Mojo Monday ~ How Do You Celebrate Your Birthday?

Mojo Monday was born in May 2010, so we are celebrating her 3rd Birthday this month.  I wanted to share some of the things she has taught me over the course of the past three years.

She taught me that when you have a dream or goal that you need to set aside the time to do the work to reach those dreams and goals.  For example if you want to be a writer you have to write.  Thinking about being a writer or talking about being a writer some day will not move you very far towards your goal.  You have to actually write.

She taught me more about getting my joy from the creating and the journey, not from the responses I get (or don’t get) to what I created or wrote.   There are important lessons to be learned about the importance of internal approval rather than external approval.

She provided wonderful opportunities to meet, interact and get to know better more of the brilliant and creative Cosmic Cowgirls on the Rodeo, where I also post my Mojo Monday discussions.
She showed me that commitment and applied discipline to a regular practice feels good and can build one’s confidence to say “YES” to other opportunities.

Here’s to you Mojo Monday!

Contemplating birthdays also led me to wonder about how we choose to celebrate our own birthdays.

Do you celebrate your birthday?  Do you make a big deal out of it and throw parties for yourself?  

Or in contrast do you play it down, or (gasp) ignore it?   

Is your birthday a time of reflection for you or is it just another day?  

How does your aging affect you?  Does getting older inspire you to fulfill some kind of bucket list?  

Have you ever had the thought “I’m to old to do ______________.”  

Take a few minutes and watch this very inspiring episode of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls that is about a woman named Ellaraino, who is famous for being an inspirational storyteller and public speaker.

In the interview with Poehler, Ellaraino talks about her great-grandmother’s incredible journey to freedom after being a slave in America for most of her life. At 86-years-old, she learned how to read and write, despite being told by everyone around her that she shouldn’t bother.

Reading and writing she called her ‘freedom,’ and she enjoyed that freedom for over 30 years because she lived to be 116,” Ellaraino said. “Don’t you let anybody tell you you can’t do what you want to do, when you want to do it.”

Amy Poehler offered her own words of wisdom to viewers who may be struggling to achieve their dreams.

“Throughout life, no matter how old you are sometimes you keep telling yourself what you think was supposed to happen in your life is not going to happen,” she said. “And that happens in our lives whether we’re 16 or whether we’re 116.”

Mojo Monday ~ If Not Now, When?

Change.  It can hold promise and excitement.  It can also incite anxiety and make for restless nights of tossing and turning.  
For over a month my husband and I rode a self-inflicted roller coaster ride of his getting a new job that would require us to move to a new town.  At first I was filled with only anxiety.  I began to be plagued by irrational fears.  Slowly I worked through those and grew more excited about such a change.  A new town, a new house, a potential new job for me, though it looked promising that I could stay with my current employer who had other offices in that area too.  A bit obsessively I began to scour the homes for sale on-line.  We started to look around our current home with new eyes, the eyes of a seller.  A desire for newness and something to push us our of our comfort zones grew more appealing.  Then the unthinkable happened.  The job fell through. 

Deflation.  Disappointment.   Those were the things I at first felt.  Talk about counting your chickens before they hatch. Yet, I also knew that it wasn’t the end of my story.  Life was going to carry right along.  My desire for change and to take some action and to push myself out of my comfort zone wasn’t reliant on my husband getting that job.  There are still goals and dreams I carry in my heart and soul.  There are things I wish to accomplish that rely only on my personal commitment and efforts.  My biggest realization is that there were other things that needed my attention right now and I had been squandering my time with the what ifs.  This isn’t to discount the benefits of dreaming, but in this case I was too caught up in projecting too much on one possible outcome.

One of my favorite books is called The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo.  I want to share one of the essays called String of Todays that takes on the topic of ‘If not now, when? 

Since surviving cancer, there is a burning bit of truth I live with every day.  Sometimes it doesn’t let me sleep, but most of the time, it brings me great joy.  No one uttered this to me, and I didn’t arrive at it or work at it.  It just revealed itself, the way a broken bone makes us re-feel the immense pressure of air.  And this bit of truth is, If not now, when? 

