The return of the sun...and my word of the year...

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"Within each of us there is a silence, a silence as vast as the universe. And when we experience that silence, we remember who we are."
~Gunilla Norris

As we welcome the Winter Solstice, the sun transitions into Capricorn (my sun sign!), and we welcome the return of the sun! This is a potent time for rebirth; and the slow, symbolic awakening from darkness into the light. Our emergence from hibernation is slow, steady...deliberate. As we stretch and grow into the next season, the sun brings with it, hope; and warms the seeds that we plant this season to burst forth and bloom in the seasons ahead.  

And on the heels of the solstice, comes New Years; where we gather together to welcome in a fresh start. A new beginning. Reflecting on the past, we celebrate all the wonderful moments we had...and are also grateful for all we learned from the hard times in the past year.

Looking forward to the future, we express our hopes and intentions for the new year; showing gratitude for life and another chance to better ourselves and the world around us.

So, have you thought about your "word of the year"?
What intentions will you set for the next turn of the sun? Mindfulness? Balance? Transformation? Surrender? These are just a few words you could choose to empower you! There are no rules! But it is important to take this sacred and symbolic time, to realign our vibration and reconnect with our inner wisdom; and choosing a word of intention can help empower us through the year ahead! After some meditation, I chose "TOGETHER". There is so much we can good we can create together. So much light we can bring to darkness. So much healing we can bring to pain; if only we connect and create it together. Connection is what my heart deeply knows to be what many of us need right now in order to heal so many wounds of the earth and of humanity.

Together we stand strong.
Together we tear down walls.
Together we burn bridges and build new ones.
Together we change the world.
Together we fucking RISE.
They don't know that together we ARE the lotus...
rising slowly through the darkness.

So my intention is to show up. TOGETHER. To create beauty. To create connection, communication and healing. To create change. To do what *I* can do WITH my fellow humans to create a better world for all of us. This is my commitment to myself and my fellow humans.

And just as we create intentions for new beginnings, we must know what to release from the past. We are not the same as we were last year, and we won't be the same next year. We are continually evolving. We must release what we are in order to become who we are meant to be. This year, let us step into a new story. We must ask ourselves what we need to let go of this season; and what seeds we want to plant for the year ahead?

Let us take this time to set our intentions and watch as the year unfolds.  What word or words will you choose to empower you through the next turn around the sun? I would love to hear yours!  

My hope for us is that somehow, someway, we find some kind of beauty in our transitions; in the metaphorical thresholds of ourselves and humanity. No matter what, let's try to find some way to celebrate...because, LIFE! Let us LIVE while we are alive and LOVE because it is the purpose and what we will return to. I hope everyone has a wonderful year ahead!

Whatever you do...
Live, laugh, love
Eat the cheesecake
Have the glass of wine
Dream from your heart
Create adventures
Choose forgiveness, choose love, choose hope. 
Choose life.

"May the long time sun shine upon you, ALL love surround you, and the pure LIGHT within you, guide your way on."~ Blessing


I Love You,
Natasha

Love notes...ebb & flow...

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"Nature has a way of reminding us, that all things great and small,
ebb and flow in rhythm with the heartbeat of her call.”~ Gabriella Goddard

There is something about the snowfall; the cleanse in the winter. A reminder of the ebb and flow of seasons and of life. To savor all it's moments in all their forms. And yet winter still reminds us...that there will be a spring.

Not allowing things to ebb and flow creates resistance. It has taken me all year to finally get into a space where I have been able to cultivate some flow and mmmm it feels so good! It is amazing how when you ALLOW things to flow and just work with where you are in the moment, things really start flowing better! There is a lot less tension, resistance, therefore a lot less anxiety.

How do you honor your own ebb and flow? How will you honor your heartbeat this season? What seeds will you plant this winter, to come alive in the spring? I would love for you to share with me!

Happiness & Love,
Natasha

Turn on the light...

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"As a child, I never imagined that all of the real monsters in the world would be humans."~ Mobeen Hakeem

We tell our children that monsters only exist in the darkness and that to make them disappear and not live in fear, all you need to do is to turn on the light. 

But the only true and living, breathing monsters live within us; in the dark places of our hearts...whether by nature, nurture or trauma. So what shall we do to rid ourselves of our monsters?...

