Category Archives: love

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 34: Friendship

I’ve needed a lot of connection recently due to the secluded nature of my new life. I’m far enough away from my friends to make seeing them frequently a real challenge. Thus, today I am so grateful to the people in my life who continually make a concerted effort to reach out to say that they are thinking of me, because I am always thinking of them!

What I love most about friendships are the undertones of equality that the relationship is built on. True, sturdy, healthy friendships are the kind where both friends give and take symbiotically. I have some of the most amazing friends in the entire world, and while the closest of them are still a few hours trek away, I know that I am never alone and that I have a network of soul mates world-wide.

Today, I am grateful to all my friends, who have been my rock solid support through it all. I am also grateful to my friends who let me give, and who graciously take my support when they need it. Nothing makes me happier than to be able to give of myself unconditionally to a person who I know is going to give right back when I’m in need. I’m grateful for the heart hugs, the cuddle puddles, the out of control dance parties and the sharing of literally EVERYTHING (underwear and toothbrushes included!). I’m grateful for all of the soul-searching conversations, the break up counsels, resume and interview prep, howls at the moon, bottles of guzzled wine, pep talks, meditations, motivation and inspiration.

My friends and I would go to the edge of the world for each other. We’ve flown thousands of miles to reunite, and upon seeing each other, pick up without skipping a beat. This post is written with undying gratitude to all who have nestled themselves deep in my heart. So much love to you all.

XO,

Lizzie

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 32: Humility

Today, I’ve committed to writing my gratitude post about humility, though, admittedly, I am not 100% clear on the definition of the word itself. Perhaps because it’s one of those multi-faceted words that, as you begin to define it, evolves.

For me, humility often is associated with the quieting of the ego. It’s the force that de-puffs our chests and softens our footsteps and accepts our limitations. Being humble is also an act of gratitude and appreciation towards ourselves and others. A humble persons pays a compliment, lauds the successes of others, practices radical listening and does not make comparisons. What’s more, a humble person remains open to their surroundings. They embrace each moment with a sense of awe and wonder. They are connected to the gentle ebb and flow of the universe and remain in child-like wonder of the big picture.

Practicing humility is not something that I often think to do. In our culture we’re not taught to be humble. We hoard and brag and strive to get ahead at the expense of others. Paradoxically, we’re taught from a young age not to hurt each other’s feelings so we feign humility by disguising our accomplishments. But this too, is an act of comparison, because it stems from the belief that my success will make you feel inadequate. The result is often times a silent party full of self-approval and the simultaneous down-putting of another person.

In order to fully comprehend humility, however, we must fully comprehend the source of all things–love. I chose Christ as my role model, as we are in the Lenten season, but anyone who truly preaches a message of love can fully grasp the concept of humility. The source of all things is love–and when we can look behind the cloak of illusion, when I can love a stranger, as I love myself or those close to me, is when I break through the surface of humility. As I delve deeper below the surface, my humbled human form realizes that there is no separation between myself and another, myself and the beautiful flower on my side table, nor the things that we consider ugly and oppressive. The particles in me are the same particles spread through everything in the universe.

Today I am grateful for renewed perspective; I am a part of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I am small and humble, yet undeniably significant.

Image

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 31: A New Take on the Last Supper

Maundy Thursday (the celebration of the Last Supper, which took place on the eve of Good Friday) is a little less than two weeks away, but tonight I partook in a “last supper” of sorts. Tomorrow, I begin a 5 day juice cleanse, in which I will drink all of my nutrients in order to purify and reboot my digestive system. Combining the, “you are what you eat” philosophy with some Eucharistic theology of Christ’s Last Supper, the aim of my juice fast is to forgive,  purify and raise myself up in humbled grace.

