This post began as I was working on a guided meditation for homework in my yoga teacher training. I wanted to create the meditation around the theme of my class flow “choosing from the heart”. And so began a journey into my own heart…
When we choose from the mind, we use logic, perception, conditioning, memories, ego. The results of our mind-choices may be self-absorption, self-importance, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, self-service, self-protection, in short…all about self. What effect would our actions from this mind-choice then have on the outcome of a situation, relationship, teaching, disagreement, human-suffering, political or religious stance, world-hunger, war, natural disaster? We are all of us on this spinning sphere, we are all of us connected to one another, aware or not. We go through our days, not recognizing the pain and suffering all around; reacting and acting from our mind-choices, perhaps leaving even more suffering in our wake. Surely we meet some living being everyday of our lives who needs a kind word, a smile, an encouragement, a hug. Surely we pass some living being everyday of our lives who does not have shelter, adequate food, who has lost a loved one, who is destitute of mind, body or spirit. Surely everyday our energetic body is connected with other energetic bodies, humans or non-humans, who have longings, needs, desires…who cry out to be heard, to be fed, to be healed, to be loved. But our mind-choices keep us focused on self.
What then would happen if each morning, we made a conscious choice to approach our day from the heart? If we tuned our heart-beats to the great beating heart of humanity; if we connected at a heart level to those beings we passed by each day. If upon leaving our house, we smiled at our neighbor whose child is afflicted with illness, whose parent is suffering from dementia, whose income has dried up, even though they parked in our space the evening before. If we paid for a cup of coffee for the next customer in line, and the next and the next. If we picked up a piece of litter the car in front of us tossed out, even though it wasn’t ‘our problem’. If we looked into the eyes of the checkout person at the grocery, and made a heart-to-heart connection, instead of avoiding eye-contact. If we let that other driver take the spot closest to the door on a stormy afternoon. If we listened to the evening news with love and compassion instead of logic and self-preservation, or worse, self-righteousness? If we listened with our hearts instead of our ears. If we allowed our hearts to feel, truly feel the hearts of others.
How would our actions change? How would our actions change us? How would our actions change the world?
It is easy to close our minds to suffering, but quite impossible to close our hearts to suffering. With open hearts, with hearts open to all hearts, what is not possible? Can you feel the beating of your neighbor’s heart? Can you feel the tugging on your heartstrings for the plight of a stranger you will never meet? Can you allow your heart to fill with compassion for a stray animal, a hungry homeless person, a child who has never known a parents love? Can you first connect to your heart, and then from your heart to their hearts? Can you make your next choice from your heart-center, instead of from your mind? Will you?
You alone hold the key…the key, of course, is choice…choose from the heart.
Is there any boomer alive that hasn’t danced to this hip-bumpin song by James Brown? I mean, it’s impossible for me to sit still when my playlist rolls around to Get Up Offa That Thing! But not so long ago, I might have injured myself bumpin hips with my honey, because I was just too sedentary.
You know the saying “use it or lose it”…I know it’s true, because I was very close to losing it as a result of not using it. The trouble is that too many times I planned to use it, I thought about using it, I intended to use it, but one day passed after another, and I still hadn’t used it. My body, that is…
So what’s a girl (or guy) to do? Well, I would like to say it’s simple, but in reality it takes more than intention to actually follow through. Just like with anything else, you have to develop self-discipline and self-motivation. And for whatever reason, our brains just tend to convince us that tomorrow is soon enough. But I chose to rewrite my own story, finding a way to begin to strengthen my motivation / discipline muscle.
As my About Nancy page states, I am a passionate, visionary artist who believes that choice is at the heart of personal sovereignty. Further, I believe everyone has creativity deep within their bones, placed there by the Great Creator, and that we can choose to access that creativity in every area of our lives. I believe we can co-create our own stories, crafting a life-well-lived. I believe we can choose to honor our spirits, our minds, and our bodies. I believe our lives are a rich and powerful tapestry woven together by all our choices.
