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©Image Angels
© Image Angels

Those clouds in the photo can be a metaphor for the clouds in our lives.  As a photographer, I seek out clouds, for those incredible rays of sun and beautiful sunsets would never happen without them.  In much the same way, our lives would not be happening the way they are without the clouds.  If you acknowledge and express gratitude for the clouds in your life, it can open up a whole new world of gifts, just like the rays of sunshine bursting forth in the photo.

Take a look at the clouds in your life, not with regret, shame or blame, but with gratitude and forgiveness, and you will allow your light to shine in much the same way as the clouds in the photo allow the light to shine.

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photo credit:  ISS Expedition 12 Crew, NASA (the photo is of a space suit, filled with old clothes. This image was created in 2006)

"Leap and the net will appear."

This quote by Julia Cameron is one of my favorites.  It reminds me of my own self imposed limitations, and what I have to do to remove those limitations.

You may identify with experiencing road blocks of prevention on your journey.  Perhaps it may seem as if everywhere you turn the answer is no.  Or perhaps it may seem like you just can't get a break.  Or maybe, just maybe, an opportunity for change is being presented to you and you don't want to take it because, well, no one likes change, right?

But I look at these times as times when the net has appeared.  I am being told to leap, to think outside the box, to be and then do something different.

If I am getting a no answer everywhere I turn, then I am asking the wrong questions.  If I'm not getting a break, I may need to look at my right to be a victim.  Harsh words, I know, but when coupled with compassion, they are also very freeing.  And if an opportunity for change is presented, this is the time when I can take a step back and ask why this opportunity has been presented?  Is it really time for a change?  And if so, what will the change look like?

The net comes from my own inner work, specifically that inner work that connects me to a god of my understanding and inner work that allows me to truly know myself.  When I do this inner work, I can trust those calls to change, because I know that on the other side of uncertainty is the wide open vastness of life, catching me in all its beauty.

When I first saw the photo which accompanies this post, I thought "how wonderful that humankind can now do those kinds of things."  Yes, I tend to be a bit naive and trusting at times.  When I read the caption and realized it was a stuffed space suite which burned in the earth's atmosphere, I knew it would be a perfect illustration for this post.  We should never leap without a net.  Yes, it will appear, but only when we do the inner work. There is a power and a force for good that is activated when we do the inner work.  That power and force for good is the net.  Activate it now, and then take your leap.  And let me know where you land!

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Setting and reaching goals is a bit like searching for and seeing a rainbow:  first you have to know the rainbow is there, then you have to do what it necessary to find it.  With goals, first you have to explore:  what do you want the goal to be?  Is is achievable?  Is it true for you?  Does it exist?

And then, once you find the rainbow (achieve your goal), what next?  What's in the pot at the end of the rainbow?

Here's a little primer on setting and achieving goals.

  1. 1.  The first thing to remember is that goals are achieved from the inside out.  A good example of this is that New Year's Resolution you set about three months ago.  How are you doing on that?  If you aren't doing so well, don't worry.  Simply setting a resolution rarely works.  It's a very shallow inside step, but it doesn't go far enough.  Go further by setting your consciousness.  What is your ultimate goal?  If it is losing weight, for example, don't just set a resolution to lose 30 pounds.  First ask why you want to lose 30 pounds.  Is it because someone told you to do so?  If so, that's not a very effective motivator.  Is it because you've been told your entire life that the ideal weight is 100 pounds?  Ask yourself if that is really realistic.  Search within to find the real motivation for wanting to lose 30 pounds.  If you want to lose 30 pounds because that weight is limiting you in some way, or for a legitimate health reason, then go for it.  Then go deeper.   Going deeper means visualizing what it would mean to lose that 30 pounds.  Imagine yourself needing new clothes, because the old ones no longer fit.  Imagine yourself having more energy, and moving with greater ease, perhaps breathing a bit better, maybe having lower blood pressure.  Imagine how good you will feel weighing 30 pounds less.  Imagine enjoying that low fat meal, knowing how much your body loves it.  Notice I didn't say to imagine how bad you feel now, or how tight your clothes are now, or how you can't walk up the hill without stopping to rest.  Keep it positive.  We really are what we think and embody, and we really manifest what we think and embody, so embody positivity, not negativity.  Then align your thoughts with that vision.  If the thoughts don't match the vision, change the thoughts.  If you have a lifetime of thinking a certain way, this won't happen effortlessly, but it can be done.  It may be a matter of changing one thought at a time, over and over again.
  2. Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done, or you aren't doing it right, or you've been 30 pounds overweight your entire life, what makes you think you can do it this time?  Or anything else negative.  That may be their perspective, but it says more about them than you.  Remember the sage advice from Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements:  "don't take anything personally."
  3. Do find at least one person to support you in your journey.  This may be a friend, mentor or coach.  Call on them regularly.  Set an appointment to talk at least once per week for the duration of your goal achieving journey.  Follow through, and let them know how you are doing.
  4. When discouragement sets in, repeat steps 1 through 3.

