I am often asked, ?how do you balance your busy work-life with your home-life??
I immediately say, ?with great effort, discipline, and focus.?
There is no magic to the eternal balance between work, love, and play.
It is a constantly dynamic and ever-shifting equation.
It never looks the same for the next person or the next moment. It is always morphing. Accepting its fickle, capricious nature is the first step to mastering it. From this acceptance, we can fine-tune our relationship to it, to make it work for us!
Here are the ten principles I abide by that allow me to rock the work-love-play equation and grow in those moments that I don?t ?rock it.
1) OWN THAT YOU ARE A CO-CREATOR:
A lot of our energy gets squandered when we resist taking ownership over our own lives. We prefer to pretend that we are hapless victims of our life. Many times, we set things up in a particular way and then refuse to take ownership for our role in the set-up. Our denial of our co-creation in the as-is of our life keeps us stuck in unimaginable ways.
For many years of my early life I was blissfully unaware of my part in the active co-creation of my life circumstances. I thought life just happened TO me, instead of FOR me. Now, many mistakes later, I have come to realize this one basic truth: Every moment is here for us to grow. The more ordinary or painful the moment, the greater the invitation to growth, stillness and presence. Most importantly, I pulled this moment into my life to learn from.
If I am washing dishes, I have learned to own that I co-created this reality that I am – in this moment – a dish-washer. And since I created my own dish-washing, I need to claim full responsibility and love it. This is MY moment. These are MY dishes that feed me. I will not resist this moment. I will surrender to it because I created it in partnership with the Universe. I will therefore, learn from it.
If I apply this principle to every area of my life, I suddenly remove all resistance, resentment and discontent. As I can now see my role in the active co-creation, I am more willing to own the burdens it may bring, without blaming life, or anyone else for it.
The more I love my moment, claim and own it, the greater is the release of power, courage, creativity and flow. The more I resist my moment and refuse to own my part in creating it, the greater is the release of lethargy, apathy and lack.
What am I resentful for right now?
What is my role in creating this?
What am I afraid of?
How can I own the transformation that I am being asked to make?
Owning our co-creator role is a bit anti-climactic at first. It is hard to get used to the fact that there is no-one to ?blame? but ourselves. However, as we get used to this, we enter a state of power and liberation. The more we take responsibility for our own lives, the greater is the state of connectedness and meaning.
2) BEING IS AS IMPORTANT AS DOING:
I have come to see that my body and mind cannot function on non-stop doing, doing, doing. There needs to be a total FREEZE on the doing or else I will burn out. I have come to accept that every workaholic such as myself, and every parent out there, needs to create a structured and intentional TIME OUT otherwise they will self-destruct.
As hard as it is for me to remember this, I have made a pledge of glorious self-care. Once a week, without fail, I enter a BRAIN-FREEZE, A DOING-PARALYSIS, A BEING-FEST. Either I nap all day till my daughter returns from school, or I give myself a day with friends, or a day of aimless wandering in NYC. I give myself the gift of nothingness. And from?this day of nothingness comes replenishment and recharge.
Self-care – GLORIOUS SELF-CARE – is what I am talking about. This is our mandate as women, mothers, parents, humans. Our children need to emulate this life-principle, and we need to make sure we are embodying it ourselves.
Self-care is the foundation of all other care. Without it, we are automatons running on empty. Self-care is not selfish, it is imperative. Without it, we are living a lie for we cannot say we love our children if we have not fully loved our own beings. I am not lying when I say this: If you aren?t doing daily self-care, you are living an inauthentic life.
Create a self-care ritual for yourself, starting right now.
Either journaling, walking, sleeping or playing.
This is YOUR time to connect within and enter wholeness.
It must have the quality of indulgence and self-soothing.
From this place, spring shall blossom.
The doing-we-do needs to come from being. If the doing doesn?t emerge from a state of rest and connectedness, it will ultimately undo us. When we are connected to ourselves and in a state of wholeness, all the doing-we-do will be joyful and meaningful.
3) SIMPLIFY AND DE-CLUTTER:
I have learned that less is indeed more. Toward this, I have tried to discipline myself to buy and surround myself with only what is essential. Every object that enters my home is one that I have a relationship with – it is of value, purpose and worth – not in the past, but in this moment, otherwise it doesn?t have a place in my life.
