Burn is the New Black

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Burn is the New Black

I just returned from Burning Man. I know it's like all the rage now. It used to be counter-culture and now your neighbor went and your niece and, gasp, maybe even your boss. You could almost say Burning is the new black. And the buzz is even higher as all 80,000 of us shuttle back into our lives - a transition lovingly referred to as 'reentry'.

In spite of it's new trendy status, it still strikes me how polarizing the topic is. When I tell someone I go to Burning Man the reaction is never one of ambivalence. The Burn elicits its fair share of envy and curiosity, but even more often are raised eyebrows and judgmental tones at the assumed rampant sacrilege that I must certainly be a part of by attending this week-long festival. I'm guessing they're picturing that I spent the whole week naked and high, plotting the downfall of modern society as we know it ... I guess that's partly true. 

I've heard it said of the Peace Corps that it's the hardest job you'll ever love and I think Burning Man may carry a few (albeit much more briefly endured) similarities with this statement. This journey includes an 18 hour drive on both ends, heat exhaustion, countless smelly port-o-potty trips and a dirt factor that's like beige baby powder invading every pore of my body. I find that somehow with all that, I re-emerge feeling cleansed. How is that possible?

Maybe it's the shared hardship; the gifting economy, the expectation that you'll show up as you are, who you are in the now and ready to be ... real. There's something empowering about surrounding yourself with people who don't expect you to be anything. It starts to become clear that all we're hiding from are labels: proper, acceptable, professional, mature. These become meaningless when the goal is not to show all the ways you're better than your neighbor but rather, to simply connect with them.

Ok, my earlier statement of plotting the downfall of modern society may be a little harsh. There are no acts of terrorism planned, no governmental coups scheduled (maybe a fashion coup or two, but trust me, those will be lots of fun). There is however, a commitment to a shift toward a new kind of society; a society that values individual expression and expansion over the ability to perform and conform. One with more focus on understanding and expansion than judgement and limitation. And yes, sometimes this looks like more nakedness; maybe a love-in and some eye-gazing - can you blame us?

I get it. eye-gazing can be boring and uncomfortable, love-ins are so 1970s and nakedness is well, so naked. But have we as a society ever stopped to question these infrastructures and assumptions that we cling so tightly to? Namely, what's so important about hiding the human form? Would the world end if we all followed suit with the burners and lived a little more often in our birthday suits?

Just imagine: women could play shirtless Frisbee just like all their male friends and men could saunter around in skirts to air things out a bit in the summer heat. Let's be honest, I've seen how much you dudes love your utilikilts. You can call it whatever your want, but yes, you look very sexy in your skirts - and you know they're comfy. Plus, isn't it time we give guys a few more options and, gasp, expand male fashion beyond the width of their tie (or when you're from Colorado like me, the color of their plaid shirt)? Live on the wild side with me and the rest of my burner friends - We'll let you see what's under our kilts if you show us yours...

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Two days into the whole thing you realize:
1. The dust will never. ever. be gone. 
2. Just how little nudity and normal fashion rules actually matter. There's some mental shift that stops regarding Victoria's Secret as the body ideal and just sees exquisite humans that are both fascinating in their variation and inspiring in their creativity. It's not a cliche to say we're all beautiful in our differences. There's real, shapely, individualized truth in nakedness (physical, mental and otherwise) that's richer than the self-flagellation, self-limitation and self judgment that's part of the current 'real world'. Like Coco Chanel said:

'Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.' 

The beauty I saw on Playa was not about toned abs or absence of cellulite. It wasn't about yearly income or shiny cars. It was about people fully sharing who they were. Tapping into, sharing and expanding the complex, flawed, genuine soul within each of them. Once there's space to notice that no body is perfect and that all are in a constant state of mental and spiritual growth, it becomes easy to find beauty in our collective imperfection on all levels.

Part of the power of this is that in embracing and accepting others, I found myself personally more able to face the often greater challenge of extending myself the same courtesies. By the end of the week, I feel pretty damn sexy in all my topless booty-shorted fabulousness and I can tell you that I'm perfectly where I need to be in my life journey - burning miracles never cease.

So yes, there is nakedness - if you choose. Yes, there are drugs if you choose as well, often taken more with a mindset of expanding perception and perspective than for the purpose of numbing and hiding. And yes, there is talk of a new regime. One that centers around love and acceptance and actually seeing someone for who they really are.

There is so much depth in humanity when you draw together 80,000 people from around the globe. 80,000 people ready to start from scratch; ready to challenge what they know and ready to rewrite the limitations of both themselves and who you were before you got there.  If you've never been, I encourage you to question your assumptions about the whole thing. Hell, I encourage you to question your assumptions about yourself. I hope to see you there next year - maybe topless, maybe we can eye-gaze. All I know is, if Burning Man is the new black, I can't wait to get back to black.

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Why putting yourself out there isn't all it's cracked up to be

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Why putting yourself out there isn't all it's cracked up to be

My online course comes out Monday. Am I excited? Do I feel a huge sense of achievement? I guess so and sort of.

To be honest, I've learned things from the creation of this course that have nothing to do with designing spaces that you love to live in. I've had breakthroughs that aren't related to learning online platforms like Mailchimp and Facebook ads (not directly anyway).

My biggest lessons have been in putting myself out there. Now, I have to clarify. Inexplicably, I actually feel pretty comfortable sharing huge, vulnerable parts of who I am. Apparently I enjoy being fully seen more than I enjoy the relative safety of anonymity. But I still had a hard time 'putting it out there' with the course.

Why? It wasn't ready yet. 

I have actually spent over 2 years on this damn thing. Well over a year of that was me writing and re-writing the 'scripts' that I was going to read on the videos that were to make up the course. If you take my course (which starts Monday) You'll notice that there are no videos except for the free introduction. Where did all that content go? Some of it did get used in the audios, yes, but most of those were recorded with only an outline of what needed to be said and trust that I would say it in the right way. Which I could've done 2 years ago.

Guess what? It's still not ready.
*And it starts Monday! (seriously, check it out)

What I learned in creating this is that yes, putting yourself out there is a vulnerable thing. It does require me to say, 'I have a class that I have poured my heart and soul into and to let others use that information as they will. Maybe they ignore it. Maybe they check it out and it's not for them (or at least the copy doesn't push their 'pain buttons' enough) to incite them to buy, or what if they do buy it and they don't feel it was worth it?!? Or they buy it and think it's not professional / polished / well-organized / insightful / applicable? What then?