Image

According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the last supper symbolizes. among many things, Christ’s humility; refusing to prove himself the Son of God, he humbly chose self-sacrifice over exhibiting external, miraculous powers. At supper, he broke bread with his disciples whom he acknowledged as his friends. The breaking of bread being the symbolic foreshadowing of Christ’s broken body, and the wine, the blood he shed to forgive the sins of humanity.

And though Christ may have expunged our sins upon his crucifixion, we continue to sin nonetheless. It is my belief that one of society’s greatest sins is our utter lack of appreciation for our vessel–the human body. In the United Sates in particular, where nearly 1/3 of children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese, large agricultural and pharmaceutical  industries are doing their best to make us sick.  Our diets are now scientifically linked to the sharp increase of  obesity related diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  We are encouraged/ duped to mindlessly consume processed sugars, foods pumped full of chemicals and preservatives, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and growth hormones; as a result, our generation is the first expected to live shorter lives than those of our parents! I find it outrageous, gluttonous and sinful that we actively disregard our privilege and participate in our own systemic demise.

Image

Thus, tonight, after my “last supper,” I began to think of a juice cleanse as being my way of offering some forgiveness to humanity for what we have done to our bodies as a result of our consumptive attitude. The Christ-like qualities I would like to embody–humility, self-sacrifice, friendship, love and divinity– will be the subsequent themes for my next five gratitude posts, as well as each day’s meditative intention while I fast.

Tonight, I give thanks to my belly full of  curried tofu and vegetables, roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potato wedges, and I look forward to revving up the Vita-mix, and experiencing all the challenges and rewards of purifying my body, mind and soul!

Amen, right on, shalom, salaam, namaste!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 29: Leggo my ego

Like any self-driven human being, I set standards, expectations and goals. It’s a way for me to measure my successes and to track my personal growth. Though the legitimacy of my progress is evident with just the slightest bit of self-reflection, I often run the risk of not living up to my own expectations. What’s more, I am also frequently let down by the actions of others whose standards, expectations and goals do not match my own.

Today I’m writing this post for multiple reasons, though particularly as a chance for me to acknowledge the fact that yesterday I failed to write. Not writing yesterday isn’t something I feel any panic about, though I do feel a sense of self judgement and disappointment because I didn’t complete my task sans flaw. I know I could just write two posts today and call my guilt good, but I’ve decided against that course of action because I want to reflect on the validity of leniency and letting go.

Image

Every so often we need to cut ourselves some slack. I once had a yoga teacher who said, “I don’t make my classes hard because I want you to push yourselves beyond your limit. I make them hard so you can recognize where your ego is telling you to do more than you are capable of on this day. When you find your personal limit, you are not weak for backing off, you are strong for telling your ego to let go.”

I remember being wowed by this statement, and it has never left me. I needed this reminder while I was walking the Camino. One day I pushed myself too hard and walked 40km. My tendonitis flared back up and, though it killed me to do so, I had to let go of the idea of walking every kilometer of the trail. It wasn’t going to be possible in the time frame that I had so I took the bus. GASP. But the lesson I learned that day was perhaps more valuable than the walking itself. I had to tell my ego, which wanted to boast that it walked EVERY SINGLE STEP, to be quiet. On that day, I couldn’t physically walk and I was stronger for recognizing this and taking the necessary measures so as not to hurt myself any more.

This lesson can and should be applied to ourselves as often as possible, but it is also very useful in relationships with others. I’ve had relationships, both friendly and romantic, where I’ve pushed myself to my limit in the search for perfection. My ego, is the part of me that registers disappointment in others. It’s a comparison of my desire with theirs that, when unequal, generates hurt. When my ego rears its head, which it does every so often, it takes the strongest part of me  to tell it to back off. My ego wants to attach itself to a story of disappointment, but my higher Self is so much bigger than that.

Letting go in relationships is probably the most challenging thing we, as humans, can do. In an attempt to control and perfect, we fail to see that everyone is on their unique journey through life. I’ve seen this with parents who push their children to be something they don’t want to be for the sake of monetary gain and “success”. I’ve also seen this with friendships and romantic relations where, though their paths have diverged, one or both of the people cling desperately to the past out of fear for the present.