When the goal is reached, when you have the pot at the end of the rainbow, celebrate!  Give yourself a pat on the back, shout out your achievement, and take a moment to rest in that achievement, just as you would take a moment to simply observe the rainbow.

The bigger the goal, the more you will have to use these tools repeatedly, and the longer you will want to take celebrating the achievement before moving on to the next goal.

What have your experiences been with goal setting?  I'd love to hear them!

imageIt took me about five years of being self employed to learn that even though I love my work and it doesn't really seem like work, I still need to take a day off once in a while.  Like....at least once a week.

I have somehow always known that it was more important to do what I loved for a living.  It never made sense to me to go to work doing something I disliked just to bring home a paycheck.   Somehow I knew that if I did what I loved, the money would come.

So, when I was in my 30s, I started my photography business. I loved it!  I got to go to different places every day, meet different people all the time.  I was in my element, and I simply did what I loved to do, every day.  This was way before I had much in the way of what I call "deeper living life skills."  I didn't know about spiritual practices like meditation and introspection.  I didn't know that paying attention to what was going on with me was essential to a happy life.  I just merrily proceeded along until one day I realized I was becoming a nut!

Yep, bonkers.  As in, ready for some professional help.  I was irritable, short tempered, dissatisfied, wasn't sleeping well, and wasn't very physically healthy either.  I did have a mentor at the time, and when she discovered I didn't take time off from work, she suggested that perhaps I might want to explore that.  (don't you just love the way they put things sometimes?)

So I told myself I was going to take one day off per week.

It seemed easy enough, right?

WRONG!

It was very very difficult.  This was back in the days before computers.  It was SO HARD  not to answer the phone!  It was SO HARD not to send out a letter to a potential client!  It was SO HARD not to work on a wedding album!  It was SO HARD not to just step into the darkroom to work on this one image.  (also before digital)  It wasn't like I didn't have other stuff to do.  I had all the stuff everyone else has:  family, housework, physical exercise, just resting.

I forced myself to do it.  I took one day off, every week.  Admittedly, it was a different day every week, because weddings and portraits don't keep to a set schedule, but I took that day off, every week.  I didn't study photography on that day, I didn't pick up a camera on that day.  I went skiing, or did some gardening, or went on a hike, or had lunch with a friend.

And something began to happen:  I wasn't so nuts anymore.  I was happy!  And I was shocked to find out I was much more effective when I went back to work the next day.  I took better photos, responded better to client requests.  I felt better physically.  I began to know what feeling balanced felt like.

Today, I still own and operate that photography business but life changes, and I now supplement that income with  something else I love for a living:  I help people.  I see clients one on one, I teach, I design and facilitate workshops, I speak.  I am totally immersed in this relatively new career.  It energizes me that same way photographing a wedding does.  And I still take that one day off, each and every week.

Yesterday I took a day off.  Guess what I did?  I took a road trip with my fiance, we went to a place called Daffodil Hill.  We had a picnic lunch, and I got to take photos of the daffodils.  I took the convertible, and felt the warm sun on my face, and got a wonderful dose of spring.

And today, I am happily back at work, loving what I do, and feeling in balance!

