Sunday, April 24, 2011

Initiation, Growth, Fruition, and Contemplation

Life is full of cycles - initiation, growth, fruition, and contemplation - or as I usually say life, death and rebirth. Every time we face the end of one cycle, we fear the new beginnings without realizing that without closing a door, another one can not open. We need to make space for the new and it is important to let go of those things that do not serve us anymore or we will feel stuck and live in stagnation.

During the past three weeks, I came to the realization that I needed to move to another place because the place where I live has turned into a danger zone. Not only we had an explosion outside that we could not figure out what it was but my husband's car got broken into and they stole a part. If I were in Argentina, the GPS would be marking the place where I live as a dangerous zone... "Beware! You are approaching a dangerous zone, enter at your own risk." The interesting part is that I lived in Argentina almost all my life where crime is really high but I never experienced the things I experienced here in the first world... mmmm. So having said that, the thought of moving really brought a lot of anxiety to my mind. I haven't moved in such a long time - yep, 6 years, and now I have to pack up and move to another place.

Luckily, as Mercury turned direct yesterday, I found a great place to live, in a better neighborhood and with all the things that I needed. This situation that seemed as a strike of good luck after experiencing bad luck or bad timing for the past few weeks felt great, but the little monkey mind inside me started thinking... Can I move and do my final for Mandarin at the same time? Can I pack up everything in three weeks and move? Can I... and the list can continue. A sudden rush of anxiety and adrenalin was pumping in my brain and I could only think of all the things that could go wrong instead of focusing on the good things that were happening, the opportunity to start again, to circulate the energies. Sometimes when the opportunity appears, you got to jump! If you wait or think twice, it may pass and you will be sitting with nothing in your hands. We can ask the universe to provide the best situation for us, but if we are not awake, if we don't see the signs, the things we asked for may go by and we may miss the train.

Fear of Change is normal and we all have experience it but it is about breaking that wall and moving forward that makes the difference in staying stagnant or changing, evolving and growing. Everything has a beginning and an end so we can start again. This is my time to start again and even though I am scared, I will still move forward and break that wall.

Blessings )0(

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Who are your friends?

There are times when I stop and I look around to see who my friends are. Are my friends those people who are usually selfish and are only concerned about themselves? Are my friends supportive and compassionate? Do they care about my well being or do they just pretend to be by my side but hurt me most of the time? While reading the book, Tao of Womanhood, I came across the Japanese concept of Misogi or the art of eliminating the non-essential. Non-essential applies to things, to habits, to people, to anything in life. Quantity sometimes does not mean quality and it is much better to spend some quality time with people than spend hours of mindless time that leads nowhere.

Yesterday, one of my best friends pointed out some things that I was aware of but I did not want to really see and I was grateful that she was open and honest with me. That allowed me to really sit and think about the things that have been going on in my life in the past nine months, how I've been spending my time, who has been by my side and who has just been lingering and needs to be simplified. It is hard to realize that maybe some relationships are not working and we can either change them, work at them, or just let go and move on. Do we want to work on the relationship? Do we feel that we always put 100% while the other person puts nothing or maybe it goes 80/20? A relationship can survive for a short while when one person is putting everything to make it work but it can not last forever and no matter how much that person works at, in the end, she or he will run out of energy and not be able to sustain a one side relationship. This week, we had a Full Moon in Libra and the message was "Two halves do not make a whole when it comes to a healthy relationship: it takes two wholes." (Patricia Fry) so that phrase got me thinking about how many times I've been just half of myself in a relationship, maybe even a quarter and that relationships take two full people in order to work, not half, not a quarter but a full person committed to give and receive in the relationship.

It is a good time to re-think and re-evaluate where we are and set a course so we can move forward on Sunday when Mercury turns direct. Just take a minute and think who the people that are around you are, is the relationship making you happy or sad? Is the relationship fulfilling? Are you both putting 50/50? Do you need to make new agreements when it comes to the relationship? These are all questions that we need to ask ourselves and answer if we want to eliminate the non-essential so the essential can have space to be.

Just ask yourself... who are your friends? You have the answers, just look within.

Blessings )0(

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Art of Yohaku

Do you ever feel that you wake up in the morning, start running and not stop until you collapse in bed at the end of the day? Is there a constant feeling that you run from one thing to the next to the next without any breathing time? Why do we book double meetings and we tend to leave no space for ourselves? The Japanese word Yohaku means white space and it is the white space is left for people to enter. It is left deliberately with the intention to allow people to have a space to go within and reach the core. It does not mean spend time watching TV but it means find time to enjoy time with yourself and with the people you love. When I came across this concept, I couldn't help but think of all those times when I had push myself to the limit trying to do fifty million things at the same time and not leaving any breathing room for myself. How my relationships suffered because I was not present since I had no spare time for anybody or when I had a minute, I was too tired to be able to be present. Many times, we run and live our lives like it is a marathon without realizing that there are certain things nobody but ourselves can do for us. Working out, dedicating time to our spirituality and spending time with our love ones are three things that nobody but ourselves can do. As I have said many times in the past, our bodies are our temples and they carry us around so dedicating some time to exercise and eat well is essential if we are to live our lives in full. Sometimes, when we are on the run, we turn to fast food and we forget that this type of food is like putting cheap gasoline on a very expensive car, it will do the job but it will not be good in the long run. The question is why we always put other people or things first before us? Some people put their work first, some people put their children first, but we don't realize that putting other people first or things first will deplete us and make us empty for others.

