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#personal growth

Traveling Solo Through Chile For Personal Growth

Bust of Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda at his home on the coast in Isla Negra, Chile

Bust of Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda, at his home on the coast in Isla Negra, Chile

I traveled solo through much of Chile, (the birthplace of Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets) having arrived there from The States for my maiden voyage in June 2007. As a poet, my intent was to write poetry in what is often referred to as the “Land of Poets,” improve my Spanish, and explore the unfamiliar culture.

I was keen on avoiding the hot summer weather here in The States. Since Chile is located in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed. Thus it was quite chilly (no pun intended) when I first arrived, in early June, in this faraway land, where I knew not a soul. Since I planned to stay for three months (to fully avoid summer heat,) I arranged in advance to rent an apartment in Santiago, Chile’s capital city.

I had a couple years of Spanish under my belt, and had even lived in a Miami neighborhood known as Little Havana for a while. My Spanish skills were fairly good, until I moved to Denver, Colorado in 2000 and stopped using them. Denver is a city with a large Mexican population. Many of the Mexican people I met don’t speak Spanish. They come from families that have been in The States for several generations. Since they go back so far, their families no longer pass their language down with the generations.

Thus was my language preparation for arrival at the Santiago airport on June 6, 2007 at 7:30AM. Instantly, I was seized; alone, and handicapped, in the early morning airport rush, where I couldn’t understand a single word of Chilean Spanish, AT ALL. Zero, Zip, Nada.

A winter's day in Santiago, Chile

A winter’s day in Santiago, Chile

I hadn’t planned on enrolling in Spanish language classes right away, but due to my predicament, the first phone call I made just hours after arriving, was to Escuela Bellavista, a language school in the city. Clutching the receiver with a sweaty palm, I spoke to the voice on the other end. “Do you speak English?” I asked in desperation. “Yes,” he replied and then continued. “If you study here, however, this will be our last conversation in English. You will only be allowed to speak Spanish at the school, and on tours you attend with the school as well.”

A total immersion sounds like just what I need, I thought. I started classes the following day and couldn’t have made a better choice. The school uses a particular method of teaching known as the Direct Method. It is so subliminal, as a student, you don’t even realize you are learning. The teachers use mime and play games with the class in Spanish.

There was so much humor in these Spanish mime games, we learned Spanish through our laughter; and fell in love with the language and each other. Our teachers introduced us to Chilean music during break between classes. They danced with us in the lobby of the school.

In the high-end beginners class, where I was placed, we were immediately taught survival skills for travelers such as: asking how much things cost, asking and giving directions, purchasing tickets of all kinds, handling a wrong number politely on your cell phone, booking reservations, how to rent an apartment, how to make an appointment with a doctor, how to tell the nurse what’s wrong, how to order in a restaurant, how to complain about service and accommodations, all weather related vocabulary including the necessary clothing…

My favorite class was at the open-air fruit and vegetable market. Our teacher had us ask the vendors about the produce, and the prices. She took us shopping out in the real world, where we tasted what we didn’t know and wanted more.

The school teaches Castilian Spanish, not Chilean Spanish. All Chilean people understand and can speak fluent Castilian Spanish but that is not what they speak on the street. Surviving The Chilean Jungle is a three-volume dictionary filled with Chilean Spanish including Chilean slang. Both words and expressions that continue to grow and evolve over time, make it a living language.

Even when Chilean people speak Castilian Spanish, they are difficult to understand at first because they omit pronouncing the letter s in most words. Instead of saying, “estufa, “ they say “etufa. “ The word means heater, an issue worth a tissue or two on a frigid August night!

I spent a fun five (half-days) a week, for two and a half months at Escuela Bellavista and two delicious weeks traveling, including a week in the Atacama Desert (the driest desert on earth) and another in the Lakes region, a region of beauty with active volcanoes, and a 10 hour drive, south of Santiago. (Please click on the photos to enlarge them for a better view. )

The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile Driest Desert on Earth

The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile
The Driest Desert on Earth

 

I kept the promise I made to myself, wrote poetry daily while living in Chile. Some of the poems I wrote in Chile, were accepted for publication, and along with several others, also appear in the book, Poetry For Living An Inspired Life. This was my three month experience in Chile but as some of you know, I later lived there for three years. Stay tuned for more about Chile, its food, culture, geography and more…

Puerto Varas in The Lakes Region of Chile  (background, Volcano Osorno)

Biodanza: Poetry of Human Encounter

Biodanza (biodance) literally means the dance of life. It is a system of personal growth using music and movement to develop one’s instincts, self-awareness, communication, and confidence. Biodanza facilititates the deepening of one’s bond with others and with nature, allowing participants to express their feelings more fluidly.