It keeps coming dow to this: There is no tomorrow, only a string of todays. Still, like mos of us, I was somehow taught to dream forward, to fill the future with everything that matters: Someday I will be happy,  When I am rich, I will be free.  When I find the right person, then I will know love.  I will be loving and happy and truthful and genuine then.

But almost dying seared the sense of future from me, and though I expect to live a very long time, though I make plans and look forward to the many things I plan, I have no choice but to dream now.

I start out, as I always have, pouring the best of me into an imagined time yet to be, but then I hear, If now now, when? and the best of me floods back to the only place it truly knows – Now.

This all helps me understand a story about Jesus very differently.  I’m thinking of the young, rich merchant who approaches Jesus after his Sermon on the Mount.  He admires Jesus so, it truly touched, and wants to join him.  So he asks with great sincerity what he needs to do, what arrangements need to be made.

Jesus opens his arms and says, ‘Come with me now,  Drop everything and come.’
The young merchant stumbles and cites his many ‘yes, buts’: He can’t leave his business so suddenly.  He has to leave word.  He’ll need to gather fresh clothes.  How much money should he bring?

With open arms, Jesus simply says one more time, ‘Come with me now.’
How often do we all rehearse this moment, putting off love, truth, joy and even God, citing our many ‘Yes, buts’ to ourselves, when all we have to do – hard and simple as it is – is to drop everything and Come Now.

  • Breathe slowly and meditate on something dear to you that you have been working toward.  It might center on being happy, knowing love, finding a partner, or learning how to play music, or how to understand the truth of your experience more deeply.
  • Breathe deeply and, for the moment, dream about it now; that is, eliminate the efforts to build it tomorrow.
  • For the moment, imaging that whatever portion of this work you are to know or achieve or inhabit can only happen today.
  • In hale deeply and take the energy of everything you’ve planned and put off back into your life today.
  • Rather than feeling overwhelmed with all this, try to let this energy simply fill you as you move through your day.

Mojo Monday ~ This is the Year of…

In October of 2008 I attended my first Cosmic Cowgirl event.  It was the Bountiful Conference and really I had no idea what attending that one conference would lead to and how it would alter my future.   Now it wasn’t like everything fell into perfect place and I immediately began to follow my true purpose.  There were some bumps along the way, in fact on my 40th birthday in April of 2009 some news made me feel that my world was crashing down around me and there were some very tough days from that point forward.  Yet, even through that year, which was one of my own dark nights of the soul, Cosmic Cowgirls was one of the things that sustained me.  It was a combination of both the amazing women I had met, but also just knowing that something like Cosmic Cowgirls could even exist.  I was sustained by knowing that there were women from around the country and even overseas, who were connecting and creating a circling tribe full of artistic, creative, passionate, loving, inspiring, kick-up-their-boots hootin’ and hollerin’ kick-ass wild women.

I have learned so much from the classes I have taken with Cosmic Cowgirls.  One of the biggies is about the power of intention.  In 2010 as things in my life were healing and as I delved back into participating more with Cosmic Cowgirls I attended the member conference and then I took the class called A Year of Great Promise.  Meeting in person with some sister Cosmic Cowgirls was good for the soul and during our time together we contemplated what we wanted to declare for that year.  What I ended up declaring for myself was that 2010 was the Year of Passionately Embracing My Soul’s Creative Calling.  We also shared something we were going to release and my personal declaration was “I release perfection and embrace myself with Grace and Love.”  We created collages and special containers to hold our dreams and goals for ourselves for the year.   The course called A Year of Great Promise was really powerful and by the time the course ended I had about a 15 page document that detailed my vision for myself and the life I want to lead. 

The art collage I created in 2010.

