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Surrender by Kary Schumpert

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Surrender by Kary Schumpert

Surrender by Kary Schumpert

Sweet surrender
Is all that I have to give

– Sarah McLachlan, “Sweet Surrender”

In the popular lexicon, we think of surrender in terms of the end of war when one side gives up completely to the other.  In movies, the criminals surrender to the police. We think of surrender as giving up, and most often in terms of defeat.  Surrender, traditionally, means giving up control to someone else or something else.  For me surrender has changed its meaning and significance over time.  In fact, this morning the word and meaning changed completely for me.

For a couple of days I had been thinking about the state of my life in terms of an assessment.  The questions came and went, and while I considered the situational circumstances, it was really more of an internal process.  How am I doing in my career?  How am I doing in my health?  How am I doing with my attitude towards money?  How am I doing with my family?  With my spirituality?  With my friendships?  With love?  With myself?  I wasn’t looking for answers in terms of external “success,” but more about how I felt in terms of peace within those questions.

I thought a lot about which areas of my life I felt peaceful, and which areas I did not.

Last night I felt like I had reached the end of the questions--at least for the moment.  It was difficult to figure out what had brought on the questions.  Although for me, questioning and thinking in terms of spirituality and my life is a familiar exercise--sometimes deliberate, sometimes not.  It wasn’t a birthday or anniversary of any particular event, but maybe it had to do with the season of fall and recent conversations with a good friend.

I had made a pot of tea and sunk into the couch to watch a few episodes of one of my guilty pleasure TV shows.  I purposefully pushed the questions away and lost myself in the story of something else.  The word on my mind before I went to sleep that night was “surrender.”  I kid you not.  

Sunday morning I woke up early.  My heart and mind were quiet and I felt calm.  I opened my patio door and curled up in the turquoise Adirondack chair and felt the silence.  I drank coffee and felt the steam from the cup and the cool energy of autumn.  After almost an hour, I returned inside and picked up my phone, opened up the e-mail app and clicked on one of the daily meditations that I subscribe to.  I was pleasantly surprised that the subject line was “The Secret of Surrender.”  Once again, I found synchronicity in both meaning and timing.  I lapped up the words and thought back to the word on my lips when I fell asleep last night: surrender.  

Surrender, just in the course of the journey between last night to this morning’s readings and reflections, means something new.  For me, it is peace in the moment.  It is being comfortable with what is, even when it is not what I want.  It is learning to realize the long path, but being in step with right now.  It means letting myself go and not getting caught up in end results.  It means sinking into the moment.  Surrender is the ultimate measure of taking control by letting go of control.  Surrender means being okay, even when things are not okay.

Surrender is not wishing for something, but finding comfort in loss.  It is not defeat, but neither is it a win.  Surrender is finding grace.  Surrender means letting go of people and situations and results.  Surrender means not knowing.  Surrender is finding love for myself.  Surrender means giving up looking at everyone’s “papers” trying to find the answers, and instead looking down at my own work.  Surrender means being in my own footsteps, literally and figuratively.  Surrender means forgiveness.

Surrender means right now.

Kary Schumpert is an environmental educator and writer living in New Mexico. She loves running, hiking, camping, reading, teaching, writing, and exploring spirituality. Her writing has been published in Elephant Journal, New Leaf Meditation, Green Teacher, and Community Works Journal. She is a contributing editor for Community Works Journal and she keeps a blog at runningintolife.wordpress.com.

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The Great Debate: Let's Take a Seat, Drink, Breathe, Debate, Relax

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The Great Debate: Let's Take a Seat, Drink, Breathe, Debate, Relax

The Great Debate: Let's Take a Seat, Drink, Breathe, Debate, Relax
Guest blog by Kary Schumpert

It's hot. Heat and uncertainty seem to breed crankiness.

Each news headline brings on debate. Pro-this, pro-that, anti-this, anti-that. Passion and discussion and debate occasionally lead to rancor and nastiness. All of a sudden, folks that one disagrees with are evil and wrong. What's up?

There are lots of positives, though. I admire the passion and the fact that people are so dedicated to their issues and causes. They put up yard signs, sign petitions, send things in e-mail, post messages to their social media outlets, attend meetings, and reach out to others. And then there are the opposite actions when the opposing side is brought to attention. Folks are urged to support or boycott a company or organization for this reason or that. All of this action and discourse is welcome. People are actively shaping our democracy, our republic.

I grew up loving the idea of debate and discussion.

