Wake Up! You’re Too Smart and Valuable Not To

I recently had an incredible “mountain top moment.” Have you ever had one? These are those precious, powerful moments when you transcend the normal human, day-to-day plane and really get a sense of the bigger, spiritual reality behind it all. These are the frickin’ blow-your mind, shake your foundation, open up a whole new reality and way of being moments! I’ve been lucky enough to have a few of these in my life and not all of them have required horrific, life-tearing hard ship.

This last one came while I was out running. I had had a good morning meditation earlier but nothing all that special. That morning the weather wasn’t even anything obviously great, slightly overcast not yet full Fall color, muted. And yet … as I ran, and breathed, I noticed every color in the slowly changing leaves. I noticed the dull blue-gray water of the irrigation canal and the big group of floating geese, many of whom had been tiny yellow fluffballs just a couple months ago. I listened to the wind blowing through the aspen and pine.

AND I felt the I Am.   In that moment I woke up, yet again, after having fallen asleep, again, to what’s real and truly important.

We are so driven to accomplish, to get awards, promotions, positions, wealth – to work hard to reach our goals. And yet, if indeed we are spiritual beings having a human experience and the purpose of this experience is to evolve as spiritual beings then every moment we are actually AWAKE in a spiritual sense is itself a destination, the accomplishment of a goal. That goal is making the most of the time we have in these human bodies.

It was such a profound moment of being fully present. It brought a sense of wonder and a huge sense of relief and relaxation. In that instant I put down the hammer, and the Do List, and just was. I remembered I was not a human doing but a human being, and so much more as well.

Does this mean I stop striving, stop trying to accomplish things in the “out there” world? No way. But it does mean I am ever more aware of something richer and deeper, a deeper purpose behind my desire to strive and achieve. I truly believe the more we live in this awakened inner place the easier the “accomplishments” flow.

I am here to tell you that whether you’re facing a big, painful challenge and want to come out the other side empowered or if you’re in great place and just want to create the very best experience of life possible then one of the single most important steps you can take is to get busy getting still! Yep, start a mindfulness or meditation practice YESTERDAY! It’s not rocket science and it can start with only a few minutes a day. It WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

I got really serious about meditation three years ago when my life blew to pieces. One of the biggest breakthrough tools for me was Eckert Tolle’s book, the Power of Now. This helped me really recognize the difference between being spun around the axel of my own distracted mind and having a truly awake moment. It changed my life.

In a very real sense our thoughts ARE our life. What we think dictates how we feel far more than the other way around. Your thoughts, WAY MORE than the circumstances you are facing, are what give you an awesome day or a shitty one. And the beautiful thing is you CAN learn to control your thoughts!

A Chinese proverb says something along the lines of, “A woman may not be able to prevent birds from flying over her head, but she has a right to determine whether they will make nests in her hair.” Amen! The power of meditation is the ability to separate your thoughts and reactions from whatever situations appear in your life. I guarantee that the better you get at this the better will be the situations you find yourself in.

Resources/Actions:

  • Read Eckert Tolle’s, The Power of Now and A New Earth.
  • Take a class or a coaching session on basic meditation. I offer both one-on-one sessions and a class called Meditation for Smarties! If you’re interested in that just apply through the simple form on my webpage here: http://www.cylviahayes.net/coaching/
  • There’s also a useful book and CD called Meditation for Dummies (I just thought I’d elevate that a bit in my own offerings!).

#CylviaHayes #ResiliencyMuscles #MeditationForSmarties

Re-Learning to Live Beyond Shackles

Have you ever carried a really heavy burden for so long that when it was gone you had to sort of relearn how to be and act without the weight bearing down on you? I’m going through that right now.

Having finally come to the end of an extremely painful and stressful 2½ year ordeal didn’t feel like I expected it would. It wasn’t immediately celebratory.   Instead it was just wildly emotional tinged with disbelief that it was finally over.

It took several days to let the waves of “goodness” of it wash in.   I felt like a totally dried out, hardened sponge that only gradually was soaking in the fact that the trauma had passed and I had been rebirthed on the other side.