I was first introduced to Biodanza in 2009 while living in Santiago, Chile. As I began participating in weekly classes, I noticed that I felt more grounded and emotionally open as a result.

Biodanza was created in the 1960s by Chilean psychologist and anthropologist, Rolando Toro who experimented with the effect of music and dance on psychiatric hospital patients. Toro introduced upbeat dances with happy rhythms that stimulated patient’s motor responses. The result was a remarkable increase in patient’s capacity to judge reality. Toro observed that their deliriums and hallucinations began to vanish.

In 1970 the Catholic University of Chile invited Rolando Toro to create the first Biodanza class, which at that time he called “Psychodance.” Biodanza sessions eventually found their way to healthy people in non-clinical settings.

Biodanza has been described as a series of exercises and movements that promote self-esteem, the joy of life, and the expression of emotions. People who participate regularly, say that biodanza enhances their creativity, vitality, and focus on the present moment. Within the dance, participants are invited to connect to their essence until all their senses and cells are awakened to the joy of being alive.

Biodanza uses a variety of international music to bring forth free self-expression, and is not choreographed. Dancing is done alone, in pairs, and in groups. No previous dance experience is required and there are no age requirements.

The Biodanza system is now taught in 54 countries around the world. Perhaps biodanza is available where you live. The magic of biodanza will open you to greater joy.  I invite you to come dance with life.

A Coach Approach to Personal Growth

I began as a psychology major in college, but my parents were so dead set against it that I eventually gave up and became a dietitian instead. Many years later, I am now studying to become a life coach. Before making my recent decision, I had briefly considered becoming a minister. So what is the difference between a psychologist, a life coach, and a minister, besides education?

In a nutshell, coaching focuses on the present and is oriented to achieve a future result. Psychotherapists on the other hand, focus on the past and on fixing pathology. A minister uses particular rituals and leads rituals that often adhere to a particular set of beliefs.

Coaches ask questions based on what is happening now, questions that move the client where they want to go, not where they have been. Coaches ask questions that are direct but not directive. For example, what would you like to change? What do you really want in this situation? How can you take action to move toward the outcome you actually want? The client must be ready to work on moving their lives forward without delving into the past.

Psychologists often teach clients problem solving strategies. Coaches do not give advice. Instead, they ask questions to draw clients out of themselves, to identify what their goal is and what motivates them to want to achieve it. Coaches help clients by asking questions which guide the client in creating their own action steps for reaching a goal as well as their commitment to a time frame for each step.

A life coach holds the client accountable for each step along the way, within the time frame set by the client for achieving each step, and helps the client identify any potential blocks or obstacles that could arise. If a client identifies blocks including beliefs that may be holding them back, the coach asks questions which cause the client to remember things which enable them to re-frame their limiting beliefs.

By asking clients what they would like to achieve and identifying their core values, coaches give clients something to think about. Without giving advice, they help clients bring out their own wisdom and potential to solve their own situations by focusing on what motivates the client to want this change.

If you have goals you’d like to achieve and are ready to go beyond what the Handel Group has identified as your inner chicken (that voice that tells you, you can’t do something,) your inner brat, (that part of you that wants everything right now,) and your inner weather reporter, (that false belief that tries to convince you of all the reasons you will never change,) coaching may be just the right relatively short term approach for helping you move forward to achieve your goals, and finally realize your dreams.

How Meditation Contributes To Personal Growth

A Quote From Confusion To Clarity, The Book

A Quote From Confusion To Clarity, The Book

Have you ever had problems that won’t go away, recurring situations that cause you to ruminate, rather than guide you to focus and to be at peace in the moment? There are situations in everyone’s life that can only be understood on the level of the soul, rather than with the rational mind. You know which situations these are because if you were able to understand them by thinking enough about them, eventually they would be solved but instead confusion remains, just eating away at you.

