Courage – Why We must stand in the Light

This post marks my “Daring Greatly” moment. My blog was private for all posts prior to this one. I was too afraid… Until I realized recently that every day is a gift. I could be dead the next minute. This website is far from ready. I am still learning about WordPress. But I would regret not being brave enough to share these posts, however imperfect, with you.

I am a huge fan of Brene Brown’s work. I once heard her describe courage as sharing your heart. In “Daring Greatly”, she says “Courage Starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen”. So, here we go, I am going to risk being seen.

Here is my intention – LOVE. I started this blog to chronicle my journey into living my ideals, becoming who I have been designed to be, heading True North. As I step out into the Arena, as I step out from the shadows into the Light, I step out with Love. It is not about me. It will never be about me. I will make mistakes. I am human. It is all for Love.

I am honored to be a willing vessel for God’s message of Love. I will share my heart, shine my light, stand up and speak my truth so that you will understand that there is always hope. No matter what you are going through, Your life has purpose. And if you will listen to that still small voice, you too can stand boldly and live authentically. So, if my writing resonates with you, I hope you will join me in taking a courageous stand. Share your heart. Stand tall. Risk being seen. Do it today. You could be dead the next minute. So, DO it now. Together, let us pledge to live purposeful lives, growing fully aligned with our ideals one post at a time.

Turning 38 – Cultivating Joy through Gratitude

Today, I turned 38. Yes, I am public about my age. I am grateful for every single moment I am alive. For some strange reason, I thought I would be dead by 28. I am grateful for the past decade – every single part of it. Some get upset about their birthdays, seeing aging as a source of shame and pain. I see wisdom, mastery, grace, elegance and character in the elderly. So many stories to hear, so much to learn… I really enjoy the company of the elderly – in fact according to my interests (Masterpiece theater, anyone?), Google has me pegged as a good old American baby boomer! Awesome!
I digress…
I spent my birthday joyfully… embracing the things that energized rather than drained me. I am learning that it is not enough to do the things you are good at, you have to focus and cultivate the activities that energize you, that strengthen you. Those are your true strengths according to Marcus Buckingham.

I also learned from Jesus, Oprah, Brene Brown and Karen Walrond that I can increase my joy by practising gratitude.

So, what did I do today? As many things that bring me joy as I could fit in the day.
Meaning, All of today’s entries in my gratitude journal.

I sang silly songs with my daughter, went for a long walk through natural neighborhoods, went to a children’s bookstore and the local library, coached my teenage friend through some creative writing about her immigrant experience, edited this blog, played my guitar, chatted with family members, spent quality time with husband and kids, ate yummy gluten-free yummy food at Sweet 27, Recording a new song with hubby and some more quality time with him.
By counting my blessings daily, I increase my joy! I am so joyful today! Thank you God for another wonderful year!

3am muse – the cry for authenticity (Part 2)

I heard him before I saw him playing the electric guitar and singing his heart out. I recognized a kindred spirit right away. I was on my way to the National Zoo in DC with my two daughters. But I ended up mesmerized for nearly an hour by this ridiculously talented 60-something year-old man.

I mentioned his age because I have used my age as a pithy excuse countless times… I am too old to play guitar, I am too old to learn to play electric lead guitar the way I hear it in my head… Yes, ten years ago, I dreamed that a zombie-like Jimi Hendrix forced his way through my car’s sun roof. He was covered in dust and hitchhiking, and as I took an exit off the highway, he forced his way into my car uninvited… No one can miss the obvious meaning of the dream – music forcing its way into my life, no matter how I try to ignore, shun or suppress it!

I digress…

This baby-boomer was killing it! He was playing lead guitar outside the Woodley Park metro stop… rock and roll, blues, 80s wuss rock, he played them all imperfectly with a determined recklessness… He didn’t seem to care whether we paid attention to him or not. He just played.

I stood there, head banging and toe-tapping. I couldn’t help myself. I was moved. I was inspired. I was rocking out with him.
Being a guitar nerd, I drooled over the tone of his Fender Stratocaster… It sounded just like Jimi Hendrix (on Angel) or Jimmy Page (on Ramble On) and I said I loved the sound of his fender.

“Oooh, watch out now! ” He joked and I realized I sounded a little too earnest.
“I own one”, I replied. And immediately added that I hadn’t played it for a while.
“You own one and you don’t play it?” He asked incredulously. I loved Fenders and bought one after years of coveting others’ Strats. Finally, while pregnant in 2012 (sounds like a song title), I impetuously bought a Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, but could never quite bring myself to play it. I guess on a deeper level I didn’t think I deserved to play one.
But That moment outside the metro, I decided to give myself permission to enjoy the things I loved to do. I will dust off my treasured Fender and play my heart out -noo matter how imperfectly I sound.

What do you need to give yourself permission to enjoy? What makes you come alive? Why aren’t you doing it?

The thing is, my guitar is gently weeping as I am getting older and older, making more and more excuses…

Use your talents. Just write the song, tell the story… bake the pie, draw that scenery… Just thread that needle! Like Jesus said in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:29) “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Do it. Use your talents – every single one!