This is where the putting it out there part comes into play. For me, rather than it being about trusting others with my heart and soul, it turned out to be about trusting myself. Trusting that the unfinished, imperfect first effort of the course is enough to get me to the next step. It's about me knowing that I'll have no idea what that step is until I get to it and I put myself out there trusting that I can stand tall on that step, work to claim it and strive to move then to the next.

I think I thought that if I wrote on my scripts long enough I would see the whole picture. That I could (and somehow should) preview the challenges to come before they happen. Then, and only then, would my course be ready. As I am learning *again* like so many other things in life, there is no way to preview the next scene, and it's pretty boring prolonging this one when it's over. Clearly, I'm not the first one to figure this out. There seems to be a theme on the insightful Joseph Campbell's quote above and my personal findings - and we're in good company: 

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears. -Rumi

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. -Lao Tsu

Wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again. -Antonio Machado

Thank you, life, for the reminder. And here, as your reminder lovelies (and my own next time I try to preview the end of the magic trick), are a few of my notes from the most recent round of lessons. Let's both commit to reminding one another to reference them next time, shall we? That way we can start out with more knowledge at the next beginning and hopefully get a little further at the next closing. 

  1. It will never be perfect
  2. Imperfection is an opportunity, not a failure
  3. Waiting for a perfect first try is a life on the sidelines
  4. The only way to make it better is to do it, then revise : Nothing is perfect the first time. It's only a perfect lesson to improve the next time. (repeat)
  5. The best way to learn what you don't know is to have to go back because you forgot it.

Have a wonderful long weekend and I challenge you to put yourself out there with something that you can't foresee the outcome. When it comes time for the next step, you may not be ready for it, but you weren't ready for the last one, remember? You can handle it. 

I would love to hear how this shakes out in your life. Which parts are the hardest for you and what did you learn? (We'll add it to our big, collective list so that we're all moving forward together.) 

If this hit home, please share! You won't be the only one - and the more we share, the more we know (it sounds like PBS... but it's true). Also, I'd love for you to check out my online course starting Monday, it's good stuff, and yes, as promised above, it does contain my heart and soul - or at least the current version of both for a mere $99 :) 

Design Your Happy Place

 

Until next time, rock stars 

~M

 

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Life on the Flipside: 3 Tips to Making Smart Finish Selections for Resale

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Life on the Flipside: 3 Tips to Making Smart Finish Selections for Resale

Interior design is all about the client. My job, when done right is a game of getting inside the head of each client and defining the distinct combination of elements that make them feel at home the moment they walk through the door. But what if you’re not designing for a client?

Can this strategy apply to flipping a house or remodeling with resale at the forefront of the decision process? The short answer is: nope.

With clients, I work to include elements of where they grew up and happy memories. I strive to find colors that wake them on the right side of the bed or patterns that they like to snuggle into for a netflix binge session…. On the other hand, flipping aims for a look that’s as general, and even as generic as possible. When you get down to it, flipping is really the ‘Flipside’ of design.

So how do you flip well?

I’m going to give you 3 invaluable tips that are sure to activate the Flipside of your design sense:

1. Keep it simple

You’ve heard the expression “To feel like a stranger in your own home”. The key to flipping is to make selections that leave no one walking through feeling like a stranger. Make it as simple as possible for the buyer to picture their own stuff sitting in the space - this means basic selections. You are providing the blank canvas for them to paint on as they please. The best selections prompt the buyer to feel like they are already at home and all that remains is to fill out a little pesky paperwork, roll out the rugs and relax. Flipping is a game of giving potential buyers not just what they want but also what they didn’t know they wanted. What is that magic secret thing? It’s feeling like the house is a natural setting to the kind of daily life they want to live - whatever that looks like for them.

 

2. Less is more

People have enough stuff already. When they’re looking at potential homes, they don’t want to feel like they’re buying more of it. What they really want to buy is space to put all that stuff in. A successful flip feels roomy, simple and clean. Even if it includes hand carving or hip accents, the buyer craves a space that welcomes their impending truck load of stuff into very open, and very empty, arms. This can be as simple as maximizing natural light for an airy feeling, considering storage opportunities that make them feel like organization will be a cinch. Keep this in mind if you’re staging the space as well - follow the mantra: Bigger and fewer.

 

3. The carpet should match the drapes

I don’t mean to be a design purist, I am a huge fan of well executed eclecticism (i.e. mixing and matching styles), it’s how I would describe my personal style. But that’s not how it works on the Flipside.  When choosing all the individual pieces of your design, you want to match them to the style of architecture. If a potential buyer is drawn to a craftsman bungalow, it’s unlikely will like it with a clean, hyper contemporary backsplash tile. Similarly, if they’re looking at a new modern build, they will not likely be attracted to hand carved balustrades or antique cast lighting. If you like, you could say that the curtains should match the drapes - or more appropriately, the tile should match the trusses….

Keep these 3 in mind and you’ll not only have opportunity knocking, you’ll have plenty of potential buyers as well. Still feeling overwhelmed? Stop the guessing game and phone a friend! I would love to help and my 13 years in the business can fill your selection process with better, faster decisions that will appeal to your target market. Find out more at mandystraight.com, or contact me at mandy@mandystraight.com, 720.402.7407.

 

Good luck with your ventures on the ‘Flipside’!

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Where to Find the Simple Answer You Need Right Now

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Where to Find the Simple Answer You Need Right Now

Welcome to the rabbit hole of my blog! Where we journey inside our world and ourselves and submit to the whims of curiosity.

I went to yoga this morning. 
It wasn't a very hard flow.
Usually I would be disappointed by this. I would spend much of the hour stressing and mentally lamenting about wasting my time and money on a class that wasn't challenging enough, wasn't burning enough calories, and since I was all worked up, it wasn't getting me to my place of zen either. 

This time I didn't feel the usual tension. I had shown up 3 minutes after the class time and the door was locked. I thought I was too late. Then the instructor came out of the restroom and I saw that I was the only one who had shown up. (It WAS 6:15 am...can you blame anyone for staying in bed until a decent hour?) I still felt frustrated and disappointed, sure that the instructor wouldn't want to practice with just one person in the class. To my sriprise, he said if I was ok being the only one, he was glad to do the class anyway. So we did. 

