Monday, March 24, 2014

Funding Your Lifestyle



This is the next installment on using your power to identify, claim and fund the life you were meant to have. If you are new and have not yet read Money & Power, you may want to go back and do the exercises before moving forward. If you have read Money & Power, you should now have a clearer picture of what you actually need to be happy and healthy. Also, if you are anything like me, you probably found that you have far more than you need to be happy. In addition, you are probably beginning to think about what you should do with all the stuff you have decided is not crucial in life. If so, I have included a few suggestions at the end of this blog post to help.


We all have basic needs that include food, shelter and clothing. These needs are what we have in common with every living creature in this world. We also have responsibilities. Some of us have minor children or elderly parents that need our care, attention and resources. We have financial obligations that come with being a contributing member of society, family and community.  In other words, living in the world as an adult includes taking care of our own basic needs and responsibilities to the best of our capability. This means that a personal approach to identifying and claiming a new life will be tweaked according to what each individual needs to do to care for basic needs and responsibilities. There is no cookie cutter approach for success. Consequently, the Living PowerLife approach to funding the life we are meant to have is not an invitation to ignore obligations or to become (or continue to be) a freeloader. Indeed, this is an invitation to use our power to make future decisions that will lead to living a new way with new opportunities. 


While taking care of basics and responsibilities, we all can become bogged down or even trapped in a certain mind set. This frame of mind leads to a certain kind of behavior. To understand the mindset, I imagine a treadmill. On this treadmill we run to catch a prize that changes unexpectedly and is always just out of reach. We constantly work to get more money so that we can buy the latest and the best gadgets. We continuously compare what we have and how we look to images in magazines, the next door neighbor, a colleague, a friend… We do not sleep well at night because thoughts about how to buy or make the next payment for the latest social upgrade possession distract us from relaxing and finding peace.


If any of this feels familiar, more than likely you are on the Keep up with the Jones’ Treadmill with the rest of us. Roads to Jones’ Treadmill are plentiful but the main access is through living beyond our means. Living beyond our means most often occurs because we believe we deserve the same life that we think our neighbors are living rather than the one our budgets can support. Advertising executives depend on our adherence to this belief to get us into stores. Bankers bet on this belief to get us in debt. Marketing professionals use this belief to create a desire for often useless gadgets. Remember the Ginsu Knives?


While on Jones’ Treadmill, the life, joy and opportunities each day has to offer is overshadowed by envy, greed, anxiety or lust. We look around and instead of seeing the beauty of nature, the diversity of humanity or magnificence of architecture we see what others have or are wearing. We envy those who appear to have more than we do. We lust after the current ‘must have’ designer label and greedily accumulate more. More shoes, more suits, more designer bags... We become anxious when faced with the possibility of not being able to get More. 


Here is a small real-life example of what happens when we are invested in Jones’ Treadmill: A few days ago, while riding the subway, I noticed a young person who was talking on the phone with someone about not being able to access a social media account. As I watched, this person became more and more agitated because the account was not allowing access. The person was dressed in the latest designer clothing and had the most up to date phone.


As the subway trip continued and the person tried different approaches to resolve the technical problem, tears started to flow. The person was clearly anxious and sad. I do not know what else was going on in this person’s life, but at that time, the day was sunny. The weather was nice. There were people all around laughing and talking and the person with the social media problem was oblivious to this all. The world was, literally, passing by unnoticed because of a glitch in a technical gadget.


While we may not be reduced to tears because we cannot access our social media account, just how invested we are in Jones’ Treadmill is revealed when we take inventory and make need assessments of our belongings. If, for instance, we have 10 pairs of black shoes collecting dust in the back of our closets and they are very similar or almost identical this means that we are buying into the belief that we should have what we see on others. This is indicative of the fact that we are running Jones’ Treadmill. Likewise, if our second bedroom closet is full of clothes that we have not worn for at least 1 year, say hello to Jones’ Treadmill.


Realizing that most of the items in your inventory will not bring you happiness, is the first step off the treadmill.  The first step is always the most difficult step to take. Because of this, I encourage you to be patient with yourself. Reading this blog and following the steps means that you are now moving in the direction that will lead to your powerful lifestyle which is the most import thing to remember. As you remember to go easy on yourself, we will now begin one of the most crucial stages of this process; developing the plan that will bring the changes you want and need. In Living PowerLife style, I will use my experience as an example:


I am a person who likes to dress well, go out with friends on occasion, spend time with my family, and have dependable transportation.  Among other things, I enjoy reading, music, a good single malt and premium cigars. I also do not have an unlimited supply of money. In fact, many would say that my money is tight. For many years, I agreed. I believed that I never had enough money to do what I thought I wanted to do. My mantra was: when I get this raise, degree, job… I will then have enough money to… The more money I made, the more money I spent. The more I spent, the more I felt I needed to earn. The people I attracted had the same values and same expectations which meant that the moment I was not earning more their interest in me was gone. 


