on our block and pick up acorns that landed on lawns from the large oak trees that surrounded our neighborhood. We went door to door and asked people if they wanted to buy an acorn for a penny. I have a vivid memory of seeing the smiles on the adults’ faces when they looked at the two of us selling acorns. No one turned us away. They all bought acorns from us – many even bought five or ten acorns.

I don’t imagine anyone needed acorns in their homes. They bought them because they knew the Flanagan girls, because it was a unique idea, because they saw the childhood joy on our faces, and because it was a reasonable price. Now as an entrepreneur, I think back to the days of selling acorns for a penny. I model my life and business after that experience. All of my work is based on building relationships, sharing unique ideas, bringing joy, and offering classes and private sessions at a price that allows for accessibility.

When people feel good about paying for something and want more, then I’ve done something far better than “selling a product” – I’ve made an impact, created a change, and built sustaining relationships.

Isn’t that what being ourselves in the world really all about? Life really is about showing up fully, joyfully, vulnerably, and creatively.

By the way, I have more acorns for a penny if you want some.

What is acorn story? What gifts are you sharing in the world?

How are you living fully aligned?

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

Meditation: Happiness Arrives – In Perfect Timing

October 20th, 2014

As I walked on nature trails last week, I decided to pause and record a five minute meditation on happiness. I felt so happy to be outside walking in nature and bird-watching. Looking out onto the water and trees, I paused and began an impromptu meditation. I usually record whatever I am feeling in the moment so I began to record a meditation on happiness. As you will hear in the meditation video, I invite participants to draw in happiness with each breath and expand happiness with each exhale. As I began to wrap up  the meditation, I was speaking about how happiness arrives when a flock of birds flew around and landed right in front of the camera. :Happiness arrives – in perfect timing.” Please watch and pay attention to the last 40 seconds of the video as it was unplanned, and yet, arrived in perfect timing.

Wishing you happiness~


 

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Change the Station

October 8th, 2014

JVC-radio-knobIs there a negative mantra or phrase that is echoing inside you?

Is there a thought that is getting in the way of your freedom?

Seek spaciousness of the open mind, the free mind, the happy mind and the peaceful mind.

For some, ridding the thought, mantra or emotion seems too difficult. Instead, you are invited to lower the volume and change the station. Allow your mind to listen to the station that resides in your heart space.

Ask yourself: What opens my heart? All of those answers will give you more information of your journey.

Perhaps we can start by lowering the volume to what is getting in the way of peace. When we lower the volume of unpleasant thoughts, we make space for more peaceful thoughts to arrive. If we want freedom, why stay in (negative) mental captivity?

Our mind is a refuge of peace if we allow it to be. When we inquire about our thoughts, we become less attached. Meditation helps us become observers of our mind.

Notice what is rising to the surface and if you need to, lower the volume so you can breathe into it and gain clarity. Scan your mental activity and find an entry point.

Lower the volume and find the place of play.

Change the station inside to one of peace.

Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Arousing the Wild Cosmic Heart

September 25th, 2014

I have been reading a lot of David Whyte’s poetry as I plan and prepare for my upcoming retreat in Hawaii, The Wild Cosmic Heart. I have been reading about what arouses, awakens, opens, shifts, transforms, and lifts the heart. What would it take to listen to our wild, cosmic heart? As Whyte wrote, “Sometimes everything has to be inscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.”

In his book, Crossing the Unknown Sea, there is a poem that speaks to becoming more visible, to risking everything to becoming alive.

Heart Flower in HawaiiThere is a lovely root to the word humiliation – from the latin word humus, meaning soil or ground. When we are humiliated, we are in effect returning to the ground of our being.

Shedding the carapace we have been building so assiduously on the surface, we must by definition give up exactly what we thought was necessary to protect us from further harm. The outlaw is the radical, the one close to the roots of existence. The one who refuses to forget their humanity and in remembering, helps everyone else remember too.

To die inside, is to rob our outside life of any sense of arrival from that interior. Our work is to make ourselves visible in the world. This is the soul’s individual journey, and the soul would much rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s.

If you want to explore your untamed heart and risk becoming more alive, then join me in Hawaii on March 1-7, 2015 where we will explore the vast sea of our hearts.

Only a FOUR spots left for the upcoming retreat on the Big Island. To reserve your spot, click here

Posted in Wholehearted | Toning the Om

Always Just a Thought Away from Peace

September 24th, 2014

As I sat in heavy traffic yesterday, I realized it was going to take me at least two hours to get home from work.

With each passing minute on the bus, I began to watch my thoughts.

I remember my thoughts going something like this:

This is going to be a long ride home.

At least I have pretzels in my bag if I get hungry.