What I’ve learned through both observation and experience is that the healthiest relationships are those grounded in non-attachment. This doesn’t mean that we don’t  care for and communicate to our friends, families, and partners, rather, it recognizes that their journey is transpiring simultaneously alongside our own. In order for them to live out their personal truth, they must go forth, alone, with your blessing, support and love. Attachment stunts those we love. Ego is attachment, love is its opposing force.

So today, my dose of gratitude is for yesterday’s non-post. I am grateful, once again, for the life lessons I’m learning through this writing experience. Sometimes these lessons come from a place of quiet awareness and non-action, and I’m grateful that I was attentive enough today to see this. I am truly grateful to my higher Self, which took the opportunity to learn as opposed to judge, and I am grateful to my ego for letting go of its self expectations.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 28: The head and the heart

heartcrosssection-labeled1Today I watched a movie called The Three Idiots. It’s a bollywood film about societal pressure to succeed. The definition of success– a large house, a lot of money, a beautiful bride and a fast car– was portrayed in stark contrast to the happiness we achieve when we follow our passionate heart.

The movie, a full three hours of pure Indian tongue and cheek, made a strong case for rebellion against societal pressure to amass wealth at the expense of happiness, and, in fact, argued that when we are living out our life’s purpose, we actually are so much more apt to attract in both monetary and emotional wealth.

Thus, today, I am grateful for my heart, as it so rarely lets my head win an argument. I am grateful for the strength of my amazing cardio-vascular organ and it’s ability to lead me forward. Every important decision I’ve ever made in my life has been at the whim of my heart, and I appreciate such reminders like this film, to continue heeding to the call of my pounding kick-drum heart.

 

Tagged , , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 26: Health and Well being of the Mind, Body and Spirit

Being kind to ourselves is something that most people need to work on. For me, it’s always been extremely critical to keep a healthy working relationship with my mind and body, because the synchronicity of the physical and mental is astounding. When the body feels bad, the mind responds appropriately. For many women, myself included, we have lived our whole lives subject to the male gaze and under the thumb of advertising companies. Beauty magazines, diet fads, and wounding comments from our peers, both female and male, are internalized by our psyche.

I’ll never forget my first negative realization of my feminine form, when, in the 7th grade, one my male friends told me I was fat. Until that point, I didn’t have that kind of understanding of the fleshy form that my soul moved through life within. But that day, that moment, those words have never gone away. Ever. My adolescent mind played ugly tricks on me and I began to look into the mirror and see what was wrong with me, not what was so perfectly imperfect and beautiful. I began to devour hateful rhetoric against the feminine form, reading magazines like Cosmo and Vogue. I compared myself ceaselessly to others, and my self-satisfaction and esteem suffered as a result of the hate I ingested into my body. Because my mind corresponded so intuitively with my body, somewhere in that vicious cycle, I drew that energy into my bones, my tissue and my cells.

Unlearning all of this is a process–one that I work on thoughtfully almost every single day. A delicate balance of health and wellness must be kept, and if my body is feeling good, my mind feels the same. Healthy eating, exercise and meditation are the tools I use to keep the peace with myself.

Today, I woke up with sore muscles from yesterday’s yoga class. I got up, dressed in the stretchiest clothes available and walked to a Bar Method class. My muscles trembled and my legs shook like there was an earthquake taking place in my body as we pulsed through pliés and relevés, ab curls and arm weights. After class, I could hardly walk down the stairs, and I smiled knowing that I am going to hurt so good for the next 3 days… Honestly, if I can walk tomorrow, it will be an absolute miracle.