The answer to the problem is the same. To acknowledge the fear, stare them down as we turn the light on our darkness...our monsters. To realize they first exist in our own minds and hearts, and then make their way into the world, destroying everything in their path. Until we shine a light on them, on ourselves, our monsters will always be lurking in the shadows.

It's time to invite them to speak with us; ask them the questions. Get the answers. And begin to heal. 

Happiness & Love,
Natasha

Humanity is our responsibility...

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Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth and your heart for love."~ Unknown

Repeat after me... "I do NOT have to quiet my voice...to be peaceful." We can be both peaceful beings and as well, moved to action by the inhumanity we see in the world around us. To be peaceful because we block out the suffering of others is a symptom of privilege. We absolutely CAN love all those around us and send them peace while honoring the fact that we are pissed off and WILL do something to change things in our world. Humanity is our responsibility. And LOVE is humanity in action.

Humanity is being human on a COLLECTIVE level. To say that we LOVE, we must begin thinking and FEELING in a collective way, not in our singular and selfish ways. Can we push past the self? Leave our egos at the door? Can we love as one entity? All our parts and hearts working together for the greater good? I have to believe that we can get there.

Happiness & Love,
Natasha

Love notes...

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I meet myself daily knowing that I am human and will fuck shit up and do some shit right; hopefully the positive outweighs the negative. In the moments when I struggle to know what to do, I think to myself...are my heart and intentions pure? Are my intentions matching my actions? The truth is, that is not always the case. I can be bitchy and self-righteous and stubborn as hell. I can also be very caring and have a great capacity to love, as we all do and I have forgiven some seriously heinous shit. But when I know that my heart and intentions are pure and matching up with my actions, I am at peace knowing I am right where I need to be in this moment. Imperfect and trying to journey to my heart. Everyday, I have to knock on that door and listen for the answers.                                                                    

Happiness & Love,
Natasha

Finding home...

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In every life under suns and moons-
I seem to remember your face.
Are you wondering and wandering like me?
A heart without a home?

Come and take a walk with me…
as the night falls-
under a lovers moon.
Walk the sands of lands unseen…
oceans at our feet.

Take me to a place where I come to know you.
To a place where love is made...
...and kept.

We can run from lighthouses-
hearts as free
as the surf crashing against the shoreline
the salt of flesh and heart coming home...

Under the sun
Under the moon
I will find you there.


 

Natasha Mandel (written: May 2017)

Love notes...

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Always step into your truth. Always speak your heart. Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts. Especially when it is scary. There, in that space, a gentle but powerful force resides and rises. THAT...is you. The real you. I know it is scary, oh my do I know. But it heals. And it is so beautiful. Let it come out of the shadows. Don't hide that shit.


Happiness & Love,
Natasha

 

Forgive...not forget...

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"I do forgive, I don't forget these things...I do forgive, I don't forget these things..."~ Nahko and Medicine for the People

On forgiving and forgetting...

There is an ocean of difference between forgiveness and forgetfulness.

Forgiveness allows for forward movement; for a ray of goodness, of correction, to come from all our fuck-ups and failings as humans. Forgetfulness allows so much space for those same failings to spin right back into our reality; as a circle that meets back up with itself...lessons will keep appearing until the student is ready to learn.

Each of us will be a part of both of these; the forgiving and the fucking up. 
May we forgive ourselves and others, yet may we remember and NOT forget, the lessons within these things...

Happiness & Love,
Natasha

Humanity is our responsibility...

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"As Human Beings, We Have To Help Each Other, You Know?"~ Mohamed Bzeek

Our spirituality or philosophies do not absolve us from speaking out about social and political issues that are a concern to humanity.

If anything, they should call us to fight for humanity and to prove our spiritual and philosophical practices stand up to these universal tests. Otherwise our spiritual and philosophical ideals are not practices, and ring hollow.

I try to focus on love and positivity, and again I am human and sometimes when fighting for humanity, I can come across as harsh, but it is more my passion that drives me. I want to cut to the heart of things. I hope you all can see that. I've gotten a little push back on my personal social media pages for standing up for humanity because some people close to me think I am stuck in my point of view. In some respects, they are correct. While I will always try to realign and focus us all (including myself) back to love and healing, these push backs only reaffirm my passion and purpose for standing on the side of humanity. Honestly, in a way I'm kind of grateful for these kinds of push back conversations. It is painful but as well further solidifies that I will not back down in this reLOVEution. I'm not going to sit idly by as humans fight for their right to exist without harm; I won't sit back and say nothing when people are systematically dying at the hands of others. And I can totally live with the fact that. I won't stand for that. In order to heal, we need to be willing to face dark truths as often as we bring the light. It's a delicate balance we must remain in. I hope you'll stay with me on this journey. 

