My daughter was walking around the house, singing lightly to herself.
"I'm so proud of myself, I'm so proud of myself......!"
The cause for pride? She had figured out how to braid her doll's long hair.
Luciya, like many children, has always had a natural and unabashed view of herself and is still able, at 9 years old, to feel free and happy in her self expression. Her "motivational posters," as I call them, turn up all over the house. In fact, I've started posting some to my Instagram accounts with the hashtag #luciyaswordclouds because they're rad.
A few years ago (probably around the time of the Happy Hair Braiding Song), I discovered a word cloud she'd made using the letters of her name:
And there came one of those wondering moments, where childhood suddenly seems at once so far away and at the same time so deliciously appealing.
Those of us who enjoy the arts will write to sooth our upturned souls or meander through our journals and sketch pads with thoughts of ache, or deep empathy, or the power of discovering ease and joy.
But it's rare that we'll sit down in simplicity with the singular thought of "I'm awesome."
So, I tasked myself with homework inspired by the genuine beingness of a child, and I made my own acrostic poem.
The trick here is to let go of both humility and ego. It's okay to claim badassery, or wonderfulness, or honest truths that aren't all "aw, shucks"-y. The other trick is to not over-think it. Just flow.
What would your acrostic name poem look like? Share in comments!
A FREE five-day exploration in identifying your deepest desires. Start anytime. When you're ready, you'll know.
Based on the best-selling book The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte
You want it.
Aspiring. Hoping. Reaching. So you make a plan to get it. The bucket list. To-do lists. Objectives. Goals.
You’re not chasing the goal, you’re chasing a feeling you hope the goal will give you. So what if you first get clear on how you actually want to feel in your life, and then set your intentions? Game-changer.
Created by Danielle LaPorte, The Desire Map is a tool for holistic living. It puts your Core Desired Feelings at the heart of your goal setting and life planning. And it all begins with YOUR FEELINGS.
Want a taste? Introduction to The Desire Map is a five-day digital exploration in identifying your deepest desires. It’s the first part of the Desire Mapping process.
Desire to Feel Better? Ya, you do.
“Knowing how you want to feel is the most potent form of clarity you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerful thing you can do with your life.”
— Danielle LaPorte, Author & Speaker
WHAT YOU GET FROM THIS COURSE:
‣ Daily exercises sent to you for tuning into your inner desires.
‣ Bonus recordings for some auditory love.
‣ Clarity on how you feel and how you want to feel.
Breathe, lightly and easily, and feel the solidity of the earth beneath you. The earth is your playmate; it is enamored with your presence against its surface. Let its constant, dedicated strength hold up your passionate and surrendered body. Open you heart to its healing flow of energy. Breathe into the rich and boundless energy of the earth, which keeps us, literally, grounded. Let gratitude fill your heart. With each inhale, let your body fill with fresh, clean, healthy oxygen. As you exhale, let your shoulders melt and your body sink a bit deeper. Nestle in to this beautiful space.
Now see yourself walking across this land. Pick a path that feels comforting and supportive to you. Let a light breeze caress your skin. Face the rising sun, and walk toward it.
As your feet follow your path, allow you mind to conjure the image of you as your best self. Untethered, uninhibited, fabulous and free. Ahead of you is the New Year. Its warmth and light are pulling you, gently, toward the highest and holiest visions you know to be true for yourself.
Let your steps carry you toward the sun. Let your heart feel the promising vibrance of its pull. And know that, when you reach the light, you will get to declare your intentions for the coming year.
As artist Georgia O'Keeffe says, "You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare."
Think of the boldness of making a declaration. This is not something one does lightly. But in the promise of a new dawn and a new landscape before and around you, open your heart to your willingness to declare your accomplishments.
Tell the sun, "I declare....."
Tell the sky, "I declare...."
Let your heart say, "I declare....."
Feel the unwavering solidity of the earth beneath your feet, absolutely supporting you in your declaration.
