Day 32 7:50PM

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about how we learn a second language, and I have been watching a lot of videos on the human brain. It’s fascinating. One of the most interesting videos I watched was called “The linguistic genius of babies.” It was a TED talk.

When Patricia Kuhl talks about how babies are learning at an amazing rate, it reminded me that we humans are meant to learn; we come into the world equip with everything we need to learn. Even though our ability to learn a second language drops dramatically after seven years old, we are still capable of learning so many other things.

I love learning. I see myself as a lifelong learner. Now that I am learning more about the brain and the cognitive processes of second language acquisition, I feel energized. I get such a rush when I learn something new, and I feel optimistic about my future when I learn new things and I increase my knowledge base.

Part of learning to love myself is learning what makes me truly happy and makes my life fulfilling. Whether it is academic in nature or something more personal, I will learn something new every day.

 

 

 

Day 31 11PM

How Important is Evidence?

Show me how or why this works. That’s what I think about anything in my life. I’m an educator. I teach English as a foreign language in a Japanese university, and I’m always asking, “Why does this work?” or “How does this work?” I do action research, which is basically conducting studies in your classroom environment with your students as the participants. I try different things, testing my hypotheses, and when I get positive results, I always ask the question, “Why?” Sure I can see that getting students to make specific language learning goals increases their motivation to learn English, but I do not know why it does. So, I am compelled to learn more about cognition and the way the brain processes language. I’m even thinking about getting a PhD. in neurolinguistics. I want to fully understand how the brain works with regard to learning a second language.

Although this curiosity and thirst for knowledge and desire for evidence works wonderfully in my profession as an educator, it causes some discomfort in my personal life. I find it difficult to have faith in the things that do not lend themselves easily to evidence; for example, the existence of god or a higher power. I want to believe there is something greater than this out there. I want to believe that I am Source and that life is bigger than just what I see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. That learning about the world through a series of experiments in which I test my various hypotheses is not the only way to learn. However, I cannot trust faith. I want to have faith, and when I do make a decision based on or allow myself to have faith, I almost always doubt it.

Sometimes relying on what is tangible and what is plausible or falsifiable can act as a crutch keeping you from taking risks or trying new things. On an intellectual level, I understand this. My reliance on evidence and the natural world is keeping me from experiencing other possibilities. If I loved myself, I would embrace the parts of myself that are romantic, and crave magic, and know there is more out there than just the physical world. I want to know my spiritual side. I want to fully commit to it, but my scientific side, the careful part of myself holds me back.

There is also of course the fear of being made a fool of. I’m afraid that if I fully embrace my spirituality and declare to everyone in my life that I believe in Source energy, that I believe that there is so much more out there than what I can see with my physical eyes and touch with my corporal hands, I will be laughed at, ostracized and dismissed. I don’t want people to lose respect for me. I don’t want people to speak of me in hushed tones behind closed doors.

So I’m left with the question, the one that I have committed myself to asking every time I had to make a decision big or small and that is “What would someone who loved themselves do?” and the answer is:

“Be true to yourself. Be honest about your misgivings while at the same time forthcoming about your willingness to learn using different tools. Don’t declare anything until you are absolutely certain, but don’t hide what you are doing. Believe that the people who love you will accept you no matter what you do because they love you for who you are not what you do. Believe and trust that others who will love you for who you are will come into your life once you embrace the part of you that is spiritual and that knows you are Source. Do what feels good to you, and don’t worry what others think. Be a fool. It is better than living a lie. It is better than abandoning yourself. Take it one day at a time, don’t rush it.”

And so I shall.

May you find the courage to be yourself every day no matter what.

I hope you’ll share your thoughts on this topic. I look forward to hearing from you.

Day 30 9PM

What My Attitude Towards Snobs Has Taught Me

Recently, I’ve come across a lot of vegans and vegetarians who seem like snobs to me. They seem to be vegans and vegetarians because they believe they are better than those who choose to include meat in their diets. They behave as if they are more enlightened and exist on a higher plain than us lowly omnivores. When I hear their reasons, which they usually share while looking down their noses at you, I start to wonder if perhaps my choice to include meat in my diet is wrong. I start to feel guilty and then I start to get angry because I feel judged. Then in my anger and shame, I judge them seeing them as hypocrites and self righteous jerks.

