The Effervescence of Joy 

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“Pleasure is always derived from something outside of you, whereas joy arises from within.”

–Eckhart Tolle

Joy. 

What does that word mean to you?

For many, it’s synonymous with Winter, Christmas, and joy to the world.

Peace, Love, and Joy – the holy trinity, the apex of human experience. Something to which everyone aspires. Joy – real joy – resides within every person. Sometimes, though, it takes hard work to crack open the joy.

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” 

–Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

No matter the circumstance, I find joy and happiness ever present. They exist right in front of us, free to us to experience.

What about joy in the face of negativity, whether negative experiences to us or other people’s negativity? Choose joy.  Choose empowerment of self. Choose aiming a bubble full of joy into whatever non-optimal situation you face.  It’s so much easier, so much healthier, to embrace joy.

With that said, snap on the flashlight, light the lantern, strike the match to the candle in someone else’s darkness. Be the light – don’t be a part of the vortex of negative. If you choose joy, you allow other’s to recognize the beauty and joy within themselves. And isn’t that a great way to live life? By choosing joy and lifting yourself up, you can do the same for others. One person can’t force another to experience joy, though. Sometimes, layers of thick, hard shell need peeling away before reveling the joy at the core of your existence.

Joy lifts you up – finding that floating effervescence is transcendent.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” 

–Marianne Williamson

Joy
Joy

Someone once said, “Joy is contagious.” It is. Ever been around someone so filled with joy that it’s impossible not to smile, not to hop on board the joy train? How often have you been that person? Can’t think of a time? Stay present. Be aware. Find beauty and joy in everything. I guarantee you, it’s there.

“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.” 

–English proverb

 

Don’t extinguish or contain your joy. It will spark the flame of joy in others. Isn’t it fun and freeing to laugh like crazy with someone, to share amazing news – big or small?

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

It’s so much easier to choose joy. But it takes practice. It’s a good habit to develop. Those people for whom negativity is the first “go-to” – that’s a hard habit to break. Rewiring your brain is a challenge.

When those negative thoughts pop up – STOP. Stop and think first: what is the positive in this situation? How can I create joy from this? Before those negative or callous words tumble from your mouth – STOP. As our elders taught us – THINK before you SPEAK. How will your words affect others in your presence? Will it bring them joy? Will it bring you joy? Will they uplift someone’s spirits? Will they make you feel great? If the answer is NO – STOP.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Pay attention to your words. As negativity creeps in, choose JOY as its replacement.

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.” 

–Eleanor Roosevelt

 

What gives you joy? What makes you joyful? Sunny days, with a cool breeze, birds chirping, leave rustling. I love it. It enables me to inhale quiet joy and breathe out exuberance. Cats playing, cats purring, dogs running, rabbits hopping, birds flying – all of these provide me with unbridled joy!

 

At the end of every day, think back and jot down joy points. Make a Joy Jar, and drop in beautiful slips of paper filled with those joy points. It’ll provide you with a tangible record of all the joys, the good, and the happiness in your life!

 

Choose joy!

By Syndee Barwick

CELEBRATION: SPRING!

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CELEBRATE SPRING! CELEBRATE CHANGE!

By Syndee Barwick

Spring arrived in the wee hours of Sunday morning here on the East Coast, bringing with it a blast of lingering winter chill – a reminder of how the old likes to hang on for as long as possible until change shakes loose.

Most often we associate new beginnings with the traditional new year on January 1. That’s fine. So, take a look at your progress. Right now, it’s a great opportunity to assess those resolutions and results. How are they working out for you? Are you on your way to that weight loss, less spending, dumping the cigarettes, and increasing your exercise plan?

If so … congratulations!

If not, don’t be frustrated. It’s not surprising those resolutions made in the freeze of winter cold have limped along until you’re frozen into stasis. Now’s the time to scrutinize and reassess who you are and what you’re doing.