Somehow in the beginning of 2011 I did not make a statement for the year and now I see that I was pressing forward with continuing as I did in 2010 to embrace my creative calling.  I joined the Cosmic Cowgirls 6 month long Leading A Legendary Life course in 2011, which was a big dream for me.  Again the work completed led me to feel more confident in my artistic abilities and to gain more clarity on the personal legend I am creating. 

A week ago when I pulled out the letter I had written to myself back in 2010 I knew immediately what my 2012 declaration would be and without hesitation I said to myself 2012 is the year of completion and new beginnings.  I love the clarity that I have this year, but don’t be disheartened if that is not the case for you.  It can actually be fun and interesting to still be in the place of figuring it out and exploring what you are wishing for to happen next. 
As I write this Mojo Monday post I am realizing that I have not yet considered if there is something I wish to release and embrace this year.  The first thing that comes to mind is the fretting I have done over friendship these past few years.  I experienced some shifts in friendships that put me through a great deal of distress for a few years.  I think it has taken this much time to get to this place and makes it possible for me to say that I release those former connections with great love and I embrace knowing deep in my soul that though I am imperfect and may make mistakes I am a loving and good hearted friend who cares and loves deeply and never intentionally hurts others.
My letter I wrote to myself in 2010.

Before I bid 2011 goodbye I will write myself a letter and I will create a new piece of art that will represent my intentions for the new year.  

Consider what your heart and soul wishes for you in the new year.
Join me in making your own declaration and then make the time to go through your own creative process of expressing that declaration. 

Maybe you want to create a collage or paint the vision you hold for yourself. 

Another possibility is to write a poem or take some photographs that capture your intentions.

Also is there something you wish to release and in turn embrace? 
I hope you’ll share your new year declaration and your plans for releasing and embracing.   

If you need time to think it through, explore it this week and come back and share what arises for you.

One other great lesson I have learned is that there is great power in speaking aloud one’s intentions.  One can gain strength from sharing such things within a community or a circle.  

I offer that this is a great place to be witnessed and heard.

With Love and In Support of Your Intentions,
Michelle (aka Red and Ida Shine!)

Some other things to explore as you ponder your dreams and goals:

Oprah’s January issue that is just about to hit the stands has a great article by Martha Beck called You Can See Clearly Now.  She takes readers through a clarifying process of really determining what one wants.  She breaks it down into the four P’s: Pushback, Possibilities, Preferences and Pinpointing. In the simplest terms Pushback involves figuring out what you don’t want. Martha describes it as the “bitch and moan” portion that allows you to figure out that you no longer what to do such and such or no longer want to be with so and so.  The next step of Possibilities involves beginning to use your imagination to see past what is no longer working for you.  She describes Preferences as being the place where you start to notice which possibilities leave you feeling intrigued, curious, and a bit lighter.  When you get to the Pinpoint part this is when you are finally reaching clarity on exactly what you want.  You are envisioning it and can then set your intentions on achieving it.

There is a great book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  I was given this book a several years ago by the fost-adoption agency I have worked for for nearly 8 years now.  When you buy the book new there is a sealed envelope in the back that when opened provides you with a key to enter into an on-line personality test.  I was really blown away by the accuracy of the results.  The exam identifies your strengths and can be a tool for some people to use in seeking their path in life.

Lastly for fun you can always check your numerology and see what personal year you happen to be leaving and which one you are about to gain entry to in 2012.  Supposedly we go through 9 year life cycles.  2011 was a 9 year for me which means I am at the end of a cycle.  Entering into a 1 year in 2012 means I am embarking on a new cycle.  A common description of a 9 year is that this is your year to finish up all unfinished business, to clean house and make room for new things.  In short the 1 year is described as follows: You are starting a new nine year Epicycle. Everything you do now will affect your future. Do not hold back the inner force of creation. Be direct, daring, bold. You will have more confidence and determination this year, particularly in comparison with last year, which was a time of letting go. This year represents a time of birth. It’s a time to take charge and to apply yourself to your dream.

Two sites that offer free numerology readings can be found here: