How to Experience Abundance

Photo © Michelle Black 2014

 

Mistaken Value

We have been conditioned to believe we need to acquire more [financially or materialistically] in order to experience more. This could not be further from what is possible. Existentially, we sometimes mistakenly seek out things that can be physically measured in order to experience ‘value’.   We live in a world where the cost of a designer cotton tee shirt can range anywhere from $90 – $165.  The cost of this tee shirt is $35 shy of a 1/2 share of organic local produce (13 week supply of food) — enough nutrient-rich produce to feed 2-3 people for 13 weeks.

 

True Abundance

True abundance can only be felt through gratitude. Gratitude is not just an expression of thankfulness, but a practice of being. Through consistent daily practice, gratitude helps us stay centered and present, alleviating feelings of need. Ever felt like you really needed that beautiful new ring, finally finished saving up the thousands of dollars to update the already-functioning cabinetry in your kitchen, or had to have that $450 Coach purse that has been marked down to $200? This feeling is a result of a number of things; design shows that are reality-based, constant advertisements on the internet, everywhere you look while driving, and every radio station or television channel… these are essentially brainwashing the masses. We don’t have to participate in these behaviors that are only wasting our planet’s resources.

True abundance can be felt when we’re willing to let go of attachments to material possessions, when we release ourselves from attachments to labels of any kind [ahem... "hipster kid, goth girl/guy, hippie, etc"] — when we let go of definitions entirely and experience things from moment to moment without attaching ourselves to the words we use to define the experience.

Abundance is experienced when we open ourselves to spend time with the little drops of rain that have collected on a leaf after the storm [photo in this article, above]…. abundance is felt when we let go of the chatter in our minds and feel filled up with each inhalation of oxygen provided to us by our Earth. When you share a smile with your child, when the songbirds are still singing after the screaming sirens die off, at every sunrise, beneath every night sky, with every bite of food, with each moment we can sit and rest, wisdom shared, loving emotions felt, every new day… just a few of the infinite ways to experience abundance.

What moments can you think of in your life, when you felt true abundance? Please feel free to share your experience in a comment below:)

 

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

xo

 

Michelle (Aurora)

Life as an Exchange | vlog

Life as an Exchange from Michelle Black on Vimeo.

Julie - May 30, 2014 - 7:07 pm

I loved this first vlog & the story you shared. I find the irony beyond amazing. Things like that make me tear up :) I’ve been following your journey off and on since your conceptual photo days and feel fortunate to get a glimpse into your transformation….always inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

Julie

http://www.gatheringnectar.blogspot.com

Michelle (Aurora) - June 5, 2014 - 12:55 pm

Thank you Julie! Appreciate your presence and contribution here. Glad we share the joy of experiences like these!

Phantom of Peace

Something more than we give ourselves a chance to be;

I reject your definition of “free”

Take me to the pyramids

Across the big sea…

Phantom of Peace,

Sing your anthem.

 

Heavy morning, chemical clouds, integrity:

I reject your limitations, power, greed

Take me past the atmosphere

Into the Dark Deep

Phantom of Peace,

Sing your anthem.

Sing without them.

 © 2014

Growing Into Your Cautious Heart

 

There are moments when we’ve all been a bit naive.

Maybe it was giving others the benefit of the doubt,  or over-anticiping an end result, or trusting someone with harmful intentions…. whatever the case, as time passes we learn to be more careful.

You can still offer kindness and love without being naive, and yes, you can still take big risks and hold tight to your adventurous, free-spirit.

 

Caution versus Fear

Just because you’re careful about the situations and people you place yourself around does not mean you’re afraid, it means you’re aware. You know what’s healthy for you personally, and what isn’t. While some prefer quiet evenings in the bubble bath and a book, others prefer hyped up social gatherings filled with new people. Whether you’re one or the other, doesn’t mean the other is “worse” or that your way is “better”, it just means you know yourself. Yes, there are times when breaking out of your comfort zone is necessary, but not if it compromises your values or safety. That helps keep it pretty clear, whether or not a risk is worth taking.

 

Hope you’re having an awesome week so far!

 

xox

Michelle

Follow Through, You Can

 

This wasn’t what I had planned for the blog today, so perhaps someone out there is calling out to hear it.

This morning’s meditation was a bit more focused than some in the past, it led me to write this almost immediately following. 5 a.m. is my call time everyday, the time of day when the alarm sounds and I decide whether or not to get up and proceed with the routine: Wake-up shower, hydrate (the amount has increased to 32 oz), first meditation, more water, second meditation. Notice I didn’t say ” 5 a.m. is when I get up every day ” — it’s a choice. I no longer make plans that will interfere with adequate rest, I don’t stay up working late unless I’m prepared in advance to follow through with my commitment to 5 a.m.

______________________________________

 

 

Guiding Yourself Toward Inclination

I’ve been learning a lot from Paraliminal audio sessions with Paul R. Scheele. This morning I took from him something profoundly simple; creating your inclinations.

When you’re growing up, you may or may not have the desire to fix your hair, wash your face at night, or brush your teeth. These are things that (hopefully) your parents instill within you, that will eventually become like second nature; you just do it without thinking about it. Riding a bike is another good example of this; you’re paying careful attention to your body, the way the grips feel in your hands, how it feels when you’re losing balance… but once you learn how to ride, you think less of those things and are more able to enjoy the ride since you are now inclined to balance yourself because you understand how to do it.

This is how my mornings have progressed, and I do still wake up at times and think:  Do I get up, or do I hit snooze…? 

A certain number of things had to happen in order to make this transition. I’ve always been a morning person, but 5 a.m. used to seem soooo early to me. Grogginess during the day used to be the norm for me until I assessed the problem and realized that hydration was a huge factor. So, I did a little research and started implementing proper hydration into the equation (I’ll be posting about hydration soon). Next up, I had to get to bed earlier. Typically I’d stay up after my son went to sleep and work for a bit, or just have some time to myself. There’s a “deadline” in place for sleeping now; I know that staying up past 11 pm will not give me sufficient rest. So, I had to adjust my work schedule, started to plan out certain parts of my workday in advance, and now follow a stricter daily timeline overall.

Following through with any type of real commitment requires acknowledgement and acceptance of what it is that is holding you back, willingness to alter the pattern. This will trickle down into other areas; one positive change inspires other subtle changes that will be in alignment with your purpose. You’ll know when you aren’t committed, because what you’re working toward will still feel like a chore. When you’re fully committed, you’ll feel great about what you’re working on because you know that the end result will be growth and prosperity in that area of your life, whether it is a relationship, changing jobs, breaking yourself of a poor habit,  losing weight, or any number of things.

How do you feel when you make a commitment on a whim and then fail to follow-through? Guilt. Disappointment. You’re already setting yourself up for these things if you don’t have a solid plan in place.

 

Simple Steps to Help You Follow Through With Commitment 

1. Identify the ultimate goal / the person you see yourself growing into.

2. Acknowledge and accept the responsibility of situations, behaviors, and negative influences that you have allowed, and that currently hold you back from making positive changes.

3. Decide how you can make adjustments that will pave the way toward full commitment.

4. Change the situation, behavior, or negative influence.

5. Keep trying! Don’t give up. You aren’t going to know exactly what to do. When something doesn’t work, reconstruct the plan and keep moving forward.

6. Eliminate negative perspectives.

7. Find people who share your values and make time to have conversations with them about life’s purpose : ) This has been one of the most powerful aspects of growth for me personally; making sure that positive influence is the biggest part of my life, and seeking to be that for others.

 

Have a lovely weekend!

^_^

 © Michelle Black, 2014

” Let me Tell You What I Mean When I Say Love… ”

We continue to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for spreading the message of unconditional love. He was inspired by many, loved and admired by many. This morning, I read some of MLK’s thoughts on love and decided to share this quote:

 

“[Agape] is the overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. And when you rise to love on this level, you love people who don’t move you. you love those that you don’t like. you love those whose ways are distasteful to you…”

A LINK TO RECOMMENDED READ:   Letter from Birmingham City Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr. 

 

My own commentary on the letter:

In his letter from Birmingham City Jail following one of the biggest civil rights marches in history, he describes himself as carrying “the gospel of freedom”  and that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,”  — and here he was specifically addressing the city of Birmingham that he deems as being the most “thoroughly segregated city in the U.S.”  King’s activism — nonviolent direct action — was used effectively to stir tension, and to bring attention to these matters. He goes on, “… there is a certain type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth.”