The photo on this post is one of the images I created yesterday.  If you want to see more, you can head on over to my web site at www.imageangels.com.

 

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I was having a conversation with someone recently about loss.

She, like so many others, has experienced a lot of loss in her life in the last few years.  Her story is much like many I hear:  careers up in smoke, homes foreclosed, marriages unable to survive, sickness; these are only a few examples of what I know has happened at almost epidemic levels.

I happen to think that such losses can be doorways into new and wonderful opportunities.  All the time I hear stories like this:  the man who lost his job, and took the opportunity to start a business doing something he always wanted to do.  Or the woman who lost her home and moved to a place she always wanted to live in, but didn't feel as if she could because she was tied to her home.

It isn't necessary to experience great losses to make such changes in our lives, but if you have experienced such a loss, it may be time to look at it as an opportunity.  However, in order to do so some work may have to be done.    Properly grieving the loss, self inquiry, faith building and intention setting are just some of the things that might need to be done in order to move forward.

If you've experienced a loss of any kind and feel as if you haven't yet recovered from it, I encourage you to attend a workshop being held this Sunday, March 23, at 12:30 pm at the Center for Spiritual Living in Carson City, NV.  Ramona Goodge, a recent graduate of Holmes Institute and a good friend of mine, will be giving this workshop and is also the guest speaker at CSLCC that same morning at 10:30.  She will be revealing some healthy strategies to dealing with loss.

The address of CSLCC is 1927 North Carson Street in Carson City, NV.  CSLCC is located in the Frontier Plaza, on the corner of Winnie Lane and North Carson.  Again, the talk begins at 10:30, the workshop at 12:30.  And a bonus:  a potluck in between!  Both are being offered on a love offering basis.  I hope to see you there!

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One of the most powerful spiritual practices I know is introspection.  Going within, paying attention to what I am feeling, to the trend of my thoughts, even to my physical sensations, and especially to that still small voice, allows me to know.

Being still, and knowing, then allows me to make decisions I can trust, and take actions that serve my highest good.

Without this practice, I would be lost.  Done alone, this practice is invaluable.  Done in conjunction with meditation, it packs a power punch that has served me very well for a long time.

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Lately I've been hearing SO many people talk about having to reinvent themselves, to think outside the box, to do "whatever it takes to survive."

What if I told you that survival was not only possible, but that life is about much more than survival?  Life is about joy, fun, and what I call THRIVAL!

Ok, so I made the word up, but I like it!  See, for me, it was never an option to simply survive.  It's always been about thriving for me, and when I speak of survival and thriving in the same post, that word THRIVAL comes up.

How do you thrive when you don't know where your next rent or mortgage payment is coming from?  How do you thrive when you have just sustained a loss, like a divorce, death of a loved one, or removal of part of your body due to illness?

I hear stories like these every day, and I have to say that whenever I hear a story like this, I am overjoyed.  Lest you think I'm a compassionate-less ogre, let me explain.  See, I know, both from my education and from personal experience, that when stuff like this happens, it's really a beginning, not an ending.  It's really an opportunity knocking, not a door closing.  It may seem like an ending, and a door closing, and I know that those feelings are very real.  But I also know that if you are anything like me, you won't take a closed door or an ending for an answer.  There has got to be a message there, and that message has got to be a path to something new and greater.

Here are some of the things you can do to move from survival to THRIVAL:

  1. Be gentle with yourself.  Allow yourself to properly grieve the change or the loss.
  2. Spend quiet time with yourself.  Do this daily, without the distraction of tv, radio, busywork or noise.  Just sit quietly, or walk outside alone.  While you are doing this, pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that come up.  There is a lot of useful information there.  It might help to write some of those thoughts of feelings down, especially if they come in the form of sudden Aha or lightbulb moments.  Don't try to think of anything specific during your quiet time, just be fully and mindfully present and see what comes.
  3. Make sure you take good physical care of yourself:  eat right, sleep right, get some exercise.
  4. After you've done the first three for a while, you will begin to feel like it is time to take some action.  You might feel as if you have more energy.  You might feel like it is time to do something.  This is the time to begin setting some goals, and then acting on them.
  5. Set the goals, set some timelines for those goals, and begin.
  6. Keep in mind the 1st suggestion and continue to be gentle with yourself as you navigate your way into THRIVAL.
  7. This process is easier when you get help.  Think seriously about using the services of a mentor, coach or counselor to help you through the process.  In fact, I think it is so important to get help during this process that I'm offering a special.  You can check it out here:  http://karenlinsley.com/?page_id=140

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you!