But I am grateful—so grateful—for that stiff, sore, achy feeling in my fatigued muscles because it’s a reminder of the hard work that goes into the process of unlearning, which I need to maintain a healthy balance between my body and mind. This year, in particular, I’ve committed to slowly and mindfully breaking down all the barriers to Self-love that were the direct result of various adolesccent traumas. Little by little, I am peeling back the layers of self-dissatisfaction that have built up throughout the infinite lifetime of my soul, and especially in this lifetime, where my poor mind and body have taken a significant bullying from society and, admittedly, from myself.

My soul, however, is more transcendental, and has taken this healing quest upon itself in order to learn some valuable lessons. I’ve learned that comparison is perhaps one of the most useless forms of self-disparagement. Each and every one of us has our own set of trials and triumphs, strengths and weaknesses. It’s more productive to work with each other, than to constantly strive to be like someone else. Our uniqueness is what makes for a more healthy social order.

I’ve also learned that self-awareness is a practice. It’s not something that you achieve, but something that you constantly work towards maintaining. It’s perfectly normal to forget how good you felt after yesterday’s run or the hour-long meditation you did. Life is constantly changing and throwing new situations at us. We have to roll with the punches, because the punches are what makes life a  fun and challenging learning experience. Through constant self check-ins, we can help up keep the fine balance of mind, body and spirit.

Thus today, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and will inevitably continue to learn. I am also grateful to my body and mind, and for the balance that I have cultivated through exercise and healthy eating in the last two days. (I’ll have to remember to be extra thankful tomorrow when I try to get out of bed and my glutes, traps, biceps, abs, calves, and thighs scream like the chorus of a Slayer song.) And, of course, I am infinitely grateful to my inner guide and closest companion, my spirit.

Image

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 19: Bittersweet Transitions

There are multiple moments in my life where transitioning from something comfortable into the unknown has been electrifying, yet all together bittersweet. Leaving behind people and places in order to embrace the unfamiliar is never easy, and I have done this multiple times throughout my late teens and early twenties as I moved away from home and subsequently made my way all around the world.

Though I feel that this transition into some semblance of an “adult” life is well underway, it has brought up lots of of reflections on all the people and places in my life that were once brand new– all the strangers that became friends, places that became home.

I always think back on these people and places in fond reminiscence, and there are so many little triggers that quickly jog my memory of them. I can smell Burkina Faso. I can dance San Francisco. I can drink France. I can hear Morocco. I can walk Spain. These small things, which act as portals and transport me through time, if only for a minute or two, so that I can relive a beautiful moment, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by beautiful friends. And when I come back to the present, it’s always with a smile and a sigh. A smile of thanks for all the day’s that have been seized, and for all of the amazing people whose presence has graced my life. But also, a sigh of longing for the days gone by,and the people who are now so far away.

Thus, today I am thankful for the smiles and sighs, because I have been blessed with countless opportunities to discover the world and to befriend genuinely amazing people. They are a reminder that each one of my fond memories was once an uncomfortable new beginning, which blossomed into something worth longing for when it passed.

And if I am able to remain aware through discomfort of the new life chapter I’ve begun, I can let the wave of bittersweet memories wash up on the shore of the present moment, and offer up some gratitude to those people and places who have made my life so meaningful.  I must continue to breathe myself back into the present moment, so that I am able to create new memories here and now that will ultimately be worthy of a smile and a sigh sometime down the road.  There-were-some-memories-1024x884

Tagged , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 17: SPRING!

ImageToday, I give thanks to the changing seasons and the insight they offer up about our natural rhythms.I am grateful to winter, nature’s way of reminding me to go within and search through the depths of my soul for clarification. And I welcome Spring, a season as much in transition as I, as the time to sow my seeds and to tend them diligently with love and patience.

 I am humbly reminded by the equinox that we, too, are the fruits of Mother Earth. It is easy to forget the cycle  when we believe we can are in control of it. But if this East Coast winter has proven anything to me, it’s that our Mother doesn’t play around!  When she says it’s time to crystallize and be still, we have no choice. We are her children, and we shall obey.