I was so grateful just to be able to do any yoga at all. I was so happy to be in the sunny studio with the soft music playing and 2 sets of slow measured breath resonating across the wood floors. These little things shadowed any expectations that I had about what the class would contain. My focus was on the simple fact that I got to practice at all.

I gave into the flow. My muscles weren't burning, I wasn't stretching into pretzel poses or working into the splits. With all the other elements boiled away, I found myself in poses I could do with my eyes closed (ok, I actually was doing that for most of them) and I was loving every minute of it. I stretched my breathing out deeper, I flexed muscles that I often neglect. The beautiful simplicity of the entire experience actually made it deeper, more meaningful and much more successful in getting to that elusive zen place. 

I walked out feeling like I had slept for a year. I felt mentally alert and physically refreshed.

Life isn't easy. It throws a lot of curve balls and is master of the ambush. 
We all know this is true - so we counter attack. We buy into the "no pain, no gain" attitude and overlook the easy or the simple. We think that if we do life right, it has to hurt just a little more than that. We try to cram more into every minute, we gloss over the rote pieces and we are bored the minute that life approaches that critical mass level of familiarity. If there is no struggle, there is no progress! Our brains scream. But maybe at least part of the struggle is in taking an extra moment or a deeper breath. Maybe we learn just as much from embracing the routine that life contains as we do from the new, different and difficult. 

What lessons have you learned from the simple things? Share them with all of us below!

THANKS FOR TAKING A JOURNEY INSIDE THE RABBIT HOLE WITH ME! IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, CHECK OUT MY PAGE HERE AND PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS USING THE LINKS BELOW.

IF YOU WANT TO BE EMAILED WITH NEW POSTS YOU CAN SIGN UP IN THE BOX BELOW you will get a FREE PDF OF MY STRAIGHT PERSONALITY INDEX that helps you understand how you see the world and the gifts you offer because of that perspective.

I hope you have a wonderful week - go after that bucket list with everything you have, lovelies. Resist the delusion defined by the fear of your own ability; enjoy the results.



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...we meet again

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...we meet again

Welcome to the Rabbit Hole! Where we journey inside our world and ourselves and submit to the whims of curiosity.

Hello lovelies! It has been way too long since we have journeyed together!

Since we last talked I have crossed TEDx Speaker off my bucket list - what a trip! Honestly, I don't know how it went - I am awaiting video confirmation that it even happened. I remember I had my own dressing room with my own bathroom - in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House!!! I remember that I was glad I blanked during my sound check so that I didn't have to during the real talk. I remember bright lights and a packed house and my yummy new shoes standing on the huge red TED dot - and I remember that they actually laughed at my nerdy jokes. The rest is a blur. 

I would give you more specifics about my actual talk but that is the lovely thing about video - you can see for yourself! And they should be posting to the TED Youtube page within the month. I will of course keep you posted as soon as I see the release. I look forward to hearing your comments on my theory, on my very own idea worth spreading.

I was a guest blogger on the TEDx Mile High website last week talking about my experience, want to check it out?
CLICK HERE

I leave you today with a challenge-.png

Here are a couple of other great links in case you missed them:
CBS Denver: We Are Still the Wild West
Ruminations From a TEDx Mile High Volunteer

Here is a link to my Flickr Gallery
and another to the Album from TEDx Mile High

Also: I have great news!

My opt-in is now fully equipped to send my
Straight Personality Index for FREE 

I am so excited to offer this resource to those on my mailing list!

What is this AWESOME thing, you ask?
My personality profile gives 7 personality types.
The 2 that you identify most with are your top pair or "Straight Pair"

They define:

  • Why you see the world the way that you do
  • What motivates you
  • What you offer society
  • How you can challenge yourself

Want to learn more? Sign up for my mailing list and a pdf will be sent to you. I love to hear your thoughts on your types - feel free to comment below or on my facebook page

I hope you have a wonderful week - go after that bucket list with everything you have, lovelies. Resist the delusion defined by the fear of your own ability; enjoy the results.

THANKS FOR TAKING A JOURNEY INSIDE THE RABBIT HOLE WITH ME! IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, CHECK OUT MY PAGE HERE AND PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS USING THE LINKS BELOW. IF YOU WANT TO BE EMAILED WITH NEW POSTS YOU CAN FOLLOW MY BLOG ON BLOGLOVIN’ AND SIGN UP IN THE BOX BELOW FOR UPDATES.


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Learning to look under your bed - facing the boogie monsters

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Learning to look under your bed - facing the boogie monsters

It is not a new thought that fear is the opposite of love - or even that all emotions can be boiled down to variations of these two primal essentials. True to form of all opposites they are a 2-sided coin and neither can exist without the other. There is no knowledge of dark without light; no happy without sad, no Harry Potter without Voldemort. It is arguable that we only know emotion through awareness and understanding of its counterpart. 

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Do We Know our Own Mind? | Exploring Consciousness

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Do We Know our Own Mind? | Exploring Consciousness

So the theory behind consciousness is that we are full with knowledge. BUT Freud, and now a host of other smart people tell us that a huge majority of this knowledge we are so full of is SUBconscious. Actually, neuropsychologists now theorize that this portion makes up more than 98%. So, how does that change our etymological equation above (yes, I made that term up, yes, I'm stickin' to it.)

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Words : the Magic Drug; How They Literally Define Who We Are

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Words : the Magic Drug; How They Literally Define Who We Are

There is something about these wonderful little "thought vehicles" that seems completely and ironically indefinable. On the most surface level, doesn't it seem magic that I can write them on a page (or a screen) or I can speak them aloud and you can understand my thoughts? It's almost like magic ...

Words are quite literally the vehicles through which we understand our consciousness, our awareness of the world around us. They are the lens through which we see our awareness of self but even more essentially, they are our method of communicating and combining our awareness with that of others. Words are the currency of thoughts. 

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The Mantra That Can Change Your Life

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The Mantra That Can Change Your Life

We've all heard of mantras - they are the stuff of Buddha and yogis and all of those "woo-woo"-thinking people, right? How powerful would it be if you could create a space that reminded you of the conscious, intentional version of yourself? Read more for the mental shift that could also shift your reality...

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I Don't Care What Your Sofa Looks Like. Yes, really.

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I Don't Care What Your Sofa Looks Like. Yes, really.

I stand by my claim: it's not about what your sofa looks like. It's all about which sofa will help you tap into the life that you want to be living. And while it may seem trite to attribute such significance to a piece of furniture, it is much more than that. It is a piece of the life that you live. It is a little nugget in the greater vein of your day-to-day. 