Streamlining our external environment helps us to streamline our internal and vice versa. Tidiness and organization are important to me, not just because I am a neat-freak, but also because it represents – for me – a clear and calm mind. Clutter signifies internal disorganization. Having said this, if there IS clutter, I try not to freak out either because it is ?just?clutter.
I have found that cutting down on all forms of excess is key; no excess on my schedule, no excess food in freezers and fridges, no excess chochkas around the house, no excess clothes, no excess books?nothing that fills space just for the sake of filling space.
Empty space – zen space – is a reflection of a clear mind. A portal for creativity, stillness and presence.
Basic is good. I strongly believe in recycling our belongings, and letting go of things with cold-blooded detachment. When things are of no purpose to us any longer, they should be given away to those they could benefit or else, surrendered back to the Universe in some way. Holding onto objects for the sake of nostalgia creates a clinging attachment which bogs us down. To be free in spirit means to only have a relationship with the things in our life that have purpose in this moment. This moment only.
Look around you and at your schedule for the week.
Go through the objects and the activities.
What is redundant? What is excess? What is superficial?
What is from the past and not from the present?
What can you let go of and share with others?
What do you absolutely need?
Only keep what is true to who you are at this moment. Discard the rest. Empty up space. Space invites essence. Clutter invites disconnection. What is within is without. What is without is within. All of life is a reflection of the inner state of being.
4) HOLD SACRED BOUNDARIES:
I have – thankfully, after many mis-steps – come to discern who or what is spirit-affirming for me and that which isn?t. The difference between what is good for our ego and what is good for our spirit is key; one takes us away from flow and one channels us right back into flow.
Once we are able to discern between what is good for our ego and what is good for our essence, then we need to create boundaries – bold boundaries.
This may mean, we need to divorce our friends, our jobs or our spouses. It may mean we need to stay away from our families of origin or our neighbors. Whatever it is, we need to honor ourselves enough to do it.
I have long learned to root out all those who bring negative agendas and energy into my life. I simply do not have time for drama and unhealthy patterns. I only try to surround myself with those who are authentic to their life?s journey, willing to be transparent and fully committed to self-reflection. Of course, I have learned this the hard way?and still make mistakes. However, I am quick to self-correct and grow.
When we surround ourselves with those who suck on our life-force, we are in essence inauthentic to our truest selves. We are lying to our truth. Having the courage to say ?no? to those who are ?using? us is an important step in our growth. It means we move away from being needy children who are afraid of authority and instead, claim our own self-authority.
Who in your life right now is sucking the life out of you?
Who do you have resentment toward?
Why do you feel unappreciated by them?
Are your boundaries clear?
Do you have poor boundaries because you are afraid of losing them?
Are you afraid of not being loved? approved? understood? liked?
Do you want to be seen as the ?good? one and are terrified of conflict?
The sooner you get to the root of your unhealthy pattern and make slight boundary changes, your entire life will change.
5) BEFRIEND IMPERFECTION:
One of the main reasons I can be productive is because I don?t get attached to perfection. My mantra is ?get it done, move on.? Life is about action for me – the quickest route to action. I don?t believe in endless planning and pondering. I don?t believe in taking extraordinary risks necessarily, however I am not afraid to take risks within my means at all. Life is about manifesting our dreams. In order to do this, we have to let go of the desire to be seen as perfect. The power in manifesting our dreams is far greater than the power of perfection.
When we let go of the desire for a perfect finished product and instead, just commit to the adventure in the ride, we suddenly shift in our focus. The focus is no longer the end result, but the fun we are having getting there. And boy, is there a lot of fun to be had in life!
I always say, when we ask too many questions that start with a ?how,? it is really because we are terrified of failing, and being imperfect. The ?how? figures itself out. The key is to take that first step forward based on the love in your heart. When we operate out of love, the universe helps us with the ?how.?
What is your heart?s desire and what is keeping you from manifesting it?
You will see that you are afraid of failing.
It is only when you work on yourself to become friends with failure that you will move forward in life.
