“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” These wise words from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; sounds like a New Year’s Resolution.
Just this one promise to ourselves can clear our path to love more deeply, trust more wisely and connect more broadly. Our goals will be bigger, closer, more achievable.
Our egos then can be right-sized, allowing our sense of peace to expand from our inner world to our outer world, enriching our sense of community, sharing and celebrating the common-ness of our different-ness, and contributing to an environment where others can be free to do the same.
So. Here we are – brooms in hand, walking through the door to the future, a new beginning. Sweeping the world together, there’s nothing we can’t clean up.
December 25, 2017
‘Tis the Season
Today is Christmas day. A date celebrated religiously and culturally around the world by people of the Christian faith with gift-giving, gatherings with loved ones and cherished traditions dating back to the time of the birth of Jesus.
A recent survey conducted by Pew Research (Pewresearch.org) states that while 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, the numbers vary relative to precise religious observations, greetings shared with others and historical facts surrounding today.
If we can set aside specifics, rationale and doctrine for the moment, what we will see is a whole season for global celebration of life, love, family and sharing, through presents, feasts and get-togethers.
These celebrations span Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and other observances. The “Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Three Kings Day,” the Chinese New Year broaden the Gregorian calendar celebration of today and New Year’s Day deep into February; in our American tradition that broadening begins in November with Thanksgiving.
Celebrating diversity in these devotions allows us to deepen our connectedness to each other unifying us in the one intent behind all of them: sharing love, regardless of date, identity or history. Laughter, traditions, food, music and stories remind us that this is the season of light and love. And any season can be celebrated when we show up with light and love.
December 18, 2017
Adding “Yet” Changes Everything
|“Have you lived here all your life?” The newcomer asked of a village elder. “Not yet,” replied the wise old woman.
“Yet” – such a little word – alive with big possibilities; “yet” adds promise to everything.
Whatever our circumstances, questions or objectives, whatever we’re striving for is fueled when we add the energy of “yet” to that present moment. The energy of “yet” begins reconciling what seems to be irreconcilable, healing what appears to be broken, and achieving what was once thought out of reach.
When we practice holding the forward view of desired outcomes in our “now” thoughts and intentions, we contribute to our own momentum and begin to realize our potential. We move from “this is the way it is” to “this is what it can be.” That movement softens the edges of polarizing political, economic, family or workplace environments and begins to shift the intractable to the flexible.
“Yet” is an invitation to hear better, imagine bigger, allow more. Adding “yet” changes everything.
December 11, 2017
|“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
How often have we said something like this to ourselves after behaving badly or doing or saying something unwise or unkind? Afterward we replay the scene or the conversation and we think “I could have done that better” or “I didn’t handle that the best way I could have or would have under different circumstances.” We’ve all been there.
Circumstances aren’t always ideal for us to always be our best selves – but that’s when were supposed to be our most vigilant. Maybe we were provoked by a sensitive subject or someone who knows our “buttons.” Then, before we know it, we have gone to the “dark side” realizing too late how quickly and easily we can.
While there wasn’t any real harm done to another – the situation might not necessarily call for an apology or some kind of restitution – ease, forgiveness and resolution with ourselves is probably in order. That process brings us to the self-promise of being more aware and thoughtful next time – because there will always be a “next time.”
Replaying the pain, embarrassment or thoughtlessness of the experience doesn’t help; it only leads to distress, disappointment and self-recrimination, none of which takes us to a higher place. What does help is first extending silent gratitude to the person or situation for allowing us to see our shortcoming, then understanding – not justifying – the reaction to the provocation. We then extend kindness to ourselves the way we would if we were helping another going through the same process.
A wise man once said “The best way to put anything behind us is to go through it.” This “going through” can be painful and slow – but evolving often is. Once we come out on the other side – and we will come out on the other side – we can look back and say with a deep exhale – “Thank you. I’m bigger now, stronger now.”
December 4, 2017
Reversing Life’s Questions
|Dr. Stephen Payne, Founder of “A New Equilibrium” and author of “The Joy of Work” tells us “Whenever you focus on keeping yourself healthy at your inner core, you create new pathways to lead yourself and others to greater success.”
One of the tools Dr. Payne created to stay healthy at our “inner core” is a spiritual mission statement. In this tool he asks us to visualize a gathering a friend, colleague or family member is holding for us to celebrate a personal milestone, birthday or event. What would we want the guests to be saying about who we are, and what difference we made in their lives, families or organizations?
He then asks us to reflect on our strengths, successes and values, giving us a good look at what our ongoing contribution to our environment and public discourse looks like and where that contribution comes from. Are we working from an inner core of generosity, kindness, connectivity and empathy? Or are fear, competition, and separation our foundation for daily living?
When our inner world drives our outer world – instead of the other way around – we line up with one of the basic laws of the universe: expansion. Sharing this inner world health is our contribution to a richer life for everyone – not just ourselves – helping us move from “what do I want from life? to “what does life want from me?”
November 27, 2017
A Little Space Allows for Being
This is the time of year when everything seems to be moving faster – time, people, items, events. Everything’s always moving anyway, but that’s another conversation.
Holidays seem to compress and complicate the to-do lists – the longer the list, the shorter the amount of time we seem to have. Finding some wiggle room in all that compression can be tough – but very rewarding.
Wiggle room is that little space between chores, items on the to-do list, in the clock, and on the calendar. That wiggling space allows for a little more fun, kindness or humor, maybe a little treat or just some rest. Right now, many of us see all that we need to get to, get done, get moving or just get; all this really “gets” us is stressed and pressured, because there will always be more to add to the lists.
Including a little space between the doings allows for being.
That being includes openness, gentleness, softness. It allows us to be more centered and solid. We’re more able to listen longer to someone who needs a compassionate ear, drive more patiently while going from errand to errand, looking for a parking space or while waiting in line at a check-out. We’re more able to smile ask “How are you?” of a clerk or gas station attendant and then really listen to the answer. All this allows us to recognize the gift of the moment and “freeze frame” as Rick Hanson teaches us in Hardwiring Happiness – letting the moment “sink in” and ground us into the gratitude of the experience.
In this season of acceleration and movement if we allow ourselves a little stillness and take a breath, take a moment, and make some wiggle room, we’ll like what we see…we’ll like who we see.
November 20, 2017
Thanks and Giving
|In Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he states “Giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of the Universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the Universe circulating in our lives.”
In our culture, our winter holidays begin around the time of Thanksgiving. As we fulfill our part in this Second Spiritual Law, we begin by giving thanks for what we already have in our lives, and continue the process by considering what we can give to others.
Any heartfelt “Thank you” is an important piece in this dynamic. Feeling “Thank You” tells you, others and the Universe that you are grateful and appreciative. It is this gratitude and appreciation that keep the catalytic flow of creation, abundance and expansion active in our own lives and, through us, offered to the lives of others.
Weaving together the daily “thank you’s” we give through the year supports and strengthens the fabric of who we are. Then gratitude becomes a way of life, a cause for celebration and remembrance all year ’round.
Here’s to us – thanking and giving.
Hereâ€™s to usâ€¦thanking and giving.
November 13, 2017
Expanding Our Comfort Zone
For many of us, knowing what’s coming helps us feel safe. We can explore options, create plans a, b and c, put a lot of “if this, then that” scenarios in place. We do this in our financial lives, our work environments and family dynamics. And if we don’t have the answers or the plans, we can reach for the right people – teachers, professionals, public figures – who can serve as resources to help us navigate the questions. This is our comfort zone – sustaining those of us who are uncomfortable with uncertainty.
And, as a lot of us can attest, none of that works 100% of the time.
What does work is making comfort with uncertainty part of our comfort zone. And that takes place in our inner world.
Our inner world is the truth of who we are, the love, compassion, peace, willingness, openness, connectedness to everything around us. All that is our inner world and it is constant and it is unchanging. Our outer world – work, community, family – is uncertain, changing, subject to upheavals and detours we can’t anticipate and often don’t welcome.
If we let our inner world drive our outer world – not the other way around – we get more comfortable with uncertainty, because we’re leading from a place of strength, constancy, solidity and dependability.
We can get more comfortable with our outer world not because it changes, but because we do. Then our inner world certainty expands our outer world comfort zone; and if we keep expanding our comfort zone, we never have to leave it.