In King’s view, freedom is something to be demanded when it is being withheld. <3

Handling Gossip with Gracefulness

 

It is human nature to discuss other human beings with one another: to inquire about them, to be fascinated by them, to love or dislike them. Some of the world’s most successful print and web publications base their content on gossip. Sometimes it seems we’re surrounded by gossip and gossipers, and it is likely we’ve all found ourselves in situations where the topic of discussion left us feeling uncomfortable or even confused. I had a conversation about this subject with my Grandmother, and she remarked, “Age doesn’t stop it from happening. It’s just as much of an issue now as it was when I was young.”

Is gossip ever okay? The answer: NO, gossip is never okay, under any circumstances. There is a difference between genuine concern for what someone is going through, and flat-out gossip.

So, what’s the difference?

 

Tongue Etiquette

  1. When is discussing another person appropriate, and when is it gossip? Discussing an individual’s personal life isn’t ever really ‘appropriate’ – a person’s accomplishments, pursuits, and conquests aren’t typically private matters, though, and we wouldn’t have history books if we couldn’t talk about others. We want to know, to a certain extent, the background of our leaders and government officials. Celebrities put themselves at the mercy of the public domain. Gossip is often nothing more than assumption that leads to a rumor, but sometimes it does begin from first-handed contact with the individual and his or her behavior. If there isn’t a valid point in discussing a person, it is likely inappropriate, or gossip. Wikipedia uses the phrase ‘idle talk.’
  2. How do you handle someone who gossips? Easy. Dismiss the subject gracefully! All you have to do is simply say: “This is gossiping,” or “This is none of my business, could we please talk about something else?” Only you yourself can be held accountable for how you direct a conversation.
  3. What should you do if you find yourself the subject of gossip? It’s difficult when you find out that your personal affairs have been discussed without your knowledge. Gossip is most effectively handled by approaching the person or persons and simply asking them why they felt like it was okay to talk about you, and ask them not to do it. Don’t waste too much energy being upset or angry; life continues to move forward. Confronting the situation and moving forward from it is much healthier in the long run than keeping feelings bottled, or letting resentment build.
  4. What should you do if someone tells you something that raises concern about another person, or about himself/herself? This is the magical situation in where it is (sometimes) excusable to disclose a private matter. You might try seeking advice anonymously, or talk to someone who has proven to be trustworthy about how you might be able to help.

 

There isn’t a single person on this Earth that has lived a perfect life. Many of us go through struggles that are difficult to make sense of; death, divorce, major life changes, for example.  Before you discuss someone else with another person, consider how you’d feel if the tables were turned and you were in their shoes. Take caution in who you disclose personal information to. If someone is willing to talk to you about people you don’t even know, it is likely they’re talking about you, with people you don’t know. Of course, intention is everything. Consider why you want to talk about someone before doing so.

Have something to add? Please leave a comment below on your feelings about gossip.

 

 

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Thank you very much for reading! Looking forward to hearing more from you in the future!

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Hi! Thank you very much. This is a ProPhoto.com template, you can customize the whole thing easily, and it runs through wordpress install, so very easy to keep things updated! And if you get bored, it’s easy to change things around.

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Here’s to Your Health in 2014!

Welcome back! Happy New Year, and I hope yours was safe, fun, and full of enlightenment.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram ( @escapetolight_ ) are aware of my passion for promoting wellness — both mental and physical — including simplification of meals and overall living habits, foraging excursions, homemade teas, holistic health, and of course some philosophical insights. Much of the stream on @escapetolight_’s Instagram includes photos of what’s going on in my kitchen, as well as foraging in the great outdoors. I had no idea that soon, I would be combining my love for wellness with photography along my career path! Very different from my earlier conceptual work, and work with models. As promised, this year will bring a new variety of content to the blog, consistent with the evolution of my life’s direction and purpose.

It is important to trust who you are and what you’re passionate about.

I love what The Minimalists have to say in their article about Cultivating Your Passion as opposed to just following it. 

 

Recent Publications

Here are some selections from recently published photography work pertaining to wellness, along with links to the full articles.