You are open. You are free. The world is ready for your best self. What accomplishments are you willing to declare?
Wishing you a happy, wholesome, blessed and refreshed New Year. I believe in the promise of this day. I believe in the fulfillment of your wildest declarations. I believe in you.
Peace settles around me like a blanket and I feel secure.
Love swirls around me like a hearth's glow and I feel safe.
Joy envelops me like a hug and I feel grateful.
Though the wind breaks away the brittle leaves and the ground glitters with ice, I let the swell of gratitude in my heart grow inside, and it strengthens my bond with my best self.
November is white-blue speckled with brown-rust,
The sun a bold and fuzzy white eye glaring luridly
on scabbed brown squares of frosted earth
Brittle leaves break quickly from bare scaly branches
and gather in windblown heaps among the limp garden beds
The leaves, crimson and sunshine, are cycling down through the crisp air and landing lightly and without a thought, and in the crisp calm clarity of the season I allow myself to let go of those things that no longer serve me.
With the support of the muted light of the sun and the hushed earth below the leaves' blanket, I release the thoughts that dampen my spirit. I gently let go of the people whose presence does not bring me comfort. I allow the hanging anxiety to disperse.
These things can be released like the dry leaves from the ever-sturdy branches that continually reach for light and warmth.
I welcome release, peace, and a safe space to enter into a season of darkness, knowing the lightness of letting go is nourishing for the positive growth of my soul.
by Emily Nielsen
2nd place winner, 2015 Idaho Writers Guild Literary Contest, Poetry
A breath like a crinkle
caught in a breeze like Winter's flirty sigh
The sky still clings to blue,
though my sweater beckons.
Leaves, extraordinary in their bleeding hues
weave concentric blankets of
yellow and ash,
warmth and shadow
around the silent trunks of trees
like so many petrified ghosts.
You shiver in my heightened senses
Your peculiar mix of
nostalgia and renewal
creeping into my collar
and nudging like a nibble
between my shoulder blades.
Warm colors in frigid light
Early morning begging
for one more hour of sleep.
I was lying in bed the other night, about to drift off, when an image of my best friend came into my mind's eye. She's my sweet soul-sister who lives several hundred miles away and I knew she had been facing difficulty lately.
Instead of smooshing deeper into the pillow, I reached for my phone and sent her a quick text: "I'm proud of you."
In the morning I awoke to her response: "Thanks mama. That means a lot to me."
It had taken me about fourteen seconds to act on a "prompt" - a sudden thought of or about another person that comes, maybe unbidden, to one's mind.
Just a few days earlier I was walking downtown with my daughter when I noticed an older vet in a wheelechair who was waiting for the bus. I have seen him around town, and something inside of me said, "Thank him for his service."
But I didn't. I got shy and walked on by.
This lack of interaction really got me thinking about the significance of these prompts, and how a simple act could have possibly changed this person's day for the better. (It may not have helped at all, either; but now I'll never know.)
Start paying attention when an image of a loved one, near or far, comes into your mind. Then, act on it. Send a card, write a text, make a phone call. For some reason, your presence may just be the significant voice they need to hear.
Have you acted on sudden prompts before? What is your experience?
The more you extend kindness to yourself, the more it will become your automatic response to others. " - Dr. Wayne Dyer
How is your self talk? Have you ever caught yourself silently lamenting "I'm so stupid!" "I'll never get it right." "Nobody likes me." Chances are, you do this more than you may realize.
This last one, "Nobody likes me," used to run through my head far more frequently than I care to admit. It was almost an automatic response to situations that were uncomfortable, or embarrassing. Then one day, I stopped myself and decided to end this silly talk once and for all. I was learning about the importance of positive self talk in a healthy lifestyle. The mind-body connection is so very real and important that it makes sense. I trained myself to recognize each time the thought popped into my head -- and to counter it with the opposite: "Everybody loves me!" It doesn't matter if that statement is true or not; what matters is the energy created with the positive thought itself.