November 6, 2017
Three Little Words
|How many times have we heard from our 24/7 news coverage in recent months that we live in a polarized society? Our global political climate seems to be raging, we are solidly entrenched in what we see as “right” and “wrong,” and only have conversations with people who feel the same way we do. We’re in our own silo of information – listening to our own echoes.
Finding middle ground on some of the topics and issues might seem pretty impossible, but finding our way to civil conversation isn’t. If we allow ourselves to see things differently (we don’t have to agree…we just have to see…) we’ll go from “right” and “wrong” to “yeah, but…”
We all see things from our own “data base” of history, education, personal experience and needs, and moving from that comfort zone is a little threatening; it asks that we incorporate other data bases. That movement might begin, however, with what Wharton Professor and New York Times contributor Adam Grant offers to model constructive conflict: “Argue like you’re” right; listen like you’re wrong.”
That model can begin with three little words: “Tell me more.”
Just saying “tell me more” lets our “opponent” know we respect them, are willing to see things differently, and want to unify on the issue – even if we stay separate in our positions. It can slow the rhetoric, cool the temperature of the dialogue and provide an active safe zone for the conversation. That’s when we cease trying to prepare our answers and retorts, and truly begin to hear, understand and soften. We begin to empathize.
John Kennedy’s Secretary of State Dean Rusk tells us “The best way to persuade people is with your ears…” Leaning into that persuasion could begin with “tell me more.”
October 30, 2017
Bullies And Their Weaponized Tool of Choice
October 23, 2017
Do You Have Baggage? Or a Story?
Buchanan also said “what we think is what we live.”
If what we think does not serve us, are we willing to think another way? If we are, we can begin whenever we’re ready.
October 16, 2017
Must We Fix Before We Can Forgive?
October 9, 2017
October 2, 2017
We Don’t Need a Bigger Plate
September 25, 2017
Rejection – The Path to Bigness
September 18, 2017
Sometimes Just Being Available is Enough
September 11, 2017
Watching the Helpers and Dopamine
September 4, 2017
Succeeding is a Process, Not an Event
August 28, 2017
Owning the Wound and Trusting Forward
Frank Crane said “You will be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.” And can’t we all point to wounds on our hearts where we failed to recognize that dividing line?
Finding and holding the place where too much ends and not enough begins takes time, practice and a lot of self-reflection. In the healing process, we often hear ourselves saying “never again” or, worse, we make our new opportunities pay for the sins of prior offenders.
Learning to trust after a betrayal isn’t easy, but it begins with trusting ourselves. That learning includes clear-eyed self-examination of how we choose friends, mates, elected officials or business partnerships. If we trust someone with our heart, our confidence or their promise, and any of those trusts gets broken, the fault isn’t with the other…it’s with ourselves: we trusted unwisely.
Once our wounds heal, we can reflect on their origin, our missed signals or ignored intuition: we can take ownership. It is this ownership that helps us keep the wound “right sized” allowing wisdom to replace the impulse to punish (ourselves or anyone else). Ownership of the wound takes our power back, allowing us to “trust forward” with confidence.
Einstein said “Experience is the best teacher because she gives the test first, and the lesson afterwards.”
August 21, 2017
Where the Smart Money Is
“Via negativa” isn’t a commonly used term, but it is one we see at work quite a bit. It means “a way of describing something by saying what it is not.” Darkness is a good example; darkness doesn’t have any properties of its own. It is understood by what it isn’t: light.
The darkness we have seen on the faces and signs and heard in the shouts of people espousing hate and division these past days doesn’t really have any properties of its own. What we see in action is a void – the absence of light, love and unity.
There are only two emotions in human experience: fear and love. Fear isn’t the opposite of love; it’s the absence of love. Fear separates; love unites. When love is absent, the separation of fear demands self-protection in the form of attack, destruction and anarchy. When love is present, unity compels us to live with compassion, growth and order. We destroy or we build; we separate or we unify.
Throughout the ages, unity has worked; separation has not. Animals survive and thrive when they stick together for food, safety and shelter. Those who separate are vulnerable, weakened, exposed. We have seen humanity progress the same way – cooperation and sharing bring about discoveries and advances in our wellbeing; unless we work together, our growth slows to a crawl.
Separation in human terms compels us to fear the “other.” We see them as a threat: so we judge, condemn, label, ostracize. Unity shows us there is no “other,” no “them.” So we connect, share, cooperate; wisdom traditions are being backed up by science as we come to realize this. Knowing this distinction, we can create environments of growth, choosing to preserve “us.” Or we can create environments of destruction, impeding our own progress. Unity moves us all forward; separation fragments and weakens us all.
We can carry hate in our hearts and live in fear, darkness and separation or we can carry love in our hearts and live in love, light and unity. Fear or love; separation or unity. We can choose.
The smart money is on unity.
August 15, 2017
Oh Well…We Tried
August 7, 2017
Conflict is a Tool for Evolution
July 31, 2017
Preparing for Sealed Orders
July 24, 2017
Listening – A Skill Worth Developing
Mark Nepo said “Listening is the doorway to everything that matters.”
Having someone listen to us – truly listen – is a gift. We can finish expressing our thought without fear of interruption or judgment. Without fear, we feel worthy, supported, valued.
Interruptions change the subject altogether, obscuring our message, diverting it from our original intent. Judgment leaves us feeling diminished and devalued, sidetracking us into self-preservation and separating us from our listener.
Listening invites understanding; it right-sizes our egos, broadens our perspective and balances other points of view against our own. Listening helps us keep our perspective when we start sliding toward the silo of self-centeredness and one-sidedness.
Nepo’s doorway is a gift we give each other.
It’s also a gift we give ourselves. Our bodies, emotions and feelings are communicating with us all the time, telling us if our relationship, career, or environment is healthy for us. Our headaches, sleeplessness, tight shoulders and queasy stomach can be heard as a scream or a whisper telling us our wellness is at stake; we’ll hear if we listen.
Listening is a skill we develop through intended awareness and practice. Hearing each other and ourselves connects us with what matters. And we all matter.
July 17, 2017
A Personal “Pause” Button Serves Us Well
Ever take a good look at the “pause” button on a video? It’s two, short vertical lines, separated by a little space. The visual is one of something, then a break, then a continuation of the something. Pause buttons are good. They give us a chance to absorb what just happened before jumping in again, or to rethink continuation altogether.
Pause buttons can serve us well in our personal lives too. They can stop conversations from running off the rails, giving us a chance to redirect the dialogue’s tone or mood that’s going downhill fast. They can give us a break in relationships when we need to make time or space to absorb collective history and review collective goals. They’re important in our work or education commitments when we’re rethinking our life or career objectives.
We give these pauses different names: hiatus, sabbatical, retreat, time-out, and they’re an important tool for mindful living.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the momentum of choices made for us or by us that we don’t make the effort to really reflect on the direction we’re taking. Sometimes it’s a habit, sometimes it’s an expectation. Often it’s just that we never really thought about it. This “caught up” happens short term in dialogue with ourselves or each other, or long term in lifestyle, family businesses, intimate relationships or child rearing. If it’s long-term, we end up with that “How-did-I-get-here?” feeling.
Having a personal “Pause” button and using it often can serve us well, giving us a chance to take a breath and take a moment – or longer – to really think about where we’re going and what we’re building.
The Pause Button gives us a chance to make the Play Button all we Intend.
July 10, 2017
Inside Forces Getting Our Move On
|Merriam Webster defines Inertia as lack of movement or activity especially when wanted or needed. Webster also defines procrastination as the noun form of “to put off intentionally or habitually.” Then there’s the Isaac Newton quote about a body at rest tending to stay at rest “unless an outside force acts on it.”The definitions and explanations can go on forever, but what we’re really dealing with here is getting our move on.
We can always find reasons why now is a bad time to look for a job, clear the clutter, start a diet, break a habit, end a relationship, enroll in a course or fill-in-the-blank; we’ve all been there. Getting started is often the hardest part – where to begin, what does it all look like, what to do first…maybe tomorrow…
In human behavior, Newton’s “outside forces” often take the form of personal crisis – illness, family conflict, financial calamity – bringing with it the colliding messiness of regret, second-guessing and unresolved issues, keeping us in our own inertia. Maybe what we need instead are “inside forces” of intention: creativity, determination and forgiveness. And they’re more effective too.
