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5 Steps to Fulfillment

Photo by Eduardo Izquierdo
Editor’s Note

I loved this article. Reading it has brought a sense of peace into my otherwise rushed life. I felt my mind slowing down as I read. It’s so simple, yet graceful and so relate-able. Enjoy.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. ~Oscar Wilde

This winter took a lot out of me. The weather was milder than normal here in the Northeast, but my personal life was stormy and chaotic.

By May, when the harsh winds of conflict died and life returned to normal, I was still reeling. I found myself shuffling through my daily routine, feeling flat and disengaged.

It was, in part, a natural reaction to the stress of the previous months. One can only go full-force for so long, until the inevitable crash occurs.

But there was also an element of sheer boredom. Life felt dull and bland. Monotonous.

5 Tips to Avoid Overextending Yourself

Photo by Jon Jacobsen
To overextend yourself is to invite defeat. ~G. William Domhoff

A few years ago, after my husband and I got hitched, we flew to Italy and had a wonderful vacation, and when I got back I volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner for our family and many of our friends. Early that day, my jet lag really kicked in, I was exhausted and couldn’t believe I’d offered to do this. Never again, I thought.

This is probably one of the best times to talk about overextending yourself. The holidays are here, and between shopping, baking, parties, and volunteering there seems to be hardly enough time for a regular work day, let alone exercise, laundry and cooking dinner.

I want to stress that I’m going to deal with general, low-level problems of over-committing ourselves. That is one symptom of what can be a larger problem for some of us. It certainly was for me; about six years ago I was extremely codependent. If you’re interested in more information on that, you can check out Codependents Anonymous’ Checklist.

Regardless of how much you struggle with codependence or taking on too much, these tips can help make things a little easier.

How to Have Everything You Want

Photo of Gala Darling by Made U Look Photography

Two weeks ago my husband drove me to hospital, checked me in, and lovingly kissed me goodbye, whispering, “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”

I am normally a person who is well adjusted and at ease with the world around me, but as time drew near, for the operation, my heart began to shudder; the thought of having a part of my body removed was positively daunting.

I had to remind myself that many women had gone through this operation in the past and came out feeling much better than before.

As I changed into “the gown” I took a deep breath, calmed my nerves and surrendered to what was about to happen.

6 Questions to Access Your Inner Wisdom

Photo by Jon Jacobsen
You can do anything you want to do in this lifetime. ~The Dalai Lama

One bone numbingly cold winter morning in January 2003, my husband Tony and I were carefully making our way to work, which was no easy commute.

At the time we were living in Kiev, the capital city of the Ukraine where winter months are so frigid, it hurts to draw a breath.

We had moved there to take up teaching positions in an international school after having been living in an ashram in India.

Initially we had been excited by the thought of such a dramatic change of scene, but the reality of it was proving to be brutal.

Flow – The Secret to Happiness

Flow is the natural, effortless unfolding of our life in a way that moves us towards wholeness and harmony. ~Charlene Belitz & Meg Lundstrom

The majority of the books that sit on my shelves are ones that I have read, or deliberately decided not to read after losing interest after a page or two. So I was a little taken aback when I found one sitting smack dab in the middle of various dog-eared novels that I hadn’t read yet—The Power of Flow.

In all likelihood it was a transplant from my parent’s extensive self-help collection, one that must have snuck into one of my boxes. Yet, I hadn’t noticed it until I was—conveniently—experiencing stagnation in many areas of my life.

I’d say this is what “divine timing” is all about.

I spent the next few hours swimming in the pages, recalling all the times in my life when things seemed to fall in to place and doors opened without any physical effort on my part–the times when I was completely and totally “in the flow.”

How to Come Alive

Photo by Rosie Hardy
Editor’s Note

This is such a simple, elegant and inspiring article. Make sure to give this a read. You'll be glad you did. :)

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman

No quote has ever had more of an impact on me than this one.

When I first read it, I was working in the accounting department of a government contractor in Virginia. I was commuting back and forth to the 3-bedroom house on ½ acre that I’d just bought and I was doing it in a sporty little Mazda 626.

I was making a respectable salary. I had parlayed my college degree into a “successful” career, and I was understandably proud of myself.

But I was not alive.

I was just one of hundreds of thousands of bean counters who sat in traffic a couple of hours a day to get to a cubicle in a maze of other cubicles to sit for another 8 to 10 hours a day trying to make numbers add up.

Embracing the Imperfect

Photo by Simón Pais-Thomas
Editor’s Note

I have only one word to summarize how I felt after editing this story from Kate: Wow. Don’t miss this powerful piece. And help me welcome Kate to the TSN family.

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. ~Theodore Rubin

Confession: Lately, for the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been capital-U, “Unhappy.”

Plain. Simple. Unhappy.

Revolutionary insight? This does not need “fixing.”

It’s interesting to notice all the impulses to resist the Unhappy in life, as if the human experience were destined to be one devoid of suffering.

The messages are all around us that if we’re unhappy, we’re “doing it wrong.” So quick! Go buy something, do something different, take some kind of action, to make it all better.

Nope–I’m hunkered down with it, now. Unhappy and I are hanging out, chilling like a villain, asking what’s the haps with the craps.

Living in a Zen Center: A Personal Report

Photo by Eduardo Izquierdo
Editor’s Note

A few weeks ago, I received a curious and adorable little hand-written letter from Cat. At the time, she was on her 3rd months living in a Zen Monastery. Without Internet connection, she sent us this important self-reflective story—on what she had learned—in this little envelope. I believe this is one of the most important and beautiful articles you will read. Spend some time, and soak in its beauty and wisdom.

Simplify, simplify. ~Thoreau

The contemporary western world can feel rushed and complicated.

With speed and productivity woven into this culture, our bodies move with a habitual hurriedness, our minds fill with an endless stream of errands, expectations, goals to conquer, a life to plan ….

For many years, my days were spent rushing from one moment to the next as an ongoing effort to make progress in each category of an accomplished life. The alarm would sound: chime, chime, chime and a billion responsibilities rushing in, tugging me out of bed:

Monday mornings … snooze
… snooze again.
By the time my eyes would open, I already felt behind.

10 Life Lessons from an Unlikely Source

Photo by JUCO
Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson. ~Alan Cohen

Twirling in her pink tutu, slightly tattered and always a little dirty, my 3 year old niece opens her arms wide, calling for all of us to get up and dance with her. She wants to hold hands while we jump, spin and leap around the room.

She shouts along to the music, reminding each of us that we should be joining in. “Papa sing! It’s your turn Papa!” Panting and out of breath, we try our hardest to match her undying energy.

After the music starts to fade, she drops our hands and holds out her arms again. “Ok everyone, it’s time for a group hug!

We haven’t purposely partaken in a group hug for years now, but we oblige because her smile is contagious and her enthusiasm is impossible to tame.

Three years ago, she struggled her way into this world, red-eyed and out-of-breath. We thought she was in distress, but seeing her now, in full bloom, I believe she was just eager to get started, eager to dive in to what each of us were already taking for granted.

Death of My Father

Photo by Shannnnon
Editor’s Note

Reading this made me cry. It contains an important lesson. Take a minute to read this story and reflect on its lessons.

If you admire someone you should go ahead and tell them. People never get the flowers when they can still smell them. ~Kanye West

I lost my dad in 2003 when I was 22 years old.

I still remember the day it happened like it was yesterday. My mom woke me up and told me that my dad had called and believes he’s having a heart attack.

I jumped in my car and drove over to his home to see how he was. On my way over there, I called him and asked if he needed me to call an ambulance. He responded “yes”. So I called 911.

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