Don’t die with your music still in you. Die completely used up.

You have what it takes. The world needs you.

Stop crying. Grab that guitar (or needle, or pen) and play!

3am Muse – The cry for authenticity that keeps you awake at night (Part 1)

What do I really want to say?

Be warned: I am about to bare my soul…

I started this project because I wanted to find out if I could live really my calling. I believe everyone has a calling. We are put here for a divine purpose and it is our responsibility to find out what that purpose is and live it fully.

But on a deeper level, I had doubts. I doubted whether I deserved or was capable of living my calling. Those unconscious doubts were keeping me from living authentically.

For several years, through medical school and public health school, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was not living my calling. I was living a life based on expectations- some self-inflicted, others from well-meaning loved ones…

The questions were relentless. Why am I lying awake at night, heartbroken over unspoken, unacknowledged dreams? What is this yearning, gnawing at my soul? And why was I too ashamed to acknowledge it? Why aren’t I living my calling? Is it even okay to dream? Why am I so afraid of ridicule and rejection? Are these desires a waste of time? Why can’t I shake them?

See, my resume states that I am a doctor or medicine and a master of public health. Many would gladly sacrifice an arm to have any of those degrees. But at heart, I am also a musician, a reader, a writer, a coach, a teacher, a dancer and a traveler. I probably don’t do these very well because they are “hobbies” and I am self-taught – so they can’t possibly be my callings, right? Or can they? What gives? Which way do I go? Who is the real me?

I am also an immigrant, a third culture chick, a global citizen… For immigrants, the expectations and pressures to succeed as professionals are extremely high.

But the dreams never really go away, do they? I know physicians who become comedians, rock stars, chefs, hip-hop dancers, soccer players, dramaturges, astro-geeks, film directors when the white coats come off.
I have been told I have to be a physician to be taken seriously in the United States… I have been told I don’t have the right look for a rock singer/guitarist, that I don’t have what it takes to be a humanitarian, I am too ADD to succeed at anything and so on.

But My dreams have musically intricate soundtracks. I get energized when I motivate and encourage others to live their dreams… I am uber-ecletic… Like Janelle Monae says “Categorize me, I defy every label”.

So, what do you do, when you find your dreams don’t fit you or who you think you are?

This is why I am stepping out of my comfort zone and into the light. I choose to believe that you can live your true calling no matter where you come from or what you look like, American or international, professional or amateur, ADD or neurotypical, fat or slim, etc. These are all excuses designed to keep you small. And as Marianne Williamson says, “Your playing small does not serve the world”.

You matter. Your voice matters. Your dreams are valid and you deserve to live your true calling. You know the one, the one recurring dream that calls you in the middle of the night. I know it. I have found myself crying many times at 3 am (why at 3am, I have no idea!) I call it “the 3am muse – the Cry of Authenticity.”

Here’s what I believe: God has a calling for my life. I choose to show up every day and put my pen to paper. Let’s see what happens.

What God Sees when He looks at You…

I was thinking about Love today. I had many epiphanies about this ideal and was really excited as I wrote them down. I couldn’t wait to share them with a friend. Those who know me well know I get super-geeky about aha! moments. I am so excited to share them. During lunch today, I was about to launch into my usual discourse about my latest aha! when suddenly, another epiphany blew through my mind and completely silenced me. Here it is…

When God looks at you, He sees His image… He sees Himself! We are created in God’s image, every single one of us. When God looks at me, it is as if He is looking in the mirror and seeing Himself!

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see the flaws, the wrinkles, something to correct, or complain about? Or do you see God? When you look at your friend, the stranger on the street, that annoying co-worker, what do you see?

It’s like that children’s book by Eric Carle- “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?”

My friend, my friend, what do you see? I tell you what I see… I see God staring at me!

Having an aha! moment about this post? Share it in your comments below?

Be your SELF: How to truly disrupt the sleepwalking cycle

In order to truly disrupt the sleepwalking cycle, you have to make one decision. Commit to being your true SELF.
In order to be your true self, you will have to commit to S-E-L-F in all you do.
S-E-L-F stands for Show Up, Engage, Listen and Follow through.

S: Show Up. Truly show up. Be present. Someone once said showing up is 99% of success in life. Be fully present. Be available to your life. Joyce Meyer says, “God is more interested in my availability than my ability.” Think of it. If you have all the resources of the universe at your disposal, and you don’t even show up, then, you don’t have access to those resources, do you? You have to show up to gain access.
I once auditioned for a prestigious choir during my undergrad studies. Being a new immigrant, I was flummoxed when asked to sing the national anthem. I was embarrassed because I did not know it. Then I was asked to sing any song and I shyly sang the “Happy birthday” song. To this day, I do not know if I made it into the choir. Why? I never showed up to find out. I was so humiliated. I found out many years later, that the auditions were just to weed out tone deaf applicants. I learned that they almost always let you in. I never showed up, so I missed out on a terrific opportunity. Maybe you are afraid, or feel inferior, like you don’t know enough. But, like Marie Forleo says,
“Everything is figureoutable.”