I often find that by simply relaxing and clearing my mind, I suddenly realize something that had eluded me for a very long time when I tried to figure it out through working with my mind. These realizations often seem profound when they arrive (when we arrive) but what I believe is more profound, is that meditation opens us in a way that can enable us to quickly receive our own inner wisdom and guidance, leaving us with powerful new perspectives that can change our daily lives. All it takes is practice, and the willingness to surrender.

There is no correct way to meditate and there are many different ways to meditate. I use four different meditation practices, one on a daily basis, and the others, from time to time. Morning meditation I believe is the most important because it sets the pace for the day. We have sixteen, if not more waking hours in front of us as we face each day. By taking part of an hour early in the day for meditation practice, I establish my intention and rhythm for the day, and the rest of the hours seem to fall into place. This is because meditation has a residual and cumulative effect, the more consistently we do it. “When we learn to listen with our soul, our life becomes larger,” is a quote in my first book, From Confusion To Clarity, which goes into greater depth about the many benefits of having a meditation practice.

What is your preferred meditation practice? My daily practice involves chanting in front of a scroll which serves as a focal point. I’ve also done Transcendental Meditation which is the silent repetition of a mantra, given especially to you by someone trained in TM. You are not supposed to share your mantra with anyone or ever say it aloud. It is meant to be yours and yours alone. My mantra was given to me several years ago by a teacher who had just returned from a retreat in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of TM. I won’t forget the moment my mantra was first whispered in my ear or the many benefits I’ve received since embracing both of these practices.

Since those early days, I have also used the Holosync Solution, which is sound meditation with headphones, and involves listening to rain and crystal bowls, as well as guided meditation with Neale Donald Walsch, where you write down a question, and the answer to your question is received during the meditation. All of these are powerful forms of meditation, for me and many others, and I highly recommend them, I have friends that do yoga, and I have tried different types of yoga but none seem to resonate with me. You must find what works for you.

Like meditation, inspirational quotes can serve a similar purpose in the sense that they help to remind us of and reinforce, ways in which we can reframe our thinking. There are many places to find daily inspirational quotes. I invite you to visit me at https://www.facebook.com/MicheleHarveyAuthorPoet where I post inspirational quotes twice daily. If my inspirational quotes resonate with you, please become my friend or subscriber.

Taking a walk in nature, doing the dishes, sweeping leaves, dancing, all these things and many others, can serve as meditation practice when you relax into the present moment, attune with your senses, and when your mind is clear and unattached to whatever thoughts may occur. What is your preferred meditation practice? How has your life improved since you started meditating? What do you find challenging about meditation? What if anything holds you back from embracing a daily meditation practice?

The Abundance of Our Oneness by Carolyn Field (Featured Writer)

blog photo

“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.”
―Swami Vivekananda

Everybody knows that lots of little things can make a big thing. One tree can become part of forest, one pebble, a beach, one blade of grass, a park land, one voice, a chorus.
Everything gravitates towards each other. We are coming together if not in physical proximity then in virtual proximity and in growing awareness of each other and of our connection. Just noticing that we are linked will create the wave of awareness that will blazon the Earth.

There is something strangely vulnerable about one small tree standing alone, or one pebble laying on a path, or one blade of grass growing in a crack on the ground or one human creature sleeping in a doorway. Something strangely vulnerable, yet also hopeful because there is always hope.

We are not meant to be alone. So if one tree can make a forest, what can one forest make? If one pebble can make a beach, what can one beach make? A forest, a beach, a park land, a chorus, all of these and many more collectives create awareness of the abundance that surrounds us. Where there is abundance, there is positive energy sparking and fizzing, and where there is an abundance of sparking, fizzing positive energy there is the probability of divine transformation. Like an interaction between chemicals that creates something staggering.

So too, our awareness of Oneness. Just as we notice that we are linked to one another, we will come to realise that we are linked to everything and that everything is linked to us. What a breathtaking awareness that is. You and I are One with each other, with the Universe and with Divinity. The awareness of our Oneness shall bring opportunities for a new higher nature to be possible which will in turn activate a powerful metamorphosis bringing peace, joy, satisfaction and all encompassing love.

You Are Love

Each moment is the breeze
on a rippling green sea.
Absent are expectations,
I have no illusion of need.
When you see, without you,
nothing can be perceived,
your true abundance is clear.
You are love. You are loved.

(Poetry For Living An Inspired Life: Poems as Spiritual Meditation, page 19)
Copyright © 2013 &beyond by Michele Harvey – all rights reserved

Why Are We Always In Such A Rush?

