On Embodying Our Calling

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My favorite poet/teacher these days is Mark Nepo. No one helps me live more mindfully and deliciously than he does.

Today I feel I MUST share here this passage with you from The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.

It speaks to me so beautifully about what is like to embody our calling. I’ve been contemplating the concept of embodiment for a few weeks now, but this is the first time I’ve seen it attached to callings.

What is calling to you? What do you feel called to do, to be, to experience? Often, we don’t hear any calls, but from experience I know that the calling is always there and it’s only through slowing down and turning down the volume of a busy life, that we can hear that voice calling to us.

May we make listening to that voice a priority.

Here’s the excerpt.

“To know God without being God-like is like trying to swim without entering water.” -Orest Bedrij

Underneath all we are taught, there is a voice that calls to us beyond what is reasonable, and in listening to that flicker of spirit, we often find deep healing. This is the voice of embodiment calling us to live our lives like sheet music played, and it often speaks to us briefly in moments of deep crisis. Sometimes it is so faint we mistake its whisper for wind through leaves. But taking it into the heart of our pain, it can often open the paralysis of our lives.

This brings to mind the story of a young divinity student who was stricken with polio, and from somewhere deep within him came an unlikely voice calling him to, of all things, dance. So, with great difficulty, he quit divinity school and began to dance, and slowly and miraculously, he not only regained the use of his legs, but went on to become one of the fathers of modern dance.

This is the story of Ted Shawn, and it is compelling for us to realize that studying God did not heal him. Embodying God did. The fact of Ted Shawn’s miracle shows us that Dance, in all its forms, is Theology lived. This leads us all to the inescapable act of living out what is kept in, of daring to breathe in muscle and bone what we know and feel and believe – again and again.

Whatever crisis we face, there is this voice of embodiment that speaks beneath our pain ever so quickly, and if we can hear it and believe it, it will show us a way to be reborn. The courage to hear and embody opens us to a startling secret, that the best chance to be whole is to love whatever gets in the way, until it ceases to be an obstacle.

Mark Nepo

When You Hate Your Job | How To Live Your Bliss

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Last week, someone sent me this email, and I thought I would share my response here, since it’s a question I get often. I hope it’s useful for you as well.

QUESTION:Mariela – you are someone who usually gives me good spiritual advice …. What do you do when a job/career brings you down & makes you feel like you can’t accomplish anything? I want to just quit but I have to support myself some way…. I have an idea to start my own business but then doubt creeps in … Any advice? I know you’ve mastered this many times.

ANSWER: Hello lovely! Sorry that took me a little bit to reply. I wanted to have time to sit and reply to your note with the level of attention it requires

First, know you are not alone on this. So many of us feel or have felt this way. I remember reading on Forbes in 2014 that more than have of all Americans are unhappy at work. There’s an epidemic in this society. Most of us feel this enormous emptiness inside, from doing unfulfilling work.

I adore this quote: “There is only one way in this world to achieve true happiness,” said William J. Reilly in 1949, “and that is to express yourself with all your skill and enthusiasm in a career that appeals to you more than any other. In such a career, you feel a sense of purpose, a sense of achievement. You feel you are making a contribution. It is not work.”

I think you need to create an exit strategy and stick to it, because you love yourself too much to stay in an environment that is bringing you down.

SHORT TERM: 1. As a short-term fix, I would do an exercise called: “The Positive Aspects Of.” During the day at work, focus only on the positive aspects of being there. Example: the paycheck, the nice desk, that one really lovely co-worker, the view from the window, the fast computer, the cold water in the cooler, etc… When I’m in situations or places that bring me down, I have trained my mind to become hyper-focused on the positive; I go out of my way to find the good, the beautiful, the useful… Or I think about someone I love, and I allow that love to spread through my body and bring a smile to my face. I can be stubborn that way, only focusing on the positive; it’s the best kind of stubbornness, IMO. smile emoticon But it takes practice.

2. The importance of self-care is something I’ve learned the hard way. I used to laugh at people who talked about it. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I literally didn’t have time, but I was forced to make time. And I have to admit, I also felt uncomfortably guilty about practicing self-care, and I’ve seen so many women feel the same. But the truth is, when we don’t practice self-care (which I describe as nourishing yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually) we have a harder time dealing with work situations and people, our minds aren’t clear on what steps to take next, and we don’t have the strength to leave.

Just putting these two strategies in place have worked wonders for people in my circle… and for myself too.

LONG TERM:

3. At some point soon, I think you should find another job. I’m not talking about a permanent job; just one that pays the bills temporarily but is not soul-sucking. I’ve seen many people do that (although they had to make sacrifices, cutting down on expenses) but with a less-stressful job you’ll have more energy to dedicate to the long-term strategy of doing work you absolutely love, work that is authentic to you, fulfilling to your soul, and helpful to the world. Some of us get caught up with the ego saying things like: “that kind of work is below yourself, your skills…” “What would people say?” “You didn’t get a master’s degree for you to work at a flower shop.” When that happens, we must remind the ego that this is temporary, that we have a strategy in place for the life we want to create for ourselves. Following through with a dream is one of the most empowering things ever. You feel you can do anything after that, and according to, again, William J. Reilly “Life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want.”