I have friends nearby and close friends from afar whom I keep in touch with in person and by e-mail, phone, and social media. A lot of those friends have opinions and political beliefs that span the spectrum, but I respect them even when I disagree with their messages and opinions. Far too often, we don't seem to get to have those discussions about what we think and why. For fear of setting off a rage of anger, we avoid the controversial topics or only converse about our deepest opinions with those who agree.

For my own sake, I try to read a variety of articles and get my news from lots of different sources, so that I can know and understand what people are hearing and learning. I miss, though, the ability to discuss politics and issues without it becoming mean-spirited. It helps me to hear opposing viewpoints. I need to be exposed to them. It helps me to better understand another perspective and it helps me to articulate my own stance. I can begin to see where there are misunderstandings and misperceptions and misinformation. It also shows me where the holes are in my own arguments. I enjoy finding where sides converge, or to learn that the means and ends are not necessarily that far apart.

In thinking of conversations on controversial topics, I am having a fit of nostalgia for my senior year in high school, particularly for the last semester and the following summer. Several of us were moving closer together, knowing that in a few months we would be moving farther away. A small group of us would discuss our beliefs and debate current events.

Today, many of those current issues are still very much the questions of the day. We examined religion and politics and money and how we thought things should get done. We talked about abortion and the death penalty and the environment. We weren't always well-informed, but the vanity of being 17 and 18 is that we already knew everything. We helped each other, though, and because of our common childhoods, we pushed each other into adulthood. We supported each other and listened and questioned. We didn't hate because we disagreed. It was an important first lesson that our politics and beliefs shaped us, but civility and friendship formed us as much, if not more. We lived the idea that respect for the person comes from engagement, even when you disagree. Agreeing to disagree can be one of the best feelings in the world, particularly after a hearty and heated exchange.

I would love to get my old tribe back together in the same room, and recall our side conversations in the back of the classroom and lingering next to lockers. If anything, we have all grown up and moved into our own lives. I know we still disagree on a lot of these issues, but I would like to think that we could still have those same passionate, yet respectful conversations. One of us is gone now, but I do know that the years and the memories and the miles melt into oblivion.

If you are craving some passionate and respectful discussion, here are some ways to go about it.

Whether they are old friends or new ones, find someone with whom you know you have a political or philosophical difference. If they're nearby, invite them over, or if they're far away, grab the phone. Let them know you want to catch up and that you want to discuss a controversial issue. Get a cold drink and make sure your friend has one as well--lemonade, iced tea, wine, beer, water--whatever will help to float the talk. Listen as they describe the issue as they see it and as they understand it. Ask what shaped their view. What would they do to solve the problem or issue? Ask your friend to give you the chance to do the same. It's not a Presidential debate, so you don't have to have all the facts or answers. Really listen. Contrast with each other how different your views are. Is the end result the same, but are the means very different?

Just when you feel your blood pressure rise, take a deep breath. Don't interrupt. Don't let your volume levels rise. Take a sip of your drink. Listen some more. Now take a pause. Get up and stretch. Take another sip of your drink. Hug or shake hands or give a verbal hug on the phone. I bet the opinions haven't changed. You probably still disagree. However, you may have a new perspective about why someone thinks the way they do. You may have made your argument stronger. You have new things to learn. Maybe it made you realize you are that much firmer with your position. You have a friend, you have a drink. It's a beautiful summer day. It's really not so bad.

Kary Schumpert
Guest Blogger
New Leaf Meditation Project

Kary Schumpert is an environmental educator and writer living in New Mexico. She loves running, hiking, camping, reading, teaching, writing, and exploring spirituality. Her writing has been published in Elephant Journal, New Leaf Meditation, Green Teacher, and Community Works Journal. She keeps a blog at runningintolife.wordpress.com.

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The Choice to be Mindful

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The Choice to be Mindful

The Choice to be Mindful
Guest post by Tanis-Arlene Taylor

Years ago, if someone asked me if I practice Mindfulness, I would have been completely clueless. What exactly does it mean to be Mindful? When I think of the word I can laugh, because I battle what I like to call a mind FULL of clutter. I am what people call a worry-wart. I seemingly like to create scenarios in my head before they even happen. It is a defense mechanism I developed in childhood, so that I could prepare myself for the worst. I created it to be a habitual behavior that swept through my adulthood, without any tangible evidence that it has done me a positive service. 

The idea of being Mindful was divinely introduced in my life about six years ago. I stumbled across some guided meditations, via the internet, during a time that I was desperately searching for help to escape from the darkness. I followed the sound of the soothing voice in my headphones, with incense burning, and a deep desire to believe that being told to ‘Just Breathe, Focus on my Breath’ would alter my circumstances. My memory is of falling asleep. Sleep, at that time, had become foreign to my body. So, it was welcomed with an open heart. From that moment on, I allowed myself to have an open mind to the practice of meditation and daily mindfulness. 

