2013: Section 12

2013 MotY: Section 12

2013 MotY: Section 12

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For those of you following along with this year’s theme, section 12 focuses on “Being Stereotyped and Labeled”  from the twelve categories of shame list created by Dr. Brené Brown. Her research on shame-resilience and vulnerability demonstrates for us all, how and why to live a wholehearted life.

From the day we are born we are labeled (human being, baby, boy, girl). From that day forward we continue to be labeled (sister, brother, son, daughter, student) and in turn learn how to apply them on others.

In general, using labels helps us to quickly learn and understand the world around us along with making it easier to communicate. Trying to describe a tall organism with a brownish hard center structure, woody limbs with green foliage would go much faster and easier if we were just call it by the label assigned to it: tree.

On the one hand labels save us time; on the other hand, they can make us lazy and often times hurtful, especially when it comes to other people…where labeling turns into stereotyping.

Two sides of the stereotyping coin need to be explored here:

  1. when we label and stereotype other people
  2. when other people label and stereotype us

Have we ever formed an opinion about someone just because of their…

  • gender
  • age (youth, middle aged, elderly)
  • race
  • religion
  • politics
  • culture
  • appearance
  • job title
  • money or lack thereof
  • sexual orientation
  • health status (physical, mental, emotional)
  • food choices (vegetarian, meat-eater)
  • lifestyle choices
  • nationality
  • neighborhood
  • profession
  • friends
  • family

On the other hand, have we been on the receiving end of stereotyping where people judged us solely by one of these aforementioned labels without ever taking the time to really know us? Did we accept these labels as gospel, thus setting up self-sabotaging limits to subconsciously prove these labels true? How much of our negative actions can be attributed to the shame we feel for buying into these labels?

An example for me is the “artist” label; in particular the idea that you can’t make a living as an artist. It still amazes me when people ask me what I do for my real job? Can you imagine going up to a lawyer to ask her what her real job is?

Because I bought into this particular aspect of the “artist” label, I find that I have struggled with making a living doing my art. I’ve looked at how I sabotaged my efforts in order to fulfill this artist label. Now that I realize this, I can change my beliefs and allow myself to be my full potential as an artist.

Now this begs the following questions:

  • In what areas of our lives have we bought into the labels that have been assigned to us?
  • In what ways do we limit ourselves from being our full potential just because we decided to believe a label to be true?
  • Are we willing to defy the labels in order to be our full potential?

Need some inspiration from those who defied their labels?

  • Erik Weihenmayer: blind, climbed Mount Everest
  • Helen Keller: deaf & blind, author, political activist, and lecturer
  • Lauren Kornacki: 22 year old female college student, lifted car to save her dad
  • Diana Nyad: 64 year old woman, swam from Cuba to Florida
  • Nelson Mandela: first black South African to hold the office of President of South Africa, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election.

This month’s section asks us to explore both sides of the stereotyping issue. Chances are we’ve experienced both. Now is the time to become aware of how much we judge others only by their labels and how much we judge and limit ourselves for the labels we believe to be true about ourselves.

May you find clarity, understanding, and acceptance while coloring the last section of the 2013 Mandala of the Year.

joyfully,

Maureen, The Mandala Lady
www.facebook.com/TheMandalaLady

Be sure to download/color the December 2013 Mandala of the Month.

Amazingly powerful books by Dr. Brené Brown (I’ve read all 3):

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2013: Section 11

2013 MotY: Section 11

2013 MotY: Section 11

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For those of you following along with this year’s theme, section 11 focuses on “Surviving Trauma”  from the twelve categories of shame list created by Dr. Brené Brown. Her research on shame-resilience and vulnerability demonstrates for us all, how and why to live a wholehearted life.

When it comes to surviving trauma, it really comes down to two simple options: we can choose to continue as victims or we can find a way to rise above it. As Dr. Brown states, we can come from place of powerlessness (stuck) or from a place of hope (resilience).

From Guidepost #3 of her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, she states that the very foundation of resilience is spirituality which she defines as:

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.”

Along with spirituality were these three other factors:

  1. cultivating hope
  2. practicing critical awareness
  3. letting go of numbing and taking the edge off vulnerability, discomfort, and pain.

For more on this topic, please read both of these Dr. Brown books: The Gift of Imperfection and Daring Greatly

And by all means…if you are struggling at all with surviving trauma of any kind, please seek professional help and care. While what we offer here in this post is a good start, it’s always best to work with professionals.

May you find some comfort in coloring this month’s section of the 2013 Mandala of the Year.

joyfully,

Maureen, The Mandala Lady
www.facebook.com/TheMandalaLady

Be sure to download/color the November 2013 Mandala of the Month.

Amazingly powerful books by Dr. Brené Brown (I’ve read all 3):

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2013: Section 10

2013 MotY: Section 10

2013 MotY: Section 10

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For those of you following along with this year’s theme, section 10 focuses on “Speaking Out”  from the twelve categories of shame list created by Dr. Brené Brown. Her research on shame-resilience and vulnerability demonstrates for us all, how and why to live a wholehearted life.

How often have we held back from speaking out for fear of what others would say or do? Or worse, that they fail to even hear our message?

From another perspective, how often have we judged and/or shamed others for their efforts at speaking out? How dare they? Right?

And from yet another perspective, how often have we spoken out when our motive for doing so came from a place of wanting to hurt others?

The three key components for this section:

  1. Allowing ourselves to speak our truth, from a place of truth
  2. Allowing others to speak their truth, from their place of truth
  3. Letting go of our fear of how others will react…trying to control the reactions of others is as futile as trying to pick up water with a fork

In order for us to speak our truth, we must reconnect with and recognize who we really are, letting go of the veils of false personas and fears that hide the precious gems that we really are inside. By allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in this way, we free ourselves from the burden of maintaining these illusionary veils.

Yes, we risk the backlash of others for whom our words trigger their own burdensome veils. And yet when we come from a place of truth, most people will stop and take note, connecting with us on an energetic level…recognizing the truth about us and ultimately about themselves. From there they can either run and hide or be inspired to discover and speak their own truth.

One way to reconnect with the truth about ourselves, is to be ever present as we go about our day, determining whether what we are doing, being, saying is really who we are. Do we really believe what we’re saying/doing/being? Do we know if it’s the truth about us or just a role we’re playing out to make others feel safe or good about themselves?

Ponder this as you color this month’s section of the 2013 Mandala of the Year.

when we speak our truth,
we allow others to do the same

Happy Coloring!

joyfully,

Maureen, The Mandala Lady
www.facebook.com/TheMandalaLady

Be sure to download/color the October 2013 Mandala of the Month.

Amazingly powerful books by Dr. Brené Brown (I’ve read all 3):

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2013: Section 9

Section 9, 2013 Mandala of the yearDownload 2013: Section 9

For those of you following along with this year’s theme, section 9  focuses on “religion”  from the twelve categories of shame list created by Dr. Brené Brown. Her research on shame-resilience and vulnerability demonstrates for us all, how and why to live a wholehearted life.

Where do we even begin with this category. Actually the idea of “religion” is quite neutral and simple: the service and worship of God (or name of your choosing). It’s we humans who have given it all its power both negatively and positively.

For each of us our childhood experiences with religion can vary anywhere from having little exposure, if any, to the other end of the spectrum where it was all encompassing to the point of being controlling, obsessive, oppressive, and/or excessive…even to the point of causing harm to others in the name of religion and/or God.

As adults our attitudes towards/against religion are mainly based on said childhood experiences. Some of us tend to change our minds as we enter adulthood and start to question our faith or lack thereof. Some may even question if God really exists. While others go on spiritual quests to find the meaning of their existence on earth. And still others are so confident in their faith/religion that they find peace and comfort in the religion of their childhood.

As you ponder (and color) this month’s section of the 2013 Mandala of the Year, consider your answers to some, or all, of these questions:

  • Did you grow up in a religious household?
  • If yes, what role did it play in your everyday life? How did it help? What, if any, were the downsides of growing up in a religious household?
  • If not, do you feel like you missed out on being part of a religious community?
  • Did you grow up attending a faith-based school?
  • If so, what was that like for you? Any positive effects? Any negative effects?
  • How much is religion a part of your life today?
  • Do you belong to any particular religion or faith group?
  • If you practice a particular religion, what do you like about it? what, if anything, would you like to see changed?
  • Do you believe there’s a difference between being religious and being spiritual?
  • Have you had any exposure to religions other than your own? If so, which ones? How was that experience?
  • Do you still practice the religion of your childhood?
  • If not, do you belong to another religion?
  • Do you consider yourself an atheist? why?
  • Do you consider yourself an agnostic? why?
  • How important is your religion/faith to you today?

If you think of any other questions that would be helpful to add to this list, please enter it into a comment below.

Happy Coloring!

joyfully,

Maureen, The Mandala Lady
www.facebook.com/TheMandalaLady

Be sure to download/color the September 2013 Mandala of the Month.

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2013: Section 8

2013 Mandala of the Year: Section 8Download 2013: Section 8

For those of you following along with this year’s theme, section 8 focuses on the “aging” category from the twelve categories of shame list created by Dr. Brené Brown. Her research on shame-resilience and vulnerability demonstrates for us all, how and why to live a wholehearted life.

So this is an interesting one for me because this fall I start the next decade in my life…60′s. That just seems so ridiculous to me…how can that be? When I look in the mirror my body betrays the much younger age I feel inside.

Anyway, with this section’s topic we take a look at aging and what it means to us individually and collectively. Some questions to ponder…

  • how does the idea of aging affect you, if at all?
  • do you have people close to you who role model the positive aspects of aging or the negative ones?
  • do you ever find yourself negatively judging people who are much older or much younger than you?
  • have you experienced others negatively judging you because of your age?
  • does your current lifestyle support a longer, healthier life, or a shorter, health-burdened life?
  • how does the western “culture of youth” affect your life choices and how you feel about yourself?
  • are you resisting the aging process by doing all you can to look younger?
  • how does aging affect your self-worth?
  • do you wish you were younger or older?
  • have you found a way to be okay with aging? [please share :-) ]
  • do you plan to go with the flow when it comes to aging or are you going to fight it kicking and screaming all the way?
  • what are your thoughts on your own mortality?

Feel free to come up with whatever issues, perspectives, and ideas that best help you process this month’s topic of aging.

Happy Coloring!

joyfully,

Maureen, The Mandala Lady
www.facebook.com/TheMandalaLady

Be sure to download/color the August 2013 Mandala of the Month.

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2013: Section 7

2013: Section 7

2013: # 7

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For those of you following along with this year’s theme, section 7 focuses on the “sex” category from the twelve categories of shame list created by Dr. Brené Brown. Her research on shame-resilience and vulnerability demonstrates for us all, how and why to live a wholehearted life.

Sex can be a loaded topic on so many levels…whether we’re talking about the act of sex or sex as in gender…and every combination in between.

Regardless of age, sex affects everyone to some degree. As children little brothers and sisters sometimes become aware that they have different body parts…they compare notes…so to speak. Children find out early on that depending on their sex/gender their toys, their clothes, and their colors are usually different.  And, depending on the household environment they also learn how little girls are to behave and how little boys are to behave…also different.

Over the years some of these differences have begun to blur. As more parents become open to allowing their children to be who they are regardless of society norms, the separation of toys, roles, clothing and colors has diminished.

I know for me as a girl, I wanted the lincoln logs, the airplane models, and other “male” type toys. Instead I received kitchen sets, dolls, and “housewife” toys…which may explain my aversion to my role as a typical “housewife”…much to the dismay, I fear, of my husband.

This brings up the whole issue of sexual orientation and how that factors into how we relate to each other as individuals and in relationships. How does this figure into your life experience?

Then we come to the “act of sex”, sexual intercourse, making love, sleeping with someone, and all the other names we give it. How we were raised around the idea of the “act of sex” definitely figures into our attitudes and perspectives on sex.

I learned about sex from one of my girlfriends who learned about it from a boy down the street. My mother, unfortunately, had trouble even talking to me about menstruation (which I learned about from a girl scout mini-movie)…how could she bring herself to talk to me about sex? From her (the Catholic Church and the nuns) I learned that sex was dirty and bad until you got married. So when I got married for the first time, I expected the Holy Spirit to appear and magically make something that was bad now be okay…needless to say, it didn’t happen that way. Adios to my first marriage.