4. For going solo, I recommend, again, becoming single-focused on knowing yourself and your skills. Who am I? What do I adore to do? What does the world need from me? It takes time to answer these questions. I took me a long time (years) to figure it out, but, of course, it’s so worth the inquiry, and I still have half of my life ahead to do that work.

I really found the concept of Ikigai (attached here) very helpful. I would print it, spend some time playing with it, and put it on a wall where I could see it every day. It’s fun!

5. This last advice can seem less practical, but it’s my favorite, because it’s effortless. Several people have said the same in different ways, but I love how Tom Kenyon puts it: “following your deepest sense of joy will lead you to be in the places where you will most likely survive.” I believe that my joy will always guide me, even if the path ahead is dark. I believe that by nurturing myself and my dreams, doing what bring me joy daily, is the path that will lead me to fulfillment. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s healing. It’s the way!

I hope this is helpful to you. I’m sending you a hug. There’s nothing worse than spending 8 hours a day (40 or more a week) doing work you don’t love. Patience, courage and determination are needed now.

I’ll never forget the day I “woke up” and decided that something had to change. I continue to wake up to different areas that need change, and I give myself a strategy and time-line now, working daily toward that dream.

Much much love to you. Hope to see you at church one of these Sundays.

The Courage to be Authentic and Live your Bliss

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My friend Amy interviewed me a few months ago for her podcast. It was a wonderful conversation about SLOW LIVING, AUTHENTICITY, AND BLISS. If you have some time, you can listen to it here. It’s fun and it flows so well.  Much love!

“This week, I talk with my good friend Mariela, who has made some major life shifts to produce a life of bliss. For her the process was all about becoming authentic with her true nature and giving herself permission to connect to the things that enlivened her and disconnect from the things that were draining her. This meant lots of deep soul searching, ending a business and starting life over. Facing this type of change can be frightening for many of us to even contemplate. Fear of the unknown, of what comes next, is the reason why so many of us stay in jobs we dislike, in relationships that are unhealthy and never take that leap of faith to see how we could be living life differently.

I hope Mariela’s story and words of encouragement are inspiring to you if you’re nervous about making a big change in your life. It’s never too late and you never know what surprises, rewards and miracles are on the other side of the leap!”

Courage to be Authentic and Live your Bliss

 

On Being Multi-Passionate

Many of you know my story, about how a few years ago I left behind a look-good-on-paper financially-stable professional career to Live my Bliss, to follow my passion… Except that I didn’t know what EXACTLY my bliss was… It wasn’t that I didn’t have any passions; I had too many.

I felt I needed to make a decision moving forward. “Should I be a writer? A photographer? A film-maker? An artist?  A public speaker? A facilitator of women’s workshops?”

I think I lost part of my hair trying to answer those questions. It was impossible for me to pick JUST ONE profession, but somehow I felt I HAD TO!

And then one day, OhMyGoddess, one day I had this clarity… No, this clarity had ME. I didn’t have to choose. There isn’t a career police, a law, that says I’m supposed to have ONE profession, that states you are only supposed to help others in this ONE way, and that you have to be that one thing ALL your life.

That was, perhaps, the most liberating day of.my.life! That struggle. Gone! Boom baby! I can be whatever I want. I can let my spirit guide me to make a contribution to the world, to make beauty, in whichever way it chooses.

That’s what living on your terms means. And it feels fabulous! 🙂

Since then, I’ve found lots of research to back my case, especially from happiness and creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who found after studying thousands and thousands of creative people, that they are often multi-talented, multi-passionate.

He wrote: “If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity. Instead of being an individual, they are a multitude.”

I love that! A multitude. Reminds me of Whitman.

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

I also love this quote from Emma Watson on the subject:

 

 “I want to be a Renaissance woman. I want to paint, and I want to write, and I want to act, and I want to just do everything.” Emma Watson

 

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I think we should all have the freedom to be a renaissance kind of person.

Recently I found this video on the subject, and I was like: “Damn! I wish I had found this earlier.” It would have saved me a lot of headache. So here it is. Enjoy!

Lavender Farm Visit 2015

Sunshine Lavender Farm opens its doors to the public only once a year, the first Saturday in June, and it’s always a delightful visit. Since I’ve visited before, now I don’t feel like I have to explore so much and can just sit under their big shade trees to take in all the beauty around me… and savor their lavender ice cream 🙂

 

Click here to see the whole gallery from my visit yesterday.

 

 

 

Celebrating the Pause of Winter

We have been snowed in most of this week. Just yesterday we got 5-6 inches of gorgeous, white fluffy snow, and we got to play outside for a while; what fun that was.

But for the most part, it’s been too cold to be outdoors, and I find myself cherishing this weather, welcoming the stillness it brings, and allowing it to heal me with its quiet and slow pace.

My whole body is filled with gratitude for this time, this space, this light, this warmth, which makes possible for me to gather within myself to reflect, meditate, and create. I’ve been spending hours each morning in this tiny meditation area, which delights my soul.

Yes, I’ll be happy when spring comes, but not before I savor completely this gracious winter we have had (at least here in North Carolina).

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