The Lighthouses I keep – Kindness

I have many values I base my life upon. They work as light houses along the coast guiding me along. I have acquired all of them myself along the way, and I am also the lighthouse keeper making sure they stay aflame. I am not a preacher or a guide of any kind, or a life coach, but I do keep those light houses burning for anyone who wants to take inspiration from them.

I have never believed in money. Money started out as a practical currency to make trade easier, but look what it has turned the world into. Money is basically ruling the world.

I felt, ever since I was a child, that if the Universe wanted me to have something, to learn something, to meet someone, it would make that event happen without the involvement of money. I believe that what I need Spiritually will be provided for me as long as I keep an open mind and follow the clues. Clues can be anything from a word popping up several times in a day, or a message on a billboard, or a sentence in a book, or a stranger coming up to say hello. I always follow the clues.

I remember once, I was asked to buy some Spiritual books from a very nice man. I loved the books, but I declined, telling the man that I didn’t believe in paying money for Spiritual knowledge. The whole episode ended with the man giving me all three books for free. This is the only time I have explained why I won’t buy something of Spiritual value, like join a class or a workshop, but still, everything I have ever needed has always come to me at exactly the right time. Without fail.

All my teenage years this kept happening to me, I followed the clues and ended up with exactly what I needed.

When I was in college I learned about the term Earth Angel. I liked the term, but the definition was for me a bit too “Martian” for me, and precisely because of this I have started shying away from the word Earth Angel. But not the concept. I have just developed my own definition.

After many years of receiving clues from the universe I decided that it was time to give back. I wanted to be one of those who helped the universe plant those clues. And this is the most fun decision I have ever made in my life. For those of you who have followed my blog for a while you might have heard some of the stories. I have written encouraging letters to strangers, put messages in bottles, planted poems in library books, hidden little treasures on beaches and forests, left Angels in trees, drawn chalk drawings with encouraging messages in parking lots etc. etc. I have always sought the guidance of my intuition, the part of me connected to the universe, before embarking on one of these adventures.

This is why I have always hesitated to put my writing in books to be sold. I want my work to be available to all regardless of income. Otherwise I would not feel that I was doing divine work.

On one of my journeys around the world I met two beautiful ladies who ran a yoga center together. They gave all classes free of charge only with a donation box at the entrance for those who could afford to pay. I had a poetry exhibition there with a poetry reading. I did not have to pay to rent the place and I met a lovely young musician who played the sitar and volunteered to accompany me with his music.

I wish there were more people like that in the world, people who gave freely of their talents, their time and kindness. People who wanted no more payment than knowing that they had helped change someone’s life for the better. I see so many people, especially young people, in the world today searching for meaning. But there is so much meaning out there! Making a difference in the world has nothing to do with fame or recognition, it has to do with being everything you can be, with fulfilling your potential and spilling over unto the world your creativity, talent and love.

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The Lighthouses I keep – Gratitude

I have many values I base my life upon. They work as light houses along the coast guiding me along. I have acquired all of them myself along the way, and I am also the lighthouse keeper making sure they stay aflame. I am not a preacher or a guide of any kind, or a life coach, but I do keep those light houses burning for anyone who wants to take inspiration from them.

I often hear people who have been close to dying speak about a new approach to life, a beautiful inspiration found after being confronted with death. I think about death all the time. That may sound sad, but that is not what I mean. I like to philosophize over what happens when we die. I have come to believe that when we leave this world all our actions, the good and the bad, are shown to us, we get to witness our whole life in retrospect, much like our own coming-of-age movie being played before us if you like. I don’t believe in karma the way it is presented to us today, even though my theory might sound like it. I believe when we are at that stage of transitioning we do no longer see our life through human eyes, we see our life through the eyes of the soul, and even though our bad actions will sadden us, the intention will not be punishment, but forgiveness. A forgiveness born from understanding and love. It is not easy to be human. A human is not pure soul, our hormones, instincts, biological heritage, psychological makeup and temperament all play a part in our behavior.

But what I want to talk about here is not the mistakes we make, but all the love, kindness and inspiration we share. Imagine all the love you have given out flowing back to you, covering you in softness and light. You have touched so many people with your life. Maybe just by saying hi to someone on the bus, or being a substitute parent/big sibling to the neighbor kid who has two working parents, or by giving food to someone on the street, or giving a compliment to a friend. The list goes on and on. Imagine if you didn’t have to wait until your dying day to feel all that love, imagine it being given to you all the time. What wouldn’t that do to your confidence, to your sense of purpose and self-love?