E: Engage. We are so distracted. Our eyes are glued to screens. Dr. Ned Hallowell calls it “Screen Sucking”! Fingers constantly fidgeting, we crave our gadgets, reaching for our addictions… Escaping and numbing with food, screens, shopping, anything to keep us from dealing with the pain of being ourselves, living our so-called mundane lives. There is always something beckoning, promising some excitement… Something better, greener, stronger, more HD…
Brene Brown calls it avoiding shame and vulnerability… Armoring up, we pretend to be too cool for school, but we are running away from our own lives.
Dare to turn off the distractions and engage. Dare to stop numbing your self. Roll up your sleeves, do the work your live deserves. Be goofy. Be excited. Risk being uncool. Risk being so excited you are uncool! Be fully present. Go all in. Pay full attention to what is in front of you.

L: Listen. What is your life telling you? What are your patterns? What have you lost? What do you have? What are you doing? What are your strengths? What are the people around you saying? Listen to your life. What are your hangups or recurrent mistakes? What is your kryptonite? What are you missing? Who do you want to be? What are your ideals?

F: Follow through. Pick up the tips, the lessons, the advice… Apply them to your life. Let go of that toxic friendship. Stop that destructive habit. Pick up the phone and call that parent. Buy that book. Take that class. Create and work that budget. Smell that rose. Do something about the insights you received when you listened to your life. Don’t go back to sleep. Don’t go back to numbing. Don’t eat the seeds of wisdom you have received. Cultivate them and Let them grow instead. Then you can eat the fruits of harvest later.
It will not be easy. But it will be worth it.

How are you going to be true to your self? In what ways will you Show up? Engage? Listen? Follow through? Please share your comments below. Thanks!

The Dangers of Sleepwalking through Your Life – Why you must act NOW.

What do you do when you suddenly realize you have been asleep? When you startle awake, you experience many states. Confusion, disorientation… You temporarily forget where you are and wonder how you got there, for how long you have been there and for how long you had been sleeping.

Maybe you are in class or at work, you wonder who saw you sleeping, what you missed – whether it was important or not, whether you can recover what you lost, whether it will happen again…
So many questions whiz through your mind – some trivial, some mundane, others grave…
“Did I drool?” “Do I still have drool on my face, on my desk?” If you were driving, you wonder, “Did I hurt anyone? Am I hurt?”

I remember watching the movie “Sleepwalk with Me” featuring Mike Birbiglia who really has a sleepwalking disorder in real life. Once he jumped out of a window from the 2nd floor of a hotel, while fully asleep!
Sleepwalking comes with a price that often becomes costlier and deadlier each time.

Don’t miss it.

Sleepwalking through your life is deadly.

You are a danger to yourself.
You are a danger to others.
You will continue to experience costlier and deadlier consequences.

You are robbing the world of that unique contribution, that positive impact that only you can create with your gifts, strengths, skills and talents.

Dare to snap out of it and be your true self.

Next post will show you how to be your True Self. See you next time! If this resonates, Please Leave your comments below.

How to Stop Sleepwalking Through Your Life – Part 2

Each person has a Divine calling. You and I were born for a unique purpose.

I have been designed with an inherent set of ideals which resonate deeply for me whenever I encounter them or live them.

My true North.

I am learning that in order to live my calling, I have to live my ideals.

When I decided to stop sleepwalking through my life, I noticed that I had unknowingly drifted away from a life that truly reflected what I believed in.

For example, I love music – I am really passionate about the guitar but I never practiced. I love positive, enthusiastic people with a zest for life but I was surrounded by negative, unmotivated people who constantly complained and drained me.

You are who you attract. And you become the company you keep. I realized I had drifted off course and was living ideals I did not even believe in.

I am still awake because I choose to plug in, align with my God-given ideals and head True North. Walking in the direction of the Caller, guided by the internal compass of my ideals…

This blog tells the story of my journey to living authentically. Going deeper, climbing higher… Onward and Upward, remembering and living my truth.

Living my calling.

I don’t know exactly what.

But I have heard the call. It is not enough to hear it, I choose to turn and face it. It is not enough to face it. I choose to walk in the direction of the Caller… With my ideals pointing true North, I walk. Sometimes I am distracted by my expectations, the good intentions of others, old dreams, old loves…

But daily, by tuning in, I am realigned, guided, comforted…

And by embracing these ideals, I am embrace my true self.

And I let go… A daily decision…Letting go of perfectionism, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being judged and jeered.

Developing my strengths. Living an empowered life. Focusing on the things that energize me.

My ideals are many and each one rings true. I commit to exploring and applying an ideal daily. In return, I would love to hear how it resonates with you. Together, we can grow from a daily practice of each selected ideal.

Who am I? Does it matter? Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. This is not about me. It has never been. It is about something bigger that us. I will continue to share my story in order to illustrate a lesson I learning. But I have learned that I go astray when I make it about me.

The question is: Does this resonate with you?

Don’t go alone. I did and fell asleep again and again.

Are you in? Sign up your email for loving nudges and an “Ideal of the Day” twice weekly.