“As soon as you’re born, they make you feel small, by giving you no time instead of it all.”

John Lennon

While in line at the local post office recently, I struck up a friendly conversation with the person in front of me. When I mentioned I was new in town, Jim informed me there used to be a larger post office in another part of town, which had since closed its doors.

With five folks on line in front of him, this offered us a chance to talk about where Jim lived prior to coming to Steamboat Springs, as well as what Steamboat Springs is like during the winter ski season. After about five minutes, Jim remarked that he misses the other post office because he never had to wait in line, to which I responded, “Think of all the nice people you get to talk with, while waiting in line.” Jim chuckled, as he stepped up to the counter.

Why are we always in such a rush?

longer than winter
the line…
at the bank


Copyright © 2004 and beyond by Michele Harvey – all rights reserved

Do we believe we will not live long enough to accomplish all our priorities? Are we afraid of wasting our time, when we would rather be doing something else? Is it because we are an impatient lot who can’t defer gratification? Is it all of the above?

The other day, a cashier whisked me aside so she could ring up the one customer waiting behind me. I was putting away the coins she had just given me.

If we value our time so greatly, why not make all moments valuable? We have become somewhat cold and socially awkward, in my opinion. Leo Buscalia, also known as “Dr. Love,” wrote about how we stand in crowded elevators, staring at the door, missing opportunities for numerous encounters with others all around us. How often do you see a group of friends sitting in a booth at the diner, interacting with their cell phones, instead of with each other?

At times we may truly be in a rush,
like when someone we love is visiting for a short time, or when we are keeping others waiting, and of course during a true emergency. Nonetheless, when even the express lane seems slow, it may be prime time to simply slow down, inhale the frenzy, and exhale the peacefulness from our heart to the world. Let’s embrace ourselves, one another, and what exists all around us in each present moment of what we refer to as time.

Food for thought and the upcoming holiday season? Books make great holiday gifts that you can order online.

Consider gifting my books, From Confusion To Clarity (Introduction by the author of Conversations With God, Neale Donald Walsch) and Poetry For Living An Inspired Life, both of which, I believe will increase your experience of the present moment.

Signed copies of both books can be shipped anywhere and are available respectively @ http://micheleharveyauthor.com and http://micheleharveyauthor.com/books/ Until next time…

Wishing you every blessing,

Michele Harvey Author

How Do You Feel About Change?

Art by Kiki and Brad Thome

Many of us acknowledge feeling jittery when things in our lives begin to noticeably change. I use the term “noticeably” because things are always changing. Life is just another word for change.  Indeed personal growth, as well as life itself, cannot occur without it.

How we feel about change has a lot to do with our perception of what is occurring, as well as our perceived level of control over things, and how we ultimately assess or label what is happening and its impact.

Changes we initiate or perceive as welcome, also bring stress, but it is a healthier form of stress, like the stress of striving to meet a healthy challenge.

Though it sometimes feels as if too much change occurs at once, or perhaps not enough is occurring, and it often feels as if change is occurring too quickly, or not soon enough, all of these perceptions are imagined. Change occurs exactly when it is supposed to occur, according to the concept of divine timing.

I have been doing quite a bit of traveling within the USA lately. Having  just returned from a 16 day trip spanning three States. I will also be re-locating in another month and that is why I am discussing change.

Frankly, in the last six years, having lived in two cities in Chile, and in various parts of three different US States, I have moved more than a mathematician can count, or at least it feels that way.  Though fond of travel, now that I am a bit older, this girl is hoisting a white flag. I hereby declare my wish to be retired as a gypsy. I believe I can be happy almost anywhere as long as it is not too remote or isolated, and at this point in my life, I am starting to feel uncomfortable with changes that seem big, like re-location as opposed to travel, which I find much simpler. Having been given the choice to move this time, I chose to move, but soon after, wished it did not have to be so soon.

I longed to longer know this place

Of deserts gold, and brown, and grey,

Whose dusty storms of desert rain

Remain intriguing…

I find when things are good, and life is happy and comfortable, and we are with the people we really like, when it all seems relatively simple, I often wish that things would stay the way they are longer than they actually do, for one reason or another.

During times like these, change is perceived differently.  If change feels too soon to me right now, isn’t it really a message to calm down and focus on the present moment only?  For it is only by showing up maximally in the present, and shining a bright inner-light on each day¸ that we can lengthen its value,  deepen its meaning, and experience each day of life more gratefully lived. This too makes us more open to change.