If we stay ready to see opportunities that move us toward our goals, we will find them in people or coincidence – book recommendations, chance encounters, overheard conversations, or unexpected phone calls. If we practice seeing, listening and imagining, our own “inside forces” get to work enabling us to get on with it – whatever “it” is; we become the “inside force” overcoming our own inertia.
Reasons to put things off are always in front of us; reasons to get started are always within us. When to get started is our only decision.
Now’s a good time.
July 3, 2017
Reflecting on the Lines Between the Dots
A quotation sometimes attributed to Dale Carnegie is “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” Hearing it often produces a chuckle or grin, but if we replace the words “worried about” with “created” it takes on a whole new meaning.
When we reflect on how we got into what we perceive as today’s messes or triumphs, we can see the dots of our yesterdays getting linked. Connecting the dots of triumph is much more fun than connecting those of messes, of course, but in either case, the important piece is how we reflect on and value the dots we created, and where the lines connecting them could have been drawn differently.
Reflection is the line between the dots. Reflection is a commitment to see, understand and admit where we went right or wrong in our yesterdays, and is an important step we can take today to invite the tomorrow we desire.
Reflection can show us the missed opportunities for listening with full attentiveness to those who needed us. It can show us where we can still create an opportunity to offer long-overdue gratitude or apologies to others because we were dismissive or too self-involved at the time to notice our behavior. Reflection can show us where we disregarded our own intuition or better judgment telling us what to do – or not do – and now we’re in a jam.
The dots we reflect on today were created yesterday. Those of tomorrow are being created today. Being mindful of the lines in between is the pathway to better dots.
June 26, 2017
Neutral is a Powerful Place
One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of “neutral” is “a position of power from the engine that does not move the wheels.”
In recovering from an event or change, this “non-moving power” can be an important position in itself. It’s a space, a place of rest, grounding and stabilizing where we can solidify our footing and take a good look around as we move forward. It’s that respite of in-between – where we redefine or clarify objectives, and allow ourselves to go with confidence from what was to what’s next. Viewed this way, Neutral can be precious and healing.
Neutral is where we reach to our support system of trusted family, friends and professionals and let them help us as we create the sustaining environment we need so we can find our way forward. It is from this place of safety and trust that we navigate our uncertainty, dreams and hesitations before we take our next steps. It’s where we reach deep inside ourselves to reveal the seeds of resilience we didn’t know we had or reignite the creativity that got exhausted in what went before.
Breathing and resting in this safe place of “not moving” allows us to reflect and find ways to appreciate the wisdom that emerged in the process; then, with confidence, we can shift into our first gear and move forward.
Neutral is a powerful place – and sometimes, it is all the movement we need.
June 19, 2017
“Important” Is Our Friend
Someone once said that words are a vehicle of thought: have a thought, find the right word for that thought, and communication becomes precise – with ourselves and with others. Major improvements in quality of life often begin with recognizing the subtle differences in wording.
“Urgent” is what demands our immediate attention – health, finances, professional or personal relationships; “important” is attending to the vitality of these conditions along the way.
Urgent is what happens when the important is neglected.
Inattention to personal habits, food we eat, exercise we get, or rest we allow ourselves can bring about a physical health crisis. Carelessness with income, out-go and debt leaves us vulnerable to financial calamity. Ill-defined boundaries, vague or inconsistent communication and neglected emotional well-being or intuition invite personal anguish.
Living the “important” with focus, care and clarity keeps us solid, supported, grounded, stable. That can include delaying serious decisions if we’re tired, unwell or distracted, or leaving a lot of wiggle room in the clock and calendar to keep stress and pressure at bay. Having regular conversations with a trusted friend or advisor who can remind us of our own core values when we lose sight of them can help us keep those principles from getting distorted.
“Important” is our friend. Taking a break and a breath to define it for ourselves deepens that friendship and allows us to clarify our intentions, keeping our priorities straight and the “urgent” minimized.
June 12, 2017
The Basics: Personal Power, Intention and the Law of Attraction
In The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer succinctly defines what human beings – as part of the Universe’s Intention – are all about: creativity, kindness, love, beauty, expansion, abundance and receptivity. And while each of these characteristics in human history can be argued, without the ongoing triumph of these properties, humanity would have destroyed itself by now.
The Law of Attraction tells us “energy attracts like energy.” If we want to bring more of the power of the Universe into our daily living, we need to maintain an energy, focus and Intention that resonates with what the Universe is already generating – those seven “faces” as Dyer classifies them.
But here’s the tricky part. If our current circumstances are not what we desire or intend, the only way to change our future (which is anytime after now) is to stay in harmony with who we really are: creative, kind, loving, beautiful, expansive, abundant and receptive. Not always easy when our natural responses to anything undesired is resentment, anger, recrimination or anxiety.
And that’s the work: bringing who we really are into difficult circumstances. This “bringing” begins with awareness. Without this awareness we create habits, defenses and behaviors that perpetuate the very thing we’re trying to reduce or eliminate.
Our Personal Power grows when we stay aware of who we are Intended to be, wherever we happen to be.
June 5, 2017
It’s All Cause and Effect
In the aftermath of the recent terror attacks in London, Manchester and Stockholm, and with the continuing high alerts we are experiencing all over our planet, many of us see this as “the reality of the world we live in.” What we are really seeing is the Universal Law of Cause and Effect. A Course in Miracles tells us “there is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.”
If we want a different world, we need to change the cause of the world we see. The Course also tells us “this change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced.”
So what are our causes? And how do we replace them? The first step is to look at our beliefs and thoughts, because energy follows thought. Do we choose thoughts and beliefs that bring about separation? Fear, judgement, condemnation, us-versus-them, zero-sum-game? Or do we choose thoughts and beliefs that bring about unity? Love, collective shelter, sharing and fellowship? Since the beginning of time, Unity has worked to move humanity forward; separation has not.
When we really understand there is no “them” – only us – we will begin to change the causes of “the world we live in.” We can choose to build sanctuaries or choose to burn them down. We can choose growth and stability or we can choose fragmentation and chaos.
Unity or separation. The choice is ours. The cause is ours. The world is ours. If we change our causes through our choices, we will create the world we wish to see and live in.
And we can begin whenever we like. Now’s a good time.
May 29, 2017
Memorial Day – A Message Repeated
The last few days have been an interesting juxtaposition on TV and the internet of all the Memorial Day celebrations we enjoy: car sales, cookouts and days off from work or school, side-by-side with war movies and parades reminding us of how those goings-on were made possible.
According to Arlingtoncemetery.mil, this year the soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division – “The Old Guard” – will participate in a tradition known as “Flags In” where they place U.S. flags on over 240,000 graves and in niches of soldiers interred at Arlington National Cemetery and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. Soldiers from the Revolutionary War, Afghanistan and all our wars in between are at Arlington; six hundred and twenty-four acres of gravesites… just at this one cemetery. We can add to that number the fallen who are buried in the other 130 National Cemeteries or in home towns, and the more than 218,000 buried or memorialized overseas, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC.gov).
We know Memorial day is more than our “kick-off” to summer fun; we do respect and remember what it’s all about. And won’t it be nice to look back, many years from now, and see this day as a transition…a memorial to a learning period…when our soldiers fell teaching us that war isn’t the way to peace.
Maybe it’s time to decide what the real “right side of history” is, and look at our priorities – balancing budgets between Defense (fighting wars), State (preventing wars) and Veterans Administration (repairing the wounds of wars).
Perhaps the day will come when we celebrate Memorial Day as the day to remember war isn’t the way to Peace; only Peace is the way to Peace.
For now though, we work through the juxtaposition, commemoration and reflection. Gratitude for the present, hope and intention for the future.
May 22, 2017
|Merriam Webster defines “pursue” as “to follow and try to capture (something or someone) for usually a long distance or time…to try to get or do something over a period of time.”
Pursuing happiness is a self-evident, inalienable right, according to more than 50 men who signed the United States Declaration of Independence more than two hundred years ago.
But what if they got it wrong? Is happiness something we pursue? Or allow?