You have to be friends with your imperfect self and you have to love her/him. When you do, you won?t be sad when she/he shows up.
You will say, ?hello there my dearest vulnerable, imperfect human self. I love you. Thank you for showing me that I am an ordinary, human being.”
In these ways, we remember to stay humble and that life is all and only about growth, not perfection.
6) ONLY DO YOU:
It is only when I am totally real that I am totally effective. The moment I try to be someone else, I fall flat on my face. Each and every time I have abandoned my true self, I have suffered greatly, lost friends, lost time and made bad decisions.
It is only when I am intimate with my truth and in touch with what is TRUE FOR ME, AND ONLY ME, that I can dip into that place of fearlessness. Why? Because once I own my truth, I am able to own the consequences of that truth. And trust me, there are always consequences. When I fake my truth and pretend to be someone I am not, I get angry when things don?t go my way. Why? Because I am not owning my part in the equation.
I have learned now that the only person I can do is me. And owning this truth is liberating.?You cannot be the spouse your partner wants you to be; you can only be the one you already are. You cannot be the parent your children wish they had; you can only be the parent you are. You cannot be the friend, daughter, colleague you wish others had; you can only be the one you already are. This doesn?t mean you cannot take feedback and learn, grow and change ? absolutely not! However, it does mean that you can only be true to yourself at the end of the day ? even if it doesn?t work out for anyone else.
Owning your truth is key. Most of us are playing our life to someone else?s tune, trying desperately to be accepted by them, willing to forsake our essence. This is a sure-fire path to self-sabotage and depression. The only way to joy is authenticity. This and nothing else.
Are you afraid to be you?
Is there someone you are afraid of losing?
Or someone who?s holding you hostage from your truth?
It is time to ask yourself the tough questions and make the changes you need to, to re-align with your true self.
If you don?t, not only will you fade away, but your children will suffer.
When we enter the courage to be ourselves, we not only release a whole burst of energy to manifest our purpose, but also, most importantly unleash the shackles around others so that they too, can be their most authentic selves.
7) MAKE YOUR WORK YOUR LIFE AND YOUR LIFE YOUR WORK:
As much as possible, and I know it cannot be true for everyone, shift from believing that your work and life are two separate entities. If you don?t, work will feel like ?work.? When there is a seamlessness between your work and your life, something miraculous happens:
You remain the same person you are – in both arenas. Both are natural extensions of who you are. So, if you are in ?life? you are the same – and when you are in ?work? you are the same person. There is no division. Work is not begrudged while your life is not yearned for. Work IS life; and life IS work. Both are one. When you are one with this reality, you no longer dread one over the other and therefore your Universe becomes joyful.
“Am I?in ‘work’ that I don?t love?”
If so, what can you do to make the shift to begin ?loving? your work more?
If your life doesn?t create love and joy, ask yourself, ?what is missing for me?
How can I fill the holes? What can I do to create more joy and abundance??
When we see our work as life, and life as work, both enrich the other instead of taking away from. When our life is lived as one non-dual whole, it allows us to free a vortex of power and action.
8) ONLY LIVE IN THE NOW:
This may seem like I am advocating wanton abandon and recklessness – far from it. Living in the now means to be extremely present to the as-is of this moment – and fully aligning and accepting what you need to do in response to this. Living in the now means being present to what is arising in THIS moment and dogmatically refusing to step into the past or a yearning for the future. It means saying, ?I am in this traffic jam right now so let me be in this moment fully, completely? or ?I am feeling really bad right now, so let me witness this feeling right now.? It means being ever-vigilant to what is arising in this moment, without clinging to the ?should? and ?could.?
Living in the now frees up our energy to be engaged with our lives with immediacy, presence and intent. It focuses us to the actions we need to take in the now. If we need to pay bills, we pay our bills. If we need to rock our infant to sleep, this is what we do. If we need to clean a diaper, this is what we do. We enter the present moment as if it were holy, without resistance or longing for something other than what it is.
What are you holding onto from your past that interferes with this present moment? What are you yearning for in the future that is creating dissatisfaction for you right now?
Why can?t you accept your present moment and find the joy in it?