Wow, at this rate, I hope I get home before midnight.

People are walking faster than this bus is moving.

How nice to have a quiet ride.

I can use the couple of hours to catch up on some reading.

Perhaps I will listen to a podcast.

Now I have a good 30 minutes to write on the bus.

Ah, I can meditate with the Insight Timer App for 10-20 minutes.

Look at that light. The sunset is going to be beautiful.

What a sweet bus ride.

When I walked in the front door, I felt relaxed and calm.

Yes, I am only just a thought away from peace.

Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Raise the Volume of Love

September 18th, 2014

“Do things that light you up with people who light you up for people you love to serve.” ~Jonathan Fields

What happens when you bring 250 people from all around the world together to immerse in inspired learning, to connect on deep levels, and to play like a kid? Magic. Pure magic.

I signed up for the Camp Good Life Project as soon as the invitation came to my inbox and couldn’t wait to experiences of 3+ days of learning bliss with writer, entrepreneur, and venture builder,  Jonathan Fields.

Before the Camp Good Life Project this past weekend (known as Camp GLP), I had some life changing experiences. In June, a good friend found out she had a brain tumor. In July, my mother-in-law passed away. And by August, I was running a NYC mentoring program solo. Plus, a foot injury, fatigue, and dizziness slowed down my exercise.

By the time I was ready to leave for Camp GLP in September, I felt worn down, exhausted, and still full of so much grief. I decided that since the camp was only a 90-minute ride from my house, I would still go. So I threw clothes in a bag and packed my journal, flashlight, and my drum in the hopes that a few days away would rejuvenate me.

GLP Camp 2014Upon arrival, I was greeted with big smiles, bubbles, and a warm welcome. I thought, “I can do this. I have no idea what I am doing, but I can do this.” Later I was greeted with big hugs from Stephanie and Jonathan Fields.

The weekend was a chance to reconnect with my love of service, creating community/tribes, and leading heart-centered work in the world. And for 3+ days, I had the chance to immerse myself in ways that would engage my mind and heart like I never did before. There were workshops on time bending, tea-blending, hand-lettering, mindfulness, podcasting, book-binding, visual branding, crowdfunding and so much more. And if that wasn’t enough, there was so much time to PLAY! The camp included a bonfire (with s’mores!), color wars, swimming, rock climbing, wearable art, and a talent show.

By the end of the weekend, I realized it wasn’t really a matter of “doing” anything. I just needed to show up – as is. And whether singing at a bonfire or writing in my journal or crying by the lake, it was perfect. I realized it wasn’t about not knowing what I am doing, but rather it was about being all of me.

Camp GLP was a powerful experience – not just because it gathered beautiful world-shakers and makers together. But Camp GLP was powerful because there was reminder throughout the whole weekend to ask and listen for the power of living a Good Life.

The weekend was a deep experience of what can happen when we gather with intention, inspiration, service, and practices of the heart. It really is life-changing.

As I sat writing and coloring in my visual journal in the Capture the Wow class (with the awesome Cynthia Morris) and the Hand-Lettering class, I kept drawing and writing the words, “Raise the volume of Love.”

As soon as I wrote the words, I relaxed into my beingness realizing I had all I needed for my life, my business, my work and my connection to nature and Spirit. I am (still) learning to integrate my heart-centered work with all the emotions of the heart. And my Good Life Project is becoming more clear – to raise the volume of love.

Camp GLP was more than a weekend or an event. It’s what one of my friends would call “a happening.” It felt like a movement – a stirring towards alignment meeting action.

So, when people asked me what I learned at Summer Camp GLP, I smile, and say:

Raise the Volume of Love!

Big shout out to Jonathan Fields, Stephanie Fields, the Crew, KC, Cynthia Morris, the volunteers, and all the campers at CampGLP! Thank you for raising the volume of love.

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Posted in Happiness | Toning the Om

The Wardrobe of Grief

August 27th, 2014

boat shoesAs Join Didion writes in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, “Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.”

After the recent death of my mother-in-law, the memory of wearing grief returned. My wardrobe of grief is not only the memory of the clothes I wore for the wake and funeral services. The wardrobe is the grief worn the days, weeks, and months after all the services have finished and the return to daily living begins. It is the one not many people see because it is worn on the inside.

The wardrobe of grief is the memories that keep us going when the tears flow down our face. It is the senses that hold the memories. The wardrobe is filled with the recollections of the favorite clothes worn by those who have passed away: My mother’s sweaters. My father-in-law’s boat shoes. My mother-in-law’s well-worn slippers. It’s the inner and outer garments that often carry the memories for those we love.

