The Story Mirror


MirrorsI was putting on my makeup the other morning when I noticed a matched set of wrinkles around my mouth. Having reached the age where the mirror is can seem like an enemy instead of a friend, I am hyper-vigilant about the stories I tell myself as I gaze at my reflection.

It makes all the difference in what I see.

Allow me to provide two examples to demonstrate my point. Assume both of these scenarios occurred on the same day, at the same time:

Story A: It’s the end of 2015 and I didn’t accomplish all of my goals. I feel time slipping through my fingers like grains of sand and I feel powerless to stop the flow. I don’t particularly like myself right now and the choir of judgment, criticism and frustration is singing at full volume. When I look in the mirror, all I see are wrinkles, gray hairs and a bit of sagging around my jawline. I frown at my image and wonder (rather despondently) why I look so much older.

Story B: It’s the end of 2015 and I made a list of all that I accomplished this year. I have taught courses, given speeches (on a cruise!), appeared on television, been interviewed on radio shows and even created a podcast. It’s been a productive year and I can’t wait for 2016! When I look in the mirror, I see myself as a vibrant woman eager to share her wisdom. The wrinkles, gray hairs and sagging jawline are just the physical evidence that I have lived more than 50 years on this planet. I smile at myself, knowing that I am enough.

What just happened? My physical appearance didn’t change. The mirror’s surface was the same – it reflected back what was before it. The only thing different was the story I told myself as I looked into the mirror. And that story (whether it was positive or negative) caused me to see myself differently.

Instead of reflecting light particles, my mirror actually reflected the stories I told myself! Instead of an inanimate object made of glass and silver, I now call it my “Story Mirror.”

My mirror has become my litmus test. When I see the wrinkles, gray hair and sagging skin, I know I am not telling myself an uplifting story. When I see sparkling eyes and I can smile at myself, my internal story is rocking.

Your Stories Filter What You See

Stories are the meaning you attach to neutral facts. In the examples above, the physical appearance of my face certainly did not change, but I saw different things because of my story filter.

Can you change your limiting stories? Absolutely. Are you willing to become aware of your limiting stories so you can change them? Silence…as crickets chirp in the background.

The inevitable truth is: Only you are in control of your stories. You created them and you can change them. No one is coming to fix it. Only you can decide what stories work for you and which ones need to be changed.

“But how do I change my stories? That’s exactly how I see myself!” I can hear the conversation in your head as you consider my message. I do not have enough space here to explain the how and why of the Story Alchemy™ process, but I can promise you that it works miracles.

When you change your stories, you change your life. Your view of your world also changes to reflect your new perspective.

Life is a Mirror of your Inner World

One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau: It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see. When you begin alchemizing your limiting stories, you begin to see your world differently.

Why? It all starts with your inner world. Change your inner world and the outer world will also change.

We live in a dualistic world of physical form, governed by the laws of time and space. Good and bad co-exist; love and hate can always be seen; joy and despair exist in the same set of circumstances.

It all comes down to which story you choose as your filter. Are you limiting your view because of the choir of judgmental voices singing in your head? Or have you chosen to ignore them and turn toward the light of empowerment?

It is your choice, in every moment. Your choice determines what you see in the mirror, and in the outside world.

Why not choose to stand in front of your mirror with an empowering story about yourself, your life and your value? Commit to seeing the greatest version of the grandest vision of yourself and your world will change…because you have changed it from the inside.

You always have the perfect litmus test to determine whether you are on track. Your mirror. And your life.

Interested in learning more? Please visit KathrynEriksen.com and join my email list. Your first gift is the Story Alchemy ebook, that explains the process of returning to your authenticity.

 

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Have You Validated Someone Today?


What do you do when someone gives you a compliment? Do you smile and accept it without adding any disparaging remarks about yourself? Or are you like me – thrilled on the inside to hear that someone on the outside thinks I am great, but playing the social game of diminished returns so I don’t look arrogant?summit of u.p.

If you believe society wants us to play small, raise your hand.

If you are tired of playing small to make someone else look big, raise your other hand.

Now look up and tell me what you see – your hands raised, palms open and your body open.

That is your natural state of being!

To prove it, take about 15 minutes to watch this video about validation (copy and paste to your browser). It will make you smile, cry and smile. Then share this message with your world.

Moment to moment, live from that place of certainty and knowingness of your worth and value.  Say “no” to the things that keep you small and say “yes” to those things that cause you to grow, expand and be happy.

It is always your choice, in every moment. CHOOSE WELL!

 

Who Do You Appreciate?


Remember being in high school and sitting at a football game.  The cheerleaders would try to get the crowd excited and hungry for a victory.  A line from one of the cheers went something like this:

Five, Six, Seven, Eight…Who do we appreciate?

I suspect that the word “appreciate” was used because it rhymes with “eight,” but this line is a great reminder on how to live a joyful life.  Because the one person you should be appreciated the most is…YOU.

Have you ever noticed that you have to perceive something first, before you can notice it in the world?  Before you can emotionally resonate with another person or thing, you have to have seen it in yourself.  It is your decision about yourself that determines your world.