What is stopping you from loving your now?
The future springs forth from this moment. So the best way to attract your future is to live in this moment. When we live in this moment, we move toward the future.
9) BE A MAVERICK WARRIOR, UNAFRAID TO RIDE LIFE SOLO:
Part of doing your life means that you are going to piss a lot of people of – plain and simple. You are going to get a lot of hate mail, disapproval and trolling. It is going to make you doubt yourself and feel like hiding under a rock. Bottom line: if you cannot stand displeasing anyone, then this path may not be for you.
It took me a long time to understand that living an authentic life means:
Not a lot of people have the stamina or courage to walk besides you
A lot of people will jeer, ridicule and hate on you
You will need to let go trying to please everyone
You will need to get used to your own company – so you better love yourself, pronto
You will spend a lot of time on your own as stillness is intrinsic to this path
At first, I was scared to walk this path alone. And then I realized this: We are always walking alone. Each one of us is on our own solo journey. Yes, we walk together, but sometimes we entertain the illusion that this togetherness means oneness. I now know that true oneness comes from the insight that all of us are walking our own paths. No one can or needs to walk our path with us. We are sufficient and capable of walking our own paths. It is our fear to accept this truth about our aloneness, that makes us all enmesh ourselves on one path believing it is the only one. It is time to separate our paths so that we can enter the higher oneness of our communal journey. The journey is one, the paths are many.
Whose path are you on right now?
Your path or your fear?s path?
Are you able to walk this path alone?
Are you able to let go the need to be everyone?s friend, mother, caregiver and therapist?
Are you able to withstand their anger as you separate onto your own path?
It is only when you can stand on your own, in touch with your own path that you will enter your true power.
Our need for approval and permission from others is a barrier to our truth. The sooner we can release this need, the quicker and more powerfully will we walk on our path as we are meant to.
10) GET TO KNOW YOUR EGO:
The ego – our false self – that makes us operate out of lack, need, fear, dependency, lesser-than-ness – is deadly. Well, it wasn?t always deadly. When it was first created, it was protective. It was necessary. But as we grow older it begins to choke us. It makes us anxious, hesitant and insecure. In extreme cases, it makes us obsessed with food, drugs, sex and anything on the outside – just to fill its empty hole.
It is only when we are intimate with the workings of our ego that we will be able to catch ourselves from falling. Only when we can pinpoint, ?ah that is my ego talking,? will we be able to separate from it. The ego mostly shows up in the insecure ways of our ?inner child.? When we are in touch with our inner child, we are able to stop reacting to her/him in unconscious ways. When we are not in touch with the inner child, we act out in all sorts of ways, thinking we are oh-so-grown-up, but actually, we are just five-year olds having a meltdown of some sort.
It is only now, after many, many years of working on myself that I can instantly spot the ego and because of this, I am quicker to reign it in. I am not always 100% efficient in doing this because, boy, the ego is sneaky and manipulative – it has developed all sorts of underhanded ways to get its needs met. It uses: blame, shame, passive-aggressiveness, naivete, innocence, pleasing others, subtle lying-to-the-self, distractions, etc. to create an inauthentic experience. Recognizing ourselves when we enter ego is the key to living an authentic life. One of the clearest ways of knowing we are in ego is this: we are angry, resentful, anxious or reactive. The moment we are one of these, we need to stop and note, ?I am in ego right now. What is triggering me? How can I pay attention to my inner child and meet its needs in a healthy way??
If you have been unduly reactive lately or anxious, it is time to do a mental detox and ask yourself if you have been lying to yourself via the ego in some way.
Your deepest self knows when you are in ego or in essence – the ego takes us into our head, and essence into our hearts.
I hope these lessons help you on your path toward your true self. They certainly have helped me be in total alignment with my authentic self. From this place of absolute alignment, my true self is free to manifest all sorts of wonderful things.
This – living in the present moment – is a practice that we need to cultivate on a daily basis. It is imperative to do so. When we do, we bear its fruits – fruits of joy, purpose and meaning.
Life is short even though time is timeless.
Seize this moment to change.
It is in this moment that your entire future gets created.
Are you living this moment with your fullest presence and awareness?