Didion writes, “Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. Virtually everyone who has ever experienced grief mentions this phenomenon of waves.” All it takes is a song, a place, or just seeing my mother’s blue bathrobe hanging up, and I am filled with immediate waves of emotion. Fourteen years after my mother’s passing, I still have a closet full of grief.

Grief turns out to be an experience of memories – both painful and joyful. Grief is a uniquely transformative experience and takes us to surprising places and unearths responses we could never imagine, like talking to an American flag, or a candle, or a set of rosary beads.

Over time, the wardrobe changes and new styles are worn. The wardrobe is comforting. And when it no longer serves its purpose, it will go back on the hanger.

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Greet Yourself with Kindness

August 6th, 2014

In the article, How to Sustain Your Meditation Practice, Sharon Salzberg writes:

I used to feel, very early in my practice, that mindfulness was awaiting me somewhere out there; that it was going to take a lot of effort and determination, but somehow, someday, after a great deal of struggle, I was going to claim my moment of mindfulness— sort of like planting a flag at the top of a mountain.

Quiet Moments in HawaiiMy view of the matter was expanded and my understanding transformed when I realized that mindfulness wasn’t inaccessible or remote; it was always right there with me. The moment I remembered it—the moment I noticed that I was forgetting to practice it—there it was! My mindfulness didn’t need to get better, or be as good as somebody else’s. It was already perfect. So is yours. But that truth is easily forgotten in the midst of our busy lives and complicated relationships. One reason we practice is to recall that truth, so that we can remember to be mindful more and more often throughout the day. Regular practice makes mindfulness a part of us.

Meditation is never one thing; you’ll experience moments of peace, moments of sadness, moments of joy, moments of anger, moments of sleepiness. The terrain changes constantly, but we tend to solidify it around the negative: “This painful experience is going to last the rest of my life.” The tendency to fixate on the negative is something we can approach mindfully; we can notice it, name it, observe it, test it, and dispel it, using the skills we learn in practice.

Find a practice that works for you. It may mean trying different methods and seeing what you like and adapting it. The important thing is to keep the practice going. See your meditation practice like the greeting of a newborn baby – exciting, new, embracing, and with so much love and kindness. Greet yourself and your thoughts with kindness. You deserve it. We all do. 

Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Book Review: Nothing Changes Until You Do

July 14th, 2014

I met Mike Robbins, author and speaker, in 2004. I had invited him to give a workshop about appreciation to a group of youth development staff in the South Bronx. He lit up the room as soon as he started speaking. Mike gave an inspiring talk on appreciation and really paid attention to the dynamics of the youth staff. His talk inspired me to create a (physical) gratitude container where I save notes of kindness and inspiration. I still collect notes and cards of gratitude to this day. I also made a gratitude folder for emails. It is so helpful to read them on days I need a reminder of all the good stuff in my life. When his new book, Nothing Changes Unitl You Do, came out last month, I wrote to Mike for a copy. After it arrived in the mail, I put it on bookshelf and left it there. Deep down I must have known the book would hit a few chords. I opened to the first few pages where Mike spoke about being with his mom during the last few days of her life and what that taught him. I was crying though the first few pages. This resonated with me because my mother-in-law is on hospice. The waves of grief and gratitude flow daily – as do the tears.

nothing-changes-until-you-do-cover-flat-236x368Nothing Changes Until You Do is filled with Mike’s stories about his journey and what he has learned and is still learning. Many of us may be familiar with the lessons Mike writes about, but the book invites us to take a deeper dive into how we can live with more compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. He explores the bigger questions and invites reader to explore various topics such as being gentle with ourselves, trusting our gut, loving ourselves, and giving ourselves permission to make mistakes. As Mike writes in his book, “Sadly, many of us don’t have a very healthy or empowering internal relationship and there seems to be an epidemic in our culture of self-criticism, self-doubt, and thinking that our inherent value is directly connected to what we do, the status of our relationships and family, the money we have, our appearance, or any other number of external factors. None of which is true.”

As someone who reads a lot of personal development books, what I really appreciated was listening to a voice that felt real, honest, and vulnerable. We need more books that celebrate vulnerability – and Mike Robbins does that with his stories about himself, his family, and his work.

My take-away from the book is to remind myself that life isn’t a race to the finish line or to the top of the mountain. It’s a journey – and interconnected journey. As Mike says, “The important thing to remember is that when we’re willing to be real about the tough stuff that happens, we give ourselves the opportunity to learn, heal, grow, and connect—fundamentally important to the journey of life.”

One thing I found helpful was making each chapter heading a journal entry and spend time with each topic. I highly recommend this book and listening to Mike Robbins.

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Posted in Learning | Toning the Om