The Year of Your Heart’s Desire

The-Year-of-Your-Heart's-Desire

“…the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language.” Wikipedia

Happy New Year! The Year of Your Heart’s Desire is a timely reblog from 2011. Make 2014 the year of your heart’s desire!

by Andrea Chilcote

Have you made a New Year’s resolution? If so, stop right now and notice how it feels to you.

Did you sigh wistfully, thinking “the party’s over soon,” or sense a need to buck up and get discipline? Did the feeling energize you—or deflate you? It’s estimated that only 10% of New Year’s resolutions are achieved. And it’s no wonder, given that they are often uninspired.

The Latin root of the word resolution is resolutionem the process of reducing things into simpler forms, loosening or “unbinding.” In his Word Power blog, Gregory Rineberg points out that in the last 500 or so years, we have used the word resolution to mean just the opposite ‒ holding firm in determination, resolute in pursuing a course of action.

Perhaps we can take a lesson from etymology. Consider as a metaphor the loosening or unbinding of your passions and true desires before taking resolved action. In my last post, I spoke of how intuition can work in tandem with our clever mind to manifest success if we allow our heart to take the lead. “Here is what I want and need,” we say from the higher self, our creative center, and then the mind responds, “Okay, let’s figure out how to get that for you ‒ here’s the right action step to take.”

When we lead with our head vs. our heart, we pursue faux goals. A faux goal is a pursuit disguised as noble, but does not truly reflect our heart’s desire. Many New Year’s resolutions fall into this category. Of course, it sounds honorable to start exercising, get organized or save money… but what’s the real reason for taking these actions? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my goal or resolution reflect a “should”‒ something I think or have been told I should do?
  • Is the goal more important to someone else than it is to me?
  • Does the thought of doing or achieving it give me energy or take the wind out of my sails?
  • Have I pursued this before without lasting success?

Sometimes we formulate resolutions as some sort of punishment for our supposed failures (“I ate too many holiday desserts…” or “I took too much time off…”). A goal born out of regret is handicapped from the start.

Examine Your Goals
What higher purpose is achieved when you get what you say you want? It that your true heart’s desire?

Recently, I met a man who was preparing for a second heart bypass surgery. He was disciplined enough to exercise regularly and eat a heart-healthy diet, yet 15 years after the first surgery, he had to endure it again. I asked him where he got the courage and resolve. His reply, “I have five grandchildren and I want to be here as they grow up.”

Take Inspired Action
Lead from your heart. Decide first what you desire, what purpose you are pursuing, then, and only then, define the action steps. Test the actions with the question, “What will that get me?” and include positive effects as well as negative ones ‒ before resolving to achieve them. A helpful hint regarding purposeful action: you’ll know it when you feel it, not when you think it.

Our new book, “Erik’s Hope,” is the culmination of my 13-year pursuit to share the lessons of a shelter dog named Erik with the rest of the world. The goal of publication has been achieved, and at the same time, the journey is just now beginning. I have never been filled with more resolve to have this story reach others who can consider and apply the lessons in ways that transform their own lives. My resolve is born out of my deep knowledge that this experience with Erik, this message of hope and inspiration, is purpose-based. It’s one of the things I’m here to do in this life, and it gives me joy.

So go ahead, resolve to lose weight, save for retirement or leave work earlier. These are noble pursuits for sure. But first ask yourself the question, “What will that get me?” If the answer fills you with passion, if you feel a sense of purpose or meaning, you’re on the road to success.

This life we are leading here on planet Earth is finite. While it’s fleeting by eternal standards, we all are here now for a reason. Make 2012 the year of your heart ‘s desire.

Being Present

Erik's Hope

Kairos at home

by Andrea Chilcote

I am on my way from Arizona to Toronto, sans winter coat. This is despite having purchased a new down-filled dress coat just last week while in New York, in the midst of yet another experience of being ill prepared for winter wind chills.

So the question I am asking myself is this: “Was I so present to the mild winter pre-dawn in Cave Creek that I didn’t realize I left the house in just a light business jacket (didn’t realize it until entering the airport actually), or was I consumed by a cluttered mind, flotsam and jetsam taking the space allotted for clear thinking?”

I’m going with the latter, the former being an admittedly clever rationalization. Despite a life-long commitment to staying present in the moment, I still succumb to the pull of my analytical mind, oblivious to my surroundings or the task at hand.

Some view being present as a virtue. I don’t see it that way. In my opinion, it’s just an available choice, a minute-by-minute choice as to how to walk through one’s day. It’s a way of fully engaging in life’s joyful moments as well as managing inevitable stressors. And it’s a requirement for true connection with other human beings.