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Life Lessons From a Zombie, Part 10 - The Final Chapter: Wondering with Socrates

Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.

You have made it to part 10 of the Zombie series! – For all you new-comers, feel free to "re-live" our undead experience here. We have been dissecting an article on 10 common traits of those who have had near death experiences and learning the secrets of life that become clear when we face near death allowing us to see beyond our current situation and perspective. Keep in mind there is more than one type of zombie – and we don’t discriminate here. There are the usual zombies – you know, moaning, rotting flesh, etc. but also emotional and psychological zombies.  This includes those of us who feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, depression; anything that is so mind-altering that we re-examine all assumptions and beliefs we previously carried through life. This week, our final un-dead characteristic:

Zombie Trait #10: A strong sense of wonder and gratitude.

The word wonder comes from:

miracle, marvelous thing, object of astonishment

Us zombies are definitely astonished by all the miracles we see around us. At our moment of truth, in what my friend likes to call "Sh!t Valley" and we had no exit strategy there were things we never thought we would have/see/experience again. Now, out of that crazy valley, we are infinitely grateful for all those things to a much greater degree.

But here's something else that comes with this final zombie trait:

"Wonder" also means to be curious; it's a desire to understand, ponder, meditate, muse on, puzzle over.

And personally, I can't help but do these things. I can't help but want to know more. More about why we are here; what it all means; who I am within this infinite, celestial, organic equation. And while I will spend my life investigating this "wondering" I know too, at the same time that our knowledge is an asymptote that approaches the truth of it all. The closer we get, the faster we learn and the closer still we get but we go to infinity trying and never quite get there. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Asymptote02 vectorial" by Guillaume Jacquenot - Own workThis graphic was created with matplotlib.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asymptote02_vectorial.svg#/media/File:Asymptote02_vectorial.svg

The photos above give a visual of the math nerd part of an asymptote. The first is a basic representation but I prefer using the second example, as life itself is a series of spirals. (Just in case you missed my post on Ouroboros, check it out here.) Beyond the graphs and calculations, if we strive toward center we gain clarity, insight and ... I don't want to say happiness because that inherently vacillates just like the spiral, but maybe we could agree on "fulfillment".

Guess what? This fight is hard-wired into us. Even more than that, it IS the wires. Check it out, does this look familiar?

Same spiral.
Ok, I know that this one doesn't hug toward a center axis, but here's the deal:

It is your personal duty to hug that DNA toward the center axis. That center is YOU, your self, your essence, your "I", your core. If you can direct your wonder and curiosity to a search that is as infinite as you are, you will approach the infinity of the miracle that is life. As we transitioned to being zombies, we thought it was over - but then we discovered that we just needed to take a new DNA turn around our center in order to climb another step higher and maybe have more fun as we do.

Here's what I want to leave you with from this last piece of our Zombie series:

It is up to you to seek infinity.
And also up to you to realize you will never achieve it.
Maintain the wonder anyway and be grateful for the opportunity to search.

Socrates said "Wisdom begins in wonder". He also said "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing".

Us zombies have the wonder and we now have enough perspective to know that this is just the beginning. That we are wise in our ignorance and ignorant in our wisdom - and that life (even the un-dead kind) is more enjoyable in that knowing and in not taking any of it too seriously.

 

Have a wonderful day my lovelies. Embrace the delusion; enjoy the results.

THANKS FOR TAKING A JOURNEY INSIDE THE RABBIT HOLE WITH ME! IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS USING THE LINKS BELOW. IF YOU WANT TO BE EMAILED WITH NEW POSTS FEEL FREE TO FOLLOW MY BLOG ON BLOGLOVIN’. YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP IN THE BOX BELOW FOR UPDATES.

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Life Lessons from a Zombie, Part 9: Spoons, Shakespeare and Mary Poppins

Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.

Welcome back intrepid after-death explorers! We are all the way to part 9 of the Zombie Diaries series! – For all you new-comers, we are learning the secrets of life from those of us who have seen the darkness on the edges of life and come back to tell about it. As our tour guide, we are referencing TJ Dawe's 10 traits exhibited by people who have had near death experiences. Keep in mind there is more than one type of zombie - and we don't discriminate here. There are the usual zombies - you know, moaning, rotting flesh, etc. but also emotional and psychological zombies.  This includes those of us who feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, depression; anything that is so mind-altering that we re-examine all assumptions and beliefs we previously carried around with us through life. This week’s un-dead characteristic:

Zombie Trait #9: The desire to connect with others and give back.

There are 2 parts here: the connecting and the sharing.

Identifying the need to connect is easy. We all feel alone and scared and vulnerable but we all feel an innate pull to feel like part of a group. It is never easy to give ourselves permission to show that vulnerability, to show ourselves fully to others. But as the queen of connection, Brene Brown says, "We are hard-wired for connection." "Most people think vulnerability is weakness, but it is really the cornerstone of confidence." There is a humanness that exists below the veneer of the masks that we try to put on everyday - yes, even in us zombies or possibly especially in us zombies. This humanness contains the magic that really allows those connection juices to start a-flowin'.

The second piece of zombie trait 9 is sharing. There's no denying that when we stare the end of life in the face (even emotionally) we come out of that feeling lucky (to put it mildly). And I don't just mean front row parking spot when you're running late lucky. I mean like each breath is not simply an inhalation but a valuable, living inspiration and I am so fortunate to be able to have another, and another, and another. When I think of how lucky I am to get another chance, another day, another sip of that smoky, lovely life force (or maybe in tougher times even a little smoky, lovely Laphroaig) I am speechless. And that kind of pure appreciation for the essence of life that we zombies have gained makes us immediately want to share it with others.

This kind of sharing is not the 3 chocolate chip cookies and 5 friends kind sharing where you stare forlornly at the last half as you pass it off to someone, your mouth watering, your brain telling you to be nice because there are only so many cookies....

This sharing is like laughter. The moreThis sharing is like laughter. The more you pass along to others, the more you have to give.  It is the fountain of youth, the life-spring, the magic that is humanity and we, as essentially participating humans, can't help but want to see that magic passed along once we have a more full view of its value.

I think we often get caught in our own mental webs. Tolle calls it the ego - it is this basic, instinctual tendency to grab the thing we are fascinated by and hold it to our chest so tightly that we can no longer even see it. We know we wanted it but can't remember why - we are too close to it and we don't want to let go.