Try asking yourself these questions:
There is important work to be done in this life: Love yourself, "flaws" and all. You're so important and special.
Start to recognize the ways in which you talk to yourself, and be willing to change the negatives to their positive opposites.
Then, if you're comfortable, share in comments what thoughts you're willing to change -- for good.
Life is amazing. It's also busy, messy, unpredictable, and overwhelming at times. A friend recently posted a meme on her Facebook wall that said, "I need a time out. Send me to the beach and don't come back until my attitude changes." Pretty sure we can all relate to that one. I need a time out, too!
In this messy, amazing, inspiring, demanding, distracting world, there's often not enough time to dedicate to the other things... the sacred things, the things that feed your spirit and soothe your frazzled, bedazzled heart.
Enter... the Retreat.
I'm an admitted "retreat junkie" and have used the luscious insights I have gained to begin leading retreats, myself. In my opinion, retreats are necessary luxuries for our lives; not because they allow for an escape, but because because they allow for an e x p a n s i o n.
Here, my Top Five reasons why retreats are awesome.
1. The offerings. Most retreats offer healthy experiences - and it's okay if you're not an expert. Mindfulness, yoga, creative writing, meditation.... They sound intriguing and a part of you really wants to learn more... But you haven't the foggiest idea how to start. Or maybe, you want to dig deeper. Many retreats offer beautifully guided instruction on different methods of tapping into your most vibrant, capable self - whether through guided hikes, deep meditation, daily yoga, or activities to jump start your creativity and spark your internal "Yes!" Retreats are often intended for you to explore these areas in a supportive, welcoming environment.
2. The setting. Often, gatherings are held in serene, gorgeous locations. Think mountain streams, quiet whispering woods, a glowing hearth, a holy site, or trails through sacred ground. Retreat settings encourage a disconnect from the busy outside world, and a chance to leave behind the obstacles that hinder your immersion into the deep, peaceful and restorative space a retreat can provide. Think of a setting that speaks to your soul. There is probably a retreat being offered there! RetreatFinder is a great place to search for inspired locations around the world.
3. "Me time." Some retreats are geared toward personal, private growth. Others are meant for group connection and education. Whether you choose to embark on a retreat to soothe your own desires or if you have a girlfriend whose hand you want to grab as you delve in, recognize a retreat as a precious opportunity to connect with the most important person in your life: yourself. Retreats allow for deep contemplation and mind expansion, without the distractions of others to deter you. This is such an important aspect of self-love, since once we take beautiful care of our selves, we are even more capable of taking beautiful care of everyone else.
4. Camaraderie. Since there are so many varieties of retreat offerings - silent meditation, women's empowerment, physical betterment, spiritual connection, art and writing, etc. - you're bound to encounter a kindred spirit or two at your getaway. Soul-fueled connection is one of the most enlightening and powerful ways we can contribute to our best selves... and to the world. The energy of a retreat retreat allows for the open communication and connection with another person that are often passed by in the "real world." At a retreat, your soul sister, new business partner, or artistic muse could be sitting right across the room from you. The level of connection you exude or accept is entirely up to you.
5. Inspiration. Ultimately, retreats are designed to spark your deepest inner flames. Enter with an open heart and ready mind, and you will most likely be astonished at the peaceful and positive changes you will absorb, that can affect your whole life. Perhaps you'll find the final reason to start you blog, or the clarity required to change your job, or the insight you needed to find that still, quiet place inside. There's nothing that can compare to the hushed exuberance of a heart transformed.
If a retreat speaks to you, listen. You're probably meant to be there.
Deep earth exhalations rub
ridges from the soles of my feet.
Directionless but guided I am
found in silence grateful
Step by step unveiling wisdom
Heart stones breaking open
Full of ancient companions;
the space alive revealing
breaths from warriors,
introspective ghosts who urge,
- Upcountry Maui, March 2015
by Emily Nielsen
"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition."
All posts are copyright ©Emily Nielsen