Intention Tune-Ups

Rejection: The Pathway to Bigness

Psychologist and Author, Laurie Helgoe tells us “You’ve got to embrace rejection, or you’ll maintain a very limited life.  It’ll be nice and neat – and very, very small.”

We’re not meant to be small.  We’re meant to be limitless.  We’re meant to grow, and reach, and learn and stretch, and then grow some more.  If we base our self-esteem on the opinions of other people, we are guaranteed a life of smallness.

This doesn’t mean that the opinions and guidance from others shouldn’t be of value; it just means we should keep them Right-Sized.  And keeping Helgoe’s “embrace” right-sized is important.

Right-sizing helps us hold our balance so someone else’s opinion of us isn’t more important than our own.  It helps us keep our forward momentum as we embrace the rejection’s usefulness without being crushed by its overrated weight.

Then rejection becomes an exercise in structuring values, a pathway to safety and comfort and learning.  Then rejection becomes a pathway to bigness.

August 8, 2016

Now is all we have.  How many times have we used or heard that phrase…?

Knowing this and living it, however, are often two different things when our “now” is a place we don’t want to be.  Maybe it’s painful, chaotic, filled with uncertainty or even preparing us for an unwelcome event.  Seeing peace and joy and possibility in those nows isn’t so easy when we’d rather project ourselves into a happier state:  “I’d be happy if… (insert future or past conditions here).”

Our now is limitless, always new and full of possibilities.  Welcoming those possibilities creates the foundation for our future.  Making room for the good that’s possible begins with recognizing and releasing what doesn’t serve us anymore.  If we cling to something that must go, we block our own evolution.  Maybe we’re working through job or relationship change, maybe it’s an illness or relocation.  Maybe it’s resisting our natural aging process.

Our next step to greater abundance is always now because that’s the way the universe creates:  through endless abundance now.  We are part of that abundance, that creation; and welcoming change – staying open to what’s possible – is important and (if we allow it) invigorating work.

That invigoration begins with staying focused on holding the vibration of growth and possibility and connectedness, staying ready for the richness waiting to be recognized and realized.  A new relationship, an unexpected career, a surprise connection to a talent we didn’t know we had are all in our Now – ready to be incorporated into our foundation for the future.

Alan Watts said “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Let the music play.

August 1, 2016

Personal Power Can Never Be Taken Away

There are ten rules for changing other people:  Rule #1 – you can’t change other people.  Rules #2-10 – refer to rule #1.

Yes, we’ve all heard it a hundred times…you can’t change other people.  Maybe we can create an environment where they’ll want to change, but we cannot change them; we can only change ourselves.

So let’s look at the real work here.

Insisting that someone (or something) change so we can be happy is really our attempt to get out of doing our own work.   When our buttons get pushed, it isn’t the pushing that needs fixing (that would make it too easy), it’s the button.

If someone or something “makes” us angry, victimizes or manipulates us, we’re saying our response and behavior are out of our control and that we’re not accountable for our own actions.  What we’re saying is we’re powerless.  And we’re not.

 

There will always be irritations, situations and conflicts that take us out of “our happy place” if we choose to give them that power.  Or we can see these conditions as a means to understand ourselves better, get clear on our real intentions, do our own inner work of remembering who we are, then rising above and releasing the provocation.

Personal power can never be taken away.  It can only be given away.

 

July 25, 2016

Lightening the Load Can Get Easier

Anodea Judith once said “The more you let go, the less weight you have to carry uphill.”

The visual is one of people sweating, pushing, leaning forward to balance the load.  And once the burden is dropped, they can stand up straight, take a full breath, refocus their gaze and see what is in front of them for the first time, because they’re not looking down anymore.

Letting go of the weight really levels what we think is a hill.

Letting go allows our potential to unfold naturally, keeping us light, curious, open, willing.  Carrying emotional burdens and hurts from our past perpetuates the story we believe about ourselves.   It adds weight to our thinking, our heart and spirit, slowing our pace, creating more hills that weren’t there to begin with.

Peter Russell, spiritual teacher and physicist, once said “We cannot ‘do’ letting go; we must ‘undo’ holding on.”

Holding on locks past wounds into our “now” and guarantees a heaviness in our future.  Letting go – forgiving – lightens our “now” load and liberates us to move forward.  With practice, choosing between the two gets easier.

 

July 18, 2016

“Are You Engineering Your Life to Stay Small?” 

Brené Brown, Research Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work asks us the question in our subject line.  And it could be a good way to get us to John Burroughs’ famous quote – “Leap and the net will appear.”

Vulnerability and possibility often occupy the same space whenever we try something new, or step into the unknown. Having an idea and seeing the potential in that idea, we often get this sense of exhilaration, brain cells firing in all directions; “YES!” in every breath. That’s the Law of Expansion in the Universe spurring us to grow! Explore! Push limits! Evolve!

For some of us, that moment of exhilaration is quickly followed by our “yeah, but…” and “what if…” reptilian brain cells reminding us to take a close look the line separating expansion and self-preservation.  We must respect this line – and then move past it.  This crucial step gets easier if we remember that our evolution is always going forward…we just don’t know it, since we often slow ourselves down by devaluing the detours, pitfalls and what we think are “missed” steps.

That’s when we must remind ourselves there are no mistakes in the Universe – only learning points – turning points – as we engineer our lives.

Brown’s question comes from her book Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.  Pushing our creative limits opens us to our own strength, curiosity and self-reliance.  Our fear can keep us stuck or we can dare greatly and take the leap.  The choice is ours.

 

July 11, 2016

Love:  Does Obligation Fit In Here?

Merriam Webster’s definition of “obligate” is “to bind legally or morally.”  The legal kind has more black-and-white in it, sharp lines designed to protect, delineate, clarify and hold accountable.  The moral kind can get a bit messy, smearing those lines into a grayish smudge.

Love should be the basis for our family, romantic and social relationships, but that isn’t always the case, is it?  When love has eroded and been replaced by a sense of obligation imposed by one party or the other, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s really happening.

There is only great love in the universe.  And whatever our “obligations” are, unless we feel that great love in our actions, we need to do the hard work of defining what we do feel.

Resentment, betrayal and coercion all feel so terrible because they’re not the Intention at the root of our existence.  We are loving, generous, compassionate, sharing human beings.  And when we don’t feel all we’re supposed to feel, we need to back up, examine the causes, take ownership, clarify boundaries, and find our way to love again, even if that means inserting time and distance into the relationship.