In relationships, many times we take people for granted; we assume they will be there forever no matter how little time we dedicate to them or how little we spend together. It's like we believe we bought the lifetime guarantee that things will remain the same forever no matter how much people change. The Art of Yohaku is also about making that time to spend with our significant others and loved ones. Dedicate a full hour to walk in the park and chat, get to see what is going on in that person's life and release the need to be the center or to do other things while spending that time. That's why it is nice to take a walk in the park or go for a cup of coffee, leave your phone and laptop at home and just focus on each other. That time will provide you with what you need to help that relationship grow and become stronger and your soul will be filled since you spent time with the people you loved.

Having time between running errands or dedicating time to ourselves may feel weird in the beginning, but with time and practice, I can assure you it will become part of who you are and it will make you a more harmonious person. I remember many years ago when I started working for the company I work today, I would work 9 to 10 hours straight, no breaks. I would eat at my desk and never step away for a second until I started working with my counselor and she suggested I would take 15 minutes to begin with every day. Today, I am known as the employee who takes her hour lunch every day with no exception. My time is very important to me. It allows me to recover some energy, to break away from the stress, and to be more productive. This is just one example of how creating Yohaku in your life can help you simplify and be in harmony.

Nobody can live our lives for us, nobody can make the decisions for us. It is up to us to create Yohaku, it is up to us to set up boundaries so we are able to live a life in happiness and harmony. We don't have to run from one place to the other. Life is to be enjoyed. You have the power to decide and it is up to you whether you want to live your life running or take the time to know yourself and spend time with your loved ones. In the end of days, it is not the material things that remain but the memories of those special moments we enjoy in our lives.

Blessings )0(

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Culture and Perceptions

When I started studying Mandarin, I did not expect for this journey to open my eyes to a whole new culture and a new way of seeing things. Today, as my teacher was explaining how Chinese people see addresses, I realize that each culture has a way of seeing things and none is better than the other, just different. Chinese people will say the country first, then the city, then the street name, then the number and after all that they will mention the person. For example, they would say USA, San Francisco, Main Street, 345, Mr. Smith. If you notice, Mr. Smith is at the end and he is not the focus of attention. My teacher kept explaining how Chinese people will go from big to small, narrowing down to the discussion point while American people will go just to the point and that is reflected in how we talk about addresses - Mr. Smith 345 Main Street, San Francisco, USA. The country comes last... does that mean that American people put the individual first before the country or anything else? As in the saying "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" I think the answer will depend on who you ask the question too and there is no right or wrong answer. Just different answers.

As my teacher pointed out the fact that many times, the problems between China and the USA are rooted on the fact that these countries and cultures look at the world in a different way, I couldn't help but think of the many times I've been in a position where I did not understand others because I was looking at their actions through my own lenses. When I moved to the USA, I experienced this first hand. I was in a foreign land, speaking a different language, with a totally different culture and new traditions. In the beginning, I could not understand how families would live far away from each other and maybe see each other once a year or talk to each other on birthdays. I have a big family in Argentina and we all live in the same province about 40 to 60 minutes from each other. I would see my parents every day, and talk to them twice a day. Needless to say it was a hard adjustment for me. As I said before, it was neither good nor wrong, just different and something I had to get used to.

It is always important to keep in mind that our perceptions may differ from other people's perceptions and to keep an open mind when we are sharing views. I think this is a hard lesson and even harder now when Mercury is Retrograde and communications are prone to take a wrong turn. If we could all be open to other people's views and let go of our own assumptions, the world would be a better place to live. We can only start with our own area. Remember, if you change yourself, you change your family, you change your community, you change your city, you change your state, you change your country, you change the world.

Blessings )0(

Sunday, April 10, 2011

When Mercury turns retrograde....

Have you heard people complaining about their computers breaking down? Systems crashing? Internet connection slowing down? Cars not starting? These are some of the blessings of Mercury Retrograde. The planet of information, communication, and transportation turned retrograde on March 30th pushing us to slow down, revise, reconsider, recondition, review, repair, and many others "re's."