We all have goals, dreams, objectives, milestones. Some of them are personal, some professional or academic, some noble, some self-centered. In most cases, though, if the happiness is in the achievement, we’re all doomed to be unhappy in the pursuit, because there will always be something more “out there” for us to “follow and try to capture” – something bigger, faster, sooner, thinner, richer…fill in the blank.
If the happiness is in the pursuing (the “i-n-g” is important here), then we’re living our dreams and goals using our talents, gifts, curiosities and interests; we’re growing, stretching and adding value as a goal, not just toward a goal.
Knowing happiness to be a “now” state instead of a “then” state changes pursuit of happiness into pursuit as happiness. So happiness can be ours whenever we’re ready.
Now’s a good time.
May 15, 2017
With Mistakes, the Important Part is to Move Quickly
It never stops, does it?
As soon as we get that comfortable groove of “I-got-this,” something comes our way and we make the wrong choice and suddenly it’s that plunge of “where-did-it-go?”
If we’re living, we’re going to make mistakes. We can remember all the well-meant guidance about how we learn from our mistakes, nobody’s perfect, we’re only human and all that…but it still feels lousy.
It especially hurts when we forget an event of importance in someone’s life, or through a poor choice of words we wound a friend’s feelings, or we are somehow dismissive of something valuable to another. It hurts them and it hurts us. We carry guilt, shame, embarrassment, regret. Lousy is definitely the word.
In the short term, nothing seems to work to diminish that lousiness. We’re feeling it, owning it, getting slapped around by it – it was of our own doing, after all. We can start to manage it, though, if we apologize and admit our carelessness quickly. Then we can begin the work of fixing, making amends – allowing the healing, salving the wound we inflicted on another.
Moving quickly shows humility; delay diminishes the importance of the act. Mistakes are part of the human experience; getting comfortable with mistakes makes us careless and self-centered, insensitive to our effect on those around us.
If we want to get our groove back, attending to mistakes in ourselves and forgiving them in others is a good first step. In either case, moving quickly minimizes damage.
May 8, 2017
Practicing the Light Gets Easier
Merriam Webster defines “radiance” as “a warm, soft light that shines from something.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we saw only radiance? And we lived only radiance? We all have radiance; we are beings of light after all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the confidence of spirit to let who we really are be seen and known and celebrated all the time? Often what stops us is fear – fear of being misunderstood, fear of being rejected, fear of being devalued.
Living our radiance isn’t just the realm of the courageous – it should be the primary objective for all of us. Not easy stuff when someone else’s approval of us is more important than our own.
This seeking of approval comes from our need to stay safe. We know when we can be ourselves, who we can trust with our true-ness; we also know when to hide those parts of ourselves that will bring rejection or criticism.
A Course In Miracles tells us the only two emotions in human experience are fear and love – our behavior, reactions and responses to stimuli all fall somewhere on that continuum. If you’re living your true radiance, you’re living from love – and because love is all there is, there is nothing to fear. If you’re not living your true radiance, something is blocking you from being who you are, keeping you on the fear end of the continuum.
Identifying and overcoming the blocks is easier said than done, of course. But that takes us to our next favorite definition from Merriam Webster – “Practice: To perform often, customarily or habitually.”
Practicing the light and love of who we are gets easier the more we do it, and we can begin whenever we’re ready.
Now’s a good time.
May 1, 2017
Chance: Marking Life’s Milestones
|Merriam Webster defines “chance” as “the way events happen when they’re not planned or controlled by people.”
We humans often see “chance” as a twist of fate, happy accident, luck. We meet our mate on a blind date, or land a job by sitting next to the right person on a plane. We enrich an old friendship with a new purpose, or find a deep purpose in a new friendship.
We never know when these opportunities will present themselves and if we really stay aware of the possibilities, we’re surprised at how often they appear. A magazine left open at the dentist office shows an ad for just what we’ve been seeking. A song plays on the radio with a memorable message of inspiration exactly when we need it. A book or therapist gets recommended at precisely the right moment.
These occurrences are not really accidental; there are no accidents in the Universe.
The synchronistic abundance of the universe is always in overdrive and if we choose to stay softly open, curious, self-aware, mentally and emotionally uncluttered and ready, we can recognize it in whatever form it takes. This recognition can lead us to rich relationships, professional expansion and personal growth. A gentle willingness to say “yes” to following the path and seeing where it leads can surprise us with a treasure we had not “planned or controlled.”
Every relationship or encounter, every glimpse of nature, every work environment offers what could be a milestone in our lives. Then we can look back and see the gifts that were offered us, turning “chance” into “turning point.”
That’s the moment we can say “I might have found you by accident, but I’m glad I kept you on purpose.”
April 24, 2017
“What if…?” Looking Beyond the 4%
Did you know that we don’t know what 96% of the “known” Universe is? The percentage varies between 93% and 97%, depending on the source, but it is dark to us…dark energy or dark matter. Something is there, something is happening there, we just don’t know what it is.
We are made of the same stuff as the Universe. And because our existence is only what is identifiable, we know we are missing 96% of what is possible. We experience love, light and consciousness as we define it through five senses and three dimensions – 4% of what is knowable. We make decisions, choices and navigate our environment from this 4% perspective, forming our views, opinions and judgements of others and ourselves.
But what if we began living like we knew there was so much more? As powerful as our experiences of love, light and consciousness already are, we have only accessed and explored 4% of what is available to us. What if we stepped back from our need to judge and evaluate and dismiss? Would we open ourselves to more love, light and consciousness? A broader horizon of sharing and progressing?
What if we started thinking more about “what if?” Maybe we should ponder that for awhile, and see what emerges.
April 17, 2017
Spring: Taking a Good Look as We Surface
From the beginning, the key to renewal has been the casting off of old skin.” Mark Nepo said that in The Book of Awakening, and spring is the time of year we are reminded that casting off is good. It is part of the cycle of nature, intention, resurrection, revitalization. Furry animals shed their winter coats, shells of baby birds crack open to be left behind – their work done.
We humans have our own form of shedding as we begin yard, garage and closet cleanups. We gratefully open windows to let fresh spring air blow through our homes taking with it the indoor winter environment that served us well but is now released with our appreciation and a blessing.
This casting off and clearing out is something we can do anytime – not just in our physical world, but also in our behavior, our outlook and the choices we make. As human beings, we have an advantage many in the non-human animal kingdom don’t have: retrospection. That retrospection allows us to reflect on what serves us and what does not.
Spring renewal can be a time of that reflection. Maybe the longer, light-filled days will help us to better see which of our habits and perceptions are best left behind and which we should take forward in our own rebirth. Maybe our shedding begins with appreciation and a blessing for what went before, so we can choose carefully what we bring forward.
So as we surface, we take a deep breath and a good look…and begin again.
April 10, 2017
Flexibility Isn’t Surrender
Mark Nepo once said “The glassblower knows while in the heat of beginning, any shape is possible. Once hardened, the only way to change is to break.”
We see this metaphor in our own lives sometimes…we get so fixed on an idea and the habitual “me” or “mine” of an issue, that we harden and close ourselves off to possibilities or different ways of seeing things.
Flexibility isn’t surrender; it’s strength. Holding it as a personal mandate keeps us in our power and allows for easier navigation of disagreements with little scarring. If we harden into a position out of a sense of “win” and “lose” – the domain of the ego – the only way we can grow or evolve is to break.
We see this personally in relationships at work, in marriages or family matters; we see this globally in governments, religious extremism and temporary alliances.
Flexibility keeps us receptive, curious, and open to the intention of the flow and the give of the Universe. Flexibility allows us our natural impulse to expand. Powerful stuff, flexibility.
April 3, 2017
Comfort Zone = Structure + Spontaneity
Merriam Webster defines “comfort zone” as “a place, situation, or level where someone feels confident and comfortable.”
“Comfort,” though, is different for each of us.
Some of us like routine, structure, plans, definitions; we stay calm knowing what’s coming, what’s expected. Others of us like open-ended spontaneity. It allows for on-the-spot problem solving, creativity and impulse-driven satisfaction. It is that feeling of liberation, spaciousness, and the “let’s-see-what-happens” freedom that animates us.
Well-being, however, is the line we must hold as we toggle between the two.
If we live only for the moment, and do simply what we feel like doing, we lose sight of the discipline necessary for financial security, physical and spiritual health management, social and community connectedness. If we stay lock-stepped in an insular structure or process, we become myopic, boring, easily rattled if things fall outside “The Plan.”
Maybe the key to all this is not so much defining our comfort zone as broadening it: adding soft lines where spontaneity and structure can live side by side, overlap or nudge each other into bigger-ness.
Intentionally keeping a little space in the clock, calendar and budget for some unstructured playtime or surprises is a good start; so is holding to bottom-line-must-do’s. That’s when comfort and zone expand becoming the springboard for well and being.
March 27, 2017
Pain is a Teacher
Ever notice how all our problems stem from avoidance? Avoidance of unpleasant decisions, tasks or encounters? We can make excuses and rationalize the procrastination or denial, but until we let ourselves really look inside at the wound we’re trying to protect, we’re missing an opportunity for inner healing.
We keep getting our lessons until we learn them. When we’re squeamish about addressing a painful person or environment, it’s time to see that situation as the solution – not the problem.
Painful as it might be, staying with the pain is the beginning of healing. This is where we examine, understand and forgive. It’s where we explore, learn and release. Distracting ourselves, pacifying or minimizing our feelings denies us the opportunity to reconcile and grow. We overcome by addressing – not by avoiding.
Inner healing will not necessarily bring about change in the outer situation that started it all, but it can change the way we deal with it. We feel a shift in power as we go from depletion and exhaustion to strength and liberation. Resistance matures into resilience.
Our wounds heal when we let them. Painful situations are our teachers; we can run from them or learn from them. The choice is ours.
March 20, 2017
Taking the Risk to Blossom
John Maxwell said “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” And we can all probably identify times when we had to choose between growth and comfort.
Habits, sameness and routine are good for bringing that comfortable, “I-got-this” feeling – always knowing what’s coming, no surprises. But dreams, aspirations and goals – the human way Intention fulfills itself – drive us to reach beyond comfort and into new fulfillment and creativity and promise: expansion.
Expansion is a law of the Universe. Intention offers abundance and grace and evolution to us as we expand through our own ideas and possibilities. Reluctance to awaken to our own fulfillment of potential can be a little “flag” asking us why we’re holding back and taking ourselves out of the flow of new, preferring the illusion of safety to the gratification of possibility.
At those times – when we’re asked to reach a little more, push a bit beyond the line, see what we can wake up on the other side – overcoming our own inertia is our biggest hurdle. That’s when we realize what Anais Nin meant when she said “…and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Here’s to taking a risk on the blossom.
March 13 2017
Listening To Our Inner Voice is the First Step
Samuel Butler said “Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself.” And when we really think about it, maybe it’s not our fear we need to work with, it’s our hearing.
Every one of us has our own inner voice – some of us call it our Higher Self or Intuition; A Course in Miracles calls it the Holy Spirit. Whatever name we give it, we have an inner spiritual compass guiding us in relationships, careers and personal choices. We get into trouble with ourselves when we don’t respect this guidance, this voice, enough to take a moment and really listen to it. How many times after a misstep have we said “I knew it – I had this little voice telling me…”
Usually when we resist listening to that (not-so-little) voice, it’s because in weighing the outcome of a decision, fear is louder. We take or keep the wrong job because we fear loss of income. We break off a relationship because we fear our own vulnerability; or we stay in one too long because we fear being alone.
We’ve heard from different sources that the only two emotions in human experience are fear and love; every choice we make comes from somewhere on that continuum. Tuning out the static of fear while simultaneously listening in to our voice of love comes with practice. Practice based in slowing things down, taking time alone, allowing the stillness, clarifying our own truth.
One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of “static” is “unwanted noise…caused by…conditions in the atmosphere.” The atmosphere we intend for ourselves can include fear or not. The choice is ours.
March 6, 2017
Fuzziness Can Be Our Friend
Some of us have heard the old joke “Put your nose to the grindstone and your shoulder to the wheel. Now try getting some work done while in that position.”
This after-the-holidays-and-before-spring-renewal period is something of a “red zone” for a lot of us. We’re faced with what we see as the relentlessness of keeping the promises we made to ourselves in the new year (the grindstone), and the deepening of our commitment to healthier living for the rest of our lives (the wheel).
That first rush of “I’m so psyched” is giving way to “Oh, yeah, I have to do that – tomorrow (or the first of the week, or as soon as it’s warmer, or on my birthday, or right before vacation, or fill-in-the-blank).”
A healthy balance in all areas of our lives is a worthwhile objective. Knowing this and following through on making it all happen, though, are often two different things. We need those fun disciplines of determination and follow-through; without them, we slow down, get fuzzy and lose momentum.
That fuzziness tells us it’s time to reach for trusted friends, partners, spouses and other support resources to help us stay focused. They can remind us that we’re worthy of the promises we made to ourselves to get in better shape, stop smoking, or clear out the clutter in our lives, finances, relationships and closets.
If we allow that “red zone” to morph into a starting point, we will transform our grindstone and wheel into solid footing and momentum. Then fuzziness can be our friend, telling us it’s time to get focused. Now’s a great time.
February 27, 2017
What Energy Do We Leave Behind?
|Ever notice how you can feel the energy in a room? If it feels warm and cozy or chilly and uninviting?
We bring our own personal energy into any environment we enter; and energy has a way of sticking around long after we have left. Examining our intentions and our energy before we go into a conversation, meet-up or phone call can be a good thing; it’s also the first step in deciding what we want to leave behind, because we always have the opportunity to lift an environment with the energy of our presence.
We all bring gifts to the party – our lives are the gifts; our life situations are the parties.
We all come together with our gifts, then we open them up, share and play.
February 20, 2017
Doors are Opening Everywhere
|Helen Keller once said “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
A lot of us can identify with Ms. Keller’s statement, and when we really think about it and reflect on past closed doors, we find that dozens of doors opened after that closed one…we just didn’t notice them at the time.
The operative term here is “open.”
When we stay open, opportunities in work, relationships and service reveal themselves. Our interests are allowed to expand into areas we wouldn’t have guessed or otherwise explored; our imaginations get challenged (along with our creativity and endurance!).
And once we let ourselves settle in to the newness and surprises of our chosen door instead of complaining about the closed one, we find rewards that would have gone unrealized illuminating themselves in abundance.
Doors are always opening, all over the place. We just have to let ourselves notice.
February 13, 2017
The Fabric of First Principles
Elon Musk, known for Tesla Motors, PayPal and SpaceX, once said “First Principles is a kind of physics, a way of looking at the world. You boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, ‘What are we sure is true?’ … and then reason up from there.”
First Principles can be scientific or personal, individual or global, and can be challenged whenever we go through upheaval or change. Losing sight of them is losing sight of Musk’s “fundamental truths.”
Making a long-term decision based on a short-term issue keeps us myopic, putting our First Principles at risk. It’s a small step from there to narrowness and single-mindedness, leaving us vulnerable to persuasion and demagoguery as individuals or as a species.
Musk asks us to think about what we are sure is true. History has shown us that “divide and conquer” does not work in the long term; physics tells us there is no “them.” Empathy develops from both – if we let it.
The trajectory of history and the mechanics of physics pull us closer to one empathic truth: there’s only us, one people, one consciousness, one humanity.
First Principles when guided by history, physics and empathy weave our human fabric into openness, flexibility and progress; without that guidance, our principles close us down, keeping us weak, vulnerable and isolated.
Evolution tells us choosing between the two must be an ongoing process.
February 6, 2017
The Smart Money is on Unity
Gotham Chopra, Deepak Chopra’s son, once made a documentary of his famous father. During the filming, Gotham asked his dad if he thought he was changing the world. The senior Chopra responded “The world is changing and I am part of the transition team.”
How we see that change is important, though. If our lens through which we see the world is one of fear and separation, we will see danger, threat and the need for self-preservation around every corner; hypervigilance, secrecy and mistrust will be our change, our way of life. If our lens is one of love and unification, we will see opportunities for learning, healing and advancement everywhere. Then, understanding, education and compassion will be our change, our mission.
In either case, we are each other’s transition teams, and we can choose our lens.
Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Our thoughts, words and behavior, our relationships, partnerships and environments can reflect closing down in separation or opening up in unity. We can defend or share; we can educate or ostracize. We choose the change we wish to see.
Ghandi also said “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.”
If the world is changing, and we are each other’s transition team, the smart money is on the lens of love and unity.
January 30, 2017
Staying in the Game with a Timeout
|Merriam Webster defines “stamina” as “staying power, endurance.” And though it might seem counterintuitive, a key component for staying in any game, challenge or conflict is time out.
Knowing when to let our brains, our bodies, our projects and our arguments rest is key to making progress toward goals. Steady advancement toward any objective takes clarity, judgment, precision. None of these can be ours if we’re tired and losing focus.
We know when our staying power is waning. Our sweet dispositions are strained. Our words and tone of voice get strident. Patience is a distant memory. We avoid eye contact – or any contact – with others (and ourselves, if we can find a way). We begin to question our resolve, our objectives and our ability. We begin to doubt…and nothing will dismantle a worthy objective faster than doubt.
Rest is good. It’s the first part of “restoration” and it reinforces staying power and endurance. Take a nap, a walk in nature or a weekend away. Unplug for a few hours or a few days. Your endurance and staying power will thank you.
Maybe now’s a good time?
January 23, 2017
Permission Lights Your Way to More
Marianne Williamson tells us “the difference between those people ‘living their potential’ and those who don’t, is not the amount of potential itself, but the amount of permission they give themselves in the present.”
And that’s the difference between capacity and potential: capacity is what we have now; potential is possibility taking us into our future. And they’re both expandable.
If we give ourselves permission now to reach and learn and grow, we experience the love, sharing and connectedness all around us. It is this current capacity for opening to now that can light the way to trust and possibility, sparking imagination, generating ideas and broadening potential.
Expansion is an Intention of the Universe, an intention of being human. And we can experience it as soon as we say it’s okay.
Now’s a good time.
January 16, 2017
Uncertain? We have Three Choices
|Whenever we’re faced with an event or circumstance not of our choosing, we have only three options: we can accept the situation, change it, or leave it.
Accepting isn’t defeat; it’s surrendering to the flow of what is. It took the Universe 14 billion years – give or take – to create this moment and pushing back against it provokes exhaustion and frustration (and it doesn’t work).
Changing a circumstance from the inside challenges us to research possibilities. It engages us; it asks us to look at options, compromises or unexamined alternatives.
Leaving a situation isn’t necessarily physical. We can withdraw from discourse, redirect emotions, detach from the outcome or put time and distance between ourselves and the stimulus before re-engaging. All of which can keep egos balanced and managed.
Because the mandate of the Universe is evolution, there no “no” in the Universe – only “yes.” Allowing ourselves to find our way from “undesirable” to “unknown” is a step forward in our evolution. This step opens us to creativity, vision, imagination and trust, and it is the beginning of our collaboration with the “yes” of All That Is.
Uncertainty isn’t the enemy; it’s an invitation.
January 9, 2017
Every Now is Different From Every Other Now
That great sage, Yogi Berra, used to say “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Yogi often got a laugh from his pronouncements, but in this case he probably didn’t realize how insightful he was.
The future we dreamed of yesterday or last week or 10 years ago was being created during the now of then. Then’s now is different from now’s now, and how we live our lives in whatever now we’re living determines the now we’ll have in our future – collectively and individually.
As we move into 2017 with determination and purpose, making the most of every minute is an important promise we offer ourselves. “Making the most” doesn’t mean doing…it means being – showing up in all situations with patience, encouragement and anticipation. It means treating every now as valuable, recognizing what’s possible and encouraging people we love to fulfill the promise of their own potential.
William Shakespeare said “It’s not in the stars to hold our future, but in ourselves.” Yogi Berra and William Shakespeare. Who knew?
January 2, 2016
The First Step in Starting: Nothing
With winter holidays over, many of us are eager to get going with new projects or to pick up the old ones that didn’t quite get finished before schedules got stressed and stuffed. Now is when those “after-the-holidays-are-over-I’m-going-to…” dates get made, promises get promised, diet and exercise programs get started. Somewhere in there all the clutter and decorations waiting to be packed up and put away for another 11 months are calling our name.
Maybe the first step in any successful start-up is doing nothing. Maybe success opens with stillness, quiet and calm. It could be as simple as accepting the welcome gift of a deep breath after a period of activity, commotion or saturation of anything that is key to great beginnings.
If we allow the circulation of a little space, light and air between the action that went before and the new beginnings for what we plan, we can rest and regain our balance there; we can allow our own renewal. It is this “do-nothing” space of restoration that allows our haze-free forward vision to emerge.
Vision helps us decide what to leave behind and what to take with us into our New Year. It allows us to clearly see what healthy relationships, home and work environments, and career look like.
Promising ourselves we’ll keep this inner vision regardless of what is happening in our outer days, chores and artificial pressures can be the gift that keeps on giving this year, and any year, all year long.
Okay – deep breath.
December 26, 2016
|“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” These wise words from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; sounds like a New Year’s Resolution.
Just this one promise to ourselves can clear our path to love more deeply, trust more wisely and connect more broadly. Our goals will be bigger, closer, more achievable. Our egos then can be right-sized, allowing our sense of peace to expand from our inner world to our outer world, enriching our sense of community and creating the environment where others can do the same.
In a few days, brooms in hand, we walk through the door to 2017, a new beginning, sweeping the world together.
Happy New Year, everyone.
December 19, 2016
Widening the Circle of “Family”
This is the time of year when we hear a lot about celebrations with family – gifts, dinner tables, travel near and far. Our families can be big, small, blended, fractured, scattered. The word feels full or empty, depending on our histories, memories and emotions.
This Season of Light can be difficult for those of us who feel held hostage by societal or biological definitions of “family.” The sense of sharing, celebration and unity are closed to us if we don’t have long shopping lists and multiple invitations to dinner.
That’s when we must give ourselves permission to redefine “family.”
Richard Bach tells us “Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof.”
Maybe our family’s roof is the gym, or our place of work or worship, or the volunteers we join at a food bank serving our community. Maybe it’s virtual – a skype visit over a bowl of soup with a pal in another country, smiling across the time zones. Maybe the roof is over our family of farm animals or pets who bring light to our hearts all year ‘round, so we thank them for giving us the opportunity to love them as family.
Maybe our real family’s roof isn’t a roof at all – just the stars in the sky, cradling all of us as one – connected at our heart, regardless of geography or genetics.
Mother Theresa reminds us that maybe we “…draw the circle of our families too small.” Giving ourselves permission to widen the circle could be the best gift we give ourselves and each other this holiday season.
December 12, 2016
“Yes” to Something is “No” to Something Else
This is the time of year when we’re asked by ourselves and others to be and do more. More with our time, energy, money, calories or miles. Remembering that saying “yes” to those requests is saying “no” to something else – very important. We could end up playing our feelings of opposites against each other: joy or guilt, abundance or lack, patience or anger, celebration or resentment. And it all depends on how we see and make our decision.
Paying close attention to our feelings during this holiday of “yes” or “no” is key to making the right choice. Saying “no” to personal conflict or overextension (time, energy, money, calories, miles) means saying “yes” to our physical and emotional health and balance.
Giving our personal well-being our first priority and “yes” this holiday season keeps us relaxed, appreciating and partying. Each moment then becomes a celebration – which is what this season is all about. And here’s a bonus: That celebration gives others permission to revel in their well-being too.
“Yes” – the gift that keeps on giving. Merry “Yes,” everyone.
December 5, 2016
A Little Wiggle Goes a Long Way
This is the time of year when everything seems to be moving faster – time, people, items, events. Everything’s always moving anyway, but that’s another conversation. Holidays seem to compress and complicate the “to-do” lists, and this year’s season is compressed and accelerated even more since we have fewer weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get it all done. Finding a little wiggle room in all that compression can be tough – but very rewarding.
Wiggle room is that little space between chores, items on the to-do list, in the clock, and on the calendar. That wiggling space allows for a little more fun, kindness or humor, maybe a little treat or just some rest. Right now many of us see all that we need to get to, get done, get moving or just get; all this really “gets” us is stressed and pressured, because there will always be more to add to the lists.
Including a little space between the doings allows for being. Being open, gentler, softer, more centered and solid. You’ll be able to listen longer to someone who needs a compassionate ear, drive more patiently from errand to errand, or as you look for a parking space. You’ll be able to smile and offer a kinder word to a clerk or gas station attendant, allowing yourself to recognize the gift of the moment.
