Smash Those Paradigms


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
-Theodore Roosevelt

The above quote is from a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910, but I was introduced to it by reading a new book by Dr. Brene Brown titled Daring Greatly. Dr. Brown is a researcher who has spent years studying shame and how people effectively (or ineffectively) manage it. Her work is fascinating and inspiring. It’s changed her life and literally countless others. Check out her TED talks when you get a moment. Good stuff.

Yesterday at my monthly The Deep Study meditation class, we talked about our personal paradigms. A paradigm is a theory or a group of ideas about how something should be done, made, or thought about. So, personal paradigms are our assumptions about life, and often, they are the very things that hold us back from being ourselves.

I didn’t quite know what to say about my personal paradigms. I felt like I had a thousand to share. But, when it came time to discuss, I stated something that I wasn’t quite expecting. I realized that my most instilled paradigm is that it’s better to “go with the flow” and “not rock the boat” than to voice my thoughts/needs/desires. And, boy, this puts up the most ginormous, reinforced, 25-foot-thick steel wall in terms of Daring Greatly.


How great are those four words? Talk about a paradigm shift. How awesome is it to realize it and see it in writing, in all cap letters…love it.

I’m ready to dare greatly. I’m ready to feel more in my life – more connection, more intimacy, more tingling in my toes when I’m about to do something out of my comfort zone. And, I feel more prepared to take on inevitable failures, criticisms, and “errs.”

Think about joining me…what do we have to lose except staying in the same place.

Posted by Missy Baker, a long-time student of Elesa Commerse.
To contact Missy, email 

Posted Sept. 24, 2012



Creating An Inner Truss


I came across a concept the other day that gave me pause. What can I rely on inside myself that will help when things in my everyday, external life change – change either for the worse or the better?

For me, it’s probably a deep-seated trust in who I am.


Just writing that gives me a sense of awe. How cool would that be?

And, also a belief that my life is important. That I’m not some small, scared little girl anymore. I’ve been searching for a way to “combat” the scared little girl feeling. Maybe “combat” is not the right word. It’s a little too harsh (see previous “personal kindness” post 🙂 ). Counteract is better – some way to neutralize a way of being that no longer serves me. On the flip side (yes, I did just reference Davy Jones. I think from a Brady Bunch episode), I love my inner girl! She celebrates silliness, loves the color pink, and beams like the sun keeping me warm inside.

Can I trust who I am – my inner girl rather than the scared little girl – when life throws me a curve ball? I think I can, and I think it’s because I’ve deliberately chosen to slow down, get quiet, and turn inward on a regular basis. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes.

Posted by Missy Baker, a long-time student of Elesa Commerse.
To contact Missy, email 

Posted Sept. 16, 2012



Personal Kindness


Why are we more kind to other people than we are to ourselves?

When I first had this thought, it blew my mind. Why could I find a seemingly endless well of kindness for friends, family and others, but I could barely find any for myself? It was like a light bulb went off in my head.

A ha! So, that’s a piece of the emotional well-being pie I was missing.

A ha! How crafty and sneaky this way of life can be. This personal harshness had woven its tendrils into my every day life in ways that surprised me…and kind of made me mad. How dare this happen! How could I let this happen? (See – a perfect example of its sneakiness!) So, I would say to myself gently “be kind, be kind, be kind,” and try to feel the words. What happened inside – because I’ve learned that a feeling tells you more about yourself than the mind – was an opening up almost like the unfolding of a flower – that made me physically feel lighter, an opening up that was like a burning beacon of light.

At the end of the day, all I’m trying to do is a live a life that has meaning to me, that makes this beacon of light stay burning. And, paying attention to how my life feels vs. how my brain is rationalizing my life is a whole new way of living for me.

I want to feel kindness toward myself. I need to feel kindness toward myself. This is the only life that I know of – why spend this precious time being unkind to me?

Posted by Missy Baker, a long-time student of Elesa Commerse.
To contact Missy, email 

Posted Sept. 8, 2012


Why I Journal and Meditate


So, I’ve never written a blog before. I’ve written a lot of things for a lot of other people, but never for myself. Unless you count journaling. Journaling is an interesting exercise. I find myself writing all kinds of things: some mundane, some insane…but they are things that my mind is producing and/or things that my spirit needs to express. Journaling helps me fall asleep at night because it helps me, for the most part, understand my day a little better – get some peaks of blue sky through the whirlwind of daily life.

And, ultimately, that helps me live more purposefully – to understand who I am and then, perhaps most importantly, to revel in it. I say most importantly because I’m tired of being emotionally battered around by the word “should.” I say most importantly because I’m tired of being imprisoned by other people’s expectations. I say most importantly because I’m tired of assuming the worst about myself. I’ve made the choice to really understand who I am; to love AND like who I am. It is really, really hard.

Not because I don’t value myself. Not because I’m depressed. But to spend time examining who you are requires strength and perseverance. It’s soooooooo much easier to pick up a book, turn on the tv, call a friend, get on Facebook, play Words with Friends, do laundry, go see a movie, listen to podcasts…I could go on forever.

It’s not so easy to make the conscious decision to carve out 20 minutes of alone time to sit. It’s not so easy to ask the significant other for that 20 minutes where he/she can watch the kids, walk the dog, watch TV without you. And, once you’ve made that request and find yourself with that 20 minutes, it’s not so easy to just be quiet or still. But in that quiet or stillness is exactly where my “shoulds” disappear, my prison doors release, and my assumptions become golden rather than ashen.

For me, finding a sense of purpose or meaning in my life starts with this quiet.

“To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is.” Pema Chodron

Posted by Missy Baker, a long-time student of Elesa Commerse.
To contact Missy, email 

Posted Aug. 15, 2012