Please tell me below.  How do you feel about change?

Namaste, Michele

From Confusion To Clarity: Vital Personal Growth in 30 Days or Less is available everywhere in print and as an e book. For signed copies please visit http://micheleharveyauthor.com  Stay tuned for my upcoming book of poetry, Poetry for Living an Inspired Life:  Poems  as Spiritual Meditation, currently a work in progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry is the Rhythm of a Train

Dear Readers,

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This post was originally titled, Books, Blogs, and Radio Shows because just so many wonderful things have been happening. But before I share an abundance of news, I would like to ask for your help.

I invite guest bloggers (authors & experienced poets) who would like to appear in an article or be interviewed for this blog to please contact me @ clarity@confusionends.com (or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.)

What I have in mind is to split this blog and combine my monthly escapades with the news of a different author or poet, a guest blogger each month, whose work flows with, or at least does not oppose the messages contained in the nature of my work, much of which can quickly be gleaned just by taking a peek at my other pages and posts.

 

 

I have always been mesmerized and moved by the motion of trains. As a child, I grew up in an apartment close to New York City. The back of our building faced train tracks for the Long Island Railroad. During morning and evening rush hours, our entire apartment would shake as though we were experiencing an earth quake. Every dish in the kitchen would rattle. As a teen, I used to travel into Manhattan on the subway a lot. I remember riding home on the subway late at night, and closing my eyes to dance metaphorically to the rhythm of a thousand drums as the train rocked its way upon the steel tracks. In fact, my first collection of poetry, which was published in 2006, is called, Ripped Railway Tickets and it has a theme relating to trains that appears to run through and connect, several of the poems.

In line with that train of thought, as synchronicity would have it, even though I moved out west, the theme around trains seems to have stayed with me. I recently received news that a sonnet I wrote called, “Dinosaur Ridge,” has been chosen as the focal point around which a giant windscreen art project (art encased in a large glass display case) is being designed. It will be installed for posterity, as the ART IN PUBLIC PLACES EXHIBITION for the new WEST RAIL LINE, in the Jefferson County Government Center•Golden Station in the city of Golden and the state of Colorado. Work on this project is being done by glass artist Nancy O’Neil, http://www.nancyoneil.com/ who won the bid for the project and who contracted with me for the use of my poem as the focal point. The display, which also includes maps and photographs, focuses on Colorado history and should be complete by the end of 2013.

Poetry for Living an Inspired Life: Poems as Spiritual Meditation, is the title of my forthcoming full-length collection of poetry. The new book is broad in scope, and includes poetry I’ve written incorporating the use of many different settings, styles, and subjects. Poetry for Living an Inspired Life: Poems as Spiritual Meditation, includes poems I’ve written over the last 11 years. (Though many of the poems have been accepted for publication in fine literary journals, they have never appeared on social media.)

Poetry for Living an Inspired Life: Poems as Spiritual Meditation, will be available in both print and as an E book soon. Stay tuned by visiting me here or via Poetry for Living an Inspired life on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/PoetMicheleHarvey?ref=hl. please contact me @ clarity@confusionends.com for questions or to request copies.

Allow me to share with you the links for 2 recent radio interviews about my current book, From Confusion To Clarity: Vital Personal Growth in 30 Days or Less. Both shows are wonderfully informative and one of them includes a marvelous meditation. Please have a listen to one or both at your leisure:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/artoflivingwell/2013/05/06/consider-thiswith-linda-marie-and-nancy
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ggmradio/2013/03/27/crystal-clear-coaching-with-maggie-holbik

I would also like to share the link to a wonderful online magazine called Truly Alive. Truly Alive is a fabulous bimonthly online magazine with interviews and articles featuring such luminaries as Neale Donald Walsch and many others. http://www.trulyalive.net

From Confusion To Clarity: Vital Personal Growth in 30 Days or Less, my current book, contains a written introduction by Neale Donald Walsch, and is now available as an E book, everywhere. Check it out on itunes, Kobo, etc or in print right here http://www.micheleharveyauthor.com to receive a signed copy. I truly believe this book can help anyone stuck in any aspect of their lives, to some extent.

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Until next time…remember

Love is not some far off road that leads you home.
Love is what you are.