Finding our way to love starts with mutual hearing, understanding, support and respect.  This process keeps egos in check, balance in our relationships, and a sense of self based in worthiness for all parties.  Then we can find our way to compromise in the situation, and reverence in and for each other.

In love, there is no room for obligation.  Only the fulfillment of Intention.

July 4, 2016

Clutter:  Keep Going Until The Path Is Clear

Merriam Webster defines “clutter” as a noun or an intransitive verb.  As a noun, it is “a crowded or confused mass or collection.”  As a verb, it means “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.”

Noun or verb, clutter gets in our way.

Clutter on our desks, in our homes, or in our workplaces can slow our progress toward an objective.  We need to work around it, step over it or move it before we can get to our real agenda.  That kind of clutter can be dealt with easily enough: make time, start sorting, keep going until the path is clear and you see light.

Dealing with clutter in our hearts is not so easy.  It can get complicated.  All that history to consider, words to take back, behavior to re-examine, apologies to contemplate or expect.  Because we are hardwired for love and connectedness, however, the Universe’s goals of creativity and evolution keep tugging at us, telling us that in order to grow and fulfill our intention of expansion, we must first clear the clutter.

Then clutter can be our friend.

Clutter in our hearts tells us where we weren’t honest enough, or sensitive enough, receptive or generous enough.  Maybe we were stubborn, or self-centered.  Maybe it’s the same clutter we carried with us from a past relationship, or belief.  It could be a hurdle we keep working around, stepping over or ignoring.  This kind of clutter will follow us no matter where we go – impeding our movement and diminishing the value of the love we need to give and receive.

Maybe the process of clearing our heart’s clutter really is the same as any other:  make time, start sorting, keep going until the path is clear.  True love is on that path – you’ll see light there, too.

 

 

June 27, 2016

Are We Willing to See What 4-5-6 Looks Like?

H. L. Mencken once said “Behind every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

And we’re seeing a lot of that play out on today’s world stage with polarizing positions on climate change, immigration, economies, governments, elections, and, and, and….

Depending on whether or not we count Taiwan, at least 195 countries inhabit this beautiful planet, and support over 7 billion people, according to worldometers.info.   Multiply that by the number of cultural and religious adherences each respects, and the “clear and simple” quickly get to “wrong.”

Forcing “yes-no” answers out of “yeah, but…” questions reinforces exclusion and dismissiveness, guaranteeing conflict and resentment.  The key to simplifying the complex is in overcoming our own ego- or ethno-centric intractability.  An important first step in liberating ourselves from this confinement begins with realizing there is no “them” – there’s only “us.”

We affect and are affected by every thought, action and choice taking place in this closed system we know as Earth.   Working together, negotiating and compromising can lead to solutions – if we’re willing to go beyond “view” and expand into “vision.”

With poles on any of our issues at “0” and “10,” are we willing to see what 4-5-6 looks like?  Now might be a good time to ask that question.

 

June 20, 2016

Light in the Darkness – Watching the Helpers

As we excavate the layers of darkness that lead to the tragedy in Orlando, many of us are finding it difficult to hold focus on the healing beginning to emerge.

Our bewilderment, overwhelming sense of loss and disbelief might begin to lose their grip if we “watch the helpers,” as Mr. Rogers’ mother once told him all those years ago.

One image taken as dawn broke that sad Sunday morning might help us with that intention; it is of the long lines of people waiting to give blood.  Lines stretching around city blocks.  Hundreds of people, one purpose:  sharing a part of their own bodies to help heal another.

These lines are expanding across the country and around the world as people offer the blood of their bodies and the compassion in their hearts.  Funds are being created, letters of condolence being written, message boards flooding, legislation being examined.  Outreach in every language, every format, every corner of the globe – helping in the healing.

As we continue to dissect the darkness of the heart that engaged in last Sunday’s horror, we will be challenged to understand it all and maybe we’ll never get there.  We can hold our balance and perspective, however, by staying focused on the light of the hearts engaged in the healing.  We can if we look for light in the darkness.   We can if we watch the helpers.

 

June 13, 2016

Are We Finally Ready?

Once again, we know the inadequacy of words when trying to express the inexpressible.

Even with our global technology, instant communication and 24/7 news coverage, all we have are words, and they fail to voice our pain or compassion after the catastrophe yesterday in Orlando.

If words fail the heart, maybe they can serve the brain.

Gunviolencearchive.org tells us over 18,000 people have been killed or injured due to firearms in the United States in 2016.  Of those 18,000, over 1500 are children under the age of 17.  And we’re not even half-way through the year.

If we lost 18,000 people in 6 months to a faulty device, in traffic collisions, or to natural disasters, we would see the numbers as cataclysmic and demand that we find a solution.

There comes a time when the love of fellow man must exceed our love of the means to kill him.

Are we finally ready to end this?  Are we finally ready?

 

June 6 2016

Light – The Beam?  Or the Brilliance?

One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of “beam” is “a line of light coming from a source.”  Our headlights and flashlights give us beams – limited illumination for a path in the darkness.

A lightning strike during a storm can briefly and brilliantly illuminate our whole 360º vision for a momentary flash, but then the darkness returns and we have to depend on other sources for our light once again.  That momentary brilliance, though, gives us a hint of what else there is to see; the flash might be gone, but now we know there’s more, even if it’s obscured for the moment.

This can be a metaphor if we allow ourselves to view life and All That Is as the 360° and our little ego as the beam of light.   Our narrow way of seeing ourselves and each other can be broadened if we allow an encounter, event or confrontation to be that flash of lightning, illuminating our whole human sky so we can see and can understand another’s point of view.

A Course in Miracles calls this “another way of seeing” and it can be the path to forgiveness, balance and softening around the edges of our own opinions, intractability and narrowness.

Darkness can subside if we combine our beam of light with that of others.   More light, less dark.  This could be good.

May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Seen In A Different Way

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.

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 flags on 240,000 graves and in niches of soldiers interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Two hundred forty thousand:  a number that doesn’t include the fallen who are buried in the other 130 National Cemeteries, or in their home towns…and that’s just the United States.   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 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 commemorate and reflect, balancing the mixed emotions of gratitude for the present, and hope for the future.