So that is what I do. Whenever someone has touched my life for the better in any tiny way I let them know. And this has led to some incredible experiences. Because I let everyone know. Whether it is a stranger or a family member or a shopkeeper or someone famous. The famous people who have touched my life are mostly authors. And if you think there is really no point in feeding the ego of these already celebrated characters, you are wrong. Perhaps their egos are being stroked all the time, but I am not talking about fan mail, I am talking about letting someone know they have made a difference in your life. I once received a three pages long handwritten letter from a very famous author who poured out her beautiful heart to me in words I will treasure for ever. A Danish poet, who is the one who inspired me to write poetry, sent me her entire collection of books (in the mail to India!) after I wrote her a mail thanking her for being such an inspiration to me. My point is, every single one I have ever thanked for making my life just a little bit better have appreciated it, and all of them have been surprised! Totally unaware of the beauty and value of their work, words and action.

I want to encourage everyone out there to do the same. To tell people, whoever it is, even if it is the super famous director of the film that inspired you to choose your dream career, what an impact they had in your life. Even if you don’t get a reply. A reply is not what you are after. Once you give something, it is out there, your job is done, and what you get in return comes from the light you have lit in this, often seemingly dark, world.

That is why I always say: create a path of light with your life. What you give away is yours forever, what you hold back is lost forever.

Be a Pathfinder

Be a pathfinder
Carving your way through days,
Releasing sunny seconds from dull hours.
Sometimes even summer days need decluttering,
Sorting through memories,
Mining diamonds in dark caves
To paint pathfinder marks on rocks,
Leaving a trail of light in your wake.

HSP and Stress

Being an HSP (Highly sensitive person) I often end up in situations where I feel overwhelmed or stressed out. I think this goes for most HSPs, but not all of us know how to recognize the “symptoms” telling us to slow down and have a time-out. I have been, and still often am, one of those who feel the aftermath of such situations like an emotional hangover hitting my body full on like a case of PTS (Post-traumatic stress).

I am brought up in a culture where emotions are something you should learn from an early age to control. Showing especially negative emotions is considered to be selfish as it becomes awkward for the person who has to deal with it, and emotional people are considered to be either overly dramatic or weak. I will go as far as to say that showing distress is considered to be rude. Being tough is a highly regarded virtue, which basically just means not showing any emotions, especially not weak ones like fear and insecurity. This, to say it mildly, is not an ideal environment for an HSP to grow up in. But I think many HSPs are forced to do just that.

It is hard to shake this way of thinking, even when you know that it does not work for you. Being polite, putting other people first, not being a burden, are all qualities we admire and like in each other, but being highly sensitive, especially if you are also an empath (someone with heightened empathy), we can take this to the extreme, thinking that just a simple “no, thank you” or “I am a little busy, can we reschedule?” is equal to being rude. Many of us are so tentative and caring towards others that we erase ourselves completely. And why do we do that? Because all of us, when going on autopilot, assumes that everyone else is like us. Well, they are not. How many of us haven’t been completely surprised when a friend we have spent half our life helping refuses to help us when we truly need them and finally dare to ask? That is not to say that everyone who is not an HSP are selfish. Perhaps it was just a bad time, or perhaps they just didn’t feel competent enough to help with that particular problem. Most people think it is okay to say no, and would not have any problem if you said no to them.

But we don’t really do that do we? Say no. And then we get in over our heads. Being overwhelmed is a typical HSP problem. For an HSP a job interview or a party with lots of strangers can invoke the same feeling of sensory overstimulation as a culture shock for a non-HSP. It is sometimes just too much. But if you, like me, have been brought up to smile and be polite, those emotions might be so strongly suppressed that they will not rise to the surface until after the overwhelming situation is over. It works the same way as PTS. When you are in the “dangerous” situation you remain completely cool and calm, but then when it is over and your body relaxes again the fear comes out. I call this an emotional hangover. An emotional hangover works a little bit the same way as any other hangover, my body is aching, my head is aching and I feel exhausted, spent and tired. I especially feel it in my eyes, I get tired eyes, as though they want to shut out the world, but I can’t sleep because I feel restless and I have a hard time focusing on anything. It feels the same way as when you are on an airport trying to read, there is so much going on and your body is on so high alert that you can’t process a word your reading, it just becomes meaningless letters. For years I thought there was something wrong with me because I used to get these emotional hangovers all the time, not knowing why. I was so disconnected in the stressful situations that I did not really register them as a stressful because “normal” people did not get stressed in such situations. I could even get these hangovers after being around people who talked a lot. The worst part started for me when I got my first fulltime job. I was forced to be on full alert for 8 hours in a go, and after a month of this my body just stopped cooperating. I was so weak I couldn’t even stand up, but I still wanted to be “a good girl” so I was forced-sent to the doctor by my colleagues. The diagnosis was acute exhaustion or simply “burnt out”. This came as a shock to me. I had only worked for a month and in a “normal” low stress job! I felt like a loser. I felt weak, and I didn’t dare tell anyone in my family about my failure to cope with normal adult life. I tried working a full time job three times. But the same thing kept happening, so I came to the difficult conclusion that a fulltime job was just too much for me. I thought maybe I had some kind of weird disorder.