When I examine what it is that sparks such a strong reaction to snobs, and it is not limited to the vegans and vegetarians I’ve met, I realize that it springs from a deep sense of inferiority. I believe on a conscious level that I am equal to my fellow humans, but on an unconscious level this obviously is not the case.

The thing is, if I loved myself completely, how these people felt about their lifestyles would not affect me. I wouldn’t even be phased by it. I probably wouldn’t even notice them. However, until I learn to love and accept the part of me that feels inferior to my fellow humans, I will probably only see snobs.

It has to do with a lesson I need to learn. There is a part of me that is crying out to be noticed. Until I believe that I am equal to my fellow humans, self righteous, haughty, snobby people will continue to rub me the wrong way. Looks like more shadow work on the horizon.

So, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your opinion in a comment below. Until next time, I’m wishing you all the best.

Day 29 11:45PM

Today I was reminded of what I don’t want. I love my job, but I don’t like expending so much of my energy towards someone else’s vision. I don’t want to live in someone else’s concrete box unable to make any changes like knocking down a wall, or adding another wing to the place. I don’t want to commute on the train during rush hour where you are forced into the train practically belly button to belly button to complete strangers. So then what do I want?

I want to spend my days dedicating my time and energy to my vision, and my passion. I want to live in a home that is full of things that I love and that make me happy. I want my little slice of heaven. A place with a big yard where my children can play and explore all the natural wonders you can find in a backyard, like worms, ants, bees, butterflies, grass, flowers, and trees. So what am I doing to get what I want?

I’m working on changing my core beliefs and I am working on taking that next step in my career. I’m casting my net wide sewing seeds in many fields hoping they will take root in at least one. I’m learning every day what I want and what I don’t want, and I am taking baby steps in the direction of my joy.

On days like today when I fall back on old habits, like putting the things I have to get done above the things I want to get done, it seems like I still have such a long way to go. I try to remind myself its not so much the destination as it is the journey on which I should be focused. Well, in this particular part of the journey, I’m learning a lot about what I don’t want, and it’s helping me clarify my vision and strengthen my resolve to keep on moving.

 

 

Day 28

A Visit With Friends in the Country

Yesterday, which was day 28 of my “365 Days of Self-Love” challenge, was a wonderful day. We spent the day with a couple who live in a rural town just two stops west of our place. Their place is a little slice of heaven. They have traditional Japanese home, with a garden with a little bamboo forest just beyond the boundaries of their backyard. The husband, a mild mannered deep thinking man from England, took us to the local shrine which was nestled in a grove of trees. The shrine consisted of three little buildings made of wood. We could hear the chirping of three different birds, and the wind gently blew through the trees. We stopped and watched as the bamboo bent and swayed in the wind. Our friend stopping to admire the surroundings a smile on his face and a glass of wine in his hand, tells us how much he loves it there and how he never wants to leave.

Over a lunch of wine, cheese, various and sundry meats grilled to perfection, we talk about various topics ranging from neurolinguistics to the music that we are into these days. I watch as my husband engages in conversation with our friend from England. They talk about his home, and I listen without judgment as my husband talks of our dreams to own a home saying that if we could afford one, we’d like a home in the country.

As I hold tight to my little son who is wonderingly gazing at the garden with eyes of a being who does not know limits or boundaries, who hasn’t learned that his world is separate from all he perceives, I think of how life would be like if we could look at our desires and our dreams in that same way. What would it sound like if my husband believed that getting a house in the country was as simple as just doing the work to get it, and that was all it would take. In my husband’s voice and the way he spoke of our desire to have a house seemed as if he didn’t feel that we deserved our own slice of paradise, and I was a little sad.

I believe we will have a house, and that it only takes the desire and taking action towards fulfilling those desires to get a house. Everything I’ve ever truly desired has come to pass. I married my husband, I had two children, I moved to Japan twice, I received a Master’s degree, I am now doing a job that I love, and it is all because I always knew they would happen; I just needed to do the work.