I have humbly learned a plethora of insight as to what mindfulness is for me, and how I can incorporate it into my daily life. Hardships have been the theme in my life for receiving the wisdom and the insight of what it means to be mindful. And naturally, the lessons have come in doses. However, I am learning that if I am truly being Mindful, the wisdom is ever present, to be accepted, every single day. I only need to be present for it. 

Do you ever find yourself looking down at your phone, without a clue as to what is happening around you? Do you find yourself daydreaming up a wonder and then realize twenty minutes have passed? Do you find yourself zoned into the television, only to realize half of the day is gone? I believe most of us have experienced these things. We are human, and each of us, from birth has individually designed specific coping mechanisms to deal with our individual reality. The question is, What DO you want your reality to be? 

The choice to be Mindful is the first step in not only self-discovery, but in creating the life we desire. How can we create a life full of love, joy, acceptance, forgiveness, serenity, and all the innate human desires, if we are unable to simple just BE in the present moment and just sit with ourselves? Our world today is so full of rush, go, zoom, on to the next (fill in the blank), that it is a wonder anxiety disorders are on the rise. What exactly are we rushing to? How do we know we will be fulfilled at that finish line if we cannot even answer if we are fulfilled in the present moment? Simply BEing opens doors of realizations and acceptance to what our reality TRULY is. And from there, you have to choose to accept or to change your circumstances. For instance, how do you know that you are truly happy? Does the feeling come from an external factor? Or does it come from an inner validation and fulfillment? 

I once heard that none of us will rise above being human here on Earth. That sentence has stuck with me, every single day since hearing it a few months ago. I am sharing this with you now to let you know that no matter where you are in life, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, we are on the same playing field. We all can relate with our human emotions; sadness, fear, joy, anger, etc. To be mindful is to be aware of these emotions, without any judgement. It is the choice to allow the past to be in the past and to know that the future has yet to come. It is fully embracing the present moment. It is knowing you have the choice, in every single moment, to alter your reality. But, you first need to be awake enough to accept the truth of your reality. 

From my personal experience, this all starts with my daily choice to be present with myself and my environment at any given time. It is profound to be in this process of self-discovery, and each day I am learning that I am a capable, compassionate, picky, serious person, yet I want to be constantly open and have humility. I wouldn’t know this otherwise, had I not slowed down enough to find that out. To practice Mindfulness is the most authentic gift you can give to yourself. 

So, you have a choice. 

Do you want to be somewhere in the past; a time that cannot be changed? If so, what is the benefit? What is the con?

Do you want to be in the future; a time that has yet to come, with no guarantee? If so, what is the benefit? What is the con?

Or do you want to be here now? The present moment is the only viable moment of time. The present moment is truly a gift to be valued. The present moment is all you have. Ask yourself, what is the benefit and what is the con of living in the present.

And with that, my last question is…

Now, what are you going to do with those answers?

Tanis-Arlene Taylor
Guest Blogger
New Leaf Meditation Project 

Tanis-Arlene Taylor is pursuing a degree in Natural Science. She has a beautiful Wife and two amazing children. Tanis is daily student of a mindful life. She says, "I haven't always known the light, so I understand your fear, but I am a warrior for my own spirit and my purpose is to spread my light to all of those willing to receive it. We are all needed. We are all worthy. We are all capable. Love is bountiful, infinite, and holds a sacred space for us all. I will assist you to find and BE your own light. Namaste." 

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Live and Love Like a Dog

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Live and Love Like a Dog

Live and Love Like A Dog
Guest post by J.P. Rippetoe

Even, and perhaps most importantly, when you act in ways that are out of alignment or cause yourself pain, show unconditional love.

There are two movies that are quoted on a regular basis in our house. The first is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “The blessing” makes a regular appearance at family dinners and whenever I finish a project around the house, I proudly announce that I “fixed the newel post.” The other movie that we quote often is Steele Magnolias. This is partly due to my having worked on a production of the play years back and six months of rehearsals has embedded the lines firmly into my long-term memory. Recently the quotes from Steele Magnolias that have been coming forward most are from the funeral monologue. Our house is grieving the loss of one of our dearest friends, fellow healer and our soul sister, and, like M’Lynn, I wanted to know why. I feel blessed that as I meditate, I can often get answers, and in this case I did. The Universe let me know she had learned the lessons that she needed to learn in this life and that the lessons that she had for we who remain would best be learned through her crossing the Rainbow Bridge. One of the lessons for me is to learn to live and love like a dog, which seems apropos considering she was a veterinarian.