I’ve heard that fish who are kept in small enclosures within bigger tanks or ponds for a long time will keep swimming in small circles for a long time after the walls of their prison are removed. I’ve seen something similar in horses and dogs that I’ve helped rescue from terribly confined and chained situations.

A Course in Miracles notes that often when people have been kept imprisoned, in chains, they don’t immediately stand up straight and celebrate — it takes a while to shake off the limiting conditioning. That’s true whether it’s physical shackles or the emotional and psychological bondage that comes from dealing with prolonged challenges, especially those that are largely out of our control.

I now have a whole new appreciation for this phenomenon and it is delicious to feel the shackles falling away.   That is the place to put the focus!

To all of you who have been strong enough to survive through big challenges and long, ongoing uncertainty and demands, I encourage you to take a breath, dive deep and swim a victory lap way outside your own small circle.

Reclaim your place in the big, big pond! Remember WHO YOU ARE!

Cylvia Hayes

#CylviaHayes #ResiliencyMuscles

 

Going Through or Growing Through Our Big Mistakes

As someone who has been through it myself I now work with and support people who get caught in the horror of having their lives and careers blow up in spectacular fashion. For some people this is more public than for others and the public piece is certainly an added trauma – this I know first hand.

There are two really different forms of shaming and trauma experiences. One is when a person gets targeted and bullied for things that really are out of their control – how they look, their family situation or having something they said taken completely out of context and turned into something it wasn’t. Those are really hard circumstances because the person is truly and fully a victim of our cultural mob-mentality.

The other type is a little different in that the person being targeted made a mistake that set the whole thing in motion and the response to that mistake is way overblown and out of proportion due to sensationalist media and anonymous cyber-bullying.

Because I have been through it and because I know how ugly and dishonest media coverage of these kinds of events can be I never weigh in on any of the attacks or accusations. However, some of these more public mistakes and bullying episodes offer valuable insight for any of us going through a life and career altering identity challenge.

In some of the recent celebrity fiascos I actually got a bit angry at the public relations teams advising the person in public hot water. Olympian Ryan Lochte and comedian Kathy Griffin are poignant examples. Both of these people wound up under public assault because they made human mistakes and then they quickly returned to the public stage without taking the time to genuinely address their mistakes.  I suspect this only intensified and prolonged the trauma they were experiencing. It also backfired professionally.

And here’s what I want to stress for those of you facing something similar, whether its in the public arena, the arena of your community or even just among you and your family and friends, one of the most important steps in surviving and eventually thriving on the other side of a costly mistake is to take responsibility for it, for your own piece in the mess. This is important not only for saving your job, career, fan-base, etc., but also for coming through it more whole as a human being. It’s important for helping to heal those you harmed, including yourself.

Steps to doing this include:

  • I always say when your life blows up big you are going to have to go through it. Period. You can’t control that. But you can control whether or not you “grow” through it. Evidence shows that people who choose to learn and grow from traumatic experiences usually heal faster and healthier than those who shy away from the inner work.
  • Once you have a better understanding of yourself and why you made the mistake, apologize, genuinely, to those who were hurt by it.
  • Finally, take responsibility but don’t beat yourself to death. We’re human. We make mistakes. The bigger risks you take the bigger and more spectacular your mistakes are likely to be. Give yourself credit for having the courage to risk.

In my own process of owning and understanding my mistake I had to face aspects of myself I wasn’t very proud of — it was tremendously uncomfortable and unsettling. However, as I moved through it I also found levels of self-forgiveness and appreciation I’d never known before. There is no easy way to handle it when our human mistakes cause big damage to ourselves and others. Those experiences hurt, a lot, and they also offer huge opportunities to grow, improve and become more effective people and professionals.   That choice belongs to us.

If you’re interested in working with Cylvia to heal and thrive fill out the inquiry form here.

You can also download a free gift titled How to Breakthrough Instead of Breaking Down When Life Blows Up.

#CylviaHayes  #ResiliencyMuscles

Happy Mothers Day to All Tough Mother F…ers!