I sprinted on Jones’ Treadmill for many years. For most of those years, I did not sleep well and was not happy. I used food and alcohol to fill an unidentified void; the void that comes when we chase after shadows. I missed some of the most important events in my loved ones’ lives because I had to work. Sound familiar? The alternative to the treadmill lifestyle is to plan. Yes, plan. Plan fun, plan work, plan emergencies, plan shopping, plan meals… Plan. 

Just like you found out that you actually need far less to be really happy, with Living PowerLife and planning you will see that funding a new life is not as difficult as you imagine. Your plan will have about 6 different parts:


Part one: Connect.  Connect and stay in touch with your inner guidance through daily private meditation. When I meditate, I spend some of my time envisioning my connection to the Universe and to God. The Universe responds to the energy that I put out and God is beyond anything that I can imagine, including religious institutions. With these two connections firmly in place and consistently attended to, there is no limit to what I can accomplish. If you are not someone who believes in God, that is fine. Stick with the Universe and remember to keep a grateful spirit; be grateful for what you have and build from there.


Part two: Ignore. Ignore anyone who tries to redirect your attention to something negative. Ignore anyone who expresses thoughts and feelings that undermine your plan. This includes your own thoughts. Here is a silly real-life example: One day while I was walking to the subway stop and enjoying a beautiful spring day, I noticed a woman walking toward me. As she came closer to me I smiled and nodded hello. Instead of responding in kind, she pointed down to the sidewalk and said, Look. Look there. I did, and there was a dead rat off to the side in the grass. Yeah, disgusting. I would not have noticed the rat were it not for the fact that I allowed my attention to be redirected.


Part three: Envision. Envision what you are working toward. Take a short time during your meditation to envision every aspect of your goal. What does it look like? How does it feel? Why is it important? Keep your language in the present rather than future. While you are envisioning, be general. You can limit the Universe if you become too fixated on minute details.  A simple example: you decide that you want to enjoy the best meal you have ever had. You envision your favorite food cooked perfectly. Then you proceed to include a particular restaurant, in a certain city, on a predetermined street, with a certain person, dressed a certain way... Get my point? These details could undermine your work because you are not open to possibilities that you may not know about. In one of those unknown possibilities could be the experience you are seeking.


Part four: Know. Know in your heart without anyone having to tell you that what you are envisioning belongs to you. Your job is to stay focused, connected, flexible and to act. In addition, Living PowerLife and your plan require patience and consistency on your part. Be patient and understand that you are living on the Universe’s clock. Be consistent in doing what you need to do to be successful. In other words, this is not an invitation to sit, look at your navel and wait for things to appear. You have to do your part and that requires action.


Part five: Itemize. Those of you who have been following my blog over the years know that I am one to make a list. The habit of list making is crucial to success when visualizing, prioritizing and working toward goals. At this point, you should be ready to work with several ongoing lists. For example, I have about 6 lists that I am now working with to live my new life. Some lists I refer to daily, some monthly and others annually. Some are based on the season and some are based on particular occasions. Be flexible with your lists and do not hesitate to update when the need arises. With your lists include resources when you can. For instance, when I decided to add dancing shoes to my list, I also included places where I could buy second hand and discount shoes.


Part six: Relax. Relax and be patient. Be patient with yourself and with the Universe. Remember, this is a lifestyle which means life-long. Consequently, when things do not fall into place immediately do not give up. Understand that there is a reason for what you experience as a delay and do not try to force the Universe or the process. Several times I have realized that what (or who) I thought I wanted was actually something that would bring more trouble into my life. 

While not getting what I wanted was disappointing in the short-run, with time I was glad that things did not work out the way I wanted. This reinforced my belief that I am never alone even at my loneliest moment. The same is true for you.



From my PowerLife to yours,

Elandus




Link to relevant blog post
Learning to PowerLife: Mental Attitude




Recycling your belonging can help to bring new energy into your life and create room for the new. Check in your area for places to donate to homeless shelters or second hand stores. Some areas also have Internet lists that enable people to give items away or make exchanges. When donating, make sure you get a receipt for your tax purposes. If you want to make a little extra money, there is always craigslist, ebay and amazon available to you to sell your unneeded items.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Power Well Spent



November 2013 will be remembered in the context of two experiences; one brought disappointment, the other inspiration. I was disappointed by what happened when I walked into my usual barber’s shop for the last time. I was inspired as I prepared for and sang my first solo. Both experiences made me think even more about my expectations and assumptions. Both illustrated how our use of power can either isolate or empower. The Living PowerLife approach to health and well-being shows how to recognize the difference between the two and why this is an important skill to have.

Not long ago, while having a conversation with an insightful adolescent, the topic of gender came up. She and I had talked about gender related topics before and shared thoughts about what it meant to be female, a girl, a woman, male, a boy, a man in the past. I was always impressed by what she had to say. I also knew that she questioned society’s expectations for both males and females and that she was not fitting neatly into the gender category of girl. On this day, however, she sounded like a young person who had taken time to consider things and come to her own conclusions. 

She said, with all the confidence in the world, that she was female and most comfortable living in society’s category of boy. Then, she went on to explain what she meant and to illustrate the difference between biological facts (female, male) and society’s categories (girl, boy). The type of insight she demonstrated was the kind that most people, including myself, struggle for decades to gain. 

Long after our talk, my thoughts wandered. I remembered times when as a young female I found the social category of girl stifling at best. I thought about how invisible and isolated I felt during those years. Then, I remembered the times when I was first bold enough to reject the gender specific restrictions that were forced on me. I thought about how empowered I felt at those times. All of this led me to think about my most recent encounter with this old and familiar biological/social conflict. 

For about a year, I had been frequenting a particular barbershop that was owned and run by siblings who happened to be female. Supporting female owned businesses was, and is, important to me so I felt good about using their service. Through the months, one cut my hair--a simple barbershop cut--each time. The other had not. Since they both operated on a walk-in schedule, I thought that timing and place in line were the reasons why I always had the same barber. I was wrong and when I decided to get a cut on a day when my usual barber was off, I learned how wrong I had been.

This day there were not many customers which was one reason why I decided to go in. I did notice that only one barber was working but did not see that as a problem. Just as I said hello and started to remove my coat, the barber told me something that I already knew by observation--the one who usually cut my hair was off. 

I said, ''That’s okay. I’ve seen your work and don’t mind if you cut my hair''. 

This is when the barber said something that my brain simply could not process, ''I don’t cut women’s hair''. 

For a few seconds, I stood in the middle of their little old school barbershop speechless before I could ask, ''What does that mean?''.

She responded by saying, ''I don’t do all that stuff that women want. I don’t cut women’s hair. My sister does all that stuff. I only cut men and children''. Then, as an afterword she added, ''Boys''.

At this point, I thought that maybe she did not remember me. So, I tried to jog her memory. I reminded her that I had been coming there for months and I always got a simple cut. No shampoo. No blow-dry… just a haircut. 

She just shook her head while she continued her mantra, ''I don’t cut women’s hair''. She said this all while focusing on her customer at the time--a male with shoulder length hair.

Once I finally realized that this barber was not going to cut my hair for the sole reason that I was biologically female, I walked out. I left feeling disappointed with myself and the barber. I was disappointed with myself for not realizing that, while my goal was to empower female owned businesses in my small way, I was actually supporting a business that discriminated against us; against me. I felt stupid and angry. 

Later, as I made more connections, I realized that there were, literally, signs all around me revealing their anti-female attitude. One glaring indication in retrospect was what they charged women for a haircut compared to men. 

Every time I went there, I would sit in a chair that faced a mirror with a big sign that listed their fees for services. Women were clearly charged more for a haircut and I ignored that fact. I ignored it because my first time there, I said I wanted a barber cut and that I expected to pay the lower fee. I got what I wanted and was willing to ignore what was in plain sight. This self-revelation was disturbing.

While processing this disappointing and disturbing experience, I was also being inspired.

You may or may not know that I am a member of a chorus, Voices Rising (VR). VR is a women only chorus that uses music to build community and engender healing. VR has been in existence for 10 years and is directed by Leora Zimmer. Leora, along with the leadership team, sets the tone, gives direction and embodies the mission of the chorus. 

I found VR when I first moved to Boston. My daughter, who sang with VR in the past, suggested that I audition and I took her advice. Advice well received because my involvement with the chorus helped me transition from mourning a failed (one that I now call fake) relationship to reclaiming myself and celebrating a solo life. I am currently in my second season with the chorus and in this context I made the decision to audition again. 

My second audition was to participate in one of VR’s annual fundraisers, A Night of Cabaret. My audition was… Just say I was not using my public speaking presence and leave it at that. I was nervous but not because I felt judged. I was nervous because standing alone on a stage and singing in front of an audience was something that I had always wished I had the courage to do. I was nervous because singing a solo was something that I believed I would never do.

My first audition for the cabaret was not good, but I was given a second chance to take Leora’s feedback and make a better go. I was better the second time, but still rough. This is when another member of VR, Jennifer Wry, great at coaching performers, offered to work with me. 

Consequently, with the feedback and patience of Leora, the insight of Jennifer and the support of the entire VR community, I was able to do something that I had only dreamed about. My performance was not perfect, but the inspiration that I experienced helped me to find my singing voice and use my power to share with others how a song touched me. What a gift!

The fact that these two extremely different experiences happened in the same time-frame serves to clarify their effects. Their close association also makes it easy to use them as examples for the fact that we constantly make choices about how to use our power. 

The barber had the power to either treat everyone equally or not. She chose to discriminate. She had the power to provide a service to everyone with respect and courtesy. She chose to withhold this from females. In so doing, she supported misogyny. With her actions, the barber illustrated that she encountered the world through fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of being rejected. She is an example of what can happen when we blindly conform to what society decides is normal. Oppressive communities are the legacy of people this barber represents. 

VR as a community had the power to either dismiss or inspire. They chose to inspire both as a group and as individuals. They chose to hear my auditions, to see me and to give the support that resulted in success. In doing this, VR disallowed misogyny. VR is an example of what can happen when we question and reject while interacting with one another. Question the validity of society’s gender restrictions and categories. Reject those restrictions and categories that are created through bigotry and misogyny. 

Through action VR demonstrates how to engage the world fearlessly. Free from the fear of rejection and isolation. Indeed, like the young insightful female described earlier, VR illustrates how to use the power that we have to challenge. Challenge, for instance, the validity of females being forced into a one size fits all pigeon hole while our peace of mind, health and happiness suffer. Communities built on acceptance, empowerment and inclusion are the legacy of people VR represents. 

We all have power in every circumstance and each interaction. We can choose to use our power to either answer the global call for equality or we can continue to support oppression. We can choose to disallow bigotry at every opportunity or to uphold the establishments that were built on, and are still sustained by, the hierarchy of dominance where a few benefit from the blood, sweat, sacrifices, tears, and talents of the many. 

We can use our power to become living examples for our children. Living examples of what can happen when we build communities that respect personal freedom; communities where individuals come together in equality, empathy and empowerment. We have the power to teach our children by example how to either play nicely with one another and build beautiful castles for all to enjoy or how to kick sand in each other’s eyes in efforts to be crowned king of a hill. 

May you have a healthy, peaceful, loving and powerful 2014.

From My PowerLife to Yours, 
Elandus

Thursday, September 19, 2013

End of Summer Thoughts: 2013

First time here? Visit my New Visitors page to catch up.


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Before starting this post, I decided to read what I wrote this time last year. I knew that I had made progress in the direction that I want to go, but was curious about my expectations back then. I wanted to compare where I was then, where I expected to be in the future to where I am now. I noticed several things:
  • First, last year this time I was writing in trio; physical, spiritual, and mental.
  • Second, I was ending the cycle of counting pounds, fixating on food and feeling anxious about my size.
  • Third, I was just beginning to become less distracted by people around me and more able to focus on myself. 
  • Fourth, I finally came to terms with the fact that I would never be accepted by organized religion. 
  • Fifth, I was just beginning to see how much energy and time I had wasted trying to change the fourth fact. 
  • Sixth, almost as an aside, I mentioned that I wanted a bigger bank account. 
That was end of summer, 2012 in summary.

Now, fast forward to end of summer 2013 and let’s see what stuck and what didn’t. 
  • First, I still meditate every day, sometimes more. 
  • Second, I am smaller in size than last year and still do not worry about calories. 
  • Third, organized religion is something that very seldom even crosses my mind. 
  • Fourth, I have a strong connection to my God and see the work of the Universe every day of my life. 
  • Fifth, I notice people but find that they no longer distract me from my focus. 
  • Sixth, my bank account is, in fact, larger today than it was this time last year. 
All in all, from this time last year to now, I have made definite progress in the direction that I want to go.

My expectations for moving forward into the fall and the end of this year can be summed up with the word bright. Starting with the fact that my sojourn in the fires of bad break ups hell seems to be over, I expect negativity to continue to become a thing of the past. This means that it is far easier for me to see the positive in a situation and far less of a struggle to keep from traveling down Woe is Me Road when things don’t go as planned. 

I have laid out a detailed plan that includes month to month goals and the means to obtain them. So far this discipline has resulted in me obtaining my MA license to sell health and life insurance. I have identified places to buy business suits and a good tailor to do my alterations. I’m still dating and comfortable with being solo. Oh, while on the subject, I had my first experience of applying the Living PowerLife approach to dating while deciding whether to continue to date a particular person. Far less drama. 

As I continue along my path, I hope to meet more positive people and perhaps find a special person of my own. Until that happens, though, I will follow the Living PowerLife approach to happiness, health and well-being because I'm living proof that it works.

From my PowerLife to yours,
                    2013

Elandus











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