BUT, if we can be man enough, woman enough, essentially human enough to hand the object of our delight along to another we now have the opportunity to see it from a clearer perspective in all its glory. We more truly value it and notice again the little things we forgot when it was clutched so tightly to our selves. AND here's the secret. All the great stuff? That's the stuff that compounded, not depleted by sharing. AND even better, all the stupid stuff fades away when you share it - when you air it out: shame, anger, disappointment; these all live in the shadows and dissipate when you let them out in full sun. What better way to know which baggage is legit and which is worth carrying? Shed some genuine sunlight on those bottled up emotions and the true, valid, healthy parts will continue to grow while the nasty stuff withers away.

SO, own it, fellow zombies. Own your own good fortune in committing to air it out and give it away. You will find quickly which emotions are worth keeping and which friends are worth sharing with. And you already know that you have it in you to give it up - it came with your undead welcome packet - just embrace it.

In closing, I want to share a fable that I heard when I was young. (Apparently, according to the Google and all-knowing Wikipedia, it is called the allegory of the long spoons - please excuse my artistic liberties, this is how I remember it.)

A woman arrives at the gates of the afterlife. She is led into a long, lushly-carpeted hallway with ornate doors at either end. She is intrigued and instructed that one door leads to heaven and the other to hell; she will be allowed to see each. As any smart woman does, she takes the bad news first and asks to see hell.

As the heavily carved wooden door swings open, she can hear the moans and screams before she can even see what is hidden beyond. As the hinge swings wider, it reveals a massive dining table piled high with food surrounded by people with long, twisted spoons fixed to their hands. The handles of the spoons are so long that they cannot bring food to their lips and as a result, every single person is wasting away surrounded by food with no way to consume it.

The door slowly begins to swing closed. The woman is horrified. An entire eternity with delicious food right in front of you and no way to eat it? She couldn't fathom the pain.

She walks slowly down the long hall. How different would the world be behind the heaven door? What treasures would be provided to the fortunate that had not been offered to those she had just seen?

This door looked identical; the same heavy carving, the same weighty, stained wood. As this door swung open she was first greeted by sounds of laughter and conversation. As the scene unfolded, she saw the exact same table. With the exact same food and the exact same spoons. In this room, the people surrounding the table were scooping heaping spoonfuls of the feast and feeding them to those around them. All ate as they needed and all were fulfilled and had an eternity to spend in the company of others who were ready to offer help (and more laughter).

The door swung closed before her leaving her in the hall once again. Her mind reeled. There was no difference between hell and heaven. None. The sole change between suffering and bliss was in how the inhabitants decided to "handle" their situation. (Come on, that was a great pun!)

As the woman was silently escorted back to life, she realized that it was the same way. Now that she had seen the other side of life - she was her own kind of zombie. She knew the magic of life and afterlife lay in what she brought to the table. She knew too that all she could ever need was available to her, if she could only find a way to share what she had to offer.

 

I feel it is appropriate to close with quote from Shakespeare and Mary Poppins:

"There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." -Shakespeare

"A spoonful of mental sugar helps eternity go down." -Mary Poppins (sort of)

 

Commune, my zombie friends. Join together, love the feast and share the spoils. Everyday will feel like heaven.

Embrace the delusion; enjoy the results. Have a wonderful day my lovelies.

THANKS FOR TAKING A JOURNEY INSIDE THE RABBIT HOLE WITH ME! IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS USING THE LINKS BELOW. IF YOU WANT TO BE EMAILED WITH NEW POSTS FEEL FREE TO FOLLOW MY BLOG ON BLOGLOVIN’. YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP IN THE BOX BELOW FOR UPDATES.

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Life Lessons from a Zombie, Part 8: I May be Alone but I'm not Lonely

Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.

Welcome back to all my un-living rock stars and likewise to all you un-groupies! You have made it to part 8 of the Zombie Diaries series! – In case you are just tuning in, we are tapping into the secrets of life through the un-dead perspective using the 10 traits exhibited by people who have had near death experiences. Near death for us here includes emotional, psychological, life-altering moments that, while our hearts may never have stopped beating, we certainly feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, depression; anything that is so mind-altering that we re-examine all assumptions and beliefs we previously carried around with us through life. This week’s un-dead characteristic:

Zombie Trait #8: The ability to enjoy solitude and silence.

Those of us who have been to the other side of life's curtain know that getting here means facing A. Lot. of resistance. And then more and then more and you flail and kick and scream and hold on with all that is in you to avoid the crossover into the world of the non-living. And then, suddenly, all the pieces align. You have broken the barrier between "I can't" and "I won't" and "life" over into some floating, zen, dazed quiet.

The moment when you cross that threshold you find your bliss, your zen, your own personal Walden Pond inside you. There is clarity you have never known and perspective you never knew was even possible. The noise, the chaos, the stress seems separate from you. There are no more distractions. You don't have any energy stores left to fight against your ego and the world around you and once that surrender kicks in ... there is silence. And some new ability to sit in that silence. With your self. By your self. And revel in it.

He who does not understand your silenceElbert Hubbard says “He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” How much more truth does this hold if you don't learn to understand your own silence? But your near-death or new undead-ness brings about an understanding, a resonance with this lack of distraction. The awesome online magazine Nautilus has a whole article on the topic called This is Your Brain on Silence. Apparently the word noise has its roots in latin for queasiness or pain - we simply run at such a pace through our minutes and hours that we don't take notice of the discomfort it causes. But it is even scientifically clear that the milk ads in the 80s got it all wrong and actually, silence does a body good.Learn to love the sound of your own

Nautilus says that not only have epidemiologists discovered correlations between high blood pressure and chronic noise sources like highways and airports. But also that "Later research seemed to link noise to increased rates of sleep loss, heart disease, and tinnitus." I have that last one and take it from me, a constant, never-ending ringing in your ears is not awesome when you are trying to meditate. Nonetheless, there is ample research to show that we need silence to thrive in life (or even in the un-life). Here is a great article from Ariana Nikitina on the benefits of even 15 minutes of silence.

So once we have made peace with silence (maybe not all the time - I do still like to shake it to some mad tunes even after my "death") We are left alone; with the solitude. But we enjoy that now that we are undead, yes?