Tough Mother F…er! — Not what you think

As many of you know, one of the treasures I found in these past couple of really difficult years is a much, much deeper appreciation of my mother.

She’s had some really hard times, abused as a child and a wife and a mother. And yet, she stayed happy. She never talked about the hard stuff and she gushed about the good moments.

It used to drive me crazy! As a kid, the abuse spilled over onto me in a big way and I felt my mom was avoiding it, rewriting our history, in denial.  What the hell?!  I was pissed that she was whitewashing it.

I was wrong.

She doesn’t deny what went on. She’s just made a decision to FOCUS on the good. She has practiced gratitude for so long and so regularly that it’s now her native habitat.   She chose to find beauty and joy in simple pleasures. She made a CHOICE to be happy.

My mother is one Tough Mother Focuser! (Ha! You probably thought Tough Mother F..’er was going in a different direction! )

Focus is power. From the Law of Attraction, to The Secret, to recent developments in quantum physics, there are now mountains of evidence showing that our thoughts and intentions have concrete substance – they are very consequential. They shape our reality, our experiences, even our bodies.

For the last 30 years my mom’s life has not only delivered freedom from abuse but also beauty, love, joy, financial security.  And, as it turns out, greater appreciation from her children than she probably ever could have imagined.

My mom didn’t whitewash or run away from anything. Instead of delusional she’s intentional. She chose to focus on the positive because somehow she knew that life was much more than whatever awful situation we might be dealing with in any given moment.  Somehow, despite her very limited and challenging upbringing she knew that often the only thing we can control is how we choose to respond to any given situation and what we choose to FOCUS on.

Looking back I now see that I learned so much from her example. I have big time “Resiliency Muscles” and man, am I ever grateful for them!

Thanks Mom. You have set and continue to set such a beautiful example.   Happy Mother’s Day. I am so grateful for, and to, you.

Cylvia Hayes

#CylviaHayes  #ResiliencyMuscles

 

Happy Earth Day!

On this Earth Day 2017 I hope all of you take some time today to get outside and enjoy and appreciate our beautiful planet — maybe even put your feet in the sand!

I’ll be celebrating at the New Economy & Social Innovation Forum in Malaga Spain. We’ve had an incredible event so far and I am truly inspired by all the positive developments, energy and deep commitments to really positive change.

In honor of Earth Day here are a few pieces of good news (that you rarely hear about in the news) about what’s happening on our lovely blue planet.  Like each of us the Earth has been going through some trauma.  And like each of us, with a little support, she’s resilient and capable of healing.

  • Vegetation cover globally has actually increased since 2003 due to the natural regrowth of savannahs in Australia and Africa and forests in Russia, and also large-scale reforestation programs in China.
  • Clean energy is growing at a record pace. Last year the U.S. added 11 Hoover Dams worth of renewable energy and the world broke records for solar and wind installations.
  • Electric vehicles soared past 1 million in 2015 and are on-pace to reach 20 million by 2020.
  • As you read this a Conservation Optimism summit is taking place in London where environmentalists and wildlife biologists are sharing the many conservation, restoration and species recovery successes going on right now on the planet
    Today I celebrate this gorgeous blue planet and the incredible diversity of life she supports. I also celebrate the successes we environmentalists, eco-entrepreneurs, scientists and advocates are having in protecting her.

Here’s to healing our lovely selves and our lovely planet!

Cylvia Hayes

#CylviaHayes  #ResiliencyMuscles

Taking Your Power Back with Forgiveness

Me, Soraya Deen and Lawrence Schechter at Central Oregon City Club. Topic a Muslim Woman’s story of life in America.

Something extraordinary just happened. I had wanted to go to an event today but had expected to be out of town. My schedule changed so I hadn’t had to travel but I’d forgotten all about the event. Then, this morning, two hours before start time, a friend contacted me to say he had an extra ticket if I wanted it.

At first I was going to say no. I had other plans and work I wanted to get to, but something about the event and the serendipitous invitation pulled me, so I went and wound up listening to an extraordinary woman. Soraya Deen is co-founder of the Muslim Women’s Speakers Movement. She was in my hometown, Bend Oregon, to share her story of being a Muslim woman in America. Her message is one of peace, mutual respect, kindness and taking action to make our world a more peaceful and beautiful place.