However, when you are sharing a life, and sharing a dream, it’s a little more complicated. I find myself being pulled down by my husband’s belief that he does not deserve the things he wants. As I have taken on the challenge to love myself, and to focus on the possibilities of life, our different perspectives have become even more obvious. When I look at my husband I see so much potential, a multi-talented and highly intelligent man, he could be anything he wanted to be, but he behaves as if he does not deserve to have anything in life.  I know he has only to believe in himself and the world will open up to him in ways that would astound him.

What do you do when your life partner has forgotten all that he or she can be? What do you do when you are on a path to great and wonderful things, and you are standing in the light of possibility, and your significant other is still in the shadows of doubt and uncertainty and self-hatred? You know that there is absolutely nothing you can say or do that is going to get them to where they need to be. You know you can only encourage and inspire, and have faith that they will catch up with you. Teal Swan has an excellent video on YouTube about this catch-up effect. She says that you just have to focus on yourself and believe that your loved one will want to continue to be with you enough that they will catch up.

That is my hope. It is my desire that as I continue to work on myself and change my core beliefs and as I learn to love myself, my husband, the man with whom I want to spend every day of my life, will catch up.

How about you? Do you have a person in your life who is not in the same space as you are? What do you do? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

 

 

Day 27 Late

My Body As Seen Through the Lens of Gratitude

Now that I have decided to live my life in the moment, I have found that being grateful helps a lot. It lifts my spirits and helps quiet negative thoughts. One thing that I have been negative about a lot lately is my body. I often focus on the things I’d like to change like my round belly, fat thighs, and flabby arms. Focusing only on what my body looks like, I rarely ever considered all the things that make my body great. Today, I’ve decided to do just that, and it made all the difference. Here are just a few of the thoughts that shed light on my day.

I am grateful for my ability to see. Today, I could see the lush green trees and bushes all around, and the brilliant colors that make up spring. Riding on the train, I could see the beautiful mountains with their shades of green–dark forest green, bright spring green and blue-green with pockets of grey rock peeking through. I could see the shiny brown tiled roofs of the traditional Japanese houses, and the rice fields that were still a rich brown. I could see my daughter talking with her new found friends, a mother and her two children. The mother’s eyes lit up as my daughter engaged her attention with confidence and enthusiasm. When I made eye contact with the mother, we both smiled in appreciation at the moment made possible by my daughter’s outgoing personality.

At my daughter’s play group holding my son in my arms, I was grateful that I had the strength to hold my baby. That my muscles work to move my body in the direction I will it. I am grateful that I can grip a pen and fill in paperwork to enroll my daughter into an academic support group for children with non-Japanese parents. I am grateful that I have  ears to hear, and my inner ear that so adeptly keeps me balanced. I am grateful for my brain and its ability to process information, especially my second language, Japanese, which allowed me to communicate effectively with everyone with whom I came into contact.

When we made our way to the city to go shopping; me pushing my son’s stroller and my daughter following close behind, I was grateful for my ability to walk, and how effortlessly the muscles in my arms, back, legs, and feet worked to propel my body forward. I didn’t have to think about it; it just happened. As the shopping bags piled up and got heavier, I was grateful for my ability to carry the bags, and for the strength it took to do so.

On my way home, walking in the rain, loaded down with shopping bags, balancing the weight on the back of the stroller, making sure my daughter paid attention as we wound our way through cars in the parking lot, and beside busy city streets on the side walk, I started to feel really annoyed. So shifting my focus, I verbally expressed my appreciation for my skin and my ability to feel the weight of the bags on my arms, and the wet of the rain falling gently on my face. I was grateful for my ability to feel the soft delicate petals of the azaleas that lined the side walk. Stopping to see if they had a scent, I was thankful for my sense of smell. Immersed in all that there was to see, hear, smell, and touch, I forgot my irritation and felt light on my feet a smile in my heart and on my face.

At home, putting away groceries, and chatting with my husband, I was grateful for my ability to see, smell, and taste the delicious curry we had for dinner. I savored each bite and felt gratitude for my ability to do so. At dinner, we took turns expressing our gratitude for each other, and the people in our  lives–the start of new family tradition.