For example, if you wake up and immediately think of the millions of tasks you have to accomplish, and wonder how you are ever going to get them done, don’t you feel a sense of anxiety – even dread? If you see yourself as a “person-who-has-too-much-to-do-and-how-in-the-world-am-I-going-to-get-it-all-done” then that is how you will be in that moment.  If you hold onto that thought, there is no doubt that you will “be-come” that thought as you move about your day.

Who wants to live in a state of anxiety or dread?  Certainly not me…or you either, or else you would not be spending precious time reading these words.  Since you stopped by and you reached this far, stay for a bit longer, O.K.?

Let me ask you a question: How do you see yourself in this moment? Who are you in this drop of time as we share our thoughts?  Has your opinion about yourself colored how you perceive and interpret the meaning of these words? (O.K., that was three questions…)  Some people may doubt these words, others will embrace them.  Whatever your reaction, you can trace it back to how you perceive your place in the world.

If you see yourself as a seeker of truth and an adventurer in this game of life, you will read this article much differently than someone who feels that life is a struggle and asks, “Why is it so hard?”  Either way, the filter of your self-perception determines your world.

Remember, the first relationship you ever have is with yourself.  Love yourself and you will see love in your world.  Hate yourself and you will see…well, you get the idea.

So the first step in changing your world is to first identify how you see yourself in it.  Write down your thoughts about yourself for a day and you will have taken a momumental step towards a better life.  For once you identify how you define yourself, you can take steps to change that definition.  Be on the lookout for judgments you make about yourself.  Write those down too, because they cement your ideas about yourself.

After one day of recording your thoughts about yourself, look on what you have written as if it came from your best friend.  Treat yourself with compassion and love.  You do not need to judge what you have written (which also contains judgments!)  Your answer is your answer. There is no right or wrong.  You own your perception of yourself. You created it and you “be-come” it as you move about in the world.  And here is the secret to a happy life:

No one can change it but you.

But remember this…your answer is your answer.  It will determine how you see the world.  For what you see in yourself, you see in the world.

Which brings us back around to the high school cheer.  Who do YOU appreciate?  If your answer is not YOU, then you will not see your place in the world as secure, joyous and loving.  Instead, you will see fear, lack and competition.  If there is lack of appreciation of yourself, you will see lack in your world.  Think about it, and then change how you think.

Now…stand up and say it with me…One, two three, four — Who are you fighting for?  Five, six, seven, eight – Who do you appreciate?

YOU!

Water Musings


Goutte d'eau.

Image via Wikipedia

Water flows and adapts to the banks of the river. It never complains that the shore is too small or not the right shape. It just continues to flow and move, adapting, changing and accepting.

Waves are powerless to stop crashing on the shore. It is the endless dance of creation and destruction, moved by the moon and sustained by the sun. The waves hold nothing back as they meet their destiny; the shore does not cringe or falter as the rush of nature’s power pounds, grinds and takes away.

Water adapts to the shape of the container. The same amount of water can look like more when the glass is tall and narrow, or less when the bowl is wide and open. Effortlessly changing shape and form, it is the same water, composed of the same number of drops and molecules. The shape of those drops and molecules changes as the container changes.

Are you more like the container, rigid and inflexible, insisting that life conform to your exacting standards? Or do you live your life as the water, expanding and contracting as the situation demands, but never spilling a drop of yourself? Effortlessly accepting change and scope but always aware of your core values?

If you are more like the container, it might be time to accept the past, release those persons or things involved and offer the entire situation to God or the Holy Spirit for healing. Your goal is to become fluid and flexible. Not exacting in your expectations of the result but focused on the feeling of your desires.

By releasing your desire to control the outcome, you open a space for God to step into the situation. The water knows it is flowing towards a bigger ocean, just as you will evolve into a bigger version of yourself if you let go of the limitations in your thinking. We are only as big as our thoughts…if you allow God to expand your thoughts into something for his purpose, how much larger will you become?

God is limitless abundance. You have only to surrender to him and let him take care of the “how” while you define the “what”. Your purpose while in form is to be an open portal for His love and grace. He will support your efforts a thousand times because that is what he made you for – to be His creative hand on earth.

You are an instrument of God… A tool of creation. But you are not an inanimate object with no influence or direction. Instead, God created you to create, but he gave you the greatest gift of all – the ability to choose. He will never violate your free will, but He will welcome you back with open arms when you choose to return home.

Just like the prodigal son.

So as you journey in your life, making choices, remember to be fluid like water, flowing over, under and around the stones and limbs that block your path towards a bigger you.

Can Dogs be Good Teachers?


We think that we train dogs…but can they also train us?  We assume that because we are human and dogs are…just dogs, that we know more.  We may know more stuff, but do we really know more of the important stuff?

I began wondering about this whenever we visit the Bark Park, a patch of green grass in the midst of a concrete jungle.  It is the social time and place for the neighborhood made up of apartment dwellers – for the dogs and their humans.  The dogs have their own way to greet each other (it involves a lot of sniffing and turning) while their owners follow a different pattern (a quick glance, smile or nod, then maybe a short conversation).