You’re getting it all done…no need to jam everything into every minute. Take a breath, take a moment, make some wiggle room…you’ll like what you see…you’ll like who you see.
November 28 2016
Knowing Stillness in the Chaos
Morgan Freeman said “Learning how to be still – to be really still and let life happen – that stillness becomes radiance.”
In this season of movement, it’s hard to find or create stillness…and even harder to connect to the radiance of the intent of the season. Making a moment to just “be” – doing nothing – can be a precious opportunity for both.
Feeling stillness comes with practice. Even in today’s crammed clocks and calendars of traveling, preparing, wrapping, visiting, schlepping, if we take a minute to take a breath, we can appreciate the acceleration and embrace the chaos, connecting with everyone else going through the same thing.
That appreciation can come at any time. We can inwardly and gently pull back from what’s happening – just for a minute a couple times a day – and see the world like a little kid watching what’s happening from a hiding place. We can create that place; we can own it, hold the sweetness of it. We can still feel the action all around us, only this time from a place of quiet stillness. Then we can breathe in that place of in-between, and connect to the vastness of it all, freeze-framing and appreciating the feeling in our consciousness before rejoining the fray.
It is in that moment that we can understand the teaching of Lao Tzu: “Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.”
November 21, 2016
Thanks and Giving – One Dynamic
In Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he states “Giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of the Universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the Universe circulating in our lives.”
In our culture, Thanksgiving is the traditional start of our winter holiday season of thanks and giving. As we fulfill our part in this Second Spiritual Law, we begin by giving thanks for what we already have in our lives, and continue the process by considering what we can give to others.
Any heartfelt “thank you” is an important piece in this dynamic. Feeling “Thank you” tells you, others and the Universe that you are grateful and appreciative. It is this gratitude and appreciation that keep the catalytic flow of creation, abundance and expansion active in our own lives…and, through us, offered to the lives of others.
Weaving together the daily “thank you’s” we give through the year supports and strengthens the fabric of who we are. Then gratitude becomes a way of life, a cause for celebration and remembrance all year ‘round.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
November 14, 2016
There Is No Them
|In the wake of the election last Tuesday, many of us are still looking for a voice to articulate what we’re feeling. Setting aside the winning or losing, it’s hard to see how a campaign of separation can be a foundation for “coming together” as many of our political leaders have asked. How do polar opposites of an issue “come together” without surrendering the values at the heart of deeply held positions?
Remembering there is no “no” in the universe could be a good first step.
Nothing can ever be stopped or undone without creating something else as we learned from Robert Merton’s “Law” of unforeseen consequences. Those are the circumstances not “intended by purposeful action” prompting us to remember there is no “no.”
If we really want to heal the divide and find our way forward (and forward is the only way we can go), then we need to examine our “intended purposeful actions” – and see what we can attach “yes” to.
If we, our neighbors, friends or family occupy “0” or “10” on the “going forward” continuum, maybe the conversation needs to be what 4-5-6 looks like. It’s difficult to imagine anyone at either end making a 180 and going to what they believe is the Dark Side, but if we use our energy to find, explore, imagine and define that 4-5-6, we’ll be able to really hear each others’ voices, keep our balance and still come from our center, solid in our intended purposeful actions.
As last week’s Intention Tune-Up reminds us, progress toward our Perfect Union is messy. Remembering: 1) now, here and this are all we have, 2) there is no “them” – there’s only “us” and 3) the Universe is made up of “yes”, we might be able to keep the mess to a minimum.
November 7, 2016
Tomorrow is Election Day in the United States
In the United States, school students might still have “Problems of Democracy” classes. This is where we learned that Democracy is a process, not a product. With cultural, technological and social ethics changing, it’s difficult to keep the values inherent in Democracy constant from one generation to the next, morphing the noun into a verb.
These last months have presented our choices as “either-or,” and that’s the difficulty many of us face as we contemplate that voting booth: what we want is an a la carte menu – a little from each side, but not the whole thing from either.
That’s not the choice we get to make tomorrow, however.
|Our election can be simplified if we look at the pieces of each side and categorize them into two columns: separation or unification. With these two extremes, maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is which approach best solves the problems our Democracy could face: division or agreement, force or compromise, prohibition or invitation. Separation has roots in fear; unification is rooted in love. Once we choose separation or unification, our vote for problem solving clarifies itself.
In either case, it’s important to remember our Perfect Union is a work-in-progress, and sometimes making progress is messy. We should also remember George Jean Nathan’s words: “Bad officials are the ones elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
October 31, 2016
Our “Edit Button” is a Listening Device
Ever find yourself in that “here-we-go-again” loop of arguments with loved ones over the same issues or sore points? You know the feeling … the conversation gets just a little testy, you’re beginning to hear the ice crack beneath your feet as you approach a topic in what you thought was just a comment or observation, and boom! The exchange explodes into a string of “you always’s” or “you never’s” and – everyone’s favorite – “you just don’t understand.” Suddenly you’re bickering, and… here we go again.
Ram Dass tells us “our interactions with each other reflect a dance between love and fear.” This dance is a reminder of the difference between the topic and the issue: the topic is what’s being “discussed;” the issue is the truth of what’s really at work. And what’s at work is either love or fear – it just changes topics.
We all have an “edit” button in our heads. That’s the button we’re supposed to use before we respond with something snappy in an argument that could add fuel to the fire. It’s the button that delays us just for a moment so we go from angry retort to really listening to what is – and is not – being said by the other person. In that moment, we go from defending to understanding.
Issues of powerlessness, vulnerability, fragility or anxiety can hide in topics of leaving dirty dishes in the sink, not mowing the lawn before the rain started, or forgetting to put gas in the car your partner needed for a long drive. The topic is the dishes or the lawn or the gas — but the issue is feeling diminished, unimportant or disregarded. The topic is the vehicle for the issue.
Ram Dass also said “the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear…”
Really listening to the topic lets us hear the issue our loved one is trying to express. Our edit button is a listening device giving us the space to hear – and it’s our friend.
October 24, 2016
We All Bring Gifts to the Party
The 4th law in Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success is “The Law of Least Effort.” This law is based in Nature’s intelligence, the principal of harmony and cooperation unfolding with ease and little struggle.
When we combine this law with Chopra’s 5th – “The Law of Intention and Desire” – we begin to participate in the adventure of revealing, living and sharing our gifts and talents, some expected, others not.
The tricky part, though, is developing our gifts and talents (law of least effort) in the direction of our objectives, goals and milestones (law of intention and desire).
If we keep our intentions broad with the purpose of service, the Universe sets in motion the components harmonizing with our gifts and talents, giving us opportunities to fulfill our desires. When our intentions are narrow and specific, we do ourselves a disservice by eliminating the bigger possibilities the Universe can create.
Our guidance, then, is to remember Chopra’s 6th Law: “Detachment.” Detachment tells us anything we desire can be ours if we relinquish our attachment to the result. Detachment is the ultimate power of believing in ourselves.
Resisting the temptation to judge, label or criticize our own gifts or those of others, helps us to relax into the adventure of self-discovery, surprise, wonder and celebration.
We all bring gifts to the party. Then we all open them up – and we all play.
October 17, 2016
Dreams Come True When We’re Awake
Lasting progress doesn’t begin with leaps and bounds – it begins in smaller steps well intended and taken.
How many times have we told ourselves we were going to start something or stop something or work on something, when the time is right, when we have the right job or mate or circumstances, when we have enough money or the best fill-in-the-blank. Any of those points in our life situations could come now or tomorrow, a year from now or not at all. “Then” can become an enemy of the “now” if we let it – because there will always be another “then.”
Dreams only come true when we’re awake – awake to defining our dreams and knowing we are worthy of them. Awake to the opportunities and teachers all around us showing us the way. Awake to the potential of who we are and allowing this potential to be realized and encouraged.
Our wakefulness begins with the small steps of defining the dream, allowing the courage, trusting others to be there when we need them. Momentum is formed…leaps and bounds follow.
October 10, 2016
When Inner Vision and Outer Circumstances are One and the Same
|Merriam Webster has a lot of definitions for “vision” – including “a thought, concept…a mode of seeing or conceiving…”
Making our circumstances and our vision one and the same can be difficult for many of us, when our “here and now” doesn’t look anything like our “there and then.” The gap between the two can be an overwhelming obstacle course of complications, detours and setbacks stretching out in front of us.