The etymology of solitude can mean both alone and lonely. These words have 2 very different meanings and those of us in the "undead" category know full well the beauty of being alone.  The root of lonely has a sense of incompleteness as if it is an unfinished state of being. Inherent within lonely is a lack of something. The Online Etymology Dictionary gives us "dejected for want of company".

Alone, on the other hand is fully formed. It comes from an Old English contraction of all ana "unaccompanied, all by oneself," "wholly one" In his book A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe, Michael S. Schneider discusses the infinite that is contained within the number 1. He quotes Isha Upanishad in saying, "Whence shall he have grief, how shall he be deluded who sees everywhere the Oneness?" That oneness that Alexander Pope calls "One stupendous whole". Schneider compiles mathematical, religious and philosophical works that agree (sounds like history is scattered with Zombies like us) they all have a similar perspective on solitude - the Oneness, the source, the womb, the monad: the essence and root of all others.

 

Embrace the delusion; enjoy the results. Have a wonderful day my lovelies.

THANKS FOR TAKING A JOURNEY INSIDE THE RABBIT HOLE WITH ME! IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS USING THE LINKS BELOW. IF YOU WANT TO BE EMAILED WITH NEW POSTS FEEL FREE TO FOLLOW MY BLOG ON BLOGLOVIN’. YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP IN THE BOX BELOW FOR UPDATES.

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Life Lessons from a Zombie, Part 7: Dr. Seuss + Thoreau on Being Undead

Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.

Welcome back Zombies, zombie-lovers and zombie-curious! Here it is, part 7 of my Zombie Diaries series! – In case you are just tuning in, we are tapping into the secrets of life through the un-dead perspective using the 10 traits exhibited by people who have had near death experiences. Near death for me includes emotional, psychological, life-altering moments that, while our hearts may never have stopped beating, we certainly feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job; anything that is so mind-altering that we re-examine all assumptions and beliefs we previously carried around with us through life. This week’s un-dead insight:

Zombie Trait #7: A value of life and love.

Whether you believe we spiritually chose to be in this life or not, once we get on this train ride we are stuck on a one way track with no emergency break. And as lovely as the view is and as yummy as the food tastes, sometimes we can get a little resentful at our lack of control over the momentum. I find that over time I start to take the forward progress for granted. I start to feel angsty and stressed. I feel trapped; forced into my current situations. I reach a point where I no longer feel my own velocity. You know, like how we are screaming along at 1037 mi/hr just standing on the earth? (On the equator, anyway).

But then something happens. You lose someone, something, even some belief that you have carried with you thus far on your journey and you are knocked flat. You have the zombie virus and there is no turning back – you become feverish, you start to drool at the thought of raw intestines … Ok, that’s just the fun part. This “death” that you undergo stops you in your tracks. you are hit square in the face with The brevity of life, of humanity, hits you … it all comes to a screeching halt. Time stands still, you lose your  breath and suddenly miss that which once seemed so tedious.

(Talk to the Instagram generation about this one – and check out this video by Jason Silva on the topic.)

Regardless of the form they take in our lives, near-death experiences bring us to that chest-binding, brain-blinding moment when we actually doubt that life will continue. We begin to reminisce about all we took for granted and all we will never have the chance to experience again. The wonderful things we had are a phantom limb that we still want to itch but have no way of doing so. All of a sudden, we love that damn train ride. We love the uncertainty and the stupid music they play and wish we could have one more chance. One more go-round. Even just a ride to the next station. Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” And this is now painfully clear at the moment when we think we have run out of currency.

BUT THEN we are given new life. We resurrect ourselves, we rise from our own ashes. We may not look quite as rosy now that we are zombies. Especially at first we appear a little shell-shocked and have new scars that mar our skin from here on out. But somehow the sun rises again and somehow we find a way to see possibility and promise and find a way to embrace the pain of existence as if it were ecstasy … as long as we can keep doing it. We create a brand new existence that is founded now on a commitment to never again forget what it feels like to waste the moments we exchange for our experiences.

Also, check out this Shots of Awe about why love hurts – sounds vaguely familiar as we discuss feeling that we could lose the things we value at any moment. Watch for the death reference as well – Go Zombies!

Embrace the delusion; enjoy the results. Have a wonderful day my lovelies.

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Life Lessons from a Zombie, Part 7: Dr. Seuss + Thoreau on Being Undead

Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.

Welcome back Zombies, zombie-lovers and zombie-curious! Here it is, part 7 of my Zombie Diaries series! – In case you are just tuning in, we are tapping into the secrets of life through the un-dead perspective using the 10 traits exhibited by people who have had near death experiences. Near death for me includes emotional, psychological, life-altering moments that, while our hearts may never have stopped beating, we certainly feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job; anything that is so mind-altering that we re-examine all assumptions and beliefs we previously carried around with us through life. This week's un-dead insight:

Zombie Trait #7: A value of life and love.

Whether you believe we spiritually chose to be in this life or not, once we get on this train ride we are stuck on a one way track with no emergency break. And as lovely as the view is and as yummy as the food tastes, sometimes we can get a little resentful at our lack of control over the momentum. I find that over time I start to take the forward progress for granted. I start to feel angsty and stressed. I feel trapped; forced into my current situations. I reach a point where I no longer feel my own velocity. You know, like how we are screaming along at 1037 mi/hr just standing on the earth? (On the equator, anyway).

But then something happens. You lose someone, something, even some belief that you have carried with you thus far on your journey and you are knocked flat. You have the zombie virus and there is no turning back - you become feverish, you start to drool at the thought of raw intestines ... Ok, that's just the fun part. This "death" that you undergo stops you in your tracks. you are hit square in the face with The brevity of life, of humanity, hits you ... it all comes to a screeching halt. Time stands still, you lose your  breath and suddenly miss that which once seemed so tedious.

Sometimesyou never know the true value

(Talk to the Instagram generation about this one - and check out this video by Jason Silva on the topic.)

Regardless of the form they take in our lives, near-death experiences bring us to that chest-binding, brain-blinding moment when we actually doubt that life will continue. We begin to reminisce about all we took for granted and all we will never have the chance to experience again. The wonderful things we had are a phantom limb that we still want to itch but have no way of doing so. All of a sudden, we love that damn train ride. We love the uncertainty and the stupid music they play and wish we could have one more chance. One more go-round. Even just a ride to the next station. Thoreau said, "The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." And this is now painfully clear at the moment when we think we have run out of currency.

