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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sending some heartfelt love to you today.

A few months ago in meditation I received the message… Be the love.

I remembered the quotation from Gandhi…
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

And it occurred to me that we often think of this in terms of action. (Which is equally as important…love as a verb.)

But what about WHO we ARE?

I believe we must first look within ourselves, within our own hearts to find the peace and love that we already are in order to shine that love out into the world through our actions.

It all starts with who you are.

And in honor of the beautiful and most radiant soul that you are, here’s another blast from the past with a blog post I originally titled…

The secret but somewhat obvious thing behind what you do.

During this time of physical illness I’ve thought a lot about what I’ll want to do when I’m well again.  Mostly, I joke, but with all sincerity, that I want a vacation.  That I want to just do whatever it is I want to do whenever I want to do it and enjoy every second of it!  I want to go to the beach.  I want to run, and dance, and skip.  I want to do agility training with my dog.  I want to learn modern calligraphy.  I want to visit places of ancient history and stand in awe, feeling deeply connected to all of humanity.

You get the idea.

But the other thing I’ve thought a lot about is what I’ll want to do to make a living, whether I’ll return to teaching, create a program for kids outside of the public school system, start a coaching practice for adults, become an author, etc.  And for now, I always end up at the same answer–I don’t know.

For a long time I’ve desperately wanted to know the answer, experiencing various amounts of peace within this phase of, “I don’t know right now, and that’s okay.”  But what I’ve come to realize is that figuring it out doesn’t require anywhere near as much pressure as I’d been heaping on top of it.  And what matters even more than what I choose is the fact that it will be me doing it.  I can choose whichever path brings me the most joy when the time comes and I can’t tell you how unbelievably freeing that feels.  Talk about taking the pressure off!

And the same is true for you.  It is what you bring to whatever you do that matters.  Unless you’re a sociopath who finds pleasure in harming others…which, as a lovely person who gets my emails, I trust you are not.

It’s who you are that makes what you do meaningful.

Sure, there may be types of service that your soul is called to more than others but no matter what, your purpose is bigger and more precious than any label or occupation.

At Luther College we were reminded of the term vocation often and were encouraged to consider what Frederick Buechner calls, “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

This works on a grand scale but it’s also true for the little things.  And chances are, there is something you’re already doing, that’s inherent in who you are, that is helping to make the world a better place.  Find that, and focus upon it.  And I promise, the joy that you discover there will propel you forward to uncover even more of what you love and what you are meant to do while you’re here.

And I would LOVE to hear what happens!

I am sending so much appreciation for who you are and what you bring to the world in the unique and exact way that only you can.

Big hugs,
Caitlin

P.S. If you’d like to talk about what brings you joy and how to carve out some more peace time in your heart and life, reach out and let me know. I’ll send you a link to schedule a free coaching session. Think of it as a Valentine’s Treat, just for you! 🙂

 

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When you just need a little extra space.

As I stood in the yard with my sweet little Dino dog this morning, we wandered over to a different part of the yard–a spot we haven’t spent time in for awhile.

And I got a new perspective.

As I looked up at a most magnificent tree in the far corner, by the fence…

I noticed it leaning at the top, starting about halfway up its trunk.

Hmm, I wondered, concerned something might be wrong.

Especially, noticing that the lean somewhat went in the direction of my bedroom.

(I’ve always had a little bit of a fear of a tree falling in on me during some of those super windy nights…they are big trees, and it can be scary when the winds are moving fast enough to whip the branches around a bit.)

Anyway, after my brief moment of wondering if I should let my mom know, if it should be looked at by an arborist to make sure everything is okay, I realized…

The bend was distinctly located in a section where the tree and the tree next to it came together a little bit.

It just needed a little extra space.

How often does this happen to us as humans, forcing ourselves to stay upright and rigid instead of following the flow of where our bodies want to go?

What if we just need a little extra space sometimes, and granting that to ourselves is one of the greatest acts of compassion, not only for ourselves, but for the world?

If there’s something you feel like you want to pull away from, something that doesn’t feel quite right–somewhere you feel you need a little more space, I invite you to give that to yourself today.

Where in your life do you feel like you need a little more space?

And how can you give yourself that gift today?

I know that the thought of this tree will help me remember that it’s okay to step back once in a while. It’s okay to recharge. It’s okay to move over a little bit and declare a space of your own.

Boundaries are necessary. And boundaries help keep us safe.

The more we come to know ourselves worthy of the space, the freedom, the love and the peace we desire, the happier — and better off — this world will be.

How can you start today?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Let me know where you’re feeling in need of some space and how you can create that for yourself today.

Maybe it’s as simple as few minutes of meditation, cancelling a phone call…

Or maybe you feel too far away, lost and distant on your own, and you need that phone call, that connection point, to gather near to someone you love.