The dogs teach me the lesson of presence anytime I’m awake enough to notice. Those familiar with the story of the sand dollars in our new book Erik’s Hope will recall how I learned to access my creative intuition through Erik’s gift of a day of play on a beach in South Carolina, as well as how I learned to truly treasure precious time with him when the end was near.

That lesson is ongoing. When Amigo suddenly became ill in January of this year, he required intense care. We had hope that he would recover, and of course I wanted to be with him; offering the kind of care only a mother could give. I have a vivid memory of sitting on my bathroom floor as dear Dr. Kit tended to him shortly after surgery. We began to talk of my travel schedule that week, and what I would do. I stopped mid-sentence and said: “I cannot worry about Wednesday, or even tomorrow. I can only manage right now, and now, today, I am here, available and present.” That philosophy carried me for three months as Amigo rallied and regressed until his inevitable death. People came along to help when needed and things got done, as they always do. I look back on times like this in my life (and there have been a few this year) and wonder where my stamina came from. I am certain that I channeled my energy wisely, allowing only the matter at hand to matter.

Erik's Hope

Erik's Hope In Kairos

The mind is a useful yet tricky tool. Our capacity for conceptualizing, analyzing and calculating is unrivaled in the animal kingdom, and this ability easily seduces our attention away from the matter at hand. It can craft fears and contingencies, and infer meanings that do not exist. Or it can be a brilliant partner to the creative process. Working in tandem, it’s as if our heart says “Here’s what I want and need,” and our mind says, “Okay, let’s figure out how to get that for you.”

This summer, a wise friend met my new pup, Kairos. She said “Andrea, Kairos has an important purpose in your life. He is here to help you tame your ‘eagle mind,’ and remind you to lead with your heart.” One need only look into the depths of his blue eyes to understand that is true.

Yes, I am willing to allow my heart to take the lead. And perhaps I’ll remember my coat on the next trip.

Order for your Kindle or Nook. Meet us at one of our book signings events (check back often for more dates.)

Do you have the capacity to love in the midst of loss?

Erik's Hopeby Andrea Chilcote

Today as I awoke, I was struck by the quickening occurring in my life and the lives of those around me. I am in awe of the physical, emotional and spiritual resilience we are demonstrating in the face of challenges and change.

My dear friend, Amigo, left the earth on April 27. Sweet Kairos showed up in my life just two weeks later on May 12, and arrived home at Morningstar six weeks after that. Since then, many have asked me, “How can you love a puppy so soon after Amigo’s passing?”

My answer is the same each time I’m asked. Loving Kairos does not diminish my grief for the loss of Amigo. I have the capacity to love in the midst of loss, maintain faith in moments of fear, and laugh while I cry. All of us have this capacity and it’s being strengthened by the roller coaster experience of life in 2011.

Since Amigo’s departure and Kairos’ arrival, my husband miraculously survived emergency heart bypass surgery and our new book, Erik’s Hope, was released. Asked many times how I was feeling, my answers included anxiety and anger as well as relief and exhilaration. What has prevailed? Faith, love and gratitude.

In midst of any suffering, there is joy to be found in our lives. I am not referring to the metaphorical “silver lining” that accompanies what appear to be negative experiences. Oh, silver linings indeed exist, though they usually show themselves much later, a result of mental perspective rather than emotional experience. Kairos’ arrival was not a silver lining in Amigo’s death. Rather, it was a rich reminder of the range of experiences available when we stop, look, listen—and feel. When we open our eyes and hearts fully, we can access all that our lives contain, present and potential.

On Thanksgiving Day, we ceremoniously retired Amigo’s harness and spread a portion of his ashes in a remote area of our beloved Cave Creek. Twice, when I was overcome by the emotion of remembering Amigo’s love for that spot and longed to have him there with me, Kairos, (out of character, even though he’s a pup) acted the clown and provided comic relief.

Kairos, like many children, puts everything he sees into his mouth. Fortunately not all is swallowed, but most is at least tasted. As I was digging a hole to bury Amigo’s harness in sand and rocks, Kairos buried his face in the sand. He emerged, his white face masked with black granules, with a prized weed hanging from both sides of his mouth. “Look Mom,” his innocent and earnest eyes said. “I can help you find what you’re looking for. Was it this?”

I was reminded in that moment that one can experience gut-wrenching loss, take in the heady beauty of a pristine natural setting, accept the warm love of a friend, and laugh out loud at the antics of an innocent young dog. All at once, each contributed to the experience of the precious present moment and none was more important than the other.

Erik’s Hope chronicles my awakening to simple feelings; feelings that had been buried deep in the sand of my consciousness.  It took raw grief to jolt me alive again. I feel truly alive today as I draw upon my own creative intuition to guide me through the rapids. We are being bombarded by experiences and the lesson appears to be, simply, to experience them. Life vests on, enjoy the ride!