And so, here I am at Life Is Sweet Studios, choosing to set my intention to help myself and others create a sweet life each and every day. But how did I get here? Read on…
One day (or week or month) I had some realizations. Actually more like epiphanies, because I believe true epiphanies become imbedded in our psyches, causing an awareness that has a good chance of leading to action. But back to my epiphanies…
I was entering my late fifties, and hadn’t been regularly active for 8 years or more. I had had several joint injuries, and a couple of broken bones. I looked and felt young for my age (at least in heart and mind), but my body was telling a different story. It just plain hurt. My joints were stiff, my bones were achy, my muscles had lost strength and tone, and my flexibility and range of motion was less than it had ever been. I didn’t have the same sense of balance as when I was younger and my posture was becoming painfully poor.
I noticed that all of this combined to make me move more slowly, and dang it!…like an old person! And it dawned on me that when we allow this to happen to us, we become much more prone to having an accident, as well as developing physical illnesses and mental impairment.
I had been spending all my time and energy on ‘artful’ pursuits (you can read the ‘about me’ which explains my on-going love affair with art), which fed my spirit’s creative urge, but in doing so, I was neglecting the piece of art that was my body. I mean, the body is an absolutely incredible creation, and I was frittering it away by neglecting movement and not nourishing it properly! At the same time, I was watching the daily decline of my dear MIL due to Alzheimers, and wondering what I could do to help protect my mind from that insidious disease.
So, I began researching some of my aches and pains, as well as ways to improve overall quality of life, and in doing so discovered I had lost the life balance that is necessary to nurture body, mind, and spirit.
I set about making changes in my life, starting with my diet. I was not really overweight but had a family history of diabetes and breast cancer, and my research informed me that inflammation is a key factor in these and other diseases. I read The Inflammation Free Diet Plan by Monica Reinagel, and began to make changes to decrease my intake of foods with high inflammatory ratings. For me, this translated to a high protein, low (bad) carb diet. The result of this one change was astounding! In just a few short weeks, my aches and pains had dramatically decreased.
I added in several minutes of stretching each day, as well as a weekly massage. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was doing a great thing for my body, beginning to rid myself of body ‘fuzz’. (See Dr. Gill Hedley Fuzz talk) I tried a few yoga classes and found one that really resonated with me (Kundalini at Kundalini Rising in Nashville), and also purchased some Kundalini Yoga dvds by Maya Fiennes to extend my practice at home. I sought and found some great guided meditations on YouTube. I also discovered a sensory-based movement practice called Nia, and have just recently returned from a 7 day intensive Nia White Belt training, with a fabulous trainer, Kelle Rae Oien. A few months ago, I would not have believed I could have participated in, much less survived, such an intensive training program, but here I am…more determined than ever to choose to change my life.
And so, it has become my life purpose to help myself and others regain life balance, craft a live-well-lived, find our creative muse, deepen social circles, learn new practices, and nourish and move our bodies…and to do so with joy. In short, to bring a wholeness to my life and to the lives of others…bringing bodies, minds, and spirits back to life. That is what Life Is Sweet Studios is all about.
So, get up offa that thing! And dance, shake, twist til you feel better!
Ok, I have a secret…I love sock monkeys. Until recently, I was in the closet about this because at 58, sock monkeys are maybe just a little too juvenile. But, I walked into Cracker Barrel with my darlin’ this morning, and there, side by side, I saw these two. How could I resist either one?
These two little guys (or gals) just made me stop and think about how different they are. One is so ultra-traditional, in a sock monkey kind of way, while the other is letting his or her freak flag fly. Just like these sock monkeys were made in different colors, we humans are as God created us. When He was gently sending our souls out to exist in this world, I’m sure He wasn’t thinking about how much more he loved one form or color more than another. As the Creator, He must have felt that feeling that one can only feel when releasing a creation to the Universe.
If only we could see each other the way God sees us, we might for just a moment experience peace across this globe. Just like the video by India Aire and Idan Raichel, featuring her song Gift of Acceptance, can we give the world a present…the gift of our acceptance? If you haven’t watched this video, check it out here…
I am very honored to be a member of the Red Thread Nation, a juicy collaborative of women artists committed to changing the world through creativity! Check out the video below that was presented at the United Nations on March 4th, presented and curated by my teacher, mentor, and friend, Shiloh Sophia McCloud as part of the panel “Women and Violence: Human Rights Activism Through Arts and Film”. The video features 126 images in acrylic painted by women around the world, and yes! a couple of my paintings were included! These paintings were created as unique and powerful healing visions using the Color of Woman Method as taught by Shiloh Sophia.