Whether for a hug, a kind word, or a simple heartfelt blessing.

Whatever it is, may you know how much you’re loved.

And how worthy you are of all the love that surrounds you in every moment.

Will you let a little bit of that light in today?

I’m hoping so, because your light is such a gift to this world, and it is my honor to get to watch you shine!

Much love,

Caitlin

 

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The determined little bee.

Much to Dino’s dismay, a bee flew into the living room today.

I pulled the nearby door wide open, all but putting up flares for guidance, but it could not find its way out.  It was fixated on getting through the window with a tree just on the other side.

It slammed its tough little self into the glass repeatedly, taking breaks in between to rest and rub its back legs together before launching itself towards the window again at top speed.

As I sit here writing, it continues to do so again and again as if eventually, given enough attempts and enough force, it will break its way through the glass barrier.

How often do we do this as humans, pushing again and again with determination to go one way, when what we really need to do is broaden our view a bit and change direction in order to reach our desired destination?

The fact is, there is no amount of time, dedication, or hard work that will get you where you want to go if you’re going in the wrong direction.  And sometimes it’s necessary to back up in order to expand your perception or ask for help to be able to sense the next step and know the best path to take.

For now, the determined little bee still has not found its way to freedom (hopefully it will before bedtime) but perhaps you can use the wisdom of its example of what NOT to do in order to find a little taste of freedom in your own life today.

With wishes for a beautiful weekend,

Caitlin

{May 15, 2015}

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A new kind of joy.

I don’t remember exactly what the instructor said on the phone.  I believe it was something related to teaching because I found myself filled with such resentment for the way teaching, as a profession, is viewed that I hung up the phone and began to cry.  I’m too young to be this cynical, I thought.  I deeply missed the person I used to be, the one with the sparkle in her eye, who believed anything was possible.

I would imagine that for all of us there comes a day when the rose colored glasses of innocence through which we look at the world–the ones that gradually get scratched and chipped–are ultimately shattered.  For me, it happened in a few fell swoops over the course of the last ten years.

Disappointment, heartbreak, and devastating loss in more forms than I would have thought possible in such a short amount of time.

There have been a series of moments over the years, maybe you’ve had some too–the ones where it becomes painfully clear that you’ve grown up to find that the world is not at all as you thought it would be.

Acknowledging this is how I first began to bridge the gap between what I thought life should be and life as it is.  But ultimately it takes being willing to let go of what we thought life would or should be in order to claim the one genuine life we each have right in front of us.

I’ve come to believe once again in the possibilities for my future, but in a new way.  I can’t simply hit the rewind button and get that little girl back.  I’m not that little girl anymore and never again can I have the joy she experienced in her innocence.

But perhaps my change in experience and perception unlocks a new kind of joy.  A truer joy.  Not the joy of innocence, but a joy that comes from knowing suffering and having the courage to somehow find peace and beauty within it.  A joy that comes, not from believing nothing bad will ever happen but from knowing that tough stuff does happen, and trusting that you will be okay anyway.

Now THAT is the kind of joy I choose to claim every single day.  And each day, it feels better and brighter.

What about you?  What kind of joy feels most true to you right now?  Scroll down and leave a comment to let me know. 😉

{August 14, 2015}

Much love and infinite joy to you today!

Love, Caitlin

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My place of peace.

Soft pink with delicate purple, and layers of periwinkle fill the sky.

I watch as the sun rises, my body steady–sitting on a step at the center of the hostel grounds.

I can feel the cool concrete underneath my legs. The sunlight warming my face.

I spread manjar (also known as dulce de leche) on the pita bread my friend and I had brought with us for breakfast. I smile to myself, and think, “this is the life,” wishing this moment could last forever.

As a college student studying abroad in Chile I loved the way this caramel spread on bread was considered a respectable breakfast. It was so delicious! But more than that, I loved the way it was giving me an opportunity to make a dream come true.

Sitting on Easter Island…my place of peace.

Fast forward ten and a half years and I’m lying awake in bed with a clench in my stomach and chemical sensitivity stinging my nose.

This morning.

I ask for help. Ask to let the anger go, to be reunited with the peace that I know is me.

And I feel myself begin to soften. And I return to this place on Easter Island. Feeling it’s peace, it’s warmth…the belief that anything is possible.

I recognize, lying there, the ways visualization has been part of my life–the way it has helped me over the years.

I remember my dad talking about the way he’d visualize how he’d like things to go before a big meeting or presentation. And I remember listening to Olympian Amy Purdy share her story about visualizing herself so vividly out snowboarding that even while in the comfort of her own bed she could FEEL the stinging cold of the snow touching her feet.

We have the ability to create within us the lives we desire.

And there is nothing more powerful than circumstances we can’t change, to call you inward to a deeper knowing within yourself.