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There are laws in our world that tell us that what we see, observe and feel about what is out there is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves.

There was a time when I would have seen a view like this and thought it was ugly.  Now, I look at this view and admire the serenity, the wide open spaces, and yes, the beauty.

It took some healing to get to this place.  This image is of the Carson Valley, in Nevada.  Nevada is my home state and it was once a place I literally fled from in the middle of the night. Now I once again live here.  The healing took a long time, but I can tell you it feels much better to be able to be here and experience this place with joy and appreciation, rather than fear and all the unpleasant attitudes that go along with that fear.

If you are seeing and experiencing life as anything less than joyful, perhaps some healing is in order.  And if you are reading this post and thinking about it, it might just be a message that it is indeed time to heal.  There are no accidents in life!

Healing is possible, but if you are anything like me, the process is much easier when done with support.  Find a counselor or a  life coach with specific training in this area to help you see the beauty!

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Tomorrow night I'll be teaching a two hour free meditation class at the Center for Spiritual Living in Carson City.  It begins at 6:30.  Wear comfortable clothing, and come prepared to relax and refresh!

Here are some cool little tidbits about meditation:

1. Meditation is not about clearing your mind, but about focus.

2. There are many different types of meditation, not just one.

3.  Any activity can be turned into a meditation.

4.  Group meditation is much more powerful than meditating alone; come tomorrow night and learn why!

5.  Meditation is compatible with any spiritual or religious faith, or none.

Tomorrow, we'll learn about some different ways to meditate!

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Ok, I admit it.  I officially have short timer's disease.

I graduate in June.

This Masters Degree program I'm in has been wonderful:  4 years of learning, and each class has changed me from the inside out, and given me more skills and more training.  If you are just tuning in, I'm in an accredited Masters Degree program called Consciousness Studies.  (www.holmesinstitute.org)

I have loved every minute of it.

One of the things we teach is that it is counter productive to think in terms of:  when this happens I'll do that, or when that happens I'll be this.  The opposite is actually true:  I'll do that now, and effect this to happen.  Or, more specifically, it is not "when I win the lottery I'll be happy."  It is, "I'll be happy now, and then win the lottery!"

And yet, I have a list of things I want to do when I graduate.  I have dozens of books I want to read!  I want to take a trip.  Not a trip to Santa Rosa for class, but a vacation.  I want to go to the annual photographer's convention that I haven't been to since I began school.  I want to begin working in my new and chosen field.  I want to do workshops....lots and lots of workshops.

I created, before school began, a New Year's Eve workshop.  I happen to think New Year's Eve is the perfect time to plot out how one wants the next year to proceed.  Resolutions don't work, they never have.  But intentions do, especially with a solid plan in place to implement those intentions.  Plus some ritual release of the old.  I was doing this workshop every New Year's Eve and it was fun, successful and well attended.  but school got busier and busier and somehow the last couple of New Year's Eves it just seemed indicated that I should stay at home and be quiet.

Then there is this football thing.  I admit it:  I don't watch football.  I think there are much more productive things to do with one's time.  I also realize that I am out of sync with much of the population  in this.  I'm OK with that.    Last night, while my partner was watching football, I was writing papers for school, and I got a lot done!  But there is still one more game to get through, and I couldn't help but think it would be the perfect time for a workshop for those of us who would rather do just about anything than watch football.

But I have papers to write and finals to study for, so this will be another thing to add to the list of things to do when I graduate.  If you don't like watching football, stay tuned.  There will be a workshop next year!  Maybe even a series of them:  one on every Sunday there is a football game!