What is the Healthiest Breakfast to Eat? Livestrong.com
Full Article + More Photos: http://www.livestrong.com/article/422628-what-is-the-healthiest-breakfast-to-eat/

Easy Raw Vegan Meal Plans | LiveStrong.com
Full Article + More Photos:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/363424-easy-raw-vegan-meal-plans/ 

Home Remedy With Honey for a Cough | eHow: Health
Full Article + More Photos:  
http://www.ehow.com/way_5268756_home-remedy-honey-cough.html

Home Remedy for Hoarseness | eHow: Mom
Full Article + More Photos:
http://www.ehow.com/way_5460528_home-remedy-hoarseness.html 


How to Make Cilantro Tea | LiveStrong.com > Food and Drink > Tea
Full Article + More Photos:
 http://www.livestrong.com/article/482709-how-to-make-cilantro-tea/

How to Use a Blender as a Juicer | LiveStrong.com > Healthy Eating
Full Article + More Photos:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/504511-how-to-use-a-blender-as-a-juicer/ 

____________________________________________

I’ll keep you guys updated with new publications as they come up, as well as posting exclusive articles here at EscapeToLight, where it’s all about staying where the light is <3

 

 

 

 

Roots

 

I was out foraging for raspberries earlier this year, when I came upon this tree (the one pictured above). Even from a distance I could see the difference in its size compared to the surrounding trees… and not only by its height; the branches were winding out and reaching up so wide it was like witnessing a forever-standing-embrace. When I went closer, I noticed that the roots were equally twisted, some growing out of the Earth. I thought about how many winters, springs, summers, and falls had this Great Tree witnessed!

Suddenly a flood of information came to me. This system of roots, trunk, branches, and leaves has been functioning together perfectly for maybe more than 100 years. Nestled in a wooded lake area, it has likely provided shade for thousands of fishermen, given a place of rest to birds and other little forest-beings.

Watering Your “Roots”

Without a strong sense of acceptance within yourself, it is easy to feel a lot of imbalance when things grow forth from your roots. Sometimes, we plunge our roots into soil that isn’t healthy. We water it, and water it again, yet nothing seems to grow. I read recently over at Expanded Consciousness that dealing with the moment we’re in presently is the only way to get to the next present moment safely and effectively (you can read that post here: “9 Mind Bending Epiphanies That Turned My World Upside Down”). By sewing the seeds of now, we can grow the roots that will lead to a sturdy trunk, from which the branches of every choice we make will extend… some longer and stronger than others. While some of our branches may break along the way, the roots will continue to dig deeper, working with the soil and water deep beneath the surface.

So envision yourself as the tree, the sun and air as the environment that you perceive and take in, and the roots are your conscious awareness (thoughts). Everything is influenced by those thoughts (the roots of your tree), so when they’re healthy and motivated by considering the ‘bigger picture’ — your roots will be healthy, your branches will grow more artfully, more gracefully, and more lush. And don’t forget, the more lush your branches become, the better it is for the health of your environment!

I thought this quote was fitting to close the post:-)

“Progress is rarely straight-forwardly linear.” – Alasdair MacIntyre

 

Other Recommended Readings to compliment this post: 

 

Kant on Emotion

MacIntyre on Virtue

STAYING GROUNDED

 

Stability, intention, and purpose are intertwined. Their relationship is like that of soil, water, and sky, always working together to replenish the other through the cycle of precipitation and evaporation. It wasn’t until I had walked for two hours across sandy hills that this made sense, when I recognized that a simple adjustment in my footing made the journey through the dunes much less strenuous. To experience the joy and beauty of the dunes, I had to place my feet a certain way in order to secure them so I didn’t tire out. Just like *that* I was more able to get where I wanted to go!

While nature is perfect in its purpose, we must condition ourselves through awareness and practice to develop strategies that will work with us instead of against us in our pursuits. Whether it is business, love, a friendship, or a personal struggle you are going through, making even the most minor adjustment can reveal a more fruitful outcome.

Have a wonderful week!

 

 

Alee Svensson - September 29, 2013 - 8:49 pm

So eloquently written. The way you see things and apply them to your life is amazing, you’re amazing. I love, love reading your blog. To this day I feel blessed to have found such a talented person via social network to look up to. :)

Dino Celestino - September 30, 2013 - 7:31 am

Pretty much what Ms. Svensson said, above!

I saw your post on instagram of the same image in this blog. Cool coincidence, I posted a similar image as the cover photo to my fb photo page last night. I’m curious where the dunes in your picture are located? Beautiful scene. Beautiful capture.

Michelle Black - October 2, 2013 - 2:34 pm

Thank you so much. I’m happy you enjoyed the post Alee : )

Michelle Black - October 2, 2013 - 2:34 pm

Thank you and this is Silver Lake, MI!