A knowing that you are free.

The ability to create something new, yes, but perhaps the more powerful place to start is to step into and re inhabit the moments of the past.

Memories of the past can haunt us, but they can also be medicine used for good.

To step into the memories, the moments that brought you peace…that feeling state is real. And the effect that it has on the body is too.

The moments we’ve lived, live within us.

And they’re ours to return to whenever we like.

So do you have a memory, a moment in time that you know brought you a feeling of peace, contentment, a warm satisfaction?

What if you remember that today…

What does it feel like to step into that moment and feel it once again…

Where are you? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel?

Recreating this in your mind can bring innumerable health benefits…

But I believe in doing it for the love.

I’d love to hear about yours in the comments below, and…

May you feel yourself connected to this loving goodness today, this center of sacred peace that lives and dwells within you always.

Much love, and peace always,

Caitlin

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Life lessons are like Tootsie Roll Pops.

Hello,

I’m so glad to have you as part of this circle where I share a little something each week or so!  If you’re new here, welcome!

How treating life lessons like Tootsie Roll Pops can help make your life a little sweeter:

Life lessons are not items to be completed or crossed off a list.  This is decidedly fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it.

Life lessons are like Tootsie Roll Pops.

Or should I say, learning a life lesson is like trying to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop without using your teeth.  It can be painful.  It can be frustrating.  And you can just so badly want to get to the middle and be done with it already.

But at the same time, the closer you get to the center the more delicious and exciting it gets.

This is quite the combination and more than once, I’ve caught myself marveling at how profoundly annoying yet uniquely beautiful this is.  In respect to the life lessons themselves, not Tootsie Roll Pops.  Although…those DO certainly sound delicious.

Anyway, this happened to me just a few weeks ago.  With the lessons, not real Tootsie Roll Pops.  *Ugh, now I really want a Tootsie Roll Pop!*

I had the opportunity to learn something again for what felt like the billionth time.  In the beginning it felt miserable and I wished I could just skip ahead and mark it off the list.  

But once I made it to the other side, do you know what I realized?  If I had stopped when I first thought I’d learned the lesson and mastered it well enough, I never would have made it to the place where I am now.  I wouldn’t have been able to move past the surface level understanding and I wouldn’t feel it deep in my bones in the same way.

I’ve now been relishing the level of peace I know because of the way I was challenged to press forward, moving deeper and deeper into a beautiful loving center filled with peace.

Try looking back to wherever you were when you started your own journey and celebrate how far you’ve come.  May you savor that sweetness today.

And my hope is that the next time you reach one of those moments with the desperate desire to cross a lesson off the list as “learned for good,” the memory of that sweetness, how great it feels on the other side, will help carry you through.  And just know that each time around the outside gets you that much closer to all of the chocolaty goodness that’s waiting for you at the core.

With love, laughter, and Tootsie Roll Pops!

Caitlin

{August 22, 2015}

Photo via: nuts.com

 

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I hope you dance.

I love to dance.

And for a year and a half now, I have not been able to.

So Lee Ann Womack’s song that goes, “And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” even as just a metaphor for life, somewhat breaks my heart.  That’s because physically, I’ve been doing a lot more sitting than I’ve ever done before or ever thought I would do–especially at 28 years old.

Literally sitting, not dancing.

But by sitting, I’m playing my part right now; stepping up to do what my body and soul have asked.  Which means that what I’ve been doing IS dancing.  That’s right, I am dancing even though I physically can’t dance.  How cool is that!?

Dancing is living with courage. 

Life is calling us to take a leap in every moment; each one unique in its shape, size, manner, and purpose.  But having the courage to show up, THAT’S dancing.

Sometimes that might be going for a run along the river, when at other times it means staying still and curling up in your favorite chair.

Sometimes it might mean opening up a flower shop because it’s always been your dream or it might be appreciating the beauty of a single flower sitting on your coffee table.

Sometimes it might be speaking up and sharing your message with a group of people, and sometimes it might mean quietly acknowledging and accepting your own truth.

Each of us has the power to recognize which kind of leap we’re being called to next.  And when we feel that pull, we have a decision to make.

Did you notice that in the song she doesn’t say IF you get the choice, but WHEN you get the choice?

That’s because we always have a choice.

We choose.  We decide whether to walk toward life or turn away from it.

I choose courage.  And I choose stepping out onto the dance floor of life, whatever form it takes.

So let’s dance.

May you dance in exactly the way life is calling to you right this very minute.

And if you’d like to share what that means for you, I’m all ears.  Just comment below or join the discussion over on Facebook.
Love,
Caitlin

{March 9, 2015}

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What is the kindest thing?

Reflections on the practice of self-compassion.

I start to feel the pressure in my forehead mount, as the pain in my neck expands, and the surge of dizziness becomes stronger.  I’ve been on a roll washing some dishes in the kitchen sink but now my body calls out to me with a quiet intensity, asking me to allow it some rest.

Slowly but surely I’m learning how to listen to my body and respect what it needs, which can be quite frustrating when your mind wants it to do something else.

In a recent phone conversation with a life coach instructor, I explained how I quite literally take everything one bit at a time each day, focusing on how I can best take care of myself in everything I do.  She suggested that I ask myself a specific question periodically to help frame this focus.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve used the following question to guide my actions each day.

“What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?”

For me, it is often as simple as taking care of myself by drinking a class of water, eating a healthy snack, or taking a nap.  When I’m feeling up to it, it means taking time to do something I enjoy, like sitting down to do a little writing that could turn into a blog post.  And sometimes it requires taking actions that are in my best interest, like making a phone call I’ve been dreading because I care about the results I know it will bring.  But no matter what the specifics, the act of consciously considering and kindly responding to whatever my body, mind, or soul needs in any given moment makes everything I do feel more joyful.

The act of asking and answering this question with a genuine desire to know and a willingness to respond with love turns the idea of self-compassion into a practice.  It takes us from the space of thinking to a place of action, where we can welcome this kindness and care to become a part of our daily lives.

At some point during the day today, try asking yourself, “What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?”  Maybe it will help you decide what to eat for dinner, allow you to realize what evening activity will be most fulfilling for your soul, or provide the space to uncover some painful thoughts you want to talk through with a friend.  Whatever it is, may asking with an open heart and responding with kindness help you treat yourself with the loving compassion that you deserve.

{July 11, 2014}

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The Christmas letter.

It was the first Christmas that my dad would not be with us.  He wouldn’t be there to make us laugh with goofy stories and facial expressions.  He wouldn’t be there to blink in irritation as travel plans went awry.  He wouldn’t be there to help me design my annual gingerbread house.  And he wouldn’t be there to give us firm hugs full of love.  We wanted to find a way to honor and remember him, but how?

We did various things that first year, like donating toys we thought my dad would like to kids in need, but one activity stuck:

Letter writing.

My mom asked my brother and me to each write a letter to my dad, seal it in an envelope, and put it in my dad’s stocking before Christmas morning.  She assured us that no one would read them and shared that knowing we’d taken some time think about him would mean a lot to her.

So each year I pick out a favorite note card or nice piece of stationary, find a quiet place to sit and I write a letter to my dad with the smooth blue and silver pen that used to flutter across the paper in his hand.

This tradition is a sacred opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and tell him about what he’s missed.  I cry, I laugh, and often times, I run out of words to express what lies within my heart.  But no matter what happens, it feels good to connect. I feel honored to remember.  And writing makes it possible.

(Excerpt from the Heart-Mending Wordsmith course, June 2014)

If you’d like to join us in doing some letter writing of your own, please join us for The Heart-Mending Wordsmith. It all begins January 23rd and I look forward to seeing you there.

Much love to you, now and always,

Caitlin

P.S. We’ll also be doing some letter writing on this week’s journaling call as a way to practice self-compassion and allow the love we generate from within to spread out into the world.

You can join us for that here.

 

*This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission that will help me keep the site up and running and beautiful as ever. Thanks so much for your support!

 

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The thing that changes everything.

I woke up one morning feeling so special.  Not in an arrogant, better-than-everyone-else sort of way in which this statement might normally be taken, but in a genuine awareness of how special we all are.  You.  Me.  Everyone.

And it is this deepening awareness that so strongly makes me feel the need to tell you so.

You are so special.  Prized.  Cherished.  Treasured.  Adored.  And your soul, your love, and your life matter so much more than you can possibly imagine.

Those of us that are lucky, have parents, family members, friends, and teachers tell us this as we grow up.  But to we really believe them?  Do we know it to be true as surely as we can feel our own heartbeat?

Why do we resist this?  For fear, as I mentioned before, of falling into arrogance?  The irony there is that at this moment, I can’t think of anything more humbling than to honor the magnificence that is all of creation, recognizing and celebrating the love and goodness and gifts within ourselves and others.

How strikingly beautiful would the world be if we all really knew how special we are and wholeheartedly lived our lives from that understanding?

There is a quotation from Holocaust survivor Jay Sommer that I always felt captured the essence of my mission as a public school teacher.  It goes like this:

“Inspiring students with a sense of their own worth gives them the confidence to express themselves more freely, to explore and learn through their mistakes, and to regard learning as an adventure.”

Perhaps we’re all just students who need to be inspired with a sense of our own worth in order to regard LIFE as an adventure.

May you know the depths of how truly special you are and allow that knowledge to be the spark that changes everything.

With love,

Caitlin

(June 25, 2015)

Photograph by: Morgan Sessions on Unsplash.com