As I was coming back from work yesterday, I couldn't help but notice a big truck that had a sign on the back saying "snap on", this truck was moving at normal speed - not too fast or too slow. I was on a three lane street and the cars on the other two lanes were moving slower than the truck but there were times it seemed as they moved faster and I kept thinking... should I change lanes? Should I try to pass the snap on truck? But somehow a message came to me, this is it! This is how Mercury Retrograde feels like. You are still moving but everything is slowing down and you feel stuck. Like in the Hangman card in the Tarot deck, you are suspended, tied, hanging, and any attempt to keep up with your fast pace will end up in frustration and disappointment. That is the reason why I decided to continue driving behind the snap on truck and surrender to the pace so I will not literally snap.

Transportation has been another area where I had to breath deeply and just let go or I would be pushing the river. Yesterday morning, my husband's car got vandalized and the people who did it stole a part of the car so he could not drive it until we fix it... yes, keep spare parts because cars may unexpectedly break down or just disappear! Now we had one car to move around but I was in for another surprise! Yesterday morning, as I wake up running because I overslept and I was late for my appointment, I look at the panel in my own car and there was it, the light was on, the tire was having a problem!!!! My first reaction was to think that these people had tampered with my car as well and made me very angry. Even though I had other plans, all my schedule was modified to be able to fix my car that now turned out to have a nail in the tire and it could not be fixed so I had to buy another tire and spend three hours waiting for my car to get fixed.

Delays are a big part of Mercury's Retrograde cycle and I had experienced a fair share so far. We have only experienced these energies for ten days and have another 14 days to go. If you wonder how to deal with these energies that are all around us and are unavoidable, here are some tips:

1. Use this time to re-evaluate the course of your life - are you where you want to be? Like in the song from Nine Inch Nails "Right where you Belong"

"What if you could look right through the cracks, Would you find yourself?
Find yourself afraid to see?
And if you look at your reflection,
Is it all you want to be?"

This is the time to look through the cracks. Things slow down so we can take the time to reconsider, to redraw the board and set a new course if we have derailed from the path.

2. Surrender to the energies around - don't push the river, just flow with it. If you fight the energies, you will only be wasting your own energies. Instead, just practice patience and compassion, let go of the need to control things, to keep up with the fast pace when everything feels as if against you or blocking you.

3. Be aware of the energies and avoid signing contracts, making agreements, making decisions on partnerships because there is a high chance you will have to redo it after Mercury turns direct or you may find yourself seeing something you did not see before.

4. Be prepared for delays in transportation - if you are traveling, just bear in mind there could be canceled flights, delays, and blockages.

5. Be prepared for misunderstandings and problems in communication. Yes! You meant to say one thing but she understood another thing... this is the time to choose your words carefully or just enjoy the silence and avoid serious communication.

Remember, Mercury Retrograde can be a blessing in disguise for our time where we are tied to technology and fast pace living. Now is the time to enjoy Nature, relax, rethink, take advantage of the breathing time and prepare for when it turns direct. If you are wondering where it will turn direct, mark your calendars, there will be a party on April 24th when the God of communication, information and transformation turns direct.

Blessings )0(

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"To be a Woman is not to be a Pretend Man"

What a powerful phrase this is! Many times, I see women trying to pretend they are men - eliminating their emotions, forgetting their cycles, not allowing time to rest, running, doing fifty million things at a time, having a job, a home, a family, and many other things and eliminating the time for themselves. Sadly, I have to admit I was one of those women. A few years ago, as I was climbing what I thought was a corporate ladder, I found myself depleted to the point that I ended up in the hospital. Yes, I was attending school, working full time, having a home, a husband, a women's circle and some other things. I was piling things on my schedule as there was not enough time to do everything I wanted to do and work took a prominent place in my life. There were days I was working till 8 PM, times I took work home to do during the weekends until one day my body said... you can not pretend you are a man anymore and work at this pace while doing other things, you will burn out! That was my wake up call. I realized that life was more than a career and that at the end of the day, my career was just one role in my life but it did not mean everything to me.

Realizing that allowed me to bring harmony in my life since I was able to visualize that all my energies were focused in one area on my life and the other areas were not getting enough attention so they were collapsing. I also realized that it was ok to be feminine and that it did not mean I was less than... or not intelligent. There are so many things programmed in our minds about being a woman that I think we have started to believe that we should be like men instead of working on recreating that stigma that women are weak, women are passive, women ... you can fill the blanks.

I think that it is up to us to change these dynamics and define what being a woman really is. Is it having a home and a career? Is it having just a career? Is it just having a baby and being a mother? There is no judgment on the answer as long as you know your choice comes from your heart and not from the programming that society has branded us with where now women are superwomen and can do everything without feeling tired or wanting to give up. Some women are happy being mothers and not having a career, some women love having a career and want no kids, some women want both and as long and there is harmony in how they deal with those roles, they are able to keep their happiness levels high and enjoy life. Don't let others define who you are! Just know that to be a woman is not to be a pretend man.

Blessings )0(