This week I will celebrate my 60th birthday. My dear friend Catherina who, at 89, just left this world for her “next great adventure,” often teased me over the years with a wise and loving smile, saying, “There will come a day when you look in the mirror and ask in disbelief, ‘How did this happen!?’” Many years ago when my friend Marge turned 60, she toasted the occasion by saying, “The best part about turning 60 is that life loses its sense of urgency. All those things that I thought were so important – well, most of them just aren’t. Here’s to good friends and the love that we share. Here’s to the real stuff of life.”
These days I’m remembering both of these special women for the important roles they played at particular times in my life and for their “don’t take it all too seriously” wisdom. Just as Catherina predicted, sometimes when I first look into a mirror, I am surprised by who is looking back! And some things that I used to think were so important just aren’t anymore. With age comes perspective, I suppose. I’m grateful for the gift.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what I have learned during my first 60 years about “the real stuff” and what wisdom I want to carry forward into my next decade and beyond. It’s been a great exercise to give names to the principles by which I’ve come to live – 12 principles that have helped me understand what it means to live a transformational life. Perhaps some of them will speak to you as well.
- Know yourself. Know your soul mission or your life purpose and live it. This is the path of your greatest learning as well as the path of your greatest gift to the world around you. Know who you are, who you are called to be, and what you are called to do. Stay focused and grounded in your essence. Keep an open dialogue going with your soul all the time and say “yes” to what it asks you for.
- Keep your own center and shine your light. Find your grounding and safety within yourself. When you look to others for approval, permission, or for your identity, you give your power and strength away. Developing and nurturing your sense of Self is a life-long journey. Stand fully in both your humility and your greatness and give the best of yourself to the world. Be true to your essence and shine your light brightly. The world can’t afford for you to hold back.
- Develop and nurture your daily reflective practice. Do it when times are good. Don’t wait until a crisis arises; it’s too late then. Whether your practice is meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, walking in nature, or some combination of various things, make it a regular daily practice. Find what serves you and do it every single day. Every single day, no matter what. When life gets tough, your practice will support you. It will see you through.
- Develop your intuition and listen to it; trust your deep inner knowing. The intuitive mind is the larger mind. It is your bridge to the greater Consciousness and to higher wisdom. The more you refine your intuitive skills, the more you are aware of the messages all around you and within you. Those messages will show you your path forward.
- Remember that everything that happens is a part of a larger process unfolding. No circumstance or situation happens in isolation. Everything is a part of a larger flow of your life. And your life is a part of the larger flow of the world around you. The Principle of Correspondence says, “As above, so below; as below, so above.” Nothing is happening only to you. That same energy is manifesting everywhere in some form. So always look for the bigger picture. It will give you a clearer perspective on where you are in that moment and help you find your next step.
- Remember that “what is happening” and your experience of what is happening are not necessarily the same thing. The story you tell yourself and the relationship you choose to have with your circumstances determines your experience. You can let life create your experiences for you, or you can be proactive and choose how you wish to experience life. You can’t control your first thought about what is happening, but you can choose your second thought. And it’s your second thought that will immediately begin to shape your experience.
- Learn forward. Most of us have been taught to learn backward – to look at life through the lens of our past experiences and what we already know. However, in today’s fast-paced world, some of our past knowledge and experience is no longer relevant. Learning forward means letting life show itself to us on its own terms – meeting new experiences and information with an open mind and heart and being ready and willing to follow a new path, a new way of engaging, and a new way of thinking when that is what the moment invites.
- Co-create with “what is.” Life is much easier when we work with whatever is in front of us rather than push against So trust that whatever appears on your life path, whether it feels like an opportunity or an obstacle, is there for a reason. You don’t have to like it, but it will be easier if you accept that, for the moment, that’s what you have to work with. Ask it what it wants you to know or what is needed in the moment. Treat it as a co-creative partner and work with it to create something new. Invite it to dance and see what happens.
- Follow the potential. Navigating life is fairly simple when you start with three simple questions: 1) What wants to happen? 2) Who is that asking me to be? 3) What is it asking me to do? The first question helps you find the greater potential waiting to unfold. The second question helps you discover how you need to show up – what qualities and characteristics you need to call forth from within yourself – in order to navigate what is happening. And the third question helps you know what to do. When you follow the potential, it will show you the way. The key is to ask those three simple questions in that order.
- Build and nurture a support system around you. Find those people and places that feed your soul and that support you unconditionally to be the best that you can be. And then stay connected with them on a regular basis. Do whatever it takes when times are good to keep that support system strong. These people and places can then be your lifeline when life gets hard. And life will get hard at times. That’s how we learn and grow and stretch into our greatest potential. So nurture those relationships. Take very good care of your support system and your support system will take care of you.
- Laugh. Laugh every day. Laugh with others, laugh by yourself, laugh with your pets. Just laugh. Laughter is essential for a happy, healthy, abundant life.
- Be the Love that you are. Deep down at your core, you are made of pure Love. Sometimes we forget that. So get back to your essence. Just be Love. Stretch beyond the “verb” to the presence. Be Love. And all the rest will somehow fall into place.
P.S. If you are looking for some support in your daily practice to help you focus on “the real stuff,” my pocket meditation-in-a-book, The Power of Your Presence, can be a great place to start. This engaging little book provides a 20-minute meditation that you can do anytime and anywhere – while waiting for an appointment, during your morning commute to work, or as a morning or evening meditation. It’s also available as an audio book.
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