Me thanking Soraya Deen for her beautiful message of kindness, mutual respect and celebrating diversity.  

As I was listening to her powerful story and wisdom I realized that just a few feet from me at the next table were two people who had piled onto the media attacks against me. One had lied about me to reporters, trying to capture five minutes of fame at my expense. The other was his girlfriend who had also been unkind. Just a year and a half before this man lied about me to the press he had asked me, because I was in a fairly prominent position, to write a chapter and help promote a book he’d been working on. One moment I was good enough to help him write a book, the next he was publically maligning me.

As I covertly looked at him while he watched the speaker, emotions surged and my first reaction was to confront him, call him out on his nasty, dishonest behavior. Then I remembered all the hard work I’ve done these past two years to forgive and to avoid putting into the world the same ugliness I’d received. Just as I was experiencing this, a teenager in the audience asked Soraya what advice she had for the youth. She said, “Be kind. It’s the most important thing. Be kind even to people who harm you.

I snapped back into the present moment. I knew she spoke truth and I knew I was being given a chance to act on it. So I re-envisioned what I might say if the two approached me. I would not accuse or hit back. I would merely say, “I hope you’re doing well and that your wounds have healed.”

As it turned out as soon as they realized I was there, they got noticeably uncomfortable and took off immediately at the end of the speech. Half an hour later after a wonderful visit with Soraya and some of the other guests I was leaving the building just as another woman was coming in. I realized it was the girlfriend. She saw me and flushed. I held the door open for her. She kept her head down, avoided eye contact and mumbled “thank you” as she nervously scurried through. I said, “You’re welcome.”

One of my favorite metaphors lately is that choosing not to forgive is like drinking poison expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness isn’t saying what they did was OK – forgiveness is choosing to take your power back.

My head was high and my heart light as I walked from the building into the sunshine.

Cylvia Hayes 

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Being Ridiculous

Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself – and the little unexpected beauties in life.

I was in a hurry to get to church. A big hurry to go find some calm and spiritual communion. Ha!

I had made myself late squeezing in a few extra little chores that morning.   A few blocks from my house I got stalled by a slow-moving train. Arghhh. Getting increasingly stressed in my quest for enlightenment.

It was made worse because I was determined to get a cup of coffee first.   I had forgotten to buy any the day before and hadn’t yet had a cup.   I wanted a cup of Joe to go as I scurried to church.

FINALLY! The train crossing cleared.

I know I’m going to be late. I don’t like it. But I AM going to get a cup of coffee!

I fly to Starbucks. There is a line. The young woman in front of me is glued to the screen on her phone. I am annoyed. Not really sure why, just annoyed.

The line moves but she doesn’t. Glued to her phone.

I say, “Are you in line?”

She looks up at me and calmly says, “Yes I am.”

Now at this point, the line has moved but it’s not like there is an open cashier. It’s not like I could have pushed the young woman forward and gotten my coffee any sooner.

She then looks at me and says, “You seem like you’re in a hurry, why don’t you just go in front of me?”

Well! The nerve! Was she being snotty?

And then I caught myself. I looked at her and realized she wasn’t being snotty – she just wasn’t in a hurry.

I was suddenly embarrassed. I realized how ridiculous I was being. I laughed and said, “You know, I am in a hurry even though I don’t even really need to be. Nobody cares if I’m late to church. I got frustrated behind a train and then frustrated behind you. I’m sorry.”

She gestured for me to go in front of her.

Though uncomfortable I said, “You know I will. Thank you. And I will pay it forward. Thank you for being so gracious.”

I got my coffee and turned back to her. She was still in line. I gave her a little bow and mouthed “thank you.” She smiled back and said, “Have a lovely day.”

It was so beautiful.   Her graciousness and my willingness to recognize my silliness created a moment for a simple, kind human connection.

I was ten minutes late getting to church. Nobody cared. I took a seat in the back. It felt as though the gracious young woman from Starbucks was sitting right beside me.