It’s time to celebrate spring, celebrate a new you, and celebrate change.

With Spring, the motivation for shifts in your life and change are more alive, more vibrant. How could it not be? The sun warms the ground, coaxing color and flowers to life, breaking through the defrosting earth and dirt barriers. A bite in the air still lingers, but the breeze carries scents and sounds of spring, pushing your body, mind, and spirit into motion.

spring2016Change is painful. Change is terrifying.

But change is also exciting and exhilarating. It opens doors and lifts blockades on life’s path placed there by us or by circumstance.  Without change, everything withers and dies. Nature, us, our ideas, our lives.

Embrace change. Do you really want to be the person you were last year? Ten years ago? I don’t. If you do, I urge you to explore all the awesome possibilities that await you with taking that first step. What’s holding you back? Fear? What are you afraid of – and why? Do you feel that you don’t have the necessary skills or resources to achieve what you want? If that’s the case, what steps can you take to set you in motion and on the path to an improved life?

Spring is the perfect time to craft a life of growth, full of new ideas and skills. Inspiration is everywhere – buds on trees waiting to blossom, flowers blooming, baby birds and other animals finding their own voices and taking their first steps. Connect with the beauty surrounding you, and I promise you’ll find exactly what you need to inspire and motivate you.  Celebrate Spring! Celebrate Change!

STARMAN, STARDUST, LOOKING BEYOND YOURSELF

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David Bowie is dead.

This news shocked me awake two weeks ago on that Monday morning. I couldn’t believe it – still can’t. Tears and tributes and total disbelief from around the world, as social media exploded with the news.David Bowie is still in the news, a full fortnight after his death, with his first number one album and his music dominating the rest of the charts.

At the heart of this, is still the grief and disbelief.

There’s something about mourning someone you’ve never known personally.

There’s also something about mourning someone who had an enormous impact on so many lives for DECADES on a global scale in music, art, movies, fashion, and culture as a whole.

And, then there’s the knowledge that you’re not alone in your grief – that you and millions of others are collectively in a mindset of sadness, but remembrance.

It’s a powerful force.

Bowie

David Bowie WAS a force. For five decades, Bowie continuously evolved and reinvented himself, emerging as a fresh extension of his former self, exploring places and subjects others feared to face.

It’s difficult to describe my feelings, swirling in a multi-colored nebula of stardust and glitter, trekking through a forest of loneliness and self-discovery. He was a guide, a psychopomp to generations, leading us into birthing new versions of ourselves – in thought, life, creative endeavors, and business.

For me, it started with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. As a nine-year old, I’d never seen anything like Bowie/Ziggy before. I loved boy bands, but oh – the glitter and glam of Stardust Spiders hypnotized me. His first appearance on The Midnight Special (for those of you too young to remember that show … I’m sorry!), changed the face of rock forever.

On Diamond Dogs (probably my favorite album), Bowie sings of a post-apocalyptic , Orwellian-inspired Manhattan. Bowie’s eerie, spoken lyrics in Future Legend tell of “fleas were the size of rats and sucked on rats the size of cats,” and the words,

“Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers,”

have stayed with me over 40 years after I first heard them. Not sure why, but his post-apocalyptic glitter visions made him a mystical messiah. He was dystopian, before it was de riguer in books, movie, and culture.

And I’m not the only one impacted by Bowie, with songs and style with staying power.

That’s saying something.

What does Bowie and his long and glittering career demonstrate to everyone – fan or not – about motivation?

Reinvention

Reinvention is the engine of growth. Bowie recognized this early in his career – and it became a something fans looked forward to. Who would Bowie be next? What new songs, style, and outlook would he give us?

Reinvention in the face of criticism and other expectations is scary. Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust at his zenith, shocking fans and critics alike. Ziggy was huge – HUGE. So huge, that Ziggy overshadowed all the other stars twinkling in the shadows and deepest depths of his creator’s soul. But for Bowie, it was time to move, to grow, to evolve.