I am certainly no expert on the sociological behaviors of the canine or human species, but perhaps we could learn something from our four legged friends.

The dogs who enter the park shy or reserved are treated differently than the happy, exuberant ones who fall all over themselves to be liked.  Just imagine the contrast between a Chihuahua and a Golden Retriever.  Or the aloof, aristocratic entrance of an Afghan Hound to that of a Great Dane.  While each breed has its own personality and characteristics, each one slightly adapts to the other dogs in the park.

Afghan Hound XXXIII Dogs Show in Ustroń, Poland

Image via Wikipedia

Last night, for example, our usually reserved Afghan actually started playing with the coal black Great Dane!  This only lasted for 30 seconds before Godiva (guess which dog she is) decided that she would revert back to her standard mode and she gracefully trotted off to another part of the park.  The Dane, not to be ignored, followed her and they seemed to have a quiet interlude under the small tree that overlooks Downtown.

Needless to say, both the guy who owns the Dane and myself were astonished.

“I have never seen him act that way with another dog,” he explained.  “Usually Max just bowls right over other dogs.  He NEVER is still!”

I just shook my head.  “Godiva NEVER plays with other dogs – I still can’t believe it!”

Just as we were trying to process what just happened, the two new friends calmly walked over to us, tongues hanging out and a joyful expression in both pairs of eyes.  There was no big announcement of  “look what I did.”  Instead, the attitude of both dogs was “that was fun, but now I am ready to go sleep.”

A total shift in behavior and then back to normal.

The dogs did not hide behind masks of social acceptance, trying to behave a certain way just to be part of the group.  Neither did they act differently than how God made them.  Each was true to himself and his breed, but both stepped out of their usual traits to learn more about the other.  Each dog was well grounded in who he was and what he was, but neither hesitated to try something new.

We should transition so easily and gracefully.

Dance With the Divine


What is it about nature that instantly connects us to the Source and Creator of All?

That question popped into my mind during a recent trip to the mountains. After the business of getting to our destination was finished, the groceries unloaded and bags unpacked, there was nothing else to do but sit on the front porch and just be.

For the first time, I heard the symphony of nature. The high rustle of the aspen leaves dancing in the sun. The birds talking to each to other as the wind enveloped the entire scene with a blanket of sound unlike anything I had ever heard.

It started off low and distant, unseen but definitely heard. The tops of the pine trees on the next ridge began to sway and then it rolled over the hills and valleys until it reached my tiny, minuscule ears. Just like ocean waves that crash on the shore, only to recede back into their source, the wind in the mountains is part of the same eternal dance of giving and receiving.

I call it the “Dance With the Divine.”

I forget to dance when I am so caught up in man-made ideas, concepts and things that my mind is cluttered with the so-called essentials of modern life. My ability to stop and listen to nature seems to dim amid all of the noise of living in a city – traffic and cars, the ding of another text message or email or just the sound of people talking.

Too long emeshed in that unnatural world, and I forget to tend to my inner world. Judgment, criticism of myself and others become the dominant sign posts that guide my joyless life. Logic and reasoning are the fuel toward goals that are at once transitory and illusionary in their substance. I loose touch with my essence and become someone who feels foreign and alien. My ability to flow with events is stymied by my focus on “what is popular” or “how to fit in.”

Until I return to my true nature of giving and receiving.

But it is not just my outer nature to which I must tend – my inner world is most in need of attention. The giving and receiving also pertains to my relationship with God.

We were created in His image and likeness. Perhaps that is why when I look at what God has made – the jewel toned hummingbird, exquisitely cloaked in brilliant colors, or the majesty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, or just the simple beauty of the wind in the trees – I instantly connect to God.

And I recognize that He was there all along, patiently waiting for me to accept His invitation to dance. As I learn and relearn the same lesson over and over, I realize that I am the one who turns away or does not listen. He is always there, hand extended in an open inviation for me to let Him lead. All I have to do is accept and follow.

And my dance with the Divine can begin again.

To learn more about how to dance with the Divine, please visit Amazon.com and look up my e-book by the same name. The cost is minimal ($2.99) but the impact immeasurable.

Hello world!


I have joined the ranks of the many by starting my own WordPress blog.  But I have to wonder why anyone would want to read my words, my random musings about life or my insights gained from living on this earth for more than 50 years (when in the world did THAT happen?)

A blog is an blank canvas, waiting for inspiration, comedy, pain, anger or any other emotion you could paint on it with words.  The brush of life connects the globs of colored ideas to create a new twist, a sparkling idea of insight that takes your breath away.

Or at least, that is what I hope to invoke in my readers…

No one says it better than Julia Cameron, in The Right to Write:

“Valuing our experience is not narcissism…It is, rather, the act of paying active witness to ourselves and our world…As we attune ourselves more and more closely to the value of passing moments, we learn that we are something of moment ourselves.”

Won’t you join me in my journey to witness life?  And please leave your comments, suggestions and concerns.