It took my years before I figured out that I was highly sensitive. Funny in a way because I had always known that I had strong emotions and very alert senses. One thing I had always been told was that I had extremely good hearing. This I later found out was auditory sensitivity. No wonder I had been so afraid of balloons as a little girl! Learning that I was highly sensitive was not really a light-bulb moment that fixed everything and led to an immediate new self-awareness. It took time, and I am still adjusting. But now I don’t blame myself so much for feeling the way I do and I try my best to avoid certain situations I know will lead to overstimulation and emotional hangovers. But it isn’t easy. I still cringe when I have to do things that makes me feel like a burden. I mean, it took my years before I dared to press the service button on the airplane to ask for another glass of wine! I remember my heart racing and sweat appearing on my forehead the first time I did it.

I have learned some remedies though. But most of them are not quick fixes. It requires me to actually speak up and dare to say out loud what I need. I am still struggling with that. And I still get emotional hangovers. But there are some things that help, like holding the hand of a loved one who truly understands me (I call this borrowing energy) when I am in overwhelming situations, going for walks in nature like in a forest or by the sea, listening to soothing sounds like ocean waves, soft wind playing in the leaves, or bird twitter. Being around animals can also give relief, as long as it is stable and calm animals not an anxious dog barking frantically or a cat in hunting mode using you as target practice. A lot of therapists claims that talking about the stressful situations helps to ease the stress, but that doesn’t always work for me. Recognizing what caused the stress and why, is important as a self-awareness lesson, but once I have done that I don’t want to re-leave the situation over and over again. I mean that is pretty much what is the problem. So I have found that the best relief for me is in art. When using an artistic expression like drawing, painting, writing etc. I can access the emotions on a subconscious level and bring them out of myself so to speak. There is no need to compose or plan here, just letting the writing, or the painting, do its own creating freed from the rational mind is the best thing.

Being highly sensitive certainly has its challenges! I know that my life choices will always be unconventional and maybe not even accepted by many, but they are my choices and what is best for me, so I need to stand by them. I know that many people will think of me as weak, and childish and somewhat of a pushover. I know that I definitely will never live up to the new ideals for women such as “badass” and “boss”. But that is just not who I am. I know that many people will think avoiding certain situations is being a coward and that I should face my fears and just get over myself, but these people are not highly sensitive and have no idea what they are talking about. Thankfully, being and HSP has more gifts than drawbacks. I know that my creativity, imagination, spirituality, artistic talents, kindness and generosity all come from being an HSP. My capacity to observe, understand and find deeper meaning would not be the same if I did not have highly alerted senses. I know that I can see beauty that other people cannot see and grasp meanings that others will overlook. I would not be me if I was not an HSP. And the kindest sweetest people I know are all highly sensitive.

The lesson for those of us who are highly sensitive are the same as everyone else: Learn to know yourself and shape your life accordingly. We just don’t quite fit into the traditional mold. But that is okay. In my experience, when we are open about who we are and speak from the heart, a lot of people will actually respond by revealing sides of themselves that they would normally not show or talk about, and such openness leads to more tolerance and less prejudice.

So let us all practice being more of ourselves, to talk about, and show, our uniqueness, and be respectful and mindful of those who are different from ourselves. And if you are an HSP like me, be kind to yourself, dare to speak up about your needs, ask for help, ask for understanding, make the right choices for YOU even if it upsets others, you deserve to be happy and fulfilled just as much as everyone else. There are many of us out there just like you and we are rooting for you!