 

Cylvia Hayes 

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Don’t Let Comparison Rob You!

 

How many times have you asked yourself, “Am I as pretty as _______?”   “As successful as _______?” “As smart as _______?” “As thin as _______?” “As good as _________, or ________ or ________?” Blah, blah, blah …

Boy do I get it! I have spent a lifetime comparing myself to others and judging my worth by how I thought I stacked up. I’d either gain a little boost by feeling smugly superior or sink a little lower from judging that other person to be a little better, or more than me.

In this culture we’re trained to do it. Our consumerist, advertisement-soaked society begs and baits us to compare and to find ourselves and our lives lacking so that we will buy, buy, buy things to make it better.

And here’s the really crazy thing — most of the time in this edited, photo-shopped, airbrushed world we’re not even comparing ourselves to real people. We are comparing ourselves to illusions! What could be more damaging to our sense of worth?

In addition to the mass media pressure, many of us were trained as kids to compare. I remember feeling sad and scared but also proud when my dad tore into my little brother because he, “Wasn’t as tough” as I was. He yelled, “Your sister should have been the boy you little wimp!” I also remember feeling cut to the bone when Dad told me the neighbor girl had a much better figure than I did. For a while I took care of that by getting skinnier through an eating disorder and extreme exercise addiction.

I tried to overcome the not-enoughness by working my butt off, in my education, my career, at the gym, even in my spiritual discipline.   I drove and strove to achieve success as it’s defined by our shallow culture – physical beauty, wealth, fame, being better than others.

My comparison addiction wasn’t conscious. I didn’t realize I was doing it until I went through a spectacular, public “fall from grace.” In the horrible aftermath of having so much of my life shatter many things have come clear. Getting a better handle on the damage we do to ourselves through comparison is one of the most recent. I was shocked when I realized how much this had affected my life, my peace and my relationships – especially with myself. It might not have been conscious but it was frickin’ exhausting!

The need to feel significant, important, valuable is a universal human need. And yet, as Brene Brown points out in her wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, our culture usually measures a person’s value and contribution by their level of public recognition – in other words fame and fortune. It undervalues the contributions we make as ordinary, hard-working women and men.   It basically deems ordinary people meaningless. This of course makes the urge to compare ourselves to the idealized illusions all the stronger and the outcome all the more disappointing.

Being loved is another universal human need. These two strong needs, the need to be loved and feel valuable, are the biggest driving forces behind our tendency to compare ourselves to others. They’re also the driving forces behind bullying.

As a result of my recent experiences I’ve been researching, writing and speaking about the phenomenon of bullying and public shaming that is so rampant in our culture. Research, and I would add, common sense, suggests that one of the biggest drivers of bullying is insecurity. We’re most likely to rip others down when we’re feeling inferior or jealous. I know this because, although I don’t like to admit it, I sometimes feel it in myself. I’ve never actually bullied anyone or spread nastiness on social media but I’ve felt that little surge of glee when a “big shot” gets “taken down a few notches”. The uncomfortable truth is when I feel that way it’s because I’m feeling inferior and jealous.

So, to all of you out there who have been or are being bullied, please understand, it’s really not even about you — it’s the terrible insecurity in the attackers.   And to those who might feel that bullying, criticizing urge, stop a moment, look inside and find out why you’re judging yourself so harshly. What pain and insecurity are you carrying that makes you think you’ll feel more worthy by tearing someone else down? Getting honest about that will transform your life and our world.

So for me, I’m now doing my best, very intentionally, not to compare and recognize that those sparkly, air-brushed two-dimensional illusions don’t hold a candle to my own, gritty, beautiful Self.

I sincerely hope that this little post will help you remember that you are genuinely unique, and truly, beautifully incomparable. As are we all.

P.S. Resources to help us move Beyond Bullying can be found here.

Cylvia Hayes

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Beautiful Response from Iranian Friend

I have a very good friend who was born in Iran. We met many years ago through a leadership development program. He just sort of naturally and quietly became the wiseman/ spiritual guru of our class. He is one of the most humble, gentle servant leaders I’ve ever known.