That’s when we must remember that our circumstances will change once our path and our vision become the same thing, bringing “there and then” into our “here and now.”
Our daily living circumstances of clocks, lunch boxes, finances and jobs can be the vehicle for our vision of love, joy, peace and abundance if we intend to see them that way. This is how we live our vision in our circumstances, and this is how the Law of Attraction works: energy attracting like energy so our “there and then” becomes our “here and now.”
What we think are obstacles between our circumstances and our vision can be places for patience, compassion, understanding, generosity, sharing. This is the path to love and peace and joy; it is the path to the abundance of our vision.
Bit by daily bit, our inner vision becomes our outer circumstances…which is what we wanted from the start.
October 3, 2016
Meditative Moments: “Good” is Okay Too
|For many of us, finding the time or space for purposeful and extended meditation can be a challenge; establishing a routine and sticking to it isn’t easy either, compounding our frustration.
While “perfect” might be out of reach, “good” can be found everywhere.
Little spaces for meditation – oases of rest and calm – can find us throughout our day if we are open, aware and allow them. They present themselves between chores or appointments, sometimes masquerading as daily routines: folding laundry, just stepping into the shower, just stepping out of the shower, the moment before we make a phone call or answer one, standing in line – any line – traffic, movie, bank, or supermarket…these can be meditative moments inviting and prompting us to rest, regenerate and remember who we are.
Answering these invitations with a smile, a deep inhale and full exhale helps us drop out of our ego and ground into renewal of our Self, so we can hold our balance between the two. Then we can take that grounding, that power, that balance into the next moment and the next and the next.
When “perfect” is out of reach, “good” can be pretty good, too.
September 26, 2016
Sometimes Being Available is Enough
One of Merriam Webster’s definitions for “available” is “present and … willing to talk to someone.”
One of the greatest frustrations we often feel in devoted relationships is a sense of helplessness when our loved one is going through a difficult time with a health or emotional issue. The solutions to their struggle might not be easy to find, or maybe they don’t exist at all. From our own breaking heart we wish we could trade places with them, even for just a little while, to give them some relief, some respite, some peace …
Trading places might not be possible, but being available is.
Each of us has our own path to travel and those paths are rarely without obstacles. We learn, grow and evolve through those obstacles; they aren’t on our path, as much as they are our path. And even though we cannot take our loved one’s responsibility for their work from them, we can make ourselves available to them. This availability comes in the form of non-judgmental empathy, support, and validation. It comes with deep listening and maybe hearing the same story over and over, if necessary.
It tells our loved one we are present and willing to stand with them in their struggle. It tells them we’re available, and sometimes that’s enough.
September 19, 2016
Help – Big Power in a Little Word
Ever notice how often we use the word “help”? Merriam Webster has about 14 definitions for it, and those are just the transitive and intransitive verbs.
Some of us are really reluctant to ask for help, even when we’re clearly in need. We see it as some kind of failing or admission of a shortcoming. Some of us don’t offer help. It’s as if not knowing what to do keeps us from extending ourselves at all, fearing falling short and disappointing everyone involved.
Asking for help or offering help can be enormously powerful, though. The emotional strength it gives and allows can enrich a relationship, heal a separation, or open us to the present moment of deep need.
It has been said that the four most persuasive words we can hear are “I need your help.” Those words are a gift. As a friend, we’re being given the opportunity to be the friend we know ourselves to be. As a colleague, we’re offered a chance to deepen an alliance or partnership. In a family structure, it becomes a way to form a tighter bond that moves us through the life we share.
Offering help is often powerful just in the offering, especially in those cases where we really don’t know what to do. Watching someone we love dealing with a serious illness or navigating a long-term personal crisis can leave a lot of us feeling powerless, but we aren’t. The words “How can I help you?” coming from a place of genuine compassion and caring can convey support, encouragement and reinforcement to the person who might be in trauma. Sometimes just hearing those words is enough, reminding us that we’re not alone, and that someone of strength is being present, standing with our suffering, making us stronger.
Asking for or offering help is a gift we give each other. Seeking out opportunities for both is a gift we give ourselves.
September 12 2016
Lots Can Happen in Neutral
One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of “neutral” is “a position of power from the engine that does not move the wheels.”
In recovering from an event or change, this “non-moving power” can be an important position in itself. It’s a space, a place of rest, grounding and stabilizing where we can solidify our footing and take a good look around as we move forward. It’s that respite of in-between – where we redefine or clarify objectives, and allow ourselves to go with confidence from what was to what’s next. Viewed this way, Neutral can be precious and healing.
Neutral is where we reach to our support system of trusted family, friends and professionals and let them help us as we create the sustaining environment we need so we can find our way. It is from this place of safety and trust that we navigate our uncertainty, dreams and hesitations before we take our next steps. It’s where we reach deep inside ourselves to reveal the seeds of resilience we didn’t know we had or reignite the creativity that got exhausted in what went before.
Breathing and resting in this safe place of “not moving” allows us to reflect and find ways to appreciate the wisdom that emerged in the process; then, with confidence, we can shift into our first gear and move forward.
Sometimes, neutral is all the movement we need.
September 5, 2016
There Are No Obstacles on our Path
Often when we reflect on our lives and how we got to the places we now occupy, we can see detours, delays or missed opportunities. We find “but for that, I would be…” somewhere else. This thinking, these labels tend to keep us stuck in what could have been, if only…holding us to a sour taste of bitterness and loss.
The wounds that come from a broken home or marriage, a lost job or bad investment can be our teachers, helping us to see things in a different way; they can be a release from something that didn’t work as we find our way to what does.
That’s when we begin to learn that obstacles are not on our path…they are our path.
If we allow that realization to become the springboard to our next steps, a changed direction and a new view of what’s possible, we move out of the blame game, finger-pointing and criticism of others (or ourselves). It is then that we begin to see our obstacles as training, a pathway to our resourcefulness, resilience and imagination. All tools that serve us well as we take those next steps.
Barbara Bloom tells us “When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”
August 29, 2016
Do We Have Time to be Mindful?
“Mindfulness” is a word being heard and used a great deal these days. It’s often understood in the context of awareness, presence or consciousness of what’s going on around us (or inside us…). “Mindlessness” is the opposite – being unaware, oblivious, mentally or emotionally absent.
Everyday mindfulness can be a challenge when we’re preoccupied with our drive-thru life styles, overflowing to-do lists, and calendars.
Running from one clock-driven assignment to the next leaves us little inclination to be patient with the person in front of us at the bank window, or compassionate for the crying baby’s mom looking for coupons ahead of us at the supermarket. Our good nature is strained as we finger-tap the steering wheel at a stop sign while waiting for a person using a walker to cross the street.
Making time to be mindful allows us to see these “interruptions” or “delays” as opportunities to offer a safe place and a moment to someone who’s having a difficult time. Leaving intentional space in clocks, calendars and schedules is an important first step in being emotionally and mentally available for loved ones or our fellow human beings.
Mindfulness affords us the opportunity to be who we are – with the added bonus of helping us to see ourselves in each other…making it time well spent.
August 22, 2016
Processing in a Safe Place
One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of the verb “process” is “to subject to examination or analysis.”
In relationships, we often “process” a hurt, a misunderstanding, or a betrayal, by thinking it through from its beginning, re-examining all the “he-said-she-said” history, and reflecting on our own part in the whole saga. We do this in our heads, our hearts, sometimes out loud alone, sometimes out loud with others.
Processing out loud with others can be tricky. Many of us have had the experience of sharing too quickly, too often, or in the heat of the moment, only to learn what we thought was a confidence turned into grist for gossip; we processed in an unsafe place.
Processing in a safe place takes practice, discernment and patience. If we have an inner circle of friends, family members and professionals who we know will validate our feelings, support our wholeness and treat our confidence with gentleness and respect, processing in a safe place gets easier.
The rewards of safe places are great. Freedom, opportunity to express ourselves without fear of betrayal, and an open atmosphere of forgiveness can create the environment where we can grow, learn and expand – all Intentions underpinning our well-being.
Processing in a safe place starts with being that safe place. For ourselves and for others.