 

May 23, 2016

What If…?  And See What Happens

What if this planet we are living on, with, and through, is really just a stage, a place for our energetic and spiritual development?  And maybe Earth is a school, of sorts, where we learn how to manage our individual and collective energy for the greater good, so that we all evolve, together, as one humanity.  Would we change our view and treat each other as classmates instead of competitors?

What if we really understood and lived by the quantum physics law that all possibilities for all manifestations exist in every moment.  And all we have to do is decide to live our lives in peace, wholeness and pardon, and let the Universe do the rest.  Would we let go of what our ego tells us to “want” and instead shift to what our spirit guides us to “choose”?

What if there really is a heaven, nirvana or paradise waiting for us when we “die”?   And “dying” is really just releasing who we think we are, detaching from this illusory and demanding ego we fight so hard to preserve and embellish.  Would we allow ourselves to create heaven, nirvana and paradise here, now, in every moment in this lifetime?

What if we really are each others’ keepers?

Maybe we should let that sink in for a minute.  And then see what unfolds.

 

May 16, 2016

Our Power Is Decided in An Instant

How many times have we heard or used the phrase “that’s just the way it is” to describe something disappointing or overwhelming?  Even though it’s crying out for a solution?  We might see the issue as too big or too complicated to unravel or do over.  We heave a sigh and tell ourselves to accept what’s happening, let it go; what is, is.

It’s our energy in the “is-ness,” though, that determines our power.

If we accept the situation, we feel a sense of stop, loss, defeat and concession.  There’s an “oh, well…” helplessness in the end.   If we do not resist it, we feel a “go forward” opening as we recognize and acknowledge.  We’re not pushing back against what is – we just “get it,” release it, and move on, looking toward what’s possible, doable and where we can go from here.  Depending on our view, that energy crossroads offers “stop” or “go.”  And in that instant, our power is decided.

It took the Universe 14 billion years to make this moment and pushing back against it is a fool’s mission leading to certain defeat.   We can see it as a place to close down or open up.  The choice is ours.

 

May 9, 2016

We All Bring Gifts to the Party

“Be yourself.  No one can say you’re doing it wrong.”  Sage advice from Peanuts’ pooch, Snoopy.

 

We can find ourselves getting hung up in that “yourself” part, though, when we don’t know who we are.  Then if someone tells us we’re “doing it wrong,” we think they’re right.

 

Our self – our authentic Self – is an individuation of the creativity of the Universe; everything the Universe is, we are.

 

We are creative, and expanding, and brilliant and beautiful and endless.   All that creativity, expansiveness, brilliance, beauty and endlessness manifest in our daily living as our thoughts, words and behavior.  They are in the decisions we make and the gifts we share as we choose relationships, work and pass-times.   If we are sharing the truth of who we are, making choices based in our authenticity, we create an atmosphere where others can do the same.  And all that truth adds up to an environment of love, forgiveness, compassion and sharing.  And, as Snoopy reminds us, no one can do that wrong.

 

We all bring gifts to the party.  Then we all open them up – and we all play.

May 2, 2016

Avoiding Pain Slows the Healing

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.

 

April 25, 2016

16 Things I Wish I Knew at 16

1.     My opinion of myself is always more important than anyone else’s opinion of me.2.     The adults in my life can only teach from what they learned; it’s up to me to decide if it’s right for me.

3.     Loving myself and being comfortable with who I am liberates me to love and accept others for who they are.

4.     Criticizing others for their failings is a failing.

5.     I have a right to get angry; I don’t have a right to get mean.

6.     Maturity is knowing others help me with my life, but I alone am responsible for the choices I make.

7.     If love turns to hate, it wasn’t love.

8.     I can only learn and grow if I feel safe enough and free enough to make mistakes.

9.     Courage is a gift I give myself.

10.   Prejudice confines and weakens me.

11.   There’s never a good enough reason for violence.

12.   As trust in myself grows, so does my comfort zone.

13.   Stillness isn’t boredom; it’s renewal.

14.   Giving really is better than receiving.

15.   Forgiveness takes practice.

16.   We’re all doing the best we can.

 

 

April 18, 2016

Comfort Zone:  Spontaneity + Structure = Well-Being

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 or overlap completely.

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 become the springboard for well and being.  Nice.

 

April 11, 2016

De-Escalation Stops the Beginning

Many of us have heard or even used the platitude, “A good defense is the best offense.”   It’s been applied in sports, national security and on playgrounds.   During long-running conflicts, it’s difficult to find the starting point of the offense-resentment-defense-retaliation cycle, even with tracing factual histories of real or perceived assaults.In sports and national security, we have rule books and laws in place determining acceptable conduct and behavior; adherence is a model for those seeking a just victory.  On the playground, we need adults to step in and keep the conflict within civilized boundaries before it results in a bloody nose.

But what happens when “he started it” becomes the entry point in the offense-resentment-defense-retaliation cycle and there are no adults on the playground?

What happens when the children on the playground ARE the adults?

We can all be overtaken by anger when an insult or slight wounds the child in us, prompting a rise in his defense.  We’re compelled to respond with a strike of “Oh yeah? Take That!”   providing our own contribution to this race to the bottom.

De-escalation is the beginning of raising the bar and exhibiting behaviors that keep us all reaching for our higher functioning and values.  It holds a space and environment for better-ness from ourselves and each other.  The road to war is littered with these missed opportunities.

De-escalation transforms the offense into an opening for dialogue and a platform for modeling.  The originating circumstances might be beyond our control, but our responses to them are not.

April 4, 2016

Personal Power:  Cause and Effect

Deepak Chopra’s second law in his The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, tells us that the Universe is in a constant dynamic exchange, a process of giving and receiving.  And because we’re part of the Universe, we’re always giving and receiving too.  Our thoughts, words and behavior offer an energy we share with each other, planet Earth, and the cosmos.

This Law reminds us that we have the power to determine our future as individuals and as a species.  We do have a say in what happens.  We can choose the energy we bring to our decisions and determine how we create or respond to events, relationships and environments.  With practice and awareness, we see that we’re not victims of circumstances or people outside our individual, little-ego worlds and instead know ourselves in context with All That Is.

This practice and awareness is the grounding for the personal power we bring to families, communities and environments.  We bring it to our marketplaces, voting booths, 24/7 news cycles, and internet blogs.

If we take a break and a breath to consider our part in the Law of Giving and Receiving Chopra talks about, we can consciously direct our part in the whole cycle.  And it is this consciousness that allows the “receiving” part for others to be moderated and elevated as well, having an impact on their “giving.”  And so the cycle continues.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Life is a perpetual instruction in cause and effect.”   Smart guy, Emerson.

 

March 28, 2016

The Other Side of Blindsided

Merriam Webster defines “Blindside” as “to hit (someone who is facing another direction) suddenly and very hard.”  Webster continues the definition with “to shock or surprise in a very unpleasant way.”

A lot of us can point to these “blindsided” moments in our lives:  jobs dissolving with no notice, marriages crumbling with a stunning betrayal of trust, financial security vaporizing after unexpected downturns, health suddenly threatened.   No notice, stunning, unexpected, threatened…blindsided.  We’ve all been there.  The pain, waiting and bewilderment can be excruciating and interminable while we’re going through it.

This “going-through-it” agony can be softened once we realize releasing what isn’t right for us makes room for what is.  It is at that moment that our recovery begins.

The Universe is self-correcting, self-healing, self-balancing, and we’re all part of that correction, health and balance.  We’re always given chances to grow beyond the wounding, add value in unexpected places or energize possibilities.  This is where we find richness in our relationships by giving our loved ones the chance to be the powerful support we know they are.  This is where our children show us their depth as we watch them explore their own strength, resilience and compassion.  This is when we begin to see our own potential as we “come out on the other side” realizing a bigger and better “now” than we ever dreamed.

Someone once said “the only way to put something behind us is to go through it.”   The other side of “through” can be pretty good.  And it will be waiting for us there whenever we’re ready.

 

March 21, 2016

Living In the Space Between Reaching and Obsessing

We’ve all heard the platitudes – “A plan is just a dream with a timetable.”  “Dreams only come true when we’re awake.”  “It all starts with a dream.”

Another one keeps us grounded though:  “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” – as J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” character, Albus Dumbledore, reminds us.

If we remember that the dream is the beginning, the gift of our imagination, the reach toward the possibilities, we let life show us the way allowing the unknown to become the adventure and the fulfillment of the dream.   When we get caught up in over-orchestrating the plan, the process, the trappings, we lose our way.  These might be tools of measurement and progress, but it’s the “caught-up” part that we need to watch for.

It is in the space between reaching and obsessing that we truly live.

Living is maintaining a sense of humor, being soft when experiencing setbacks and mistakes, keeping the eraser handy and using it without self-recrimination.  It’s in welcoming the “yeah, but…” part of life.  Living allows for an openness, a receptivity within the structure of a plan, an ease around the edges as we bump into the dreams of others.

Humor, softness, erasers, openness, receptivity and ease:  if we allow ourselves to live as we bring our dreams to fruition, these can be tools of measurement and progress too.

 

March 14, 2016

Just Be

Someone once said “your head wants you to be protected…and your heart wants you to just be.”  Sometimes your heart wants you to be protected too, and that’s when “just be”-ing isn’t so easy.

“Just be”-ing can be a scary place.  All that openness, vulnerability, uncertainty.  We have a hard time getting comfortable with unwelcome events, unanswered questions, wondering what’s coming next.  We need to feel safe, controlled, sure.   Viewed this way, “just be”-ing keeps our heart closed, small, afraid.

That same “just be”-ing can also be a place of growth.  It can be an invitation to go deeper into our humanness, our connectedness with the strengths, vulnerabilities and scariness we share with each other.  Viewed this way, “just being” keeps our heart open, stronger, bigger.

Opening to “being” can begin with a little courage, a little trust, a little willingness find out.  We can surprise ourselves as we reveal our heart’s depth of compassion, understanding and renewal.  It is then that we know what Mark Nepo means when he says “Whatever opens us is not as important as what it opens.”

Every day can be another day of opening important things in each others’ hearts – and all we have to do is just be.

 

March 7, 2016

The Dark Side

Many of us have heard or used the term “The Dark Side” to label a nasty aspect of our nature or another’s. According to phrases.org, it is “The evil and malevolent aspect of human personality or society…” The phrase was popularized in the original Star Wars series and made manifest in the character of Darth Vader.

Our “dark side” has been defined, chronicled, justified, characterized and accepted as fact for many years and in many learned circles. We hide it, write about it, compare it and accept it as real. But is it?

“Dark” doesn’t have a property in itself. It is explained through “negation” which is defined by Merriam Webster as “the opposite of something actual or positive.” Dark is the absence of Light, the opposite of Light; and Light is who we are. Dark can only result when our Light is removed, obscured or blocked.

Seen this way, dark doesn’t exist at all. It results when Light is dimmed or denied. It’s what we experience when our Light isn’t allowed to shine. Dark is what we suffer when we forget – or don’t know – our Light.

And maybe that’s the work. Revealing our Light in the darkness, creating the environment where others can find theirs.

We can allow the wounds that take us to our “dark side” to be healed and bring us to understanding, evolution, maturity and growth. Or we can keep them open and stay in darkness, brooding, resentment and obsessing. The choice is ours.

 

February 29, 2016

Zero Base

“Zero Base” is a term used in business for budgeting. It has been defined as “having each item cost anew, rather than in relation to its size or status in the previous budget.” Zero Base can be a good way of approaching relationships, personal goals, or dreams too.

Sometimes we don’t see where we artificially limit or confine ourselves as we dream of our futures, basing expectations on past experience or what others think. Old heartaches and failed personal or business relationships are teachers – not destinies.

There is no “no” in the Universe; it is the “yes, but’s…” in our inner dialogue that hold us back from our own possibilities. “Yes, but I’ll never have enough money. Yes, but it’ll take too long. Yes, but I’m too old to start now. Yes, but…” – fill in the blank.

All those “Yes, but’s” are artificial bars, lowering expectations.

We are all the intended abundance of the Universe; we are always at the leading edge of our own unfolding. We’re always going forward from our now. And regardless of how we got to our now, forward is the only way we can go. History teaches us – it doesn’t define us. Staying open to the enormity of the Universe’s gifts keeps us open to the enormity of our own power as creators – individually and collectively. There aren’t any but’s.

Nelson Mandela said “We must all exceed our own expectations.” Wise words. He also said “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

 

February 22, 2016

Tonic? or Toxic?

Dawna Markova wrote I Will Not Die And Unlived Life – Reclaiming Purpose and Passion.” She dedicates this book to “…Those who live a life they can love.”

Markova asks us to examine the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. “Some are toxic and keep our problems festering. Others are tonic and bring us beyond the limitations of our previous history.”

This “tonic” or “toxic” can go further than our inner dialogue and can be applied to our choices in friends, work, commitments, family environment. It can be applied to ideas, thoughts, words and tone of voice with ourselves and with others. It’s a simple “yes” or “no” to our own wellbeing – and can be the conduit or the obstacle to living a life we can love.

“Beyond the limitations of our previous history.” Nice intention.

 

 

February 15, 2016

Happiness

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 because we are 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.

 

February 8, 2016

Success

“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” This from Buddhist nun, Pema Chodrön’s When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.

Sometimes things don’t even have to be falling apart – sometimes they’re falling together, but many of us are in the unattractive habit of ramping up artificial pressure on ourselves anyway, believing the “together” thing isn’t happening fast enough, soon enough, well enough or even just enough.

Setting goals and fulfilling desires are part of what we think of as life. In our culture and world, we often measure success against real or imagined benchmarks, each other, or some unattainable goal. There’s nothing wrong with quantifying success; it’s how we push ourselves to grow, share and expand. The key is using the right definition for success.

Success is unavoidable if we do our best, learn from our mistakes and work in earnest, because it is measured in the truth of who we are, the gifts we have to share and the intention behind it all. In this definition of success, we feel joy, self-celebration and fulfillment.

Anything less is just not who we are.

 

February 1, 2016

Follow-through

There’s an old joke that goes “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. It’s when we’re faced with what we see as the relentlessness of keeping the promises we made to ourselves for the new year (the grindstone), and the deepening of our commitment to enlightened living (the wheel) for the rest of our lives – or not. 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).”

Wholeness is a healthy balance in all areas of our lives – body, family, inner spirit, work, partnerships, environments, relationships. Knowing this and following through on making it all happen, though, are often two different things when it comes to the everyday discipline, energy shift, determination and restructuring of values and habits; it’s in the follow-through part that we slow down, get fuzzy and lose momentum around the edges.

Now is the time, though, to reach for trusted friends, partners, spouses and other support resources to help us stay focused. Now is when we see ourselves as worthy of the promises we made to ourselves to get in better shape, stop smoking, clear out the clutter in our lives and closets. Now is when we put distance in toxic relationships and reinforce long-neglected boundaries in school or work.

Living our wholeness begins with knowing it’s our birthright; it’s everyone’s birthright. Seeing our wholeness as a joy can help us transform this seeming “red zone” into a starting point. Now is when we convert what we saw as a grindstone and wheel into a lighted footpath.

Now is not the time to slow down and get fuzzy – now is the time to get focused. Now’s a great time.

 

January 25, 2016

Clutter

Merriam Webster defines “clutter” as a noun or an intransitive verb. As a noun, it is “a crowded or confused mass or collection.” As a verb, it means “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.”

Noun or verb, clutter gets in our way.

Clutter on our desks, in our homes, or in our workplaces can slow our progress toward an objective. We need to work around it, step over it or move it before we can get to our real agenda. That kind of clutter can be dealt with easily enough: make time, start sorting, release what’s no longer needed, keep going until the path is clear and you see light.

Clutter in our hearts is not so easily dealt with. It can get complicated. There’s all that history to consider, words to take back, behavior to re-examine, apologies to contemplate or expect.

Because we are hardwired for love and connectedness, however, the Universe’s goals of creativity and evolution keep tugging at us, telling us that in order to receive the abundance we’re entitled to, we must first clear the clutter on the path.

Then clutter can be our friend.

Clutter in our hearts tells us where we weren’t honest enough, or sensitive enough, receptive or generous enough. Maybe we were stubborn, or self-centered. Maybe it’s the same clutter we carried with us from a past relationship or belief that blocks our way to happiness now. We can ignore, work around or step over it, but this kind of clutter will follow us no matter where we go until we release it.

Maybe the process of clearing our heart’s clutter really is the same as any other: make time, start sorting, release what’s no longer needed and keep going until the path is clear.

An open heart is on that path – you’ll see light there, too.

January 18, 2016

Pancakes

You’ve probably heard or even used the phrase “no matter how flat you make the pancake, it still has two sides.”  This is to help us understand someone else’s point of view after an event or encounter had us in opposition or dissolution with them.  That someone will always occupy a place of importance in our lives, try as we may to rewrite our history or erase them altogether.  How we view their “importance” as we move forward allows us to grow and learn.
 
That “they-done-me-wrong” pancake of lost jobs, broken marriages or relationships and soured financial partnerships probably has two sides even if the validation of our “victim” mindset feels good at first.  In any case, sometimes we just need to make a new pancake.  Staying in the place of “yeah, but…”  gives us excuses for delaying our evolution and development and prevents shifting our experience from the “victim” column to that of “student.” 
 
Seeing both sides might help us understand the other person better, but the real value is in understanding ourselves.  This is how we learn, develop humility and empathy, practice resilience, and become a compassionate refuge for ourselves and others.  We learn a lot from our “failures” and those learning opportunities come in the form of people and events and circumstances, even the ones that sour into moldy pancakes. 
 
Retrospection and reflection are important as we walk through our lives.  Looking back, we can see stumbling blocks or we can see stepping stones.   The choice is always ours.

 

January 11, 2016

Momentum

Ever notice the power momentum has in our lives? Individual momentum in a concept, relationship or project, team or collective momentum toward a goal or in a competition, an idea whose time has come.

Momentum is a force that can carry us from one moment to the next. The root of the word “momentum” is the same as the word “moment;” it’s from the Latin meaning “moving power.” The visual is unmistakable: the power we generate now creates forward motion.

The intention we hold in our thoughts, perceptions, interactions with others and our self-dialogue determines the direction our momentum takes. And from the smallest thought to the grandest design, powerful individual energy from the leading edge of our potential is unfolding as the next moment of manifestation.

All future possibilities reside in the present moment. What we do in our present moments forms the momentum that makes those possibilities real.

 

January 4, 2016

Happy New Year

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 initiating and 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 for our own renewal. It is this “do-nothing” space of clarity that brings restoration and 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.

Welcome 2016.