I’m sure we all have our stories to tell on how we learned about the birds and bees and our early to current encounters with sex. Feel free to share in the comments below.

So while coloring this month’s section of the MotY, I’ve come up with some questions for you to ponder and explore:

  • How did you find out about sex?
  • What was it like for you growing up as a girl/boy?
  • How does your current age factor into the idea of sex?
  • Do you feel like you’re treated differently because of your gender or sexual orientation?
  • What does it mean to you to be straight?
  • What does it mean to you to be gay?
  • What does it mean to you to be a girl/female/woman?
  • What does it mean to you to be a boy/male/man?
  • How did your parents relate to each other sexually? Was it open? Was it “not in front of the children”? Somewhere in between?
  • Does religion factor into your perspective of your gender?
  • Does religion factor into your attitudes towards the act of sex?
  • How important is sex to you? and in your relationship(s)?

I realize we could do a full year mandala on this topic with each section representing a different aspect of sex (gender and act). For now, it’s only this one section.

Hopefully you’ll be able to have fun with this one as you color “sex”tion 7 of the 2013 Mandala of the Year.

Happy Coloring!

joyfully,

Maureen, The Mandala Lady
www.facebook.com/TheMandalaLady

Be sure to download/color the July 2013 Mandala of the Month.

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2013: Section 6

2013 MotY: Section 6

2013 MotY: Section 6

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For those of you following along with this year’s theme, section 6 focuses on the “mental and physical health, including addiction” category from the twelve categories of shame list created by Dr. Brené Brown. Her research on shame-resilience and vulnerability demonstrates for us all, how and why to live a wholehearted life.

“Health” is something we tend to overlook and take for granted when we’re healthy (or at least think we’re healthy) and then it becomes all-consuming  when it goes awry.

It’s usually pretty obvious when something goes wrong with our physical health. Mental health is a bit more challenging to assess within ourselves. When something is off,  we may be in denial or oblivious to it. In our defense we think it must be something outside of ourselves that is causing us all this pain and misery. Finding the cause of it can be scary and daunting. Asking for help can be even scarier.

Speaking from experience, when living with poor mental health becomes even more frightening than the cure, asking for help becomes a whole lot easier. I can honestly say that the quality of my life is SO much better now than it was 25 years ago. It’s been quite an amazing journey (and still is).

When it comes to addictions, it’s even more challenging to recognize because we usually have to hit rock bottom before we realize we have a problem…even though loved ones may have been saying so for years.

Section 6 asks us to take an honest look at our overall health and well-being. Here are just a few questions to help us start exploring this idea.

  1. How is our physical health?
  2. Is there anything we can do to improve it?
  3. Are there things we do that sabotage our health?
  4. If so, what? why?
  5. What is the state of our mental health? Peaceful? Excitable? Tense? Joyful? Irritable? Depressed?
  6. Is there anything we can do to improve it?
  7. Do we recognize any type of addictive behavior in our day-to-day lives?
  8. Is there some thing or some activity that we crave that we would find really challenging to go without for just 24 hours?
  9. If we say “I can quit anytime” knowing full well that to continue with it lowers our quality of life, alienating us from our loved ones, why are we still doing it?
  10. Are we willing to ask for help?

When it comes to mental health, there’s also the social taboo about being mentally ill. We as a society have trouble looking at it and often turn the other way. When it comes to depression we often want to say to those suffering from it to “get over it” or “pull yourself up” or “snap out of it”. For some that may be enough, for others it takes more than a slogan.

We as a society and as individuals we need to show more compassion for those suffering from mental illness…and we start by showing it to ourselves for we’ve all experienced it to some degree at some point in our lives.

When it comes to improving our overall health, we have to start from someplace and the place to start is by taking an honest assessment of our state of being. Then…

embrace what is* and change what we can

As you color this month’s section, let’s ponder our overall health and well-being. Being grateful for what we already have going for us while seeking ways to improve those areas in need of our loving care and attention.

Happy Coloring!

joyfully,

Maureen, The Mandala Lady
www.facebook.com/TheMandalaLady

 for help with the idea of “what is”…read the universal reading on “it is what it is”

Be sure to download/color the June 2013 Mandala of the Month.

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