The price of anything is the amount of (2)

BUT THEN we are given new life. We resurrect ourselves, we rise from our own ashes. We may not look quite as rosy now that we are zombies. Especially at first we appear a little shell-shocked and have new scars that mar our skin from here on out. But somehow the sun rises again and somehow we find a way to see possibility and promise and find a way to embrace the pain of existence as if it were ecstasy ... as long as we can keep doing it. We create a brand new existence that is founded now on a commitment to never again forget what it feels like to waste the moments we exchange for our experiences.

Also, check out this Shots of Awe about why love hurts - sounds vaguely familiar as we discuss feeling that we could lose the things we value at any moment. Watch for the death reference as well - Go Zombies!

Embrace the delusion; enjoy the results. Have a wonderful day my lovelies.

THANKS FOR TAKING A JOURNEY INSIDE THE RABBIT HOLE WITH ME! IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS USING THE LINKS BELOW. IF YOU WANT TO BE EMAILED WITH NEW POSTS FEEL FREE TO FOLLOW MY BLOG ON BLOGLOVIN’. YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP IN THE BOX BELOW FOR UPDATES.

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Life Lessons from a Zombie, Part 6: The Purpose of Life is all in the Vocabulary

Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.

Way to go!! You have made it to the second half of the Zombie Diaries – That means you've learned to a thing or two about un-dead existence and how to re-orient yourself in a world that is totally different from your new perspective than it was before your "death". Good work! In case you are just tuning in, we are examining the 10 traits exhibited by people who have had near death experiences. including those life-altering moments that just feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job; anything that reminds us that we actually know nothing about ourselves or the world around us and we need to re-examine the beliefs we previously accepted as fact. Soooooo....

Zombie Trait #6: A strong sense of life’s purpose.

I seem to struggle almost daily with my direction in life. I am interested in so many things I have a hard time pausing on any one of them to decide that it is my true direction. I am in a constant state of mental flux about my purpose. I struggle regularly with nihilism when the glass of my spiritual compass fogs over and I feel as if there is no point to even checking my coordinates. And really? Sometimes there isn't.

But wait - there is a distinct difference between purpose and direction. This does not inherently entail that we zombies know exactly where we are going and I have to be honest, after my "death" I did have the sense that was all headed toward something. I pictured myself, tubing down a river, moving steadily (though often sporadically) through this brief existence. But then I began to get caught up on where that river was going. What is the end? If I don't know the end, how do I know where to go? I became so anxious about the purpose, that I lost sight of my purpose. I was so worried about moving down the correct path, that I paralyzed all movement at all.

So, here's what I have learned - (until tomorrow, when I will be a nihilist again, at least for a couple of hours). While it helps to feel as if we are barreling toward some hidden, much-anticipated destination, even more encouraging is when we decide, sight-unseen that the end is completely irrelevant and that our true purpose is to feel the wind whipping through our hair and the blood pumping through our veins and to appreciate the rush they give us.

At these times what we really need is to remember what we already know:

1cfda758c950c9fec65a3a184d210cf4The compass is not in our hands, it's in our hearts.

 

And though I want to force my purpose into my Waze app and know exactly how far away my next turn is (narrated succinctly by Elvis) I would be sick of that certainty before I even get to that turn. The more I inspect this "Purpose" that I was so sure of, the more I realize that my purpose, that the purpose of all of us, is to  trust that there is one and quit worrying about it. Life is not made by counting miles to the next turn, it is truly lived when we start looking out the window and delighting in this one moment. I propose that our purpose lies in the movement, not in the end result. We can all find, in this very moment, enough richness to continue our journey; to progress in some direction - any direction.

Our true purpose is to delve, to learn, to try, to fail, to bleed, to laugh, to struggle, to find, to lose, to love, to fear and to face those fears.... by moving forward. When you have moments of doubt about where it's all headed you can at least recognize that the view on a moving train is in constant flux. If you don't like it, take another step, experience another moment, face another challenge, and it will all look different again. Commit to your personal purpose of  "verbing" this moment of life itself. Fill in that mad lib blank with your own personal entry and appreciate that your purpose is nothing more than to do just that, fully, for now. Your purpose is just to verb.

 

*Don't believe me? this is a WAY bigger question, but a few great references: -Greg Anderson says: "Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it." -Also, check out what Jason Silva and Shots of Awe have to say about the joy of the journey.

Embrace the delusion; enjoy the results. Have a wonderful day my lovelies.

THANKS FOR TAKING A JOURNEY INSIDE THE RABBIT HOLE WITH ME! IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS USING THE LINKS BELOW. IF YOU WANT TO BE EMAILED WITH NEW POSTS FEEL FREE TO FOLLOW MY BLOG ON BLOGLOVIN’. YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP IN THE BOX BELOW FOR UPDATES.

 

journey of life quote

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Leonard Nemoy: Tour Guide to the Final Frontier

"It's all about trying to make the world and the universe a better place. I'm proud to be connected with it. I think we need that in our lives. We need ethical, heroic people trying to do the right thing to help others and to improve life on this planet and in the universe."-Leonard Nemoy

I know we are in the middle of a 10 part series but I feel the death of an icon warrants a pause in the momentum.

I have to admit, I am new to the Spock bandwagon. I grew up on Broadway musicals and a possibly unhealthy healthy dose of Neil Diamond. Don't get me wrong, my nerd flag flew high from a young age. I was a mathlete, a thespian and drum major of the Junior High marching band, but now, at 33, I have had my first introduction to Star Trek and I have to admit, I am hooked. Leonard Nemoy, where have you been all my life? I miss you now before I've even had the chance to know you.

As an outsider, standing in the doorway of this worldwide obsession, here's what I see from the Spock part of Mr. Nemoy:Leonard-Nimoy-leonard-nimoy-9484505-400-505-238x300

  • I see an scientist that showed us to gather concrete evidence, to look beyond the labels and assumptions and see through to the true nature of the people and world around us.
  • I see an intellect who learned to embrace both sides of the emotion and reasoning spectrum.
  • I see an outsider who carved out his own place within the world. Who, in his sincerity about who he truly is, came to find true relationships with others that supported and improved himself and others.
  • I see a teammate who, though he had his own limitations, found it within himself to offer his strengths to a team of individuals who celebrated all that each had to offer and achieved more for it.
  • I see a fighter who brought all he had to the table in order to further mankind and improve himself - even when it wasn't easy or convenient ... or even sometimes logical.
  • I see a man that is the representation of overcoming "nature" for a chosen path of "nuture", looking past prescribed notions of who we are supposed to be and delving into a deeper, more true awareness of the vast innate possibilities.