Evolution and Transformation

Life is evolution. Evolve or die. Evolution of emotions, of ideas, of spirit. You are not the same person you were at 16. At 25. At 38. If you are, then there is something terribly, terribly wrong. That is truth, and the way of the world. A body or mind or spirit in stasis doesn’t grow. It deteriorates, devolving into pale shades of wasted potential.

From Major Tom, to Ziggy Stardust, to Aladdin Sane, to the Thin White Duke, to the Goblin King, David Bowie evolved, transforming his music, his look, his masks and persona – taking us along with him. You transformed or you didn’t – along with him. Simple. Bowie’s transformations were overt, donning masks and costumes. Attention grabbed: check! Once riveted by the new persona, songs were played over and over, lyrics pulling the listener deeper and deeper, sparking a new awareness within.

Reinvention: Face and Embrace Ch-ch-changes

CH-ch-ch-changes. Everything changes, and to fully live life it’s in our best interest to realize that change is the one constant. Bowie knew this. He reinvented himself consciously and creatively over and over. Embrace change & embrace the inevitable (death). Bowie embraced change within the culture. He embraced it, massaged it, grew it, and gave it back to us – forcing change in us and the culture from which he took the seeds of ideas. He did that right to the end of his mortal life. As he faced impending death, he embraced the process. Death and transformation set to a powerful, eerie soundtrack with video, allowing us to glimpse the soul of a messenger heralding his final journey.

That’s powerful stuff.

Magic and Masks

Wear many masks, but stay true to yourself. David Bowie was a master of this. He knew the secret: to be an expert mask-maker, you first have to know who you are – and be okay with it. Make the mask and wear it with gusto! Bowie made magic with his life and shared it with others, encouraging and exploring the good, the bad, and the ugly of our existence.

Rebellion and Defiance

Rebel against convention and defy labels and stereotypes. Bowie was the ultimate non-conformist – an unapologetic artist. Create art for personal and spiritual fulfillment – chances are you’ll hit a universal nerve. You may think you’re alone in your ideas or feelings, but you’re not. Bowie knew this. By tapping into his own soul, he expressed for us what so many cannot. The mark of a modern day shaman.

Fabulous and Fearless

Live your life on your own terms – and go out on your own terms, too. Bowie did. In the face of critics and haters throughout the years, Bowie stayed true to his own self. He looked and acted fabulous in his fearlessness. A fearless quality which at times explored the ugly side of life, giving it a voice and a platform in which we could all share, nodding our heads and emphatically stating, “Yes, I’ve been there.”

Possess Vision

Look beyond your situation to the stars. Bowie did. In the months before his death, he worked furiously to deliver the last album of his career – and his first #1 (posthumously). Did it matter to him if it was number one? Probably not. Did it matter to him if it impacted millions? Most likely. As has been said, it was his last gift to the world – a musical exploration into a human being actively participating in his own transition from this world to the next.

David Bowie will ALWAYS be a force – an otherworldly messenger who fell to Earth for a short time, spreading stardust and inspiration.

David Bowie isn’t dead.

His journey continues, stepping over the threshold into the infinite.

No, David Bowie isn’t dead.

He’s alive in every song he wrote and sang; he’s alive in every single one of us whose lives were changed in ways we never expected.

Thank you, Starman. You will be missed.

By Syndee Barwick

Winter Solstice

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Today, in the Northern Hemisphere, we celebrate the Winter Solstice. As the shortest day and longest night of the year, the Solstice marks the turn from darkness to the rebirth of light.

Look around.

Light is EVERYWHERE this time of year. Sure, sunset is earlier. But as the sun dips below the horizon in a blaze of golden glory, small lights flicker to life on every street.

I don’t know about where you live, but around me there are a record number of holiday lights (Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, and lingering Diwali) hanging from the eaves of houses, framing windows, adorning bushes and trees. White, cool blue, and multi-colors twinkle as they form a tableau for other decorations.