 

December 28, 2015

Mindfulness

In a few days, we welcome 2016. This is the week many of us make New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, get that degree, start a relationship, end a relationship, fill-in-the-blank. Then after a few weeks, many of our good intentions seem to vaporize in the ongoing-ness of life as we know it and we get this “I’ve-been-here-before” feeling. That’s when we understand clearly Albert Einstein’s definition of “insanity” – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

“Different results” are always within our reach if we stay awake for the opportunity to change course, and examine our habits and reflexes before we respond with the “same thing.”

History doesn’t repeat itself; the opportunity for history to repeat itself repeats itself, and if we make a different decision at that same opportunity, we make a different history.

Resolving ahead of time to be mindful of now, helps us manage events and focus our energy and intent. That’s when we change the “doing” part of Einstein’s quote and move into a history we intend.

Here’s to Mindfulness: A New Year’s resolution we can keep.

Welcome 2016!

 

December 21, 2015

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 can be full or empty, depending on our histories, memories and feelings.

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 14, 2015

Wiggle Room

This is that time of year when consciously including a little wiggle room in the calendar and clock is a good idea – you know, that little space between chores, items on a schedule or in the datebook.

Many of us always have some version of a to-do list and a ticking clock rattling around in our heads — what we need to get to, get done, get moving or just get. Remembering that all that “getting” gets in the way of being. And without the being, we can slip away from ourselves…then the getting is of little value. This time of year with the feelings of acceleration and compression mounting, a little wiggle room could be good.

Giving ourselves permission to simplify, slow down and invite some space into our days allows us to breathe a little deeper and think a little more clearly. It lets us take better care of ourselves and each other.

Wiggle room is good. And it’s yours for the asking. Now’s a good time.

 

December 7, 2015

Move

Einstein said “nothing happens unless something moves,” and everything is moving all the time. Even matter is just energy slowed down so we can perceive it with our senses.

Physically moving from one place to another takes a lot of work, starting with the decision to make a change. Then come all the choices about where to go, what the new location offers, what to pack up and take with us, what to leave behind.

Spiritually moving takes just as much work, even though the outward signs are not immediately obvious.

In a few weeks, we move into 2016. Now could be a good time to decide how and where to move spiritually – decide what to take with us, and what to leave behind. We can remind ourselves of who we are as creations and creators, and consciously expand and evolve through what we have learned.

Some experiences are best not repeated, but the lessons can be gifts forever if we decide ahead of time who and how we are to be.

 

November 30, 2015

Chance

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, every encounter with 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: “chance” becomes “turning point.” That’s the moment we can say “I might have found you by accident, but I’m keeping you on purpose.”

 

November 24, 2015

The World We Live In

In the aftermath of the terror in Paris and the continued high alerts in other parts of our planet, we are often told “This is the reality of the world we live in,” from the analysts, political candidates and governmental figures dominating our 24/7 news cycle. Many of us believe this, have heard this phrase from others or even used it ourselves.

This is not the world we live in.

The world we live in will go largely unnoticed if those who wish us ill use our fear as their weapon.

The world we live in is made up of people preparing to celebrate this Season of Light. People gathering for social, sports and community events, political rallies and debates. The world we live in celebrates different religious, cultural or family traditions and is a world of connectedness, understanding and sharing.

The world we live in resolves differences through education, compromise and involvement and recognizes that darkness cannot prevail when it is surrounded by light. The only way this is not the world we live in is if we surrender.

And fear is the vehicle for surrender.

As we try to make sense out of the events giving rise to the pain, loss and destruction we’ve experienced these past days, our world can be love and light or fear and dark. The world we live in is the world we choose.

 

November 16, 2015

Paris

Spiritual Teacher Marianne Williamson tells us “Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world – for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.”

Given the events of this past Friday in Paris, however, it’s difficult to wax philosophical. We saw the face of horror intended from one human being to another. Multiplying this intention from a few human beings to many others only makes this act that much more difficult to comprehend.

The darkness that took over the City of Lights on November 13 is temporary; as we repair the physical destruction one brick at a time, the lights will return. It will take longer for light to return to the hearts of those whose loved ones are gone or wounded, and longer still to heal the hearts of those who believe darkness is the way to light.

All this healing is possible if we remember that transformation takes place one relationship at a time, one conversation at a time…one heart at a time. The light multiplies exponentially over years, miles, cultures, lifetimes.

In Evolution Angel, Todd Michael tells us a frozen river doesn’t thaw all at once. Sometimes it thaws, then there’s a freeze and it looks like all is lost. But then the warm days come again, the ice softens and thins. “A few cracks will appear here, a patch will open up there to reveal running water beneath. Finally one day when you least expect it, the ice will break apart and huge chunks will suddenly let loose and float away downstream. You just have to keep the sun shining on that ice, day after day…even the most impossible situations can become more fluid if you persist.”

For now, we keep all those affected by the events of November 13 in a safe place in our hearts and prayers. For now we keep the lights on for Paris, and for always, we keep the sun shining on the ice.

 

November 9, 2015

Tough?  Or Strong?

One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of “toughness” is “characterized by severity.”

Webster goes on to define “strength” as “capacity for exertion or endurance;” “not easily injured;” “firm.”

That place where one stops and the other begins – being strong but not severe – can be difficult to recognize for some of us. That line asks us to hold to our own integrity and wellbeing, while staying soft, allowing, and staying open to alternate views and options. Some of us can do this naturally, feeling safe and confident within ourselves. Some of us struggle to see the difference; we stumble around, hurting feelings, creating self-protective walls instead of porous boundaries.

Our mind-set – and its expression, words and behavior – can keep communication open or shut it down; it can inspire creativity and expansion, or reinforce isolation and self-protection; the choice is always ours. And we can consciously choose our mind-set ahead of time in all forms of daily living whether we realize it or not.

If we take the time to decide who and how we are to be in the world, our choices get easier and we can stay strong. Do we want to shield and insulate? Or trust and expand? Do we want to encourage the spiritual aliveness of who we are to reach into our world? Or do we want to keep it hidden, separate from all we are and do?

Recognizing the difference between “tough” and “strong” begins with more introspection and the mind-set accessing of our true selves. It’s an important first step to feeling safe in exploring possibilities, allowing momentum and getting comfortable with the unknown.  Tough? or Strong? The choice is ours.

 

November 2, 2015

Self-Punishment

“Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.” Erma Bombeck put her finger on a major weight for a lot of us when she said those words.

