My Journey towards Creativity and Self-Actualization

I am experiencing a rebirth of sorts.

In my 20s and 30s, I was too preoccupied with getting good grades, working on an MBA degree, and balancing a flourishing career with the duties of child-rearing. These activities were not bad in themselves. In fact, if we believe that there is a time and place for everything, then those years were years meant to instill certain values in me like discipline, focus, drive, hard work, teambuilding, passion, and the like.

But midlife brings with it certain realizations about what truly matter in life and my yoga encounters heightened my sensitivity to making the rest of my own life meaningful in a way that takes me on a different path altogether. Many people talk about freeing up the spirit, living in the moment, following one’s heart, and the like. That used to be mumbo-jumbo to me. But now, the achievements of the past are just that — factual achievements. For some reason, these are no longer that important for me. My family and friends are now more important — and I want to appreciate what they are to me and for me to be more to them than I ever was before.

Blogging and internet-based work have also become my daily fare. Nowhere in my formal education have I learned this and the truth is, most bloggers half my age know more than twice as much about these things as I do. But I know that for as long as I still have the willingness to learn, not be afraid to stumble along the way, and simply enjoy the experiences as they happen, I will be OK.

A book that I recently read by John Izzo, “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” listed down 5 secrets (they are not really secrets because many of us know this already but do not live it):

1. Be true to your self

2. Leave no regrets

3. Become love

4. Live in the moment

5. Give more than you take

This book is my ongoing inspiration. It makes me more keenly aware of each and every encounter, each day that passes, every person I meet, every event that crosses my path, every place I visit. One of my future plans is to attend a workshop being conducted by none other than Jim Paredes (of APO Hiking Society), Tapping the Creative Universe, in hopes that his creativity in many realms (music, writing, singing, etc) rubs off on me and opens up whatever creativity is still dormant.

I am on an adventure — a journey of sorts — to find everything that I am and everything I am capable of doing.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the highest level is self-actualization.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Jim Paredes posted the item below on his Facebook and it came in the nick of time. I looked at the list and realized that I’m actually experiencing some of these already. It’s also a good reminder to keep working on the rest.

Here, very briefly, are the 19 Characteristics of Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizer:

1. Perception of Reality: These individuals tend to have a “superior relationship with reality” and are “generally unthreatened and unfrightened by the unknown.” In fact, “They accept it, are comfortable with it, and, often are even more attracted by it than by the known. They not only tolerate the ambiguous and unstructured–they like it.”

2. Acceptance: “Even the normal member of our culture feels unnecessarily guilty or ashamed about too many things and has anxiety in too many situations. Our healthy individuals find it possible to accept themselves and their own nature without chagrin or complaint or, for that matter, without even thinking about the matter that much.”

3. Spontaneity: The behavior of the self-actualizing individual is “marked by simplicity and naturalness, and by lack of artificiality or straining for effect.”

4. Problem Centering: Self-actualizers customarily have some “mission in life.”

5. Solitude: Self-actualizing individuals “positively like solitude and privacy to a definitely greater degree than the average person.”

6. Autonomy: “They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honors, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self-development and inner growth.”

7. Fresh Appreciation: “Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.”

8. Peak Experiences: It’s been called “flow” or “being in the zone.” Whatever you want to call it, self-actualizers tend to experience it more often than average.

9. Human Kinship: “Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.” “Self-actualizing individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.”

10. Humility and Respect: All of Maslow’s subjects “may be said to be democratic people in the deepest sense…they can be friendly with anyone of suitable character, regardless of class, education, political belief, race or color. As a matter of fact it often seems as if they are not aware of these differences, which are for the average person so obvious and so important.”

11. Interpersonal Relationships: “Self-actualizing people have these especially deep ties with rather few individuals. Their circle of friends is rather small. The ones that they love profoundly are few in number.”

12. Ethics: “They do right and do not do wrong. Needless to say, their notions of right and wrong and of good and evil are often not the conventional ones.”

13. Means and Ends: “They are fixed on ends rather than on means, and means are quite definitely subordinated to these ends.”

14. Humor: “They do not consider funny what the average person considers to be funny. Thus they do not laugh at hostile humor (making people laugh by hurting someone) or superiority humor (laughing at someone else’s inferiority) or authority-rebellion humor (the unfunny, Oedipal, or smutty joke).”

15. Creativity: “This is a universal characteristic of all the people studied or observed. There is no exception.”

16. Resistance to Enculturation: “Of all of them it may be said that in a certain profound and meaningful sense they resist enculturation and maintain a certain inner detachment from the culture in which they are immersed.”

17. Imperfections: Actualizers “show many of the lesser human failings. They too are equipped with silly, wasteful, or thoughtless habits. They can be boring, stubborn, irritating. They are by no means free from a rather superficial vanity, pride, partiality to their own productions, family, friends, and children. Temper outbursts are not rare.”

18. Values: “A firm foundation for a value system is automatically furnished to self-actualizers by their philosophic acceptance of the nature of self, of human nature, of much of social life, and of nature and physical reality.”

19. Resolution of Dichotomies: “The dichotomy between selfishness and unselfishness disappears altogether in healthy people because in principle every act is both selfish and unselfish.”

My corporate friends may never understand why I am choosing to start anew on things that are so different from what I was brought up and trained for. Maybe someday, they will.


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Reasons and Seasons

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This is an old email making its rounds up to now. I decided to post this here because its words hold a lot of meaning for me these days. I have had the chance to reflect on how people come into your life, make an impact, then go. Many times, you see the blessings in the presence of these people. At other times, the experience is painful and unexplainable. This Lent, I have been reminded of one thing — to trust in God’s Divine Wisdom. Everything in our lives happens for a reason.

I want this poem to constantly remind me of this so that when I lose people who come into my life, I would be reminded to turn to Him who will never leave me.

A Reason, A Season, a Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are.

They are there for the reason, you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people any way; and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

Jesuit Online Retreat 2009

You can be online, at work, at home, abroad and still be able to do a personal Lenten retreat at any time, at your convenience.

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Fr. Johnny Go, SJ, in his spiritual blog, Pins of Light, has given a heads-up on another online Jesuit retreat (The Silences of Lent) that anyone can do for Holy Week. The first online retreat launched by the Jesuits in 2008 was a resounding success as it allowed many people who had little time to spare or who were far from a Holy Week Retreat venue to set aside as little as 30-45 minutes on each day of the Holy Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) and be with the Lord.

Fr. Johnny writes about this retreat:

Ours is a God of Silence, but He keeps different kinds of silences. And during Lent, more than ever, He is silent, for His deepest silences are experienced in the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus.

Lent is a season full of silences: The Silence of Gethsemane, the Silence of Calvary, and the Silence of the Empty Tomb–each one is different from the other. Maybe if we understand God’s silences in Lent, we will better understand His silences–and language–in our own lives.

(UPDATE: Here’s an invite to the online Lenten Recollection)

Benjamin Button Quotes I Love

Today, two friends and I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

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No, it was not the fact that Brad Pitt was in the movie that got me there. It was because I knew this was another one of those movies filled with life lessons.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about a man who is born in his eighties and over time, grows younger. The story begins in New Orleans at the end of World War I in 1918 and ends in the 21st century. His life is filled with people he meets, places he discovers, the loves he experienced, the many joys of life, and the sadness of losing people he loved. He also discovered what would last beyond a single lifetime.

The almost 3-hour movie dragged a bit in some places, especially the ones that showed him still aged. But Lynn pointed me to this site that listed some of the quotes that I totally related to:

#1

Benjamin: I was thinking how nothing lasts, and what a shame that is.

Daisy: Some things last.

(my thought bubble: LOVE lasts…)

#2

Along the way you bump into people who make a dent on your life. Some people get struck by lightning. Some are born to sit by a river. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim the English Channel. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people can dance.

(my thought bubble: I’m the mom and the girl who dances!)

#3

We’re meant to lose the people we love. How else are we supposed to know how important they are?

(my thought bubble: Do we need to wait to lose people we love to arrive at this realization? I wish people realized BEFORE loved ones die!)

#4

Your life is defined by its opportunities… even the ones you miss.

(my thought bubble: Oh so true!!!)

#5

I wanna remember us just as we are now.

(my thought bubble: I do exactly what Benjamin does — make a memory imprint whenever I want to remember a person or savor a moment…)

#6

Sometimes we’re on a collision course, and we just don’t know it. Whether it’s by accident or by design, there’s not a thing we can do about it.

(my thought bubble: This has been the story of my life for about 2 years now and this was what I had just blogged about!!!)

#7

You can be mad as a mad dog at the way things went; you can swear and curse the fates – but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.

(my thought bubble: Letting go is really the only way to forgive, move on, and be at peace…)

#8

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

(my thought bubble: This is what I wish for my own life and for everyone…)

If you still have not seen it, I would recommend you going with your spouse, special someone or close friend/s. Somehow, the impact of such a movie is stronger when the people you love watch with you.

Beautiful Yoga Quotes – updated

This post originally came out in my yoga blog, The Yogini from Manila. But I felt that these also spoke strongly about how we deal with life so I am posting these here, with a few more additions. 

I hope some of these will touch you just as they touch me…..

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Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. ~B.K.S. Iyengar

You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state. ~Sharon Gannon

Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal…. But don’t approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain. ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

By embracing your mother wound as your yoga, you transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher of the heart. ~Phillip Moffitt

Yoga is 99% practice and 1% knowledge. ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success. ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind. ~Patanjali, translated from Sanskrit

When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world. ~B.K.S. Iyengar

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. ~Krishnamacharya

Yoga is difficult for the one whose mind is not subdued. ~Bhagavad Gita

In karma yoga no effort is ever lost, and there is no harm. Even a little practice of this discipline protects one from greater fear (of birth and death). ~ Bhagavad Gita

When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath. ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. ~Sanskrit Proverb

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. ~ Chinese Proverb

Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked. ~ The yoga sutras of Patanjali

Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked. ~ Desikashar

Before you’ve practiced, the theory is useless; After you’ve practiced, the theory is obvious. ~ David Williams, Ashtanga teacher

Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are. ~ Jason Crandell

Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self control. Energy within and energy without. ~ Ymber Delecto

The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind. ~ Rodney Yee

Yoga heals, nourishes, and challenges us. The practice infiltrates every corner of our lives. ~ Valerie Jeremijenko

Yoga is difficult for the one whose mind is not subdued. ~ Bhagavad Gita

Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives. ~ Cybele Tomlinson

Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better. ~ Donna Farhi

Namaste.

Of Second Chances, Destiny and a Free Book on Life’s Meaning

“Nothing happens by chance” – from Kung Fu Panda

*****

Tomorrow, January 7,  I celebrate a major event in my life — the anniversary of the night when I almost lost my life and gained another chance to live.

That life-changing, tumultuous event showed me a strength of character and spirit I did not think I had, transformed my outlook into one that now seeks constant meaning and mission, and brought into my life a slew of friends who will be some of my truest friends in this lifetime.

I will always look back on this day as God’s divine blessing and protection over me.

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The past 2 years have been a journey of discovery and destiny. Two dear friends are walking with me through life in a most wonderful way. It is amazing how connected our lives are! There are days when I just sit and ponder how we have led parallel lives years ago and yet, our lives were not meant to be perfect parallels (beside each other but never meeting). Instead we led lives that were hurtling towards each other and 2007-2008 were the years when these points intersected. It has been interesting times — to say the least. Thank you, J and C. Your presence in my life and in the years to come will always have the imprint of God’s design on them. We may not always comprehend, but we KNOW we are meant to be here, at this time of our lives, together.

*****

Another event cemented my growing belief that nothing happens by accident.

2009 begins with my life in a state of flux. My project just ended in December and there is nothing in the horizon for now in terms of another project coming my way soon. It is not a worrisome situation yet and actually is a relief for me as I want to get back to yoga while trying to deal with what to do next with my life.

After I posted my previous blog entry, I got a comment from Louise Lewis, author of the book “No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You”.

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It is not every day that a book author chances  upon, and comments on, my blog so I curiously followed the link to her website and eventually to Amazon.com and iUniverse (her publisher). Oh my! Her book reviews averaged 4.5 stars out of 5!!!

She had offered to give out her book for free. I submitted my email address and the site said they would be sending me a chapter of the book. However, when the actual email came in, I was very surprised to find that it was a REAL offer to give away her book for free — I did not just just get one chapter, I got the ENTIRE book in PDF format (all 232 pages!).

This stumped me. Why would someone sell the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booksense and iUniverse and still give it away for free!

Still curious, I emailed Louise to thank her for sending her book and she answered back. We have had several email exchanges over the last 24 hours and amazingly, I find a certain connection to her. The timing of this communication, coming on the heels of the project just concluded with a still uncertain future, is not lost on me. There IS a purpose and reason to our paths crossing!

Here is part of one email she sent me that explains the rationale behind her free book:

Hi Jane!

Thank you for contacting me…it means the world to me!
It is indeed my pleasure to share my book with you.
At one point, a free chapter was all that I gave away. But recently, words from Spirit reminded me I am far more generous than that. So, I’m now giving away my entire book.

“Louise, why on earth are you giving away your book?”

That’s a great question…but the answer is even greater (to me!)

Let me explain…

Some time back, I read the story about bestselling author Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist). Years ago he put his little-known book online for free after he was dropped by his publisher for poor sales. With no additional promotion, word of his book spread, and after a few years, sales grew to a million copies of multiple titles.

Hmm,” I said. “Selling books would sure be nice, but the idea of giving away my book really does feel like the right thing to do, but…” Spirit quickly chimed in: “YES! That’s who you are! Do it!

Being the hard-head that I am, I ignored Spirit and walked away from the idea.  …But Spirit wasn’t giving up so quickly…

Then a few days after that, Suze Orman (famous financial advisor) announced on Oprah that she was giving away her new book, Women & Money, on Oprah’s website. She said her passion for helping women control their finances was her reason.

Again, I heard from Spirit, a bit more forcefully this time, “That’s who you are! You have that kind of passion! You wrote this book to share your story with the world. So do it! Share it!”

I finally “got it”…

This will all make much more sense when you read my book. You’ll learn that years ago I made a promise to myself to always follow the messages I receive from Spirit (not Ego.)  And from doing so, I’m here to tell you that my amazing journey continues today.


Do you want to have a FREE copy of Louise’s book? Click HERE and fill out your email address. The PDF file will be sent to you in its entirety. Louise is eager for feedback from you after you’ve read her book. And, at least for now, I assure you that she PERSONALLY answers each email!


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