Be Fiercely Loyal to Your Pack

Your pack is going to be defined by you. For some, it will include a large number of family and friends, for others it will be a small clan. Regardless, loyalty is key. When a member of your pack is hurt, you circle around them and do all you can to help them to heal and protect them. This loyalty goes beyond protecting them from external forces. We all know that there have been times when we have said and done things that have been hurtful to others or ourselves. In those times, our pack needs to remain fiercely loyal to us and help us to not only see the truth of our actions but also (and maybe more importantly) see the value in who we are. It also may be the case that a member of the pack may need to have time away from the pack. This should only be done when there is discord being created and I would suggest working to resolve the issue in other ways prior.

Love Unconditionally

There is no greater example on this planet of unconditional love than a dog. I don’t think it is at all a coincidence that dog and God use the same letters. I have seen first hand this love from my own dogs. When things were the darkest in my life, my dogs loved me when it seemed that others (including myself) could not. Even in those rare times when I have been less than the ideal doggy daddy, I have been quickly forgiven and loved. Take this example and start to apply it to your pack and the world in general. When your relational partner snaps at you for doing or not doing what was expected, show unconditional love. When someone cuts you off in traffic, show unconditional love. Even when you act in ways that are out of alignment or cause yourself pain, show unconditional love.

Shake It Off

With this lesson, I am not referring to the annoyingly catchy Taylor Swift song that is most likely stuck in your head right now. I have watched my dogs when they clash with the cat or each other over something. In the moment, there is a lot of growling, barking and showing of teeth. Once it is all over, they walk away, shake their body and move on. Some level of conflict is inevitable, but how long you carry that conflict is a choice. When it shows up in your life, be able to share your point of view, try to understand the opposing perspective and, when it’s all done, shake it off.

Take Long Walks in Nature With Your Pack

We live in a digital age. As I write this, I have two laptops, an iPhone, iWatch and two headsets within easy reach. Despite all the technology, we are losing our connection with each other. The time to put the tech down and move into nature is at hand. I find that when I walk in nature with my pack, magic happens. Conversations start and flow in directions that it would never go in other circumstances. I am not sure if it’s the closeness to the plants, the abundance of fresh air or the exercise, but our hearts open in nature. Use this to your advantage, get out on a regular basis and connect with our planet and each other.

Never Miss a Chance to Wag Your Tail

Celebrate. Do it often and for as many things as you can. This is showing the Universe gratitude for the gifts it brings to you, so be grateful for everything! If your friend calls and offers to take you out for lunch – celebrate. When you find money, be it $20 or a penny – celebrate. When you are playing volleyball and the other team wins – celebrate with them. Never miss a chance to celebrate for at the end of our lives we will not be remembered for how much stuff we have, but for the memories we have created with our pack. A surefire way to create those memories is to celebrate – wag your tail.

As I move forward in my life and heal the hole in my heart left by the loss of my friend, I know that I will do so as a better man for having known her and for having learned her lessons. I appreciate my pack more now than ever before. I am sure to let them know how much I love them. I hope that you can incorporate these lessons as well. Above all else, be kind, to those in your life and to yourself.

J. P. Rippetoe, the Alchemist Life Coach, is a blogger, writer, public speaker and the owner/co-founder of NRG Concepts (www.NRGConcepts-4u.com). Through his company, he takes a holistic approach to providing solutions for his clients, bringing balance and bliss into their personal experience. This is done through programs that include intuitive one-on-one coaching, creating community through small group life classes and assisting clients with the energy of their space through interior decor consultation, energy clearing and clutter cleansing. J. P. lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his co-creator, Gregory, their two cats, Mischa and Sasha, and two dogs, Botti and Nicky.

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Busyness

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Busyness

“A cluttered existence may keep us busy, but busyness doesn’t mean that we are fully engaged in what we’re doing. Usually, just the opposite, we feel busy because we are neurotically active at things that don’t matter much in the long run.”   ---- Thomas Moore, Original Self

Friends my age are beginning to think about retirement.

It’s sad to hear many of them remark that they don’t know what they’ll do with themselves without the busyness of corporate life, or that they’ll not retire because they don’t want to have too much time on their hands, or because they don’t want to experience the diminished income (i.e. they want to continue accumulating stuff). Also distressing is hearing from those who have retired from traditional work situations that they are bored. Some are filled with anxiety because of a ‘void’.