Let us be grateful to yesterday’s vernal equinox and for the reunification of Mother Demeter with her daughter Persephone! As Demeter rejoices,  she will once again allow us to thaw our aching winter bodies and resume a more active way of life!

Happy Spring! May your gardens grow!

Lizzie

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude — Day 16: Back on My Mat

Today was the first day in over a month that I’ve shared in the collective energy of a yoga class. And let me tell you, I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I feel right now. These past few weeks have been so full of change that I haven’t been able to remain very present. Going to class today reignited the fire within me to focus on the power of the moment. Being in a class of 40 sweaty, om-ing yogis was the exact kind of energetic lift that I needed to remind me to come back into my body and find center.

This practice of being present and centered is a life skill that I began exploring through yoga. When I began practicing I was swimming in the shallow end of what I like to call the “yoga pool.” Granted, I was never averse to the om-ing or philosophical side of yoga, but I loved the physical aspect of it, and that was what always brought me back class after class. As I began to see my body change slowly over time, and I could access new postures like chaturanga (push-up) or sirsasana (headstand), I began to swim into the deep end of the pool. Along with developing higher physical capacities, I also began to open up my mind and heart to the higher levels of yoga.

This is how turned my life upside down(ward facing dog). I began to devour spiritual texts and to meditate outside of the allotted savansana in class. I started reflecting and developing a true practice that used the Vinyasa concept of flow. Moving with the breath, linking the postures fluidly with the inhale and the exhale. An hour of concentrated breathing through difficult postures on the mat, allows for us to flow through life’s challenges when we are off the mat.

I flow in and out of this relationship with the divine, as I can easily become wrapped up in being human. These past few months for me have been very human. I’ve known that somewhere in my heart I can always tap into my divine if I choose, but I have been busy and have made little time for my practice. But today was the kick start that I needed. All it took was a room full of devotees to unleash the divine within me and remind me that I can always tap into infinity.

Today I am grateful for getting myself to yoga, for our teacher, Scot at Yoga to the People, and for all the yogis who got got their butts kicked along side me as I shakily attempted postures that I once took for granted, and sweated out all wine I’ve drunk in the last 2 weeks!

Image

Namaste!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Attitude of Gratitude — Day 10 : Arriving Home

The last few days have been incredibly social for me. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my staff and my colleague from Boston, and finding the time to write a real post has been challenging. It just goes to show the ebb and flow of life, and inevitably things will slow down significantly come April when I have a full fledged schedule and things are a bit more routine.

The fact that my usual routines such as going to the gym, meditating and doing yoga have fallen by the wayside this past week are not of concern. It is crucial that I take the time to nest and invest. I need to know the area, I need to know my colleagues, I need to buy throw pillows for my couch–all essential in the nesting process.

This evening, I invited my team over for dinner and cooked a hearty vegetarian meal. It was nice to sit around a table and entertain. It made my apartment fill with energy, and it felt natural to cook and chat and share. As I make this place feel more like my own, I realize how important is to me to have a home and to share it with the people around me.

The more I invest in this place, the more successful I will be in this job. Thus, I want to put my heart and soul into making this apartment feel like home as well as making Long Island feel like home. The impending future of my career may actually be tied to the throw pillows on my couch, and the spices in my spice rack and the pictures hanging on my walls. The more I have invested, the more I will give. If I can give as much positive energy as possible, I will manifest a very positive experience for everyone involved.

They say that home is where the heart is, and let’s be real, I’ve left my heart in many homes. My heart lives in Vermont, San Francisco, Burkina Faso, France, Morocco, and Spain. I never could have imagined that my heart would invest itself in this new opportunity here on Long Island, but that’s the beauty of life. We never know, and we can only imagine.

So here in this moment, I am imagining my heart (and my home) being full of positive growing experiences, and I’m truly grateful for this lovely space to call my home.

Image

Tagged , , , , ,
Advertisements