That feeling of heaviness, the unwelcome rush of physical heat accompanying the realization that we did or didn’t do something. Then there’s the never-ending loop of “if only I hadn’t been so… (insert appropriate definitive here…thoughtless, indifferent, lazy, selfish…). Guilt self-talk keeps hammering at us until we’ve demeaned ourselves into a state of exhaustion, but only after the requisite levels of denial and grief.

How did we get here? How did we lose our way on this road of learning, growing, evolving? How did we forget forgiveness and compassion for ourselves as we navigate this gift called “life”? If we remember we learn more from our mistakes than from our triumphs, self-punishment can become a thing of the past.

Ram Dass said “Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation.” Allowing yourself a safe place to expand and realize and reach and stretch comes from understanding this Intention of your existence…evolution.

Human progress often involves what we see as mistakes; we can allow them to take us to depths of guilt or the heights of wisdom; we can break down or break through. The choice is ours, the work is ours, the Intention must be ours, because the evolution is ours.

 

October 26, 2015

Welcome Non-Resistance

How many times have we heard or used the phrase “that’s just the way it is” to describe an issue crying out for a solution, but is either too big or too complicated to unravel, redirect, or heal. Often we tell ourselves and each other we need to just accept it – “what is is.”

Maybe what we need instead is an understanding of the subtle difference between acceptance and non-resistance.

Acceptance has a “stop” quality to it, a nuance of consent and reluctant surrender to a situation or conflict. And even though it can mean we value the lesson it presents, there’s a “settle” feeling to it, an undertone of resignation.

Non-resistance, on the other hand, has “no-pushback” and “what-else-can-we-do-here” feeling to it. It means acknowledging what is, and then seeing beyond, finding what can still be. That “seeing beyond” is our contribution to an environment of positive action, forward momentum and teamwork.

Non-resistance is the mentality of “Yes” and “Yes” is the Intention of the Universe – always growing from what is, offering more, bigger, broader. And because we’re part of this Universe, it’s who we are too.

That Intention comes from our deepest center compelling us to create, expand, share, give. We are always at its leading edge, opening us to possibilities – once we move beyond acceptance and welcome non-resistance.

 

October 19, 2015

Help

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 relieves us of the responsibility for 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.

 

October 12, 2015

Receptivity

Emily Dickinson said “Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”

Receptivity is one of the laws of the Universe. The dynamic exchange of giving and receiving has been taking place for millions of years, and human beings are part of that exchange. The key to recognizing the abundance being endlessly offered to us is in keeping every door open – staying consciously receptive – to every new moment.

This law of receptivity, this allowing of receiving, only asks us to release all prejudices, all habitual preconceived ideas of what might come.

It also asks us to release fears resulting from what came before.

This is not to say we should ignore experience; prudence comes from learning our lessons the hard way. Openness fortified with prudence gives us a strong, confident foundation, a solid footing as we step forward into the next new opportunity.

Dickinson’s quote invites the dawn to come through any open door. Those same open doors are invitations for us to walk through with open arms.

 

October 5, 2015

Trust

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, working relationships or business partnerships. If we trust someone with our heart, our confidence or their promise, and any of those 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 punishment (for ourselves or anyone else). It is ownership of the wound that allows us to take our power back.

Einstein said “Experience is the best teacher because she gives the test first, and the lesson afterwards.”

Smart guy, Einstein.

 

September 28, 2015

Success

As children, we probably all heard (at least once) “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” As adults, we’ve probably asked that question more than once to children we’ve met or known. The answers are as varied as the children who utter them: fireman, teacher, veterinarian, builder, athlete.

Maybe we need to look more closely at the question, and ask ourselves how the answers would change if we remember that “do” and “be” are not the same thing. We don’t need to choose between the two; we just need to be aware of the difference, and recognize that success is their careful blending.

If we allow paying the bills, competing in school or the workplace, and managing family dynamics to be guided by love, compassion, honor and truth, what we do becomes the vehicle for who we are. Then we can relax into relationships, work styles and family histories knowing we don’t need to choose between the scoreboard of doing, and the integrity of being.

That’s the moment our choices and our lives get easier. It’s also the moment when success becomes inevitable, because the definition becomes clearer.

 

September 21, 2015

Your Plate

We’ve all heard (and probably used) the phrase “I have a lot on my plate right now.” That metaphor can go on forever if we let it: bigger or smaller plate, more or fewer things on it. In “jaws”, Roy Scheider’s character utters the famous line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” once he got a good look at the much sought-after fish. And sometimes when we look at the jaws of our to-do list, we think we’re gonna need a bigger plate.

Your plate is just fine…the load is the issue.

Loading our plate with too much can make it messy, smear the boundaries between items, force things off the edges. Just looking at it leaves no space for enjoyment and celebration of each item. We lose our appetite and deny ourselves the nourishment we should be deriving. Loading our plate with too many things can break it.

Being mindful helps you pay close attention to what you feel as you move through your responsibilities. Are you feeling love and excitement? Joy and celebration? Fulfillment and anticipation? When you look at your clock and calendar, do you see a cluttered mess? Promises falling off the edges?

You are a loving, creative, expanding Intention of the universe. If you’re not feeling the love, creativity and expansion of who you are as you move through your day and life, it’s time to reassess. Too many things on your plate? What are the messy items you can clean up or eliminate? What deserves more attention? What can you right-size? Do you need to rethink items you are considering adding? Can you replace some with others?

Whatever you decide to do, do it with great love. Love what you’re taking on, love what you’re giving away, love the tidying up. The great love of who you are is at work here – take a good look, take a deep breath, make the decision, and get back to the joy. It’s who you are.

September 14, 2015

Onward

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, but 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

 

September 7, 2015

Oh, Well…

Many of us have used the quote “Man plans and God laughs.” It has been attributed to different people at different times, depending on the context. It’s also a favorite for those of us whose crystal ball has a crack in it.

No matter how noble the idea, and no matter how carefully we orchestrate, organize or strategize, there’s always something that doesn’t quite come together, a detail we overlooked or overworked.

And that’s where we see the Laws of the Universe at work, up close and personal.

The first one, of course, is the law of “intention and desire” leading us to the inevitable “detachment from the outcome.” Somewhere in between is “cause and effect.” That’s where the “man plans” part can fall down, getting us quickly to the “God laughs” part, which is the now-familiar crack in the crystal ball.

Properly perceived, that crack can be a step forward in our evolution. We can fill it with anger, resentment, blame and finger-pointing, or we can fill it with patience and forgiveness and understanding and empathy. The choice is ours.