It lights my way home, like a trail of twinkling breadcrumbs. I can see the lights in my yard from the top of the hill at the beginning of my street, beckoning me through the spaces in the evergreens.

Small, sparkling lights possess a hypnotic and calming effect. I can watch my Christmas/Yule tree lights for hours, their glitter reflecting off the shine of ornaments and metallic garland beads. The holiday season can be a source of both joy and stress, but spending thirty minutes by yourself in silence (or with some beautiful instrumental holiday music), melts any of the crazy away.

If you prefer, there’s the soft glow of candlelight, whether outside glowing in a serpentine path underneath luminaria bags, or inside your home atop the mantelpiece.

In the fireplace, the Yule log burns away the old year, building fresh promise upon ashes, transforming any pain and disappointment into hope and excitement for the new year.

During this most reflective time of year, there is much light in the dark. In fact, without the dark, how else would you see the light? Stars spread across the velvet sky, their ancient light providing mystery and wonder. There’s a full moon on Christmas Night, the first since 1977, an occurrence we won’t see again until 2034.

There’s a spark of magic in all this light, if you keep your eyes, mind, and heart open. That same spark of magic light lives in all of us. It’s there, whether or not you’ve felt it, seen it, or manifested it.

Here’s the key: You are your own light.

Winter Solstice

Don’t wait for someone else’s light to follow. Don’t wait for someone else to ignite your spark. Don’t wait for someone else to feed your fire. They can’t. They can inspire you, but kindling the spark? That’s all you.

 

“Light your fire and lead your own way.”

 

Have a Merry Yule, full of mirth and magic!!

By Syndee Barwick

YOUR JOURNEY–ONE STEP AT A TIME

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By Syndee Barwick 

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu 

First there’s the over-the-top enthusiasm, like you’ve become drunk on your dream, gulping down scenario after scenario. Oh, the things you’ll do! The lives you’ll change! The book you’ll write! The business you’ll start!

But then doubt creeps in, reality slaps you with its harsh truths, and the voices of naysayers – whether others’ voices in your head or to your face, or your own inner critic – deafen you, drowning those sparks ignited by your soul.

How do you keep going in the face of contrarians and the constant barrage of negative cacophony?

Trepidation for pursuing one’s dream is something to which no one is immune. It’s hard-wired into our psyches, pummeled into us by society: “Get real.” You want to start your own business? Great! But how will you pay the mortgage? Want to write full-time because it’s your passion? Fantastic! But how will you keep the lights on? Oh, those pesky everyday obligations.

How do you get to your dream?

Journey of a thousand mile

Plan. Just like a road trip, map out your journey – including a myriad of alternate routes (in case of accidents, traffic, or whatever other occurrences that may waylay you), contingency plans, rest stops, site-seeing, opportunities to get gas and food, and what you’ll do once you reach your destination.

Even the best laid plans, the most intricate of schematics, can dissolve into ethers or a detour pops up. But the first step?

Visualize (dream) your perfect situation. What does that look like? How does it feel? How does it MAKE you feel? Why do you want this? Write it all down. It’ll help you map your journey.

Write out your plan/draw that map. Without one, how do you know where you’re going – and how do you know you’ve arrived?

Set up key milestones. Just like any other journey: what are the landmarks? What are the milestones? And how do you celebrate when you attain those?

The most important though? Action. Because all of your planning and map-making can be perfectly designed, but it serves no purpose if you don’t act.

So take that first step – then put one foot in front of the other, with your map in hand.

Because if you don’t take that first step, a year from now you’ll be exactly where you are right now: in the same place, doing the same thing, and not pursuing what it is you so greatly desired and dreamed. And it’ll be that way, year after year. Your dream only a wisp of memory in the dust you’ll be.

Your unique dream, your unique gift will be disappear with you. Only YOU can animate your particular vision and dream. Don’t wait. Take that first step today!