Looking back at my day, I realize that I didn’t have many negative thoughts. In fact, I spent most of the day observing my environment and taking stock of all that I loved and appreciated. I felt more positive about myself, my life, and the people and things in my life. I was less aware of what I was lacking, and more aware of what I had, and that was a lot when I took the time to consider it.

I am beginning to understand that people who love themselves must live a life full of gratitude. Happiness is effortless when you focus on what you have and all the things of which you are capable. I have discovered my key to feeling happy most of the time, and that is gratitude.

I have spent too much of my time worried about the what ifs, and lost in the should haves and would haves. I’ve been chasing the idea of happiness, always putting it in the future, always making it something to attain, but I learned today that happiness isn’t a goal, it’s a state of mind, and it is as easy as shifting my focus to live a fulfilling and happy life now. It has always been at my fingertips, I had only to be aware of my fingertips, and my ability to feel, and my ability to harness the power of my mind.

In retrospect, it seems so simple and so obvious. It was something I had learned as a child but had forgotten as an adult. The refrain in the hymn “Count Your Blessings” by John Oatman, Jr. is how in my youth, I learned the beauty of being thankful.

“Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done.”

Although I am no longer Christian, I feel that this hymn rings with truth. When we count our blessings, and when we focus on appreciation, doubt, fear, and pain have less of an impact. It is not a form of escapism, but rather it is a deeper understanding of what it means to be alive. It allows us to zoom out and see the bigger picture. Even when we are facing dire circumstances, we can find comfort in the knowledge of what we have and most importantly that we have the ability to change our perspective of any situation. It gives us access to the truth about life, and that is, that life with all its ups and downs is beautiful. I will always remember that.

What are you thankful for? I hope you will take the time to share what you appreciate and what makes you happy in a comment below.

 

Day 26 10:55PM

Letting Go of Fear and Embracing Gratitude

A few minutes ago, I put my baby to bed. He screamed bloody murder for five minutes before he finally surrendered and gave into sleep.It reminded me of how I’ve been feeling for the past couple days. I’ve been kicking and screaming and fighting like mad against my situation. I’m not changing fast enough. I’m struggling with the idea of living my dream and following my passion. Like my son fighting to stay awake, I’m resisting the process.

Once again, I am butting up against fear. It is the fear of insignificance. It is the fear of putting myself out there only to discover that the world doesn’t notice me. What if my brilliant light is the size of the head of a pin; barely enough for anyone to notice? What if I take the plunge only to find that the water was only an illusion and the hard unforgiving concrete is very real and there’s no escaping impact? What if the great roar that I think I have turns out to be a mere whisper? What if I not only fail, but no one even bothers to notice or care? These are the questions that halt my steps into the direction of my bliss.

So, let’s examine these fears shall we? These are all inventions. They are my idea of what will happen. However, if we create our own reality with our thoughts and beliefs, if I continue to entertain these thoughts, they could be realized. It is probably best to find the source of these fears and integrate the part of my being that is stuck in the past when I felt powerless. I see more shadow work on the horizon.

In the meantime, I will focus on all things for which I’m grateful. I’m grateful for my ability to see the lush green trees whose blossoms of pink, yellow, white, and purple adorn the landscape with vibrant splashes of color. I rejoice in the fact that I can walk, run, jump, and dance, and that I can hear the birds singing, and the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees, and the clankty clank of the train’s wheels on the tracks. I’m so grateful that I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, the caress of the cool breeze on my cheek, and the soft delicate petals of the flowers that line the pathway on my way to my apartment.

I love the fact that when I come home from work, my daughter still gets excited and runs into my arms sometimes, and that she still wants to play with me. I love that my son smiles and excitedly pumps his chubby little legs when he sees me. I am full of gratitude when my husband brings me flowers just because, and that I can tell him anything.

It’s easy to get caught up in the what ifs, and to forget myself in the excitement of what’s to come. Today and every day, I’m going to focus on the things I love and everything in my life for which I am grateful. It is time to stop dwelling on what could be, and to start experiencing and living my life now. After all, that’s what someone who loved themselves would do, and so will I.