All of those are Spock characteristics. And course the argument can be made that Leonard was just the actor reading the scripts and repeating the lines. But there's more to it than that. Hand in hand with very few others, this man was a cornerstone at the heart of a movement. He was part of a mentality that allows so many people to connect on a real level - regardless of how popular or normal, to expand definitions to reality and not the other way around.

All of this is not simply a result of the words of various writers, Nemoy himself embodied all of these things. He earned an MA in education, and two honorary doctorates for his work in Holocaust education, the arts and the environment. He served in the Army Reserve and he was an actor, a writer (he wrote 2 autobiographies), a director and an actor again. Trying his hand at a variety of pursuits, he never let the fear of failure stop him from trying something new, expanding his horizons and learning something from all of it. While he struggled for a time about how enmeshed his public image was with that of Spock, he came to the realization that, just like the 2 sides to the Vulcan/Human, Nemoy himself had some Spock in him and appreciating this facet offered valuable perspective.

Nemoy was likely a zombie before (as it fits into this ongoing series) in that he seemed to have questioned and soberly examined life, the universe and our place within it. But now,  as we pause to honor a legend, we come face to face with the fact that he is now a legitimate zombie - though his body is gone, Leonard Nemoy lives on in a different form within the movement he inspired.color_nimoy_headshot_400x400

Actor and blogger Wil Wheaton (a more legit trekkie than I, being that he played Wesley Crusher in The Next Generation Series) remembered Nemoy as well and says it better than I ever could:

"I identified with Spock because he was weird, and cerebral, and he was different from everyone else. He was just like me, but the things that made me a target of ridicule on the playground made him a valuable and vital member of his ship’s crew. In ways that I couldn’t articulate at the time, I wanted to be Mister Spock because if I was, I could be myself –quiet, bookish, alien to the people around me — and it wouldn’t be weird. It would be awesome. (...) Thank you, Leonard, for making it okay to be me, and for making it possible for me to explore brave new worlds, and boldly go where you had gone before. Rest in peace, sir."

Thank you on my part for what you gave all of us Mr. Nemoy; in Spock and in yourself. We are better for it and hope to continue the exploration of unknown frontiers and to live longer and prosper because of it.

 Even in our every day, we explore the the final frontier within ourselves. These are our voyages and thanks to Leonard Nemoy, we are all more equipped to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

nemoy tribute from space

 

*A sincere goodbye tweeted from astronaut Terry W. Virts from the International Space Station

 

https://twitter.com/AstroTerry/status/571700996360970241/photo/1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Nimoy http://wilwheaton.net/2015/02/remembering-leonard-nimoy/ http://subversify.com/2015/02/28/the-boundless-frontier-of-leonard-nimoy/

 

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Life Lessons from a Zombie, Part 5: The Compassion of the Un-Dead

Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.

Welcome to part 5 of the Zombie Diaries - Congratulations, you have made it to the halfway point! In a nutshell, we are inspecting the traits exhibited by people who have had near death experiences. I am expanding this to include those life-altering moments that just feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job; anything that reminds us that we actually know nothing about ourselves or the world around us and we need to re-examine the beliefs we previously accepted as fact. 

Today's topic, trait #5, is that us zombies have a higher natural compassion and sense of gratitude than we did when we were rosy and carefree and, well, alive. 

Depression, by nature, leads those mired in its thicket-like clutches to turn inward. We are endlessly self examining, we self hate, we self criticize, all of which serves to create an environment that begins and ends with the self. The result of living in this self-centric web of negativity is that even as we focus on others we are worried about how it will affect ourselves. I do not mean to place blame on anyone in this situation. Depression is a self-perpetuating hole and, once in, it takes super-human feats to claw your way out.

Someone who is drowning in their inner sea, no matter how compassionate at heart, may have other things on their mind (like ferociously dog-paddling up for a single breath of air). So when you want to have a leisurely conversation regarding the latest difficulties with your job/kids/spouse/spice cake recipe please excuse us if our eyes dart around looking for a life vest/flotation device/Baywatch-like lifeguard while you are talking – don’t take it personally. While you are owed attention and we are truly interested (maybe not so much about the spice cake) we have other things in the forefront of our minds, namely finding a way to draw air into our lungs.

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With my still semi-new perspective from the shores of the depressive sea I feel more secure to lounge leisurely. In light of this, I view those around me with a keen awareness that they too may be drowning inside what Parker Palmer calls the aquifer of depression (in this awesome interview) and it may not be apparent from my vantage point. They may be in the middle of a heated race to the buoy or may have just taken a mouthful of salty water to the face. It is tough to tell from the outside just what each person is dealing with but having survived the near-drowning”, I have found a new level of compassion for my brothers and sisters still gasping for a breath of air and gratitude for the new lease on this life.

The word compassion comes from Latin, “to suffer together”. I find one of the simplest ways to show compassion to those around me, to offer a “shoulder to suffer on” so to speak, is to understand that as they interact with me they may be dealing with their own waves, their own swells, their own muscle cramps and may not always be tip-top. While it is often easy to view our own short-comings and poor decisions within the larger context of the myriad of challenges we face at any given time, it is easy to forget that the decisions of others involve the same complexity of circumstances. Jesus talked about this when referred to the speck in our neighbor's eye and the log in our own. Tolle talks about getting past the ego to actually see the "I". Compassion can help us to remember to look past the speck and appreciate the person.

Part of Zombie trait numero 5 is also a higher sense of gratitude. Gratitude has been proven to be the single most important factor in raising your level of happiness. I am grateful every day that I am no longer trying to doggy paddle with weights strapped to my legs through raging depression and self-hatred. Starting (almost) every morning with an innate feeling of inner strength, capability and wonder is something I never believed would be a part of my reality. And, as this wave of thankfulness whisks me through my day, I am now more conscious of telling others that I appreciate their efforts. Expressing this gratitude helps me to be a better swimmer through life’s undertow moments and also equips me to better offer compassion to others. A small, understanding nod between fellow travelers to say, “I know this sea is rough, but I am doing the best I can and I appreciate your efforts to do the same; we are all in this together.” That understanding is some of the best compassion we can offer.e8cda2c863c41d983d81cc72a50ed60b

 

 

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