All love,
Natasha

Untitled...

I do not understand
those
who do not feel things intensely. 
Have you not lived?
Have you not loved?
Have you not tasted the salt
of poetry
as it slips from your tongue?
Have you not known sacred things...
and dark things? 
What is life
and what is love?
And how do you know...
what it feels like...
to breathe deeply
to feel the full expanse of heart
against your rib cage?
When you have not known
all of these things in such a way
that it is the very truth of life
birthing starlight
under your skin...




Natasha Mandel (written : November 3rd, 2017)

Love notes...what if...

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We all seem to wait until our last days to seek forgiveness; to do right by each other. What if we simply lived and loved that way? Didn't do things that needed forgiven? Lived to do right by each other?

What would that life look like? Because I think THAT would feel light. And I think THAT would look like LOVE. 

Photography by @dincturk. Thank you for capturing diversity in photographic art. 


 

Happiness & Love,
Natasha

Found

We are the storytellers...
Learning the language of love.
Ripping through sinew of heart...
Cutting to the bone.
Sweet darkness swallow us whole.
Take us into your arms, we are not afraid.
For we are not from this place, take us home. 
Let us journey to some other sunrise, 
where leaves grow into trees.
There, we will be found.




Natasha Mandel (written : September 5th, 2017)

Love notes...

"Humble your heart. Futures are crumbling at the feet of ego."~ The Art of a Happy Heart

While meditating this morning, these words came into my minds eye. Feels appropriate.

Let us think to ourselves how we can humble our hearts when speaking to each other.

Just a little love note from my heart to yours! 
Share the love, share this image. Tag @theartofahappyheart! 

Happiness & Love,
Natasha

Love notes...

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"NORMALIZE being kind."~ The Art of a Happy Heart

Some simple wisdom for your Wednesday! I am ALL for gratitude and being appreciative. I do believe that gratitude and kindness has the possibility to completely change the hardest of hearts!...but have you ever noticed that sometimes kindness seems so RARE that we find it to be extraordinary?!?!?!

A little story...while at a festival a few weeks ago with @kyaracreations, we met our festival neighbor selling at the tent next to us. It was a very hot day and this nice man forgot to bring water. Britt shared a few bottles of water so he would be hydrated throughout the day. He was sooo grateful, that he thanked her over and over again! It was truly very sweet and he seemed like a very nice person, and it all felt really good taking CARE of each other. But he was sooo grateful for freaking WATER!!! Don't get me wrong, I know many countries, and even cities in the states (Flint, Michigan!!!! <---) lack clean water...but let us normalize kindness! And care for one another and help when we can. Not only for the feeling we get from gratitude, but because we care about doing what is RIGHT and good for each other.

How can you normalize kindness today? In what way can you do something good because it is the right thing to do? 

Just a little love note from my heart to yours! 
Share the love, share this image. Tag @theartofahappyheart and show the world that we stand together in kindness and care for one another!

"As Human Beings, We Have To Help Each Other, You Know?"~ Mohamed Bzeek

Happiness & Love,
Natasha

Journeying hOMe to the Heart...

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DeLICATE PORTRAITS PHOTOGRAPHY

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DeLICATE PORTRAITS PHOTOGRAPHY

"There is no ME, without YOU.", he whispered...

And just like that, all those old choruses of broken voices in my mind said,
"shhhhh. You are enough."

And I was standing on the doorstep of my heart; it's chamber doors unlocked and flung open.
All the lights were still on as if they had been awaiting my return.

And I was home.




Natasha Mandel (written : May 29th, 2017)

Free From These Pages

As blue moons rise
and red suns fall

when sleep can't find me late into the night
into the mornings hush

I know it is because I am awake
and there's no time for sleep
in times like these

cutting through lies
and history

the evidence
blood
and poetic warfare
running down the pages of old books

A moment will come
when we are nothing left
but bone and ash

no flesh to hold or hearts to thrash
against rib cages
against these bird cages...

...free from these pages




Natasha Mandel (written : May 29th, 2017)