Similar feelings might be experienced when life is simplified.

But let me clarify: it’s not a void. It’s discomfort with a stranger. The stranger is you. And this is where you have the choice to become intimately acquainted or you can ignore him/her and just get busy again. I do hope that you'll choose the former and not the latter. I promise you won't be disappointed. The better you get to know that stranger, the more simple your life can become. The simpler your life becomes, the more opportunity to intimately know this stranger. This simplicity and willingness is fertile ground for a lush and deep-rooted spiritual life. It opens the opportunity for realization of how complex, how interesting, how creative you actually (we all) are.

Oh, what a journey! What an adventure! Without leaving your home you will begin to see new vistas, and in familiar friends you'll meet new people.

Don't be afraid of time, space, inactivity.

Creating stillness in the interior and physical space makes possible the visitation of inspiration. It makes possible the emergence of something new, but also allows forgotten passions and desires to surface. Simplifying your life allows the complex individual that you are to surface. You are a vibrant tapestry full of excitement and tranquility, desire and contentment. How many times have you found yourself reminded of something you love but hadn’t thought about or engaged in for some time; a place that you like to go, an activity that you enjoy? Have you ever remarked, “I loved doing that as a boy” or “I haven’t thought about that in years” or "Gee, I miss doing that"?

Most of us have had the experience of the busyness of life crowding out things that we take great pleasure in. We allow those things to fall away giving greater priority to (so-called) responsibility and achievement. When in most cases it’s just busyness that has taken the foreground. Engagement, unlike busyness, occupies your entire being; the physical, the emotional, the mental. It's making love all the time, but in different ways. I prefer living a love-filled life to a busy life, don't you?

So how do we engage with intent and stop the busyness?

If your busyness is primarily at work, take a look at how you can impact the flow. Can you better manage your time? Can you suggest a change of process (that may benefit others as well)? Are you taking on responsibilities that need not be yours? Can you prepare better for repetitive tasks that save you time and keep you better organized? Is your workspace organized in a way that helps rather than hinders you? If not, get rid of what you don't need and create a place for what you do need - and keep those things in their place. This applies to virtual files as well as to physical tools. Is your busyness related to achievement? That is, are you constantly taking on more and more in order to climb the company ladder? Is it possible to get recognition by doing something, maybe even one thing, extremely well rather than trying to do many things (and burning out)? And of course this takes us full circle to the root of wanting to achieve or earn more to get the attention and/or more stuff. This endless cycle is worth thinking deeply about.

If your busyness is at home: Are chores shared? Is the family calendar too packed with planned activities? Are you signed up for too many social obligations? Why? Maybe you don't have to be in on everything. Give one of the picnics or movies a miss. Are you too burdened with responsibilities to others (extended family)? If so adjust the frequency and/or ask for help. Is your home arranged in a manner that is conducive to play and relaxation? Do you know where the things you need are? Do you have too much stuff? If you're in the cluttered and over-stuffed category, try this exercise: For 1 month, keep track of how many times and how long it takes to locate things (like keys, backpacks, the checkbook, dog leashes, etc.) for everyone in the family. You'll be amazed how many hours your family might rack up just trying to find things among the glut.

Busyness puts us out of touch, out of alignment.

We're out of touch with our own real wants and needs. We're out of alignment with our real selves. Speaking from a spiritual perspective, if we're in alignment with what we really are - which is an extension and expression of all that there is or ever will be - what could we possibly need? Very little on this physical plane, I should think. It's said that highly enlightened masters hardly needed even food. Most of us will not reach, nor desire to reach, that state of alignment. And that's okay.

We're all here to experience and express something unique. We're more likely to discover that uniqueness and achieve that expression when the distraction of busyness is removed. Busyness is a barrier to discovery. Remove it. Simplify your daily life and discovery how truly gifted and fascinating you are. Be pleasantly surprised by how often inspiration visits now that you can hear that voice. Our inspiration and creativity  and joy is right here, all the time. We just have been busily buzzing past it and shouting over it. Slow down, let some things go. The world will continue to turn. Engage by choice. Enjoy.

Copyright 2016 Dawn Murphy

Dawn Murphy is the author of "Physical Stuff & Mental Junk: A Minimalist Path to True Abundance." Her work has been been endorsed by Dr. Will Tuttle, author of "The World Peace Diet,"  Phil Borges, Ph.D of Bridges to Understanding, and Dr. Howard Zinn. She’s currently working on her fourth book, "So Vegan Easy" available in 2017. Visit her Blog/Website:veganminimalist.com 

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