Tonight, with my heart heavy about what is happening in our country I reached out to tell him I was thinking of him.

He sent me back the most amazing response. I post excerpts here (with his permission) because I think his words and wisdom are so powerful right at this moment.

He wrote, “Our new President has become our teacher, perhaps not the kind we sought or were waiting for but nevertheless he is teaching us with every action he has taken and every order he signed in the past week. He is teaching us we need to be more engaged and involved if we want our country to live up to its constitution and to our core values; that fearmongering works and discrimination and racism is well and alive; that a democracy can only be democratic if its citizenry is engaged and informed; that you can completely derail an established system of government by misinformation and alternative facts.

We have also shown that we are excellent students and learn quickly. We demonstrated that people power overcomes hatred and bigotry; that there are so many people in this country who care enough to come together to have their voices heard and support those who are suffering; that hundreds of attorneys have set up shop across the country in numerous airports and are offering their services pro bono to those in need; that love and compassion are greater than any executive order and humanity cannot survive without them. ……..
While we go through the harsh winter of this political season, we also know that spring will come sooner or later. We’ll work together to plow the snow off the streets and sidewalks so we can still move and function even in the midst of winter.

I opened Richard Bach’s Messiah’s Handbook and this came up:
‘You are free to change your level of consciousness by whim,
learning or design. You are not free to stop expressing life.’”
…….
My beautiful friend is a man with a name that sounds “Arab” and with dark skin that looks it. In truth I have no idea what his “religion” is but I value his spiritual wisdom as much as any human being I’ve ever known.

He has spent the bulk of his adult life here in the U.S. as a public servant, particularly working with, and healing, at risk kids in some of the most difficult possible settings.

And yet, with this recent executive order he could be detained, questioned and treated with suspicion instead of dignity. This kind of behavior will never make America as great as we could be.

#cylviahayes #highwatch #holdingthehighwatch #resist

Making Herstory!

Just after the presidential election, I along with millions of others joined Women’s Marches all across the country in protest of Trump’s ugly rhetoric and disrespect of women, people of color and those with disabilities. Here in my hometown of Bend Oregon more than 3,000 of us braved a driving snowstorm to come together to support kindness, unity and equality. In nearly twenty years of activism I have never seen my community so mobilized.

All across the country the Women’s Marches blew away the expected crowd sizes. Half a million people in DC. Boston expected crowds of 20,000 but over 100,000 turned out. Over 100,000 in Portland Oregon! As I write, late evening, the marches and rallies and massive crowds are still there, still active, still standing strong.

The pure display of powerful, impassioned women (and men who support them) really struck me. I feel very strongly that there has never been a more important time for “the feminine” to step up.

What do I mean by that? Well, I sure as hell don’t mean “ladylike”, as in polite and refined. And I don’t mean weak or subservient. What I mean by “the feminine” is that part of us (both men and women) that is brave enough to own and share our feelings. Our feminine is the part that is more about creating than destroying. It’s the part that seeks to nurture ourselves and others but will fight like a mama lion when necessary. It’s the part that doesn’t need to brag, belittle and boast to know and show our own worth and strength.

In our culture the feminine is massively undervalued. There is no clearer evidence than the election of Donald Trump who consistently uses braggadocio, threats and pussy-grabbing boasts to try to look strong. Now that’s nasty.

This devaluation of the feminine in our culture is so entrenched, so much the norm, that we don’t even have language to describe it! “Emasculate” means to castrate or weaken someone. So doesn’t that suggest that the word “effeminate” should mean to make something less feminine? Well, it doesn’t – according to the dictionary it’s an offensive term meaning “over-refined and lacking strength”. There is no word in the English language to describe the weakening or negative effects of reducing someone’s femininity.

History is being made. The events are historic. The crowds are historic. One man wants to make this all about his story. But in the end, our opportunity here is to make Herstory.

Thanks to all the women and men who marched today and especially to those of you who organized all these events. A great response. Now the call is to make this a beginning and not just an event.

Cylvia Hayes

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