Starting any project with a sense of humor and openness to adventure could be a good posture to assume no matter what the objective. Because sooner or later, we all learn that somewhere in the Universe is that First Law of Being Human: “Give it your best shot and hang on for the ride.”

 

August 31, 2015

Orders

Soren Kierkegaard said “Every human being comes to earth with sealed orders.” Sealed orders are not to be read until a specific time, and often we don’t know what that time is until it presents itself.

As individuations of this grand evolution called Humanity, each of us is opening our orders every day in our relationships, our work, our home environments. We’re opening them alone or with each other as we face the unexpected or expected with our families, communities and culture. Some of us are eager to know what our orders are; others of us would rather not know or not know just yet. Some of us choose to ignore them altogether. In any case, knowing ourselves well can prepare us for the consequences or benefits of our choices.

Knowing ahead of time what we can expect from ourselves in kindness, patience, understanding and forgiveness helps us face our orders with a degree of confidence and courage. Knowing ahead of time how our anger or judgment or dismissiveness can get triggered helps us see where our work is – before our orders force us to face these limitations.

Practicing self-awareness, self-reflection and self-examination in the quiet moments of our lives begins with a willingness to be truthful with ourselves, allowing candor, vulnerability and directness. Practicing helps us admit and accept our dark side and our shortcomings, bringing these to light, inviting our work, giving us opportunities to grow.

Practice begins with taking that first step with intention, commitment and self-compassion. And we can begin whenever we’re ready.

 

August 24, 2015

Listen

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. We feel worthy, supported, valued.

Interruptions can change the subject altogether by obscuring its message, diverting it from our original intent. Judgment leaves us feeling diminished and devalued, sidetracking us into a self-preservation 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 tunnel vision of self-centeredness.

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 a scream or a whisper telling us our wellness is at stake.

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.

 

August 17, 2015

Pause Button

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.

 

August 10, 2015

Processing

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 fo

August 3, 2015

Personal Power

There are ten rules for changing other people: Rule #1 – you can’t change other people. Rules #2-10 – refer to rule #1.

Yes, we’ve heard it all a hundred times…you can’t change other people. Maybe we can create an environment where they’ll want to change, but we cannot change them; we can only change ourselves.

So let’s look at the real work here.

Insisting that someone (or something) change so we can be happy is really our attempt to get out of doing our own work. When our buttons get pushed, it isn’t the pushing that needs fixing (that would make it too easy), it’s the button.

If someone or something “makes” us angry, victimizes or manipulates us, we’re saying our response and behavior are out of our control and that we’re not accountable for our own actions. What we’re saying is we’re powerless. And we’re not.

There will always be provocations, situations and conflicts that take us out of “our happy place” if we choose to give them that power. Or we can see these conditions as a means to understand ourselves better, get clear on our real intentions and do our own inner work of remembering who we are.

Personal power can never be taken away. It can only be given away.

 

July 27, 2015

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 today’s messes or triumphs, we can see the dots of our yesterdays getting connected. Connecting the dots of triumph is much more fun than connecting those of messes, of course, but in either case, the important piece is to reflect on and value the dots and the lines connecting them.

Because reflection is a dot, too.

Making it a point to see, understand and admit where we went right or wrong in our yesterdays is an important step we can take today to invite the tomorrow we desire. Part of that step can be offering apologies or gratitude to another or ourselves. Maybe the gratitude is overdue another because we were cavalier, dismissing a hand-up or guidance without saying “thank you” out loud. Maybe the apology is to ourselves because we ignored our intuition or better judgment and now we’re in a jam.

The dots we reflect on today were created yesterday. Those of tomorrow are being created today. Respecting the lines in between can help us create better dots.

July 20, 2015

Letting Go

“The more you let go, the less weight you have to carry uphill.” Anodea Judith said that, and it presents a compelling visual.

We see this person sweating, pushing, head down, leaning forward to balance the load. Once the burden is dropped, they stand up straight, breathe, lift their head up, refocus and see what is in front of them more clearly.

Because letting go of the weight really levels the hill.

When we think about it, there really is no “uphill” – everything is forward. Every minute of every day our potential and that of everything and everyone around us is being realized, and that realization is always forward whether we recognize it and value it or not. The only hills we climb are the ones we label as hills – the only weight we carry is what we decide is heavy.

We all have circumstances and life situations that challenge us. We can let our ego tell us those challenges are obstacles or allow our spirit to reframe them as openings. We can choose to see things in a new way, and that new way keeps us going – forward.

July 13, 2015

Inertia

Merriam Webster defines “Inertia” as “lack of movement or activity especially when movement or activity is 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.

There will always be reasons why now isn’t the best 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, and getting started is often the hardest part. Where to begin, what does it all look like, what do I do first.

Newton’s “outside forces” in human behavior inertia often come in the form of conflict, regret, or crisis. All that colliding, pain and messiness. Maybe what we need are inside forces instead. Intent, determination and anticipation can be those inside forces – and they all come with practice.

We need to practice looking for opportunities to take steps in the direction of our goals. These opportunities come in the disguise of people or coincidence. They’re in book recommendations, chance encounters, overheard conversations, or unexpected phone calls. If we practice seeing, listening and imagining, our own creativity gets to work encouraging us to get on with it.

There will always be reasons to put something off, but sometimes we just need to take the steps that are right in front of us.

Now’s a good time.

July 6, 2015

Change

Now is all we have. How many times have we used or heard that phrase…?

Knowing this and living it, however, are often two different things when our “now” is a place we don’t want to be. Maybe it’s painful, chaotic, filled with uncertainty or even preparing us for an unwelcome event. Seeing peace and joy and possibility in those nows isn’t so easy when we’d rather project ourselves into a happier state: “I’d be happy if… (insert future or past conditions here).”

Our now is limitless, always new and full of possibilities. Welcoming those possibilities creates the foundation for our future. Making room for the good that’s possible begins with recognizing and releasing what doesn’t serve us anymore. If we cling to something that must go, we block our own evolution. Maybe we’re working through job or relationship change, maybe it’s an illness or relocation. Maybe it’s resisting our natural aging process…

Our next step to greater abundance is always now because that’s the way the universe creates: through endless abundance now. We are part of that abundance, that creation; and welcoming change – staying open to what’s possible – is important and (if we allow it) invigorating work.

That invigoration begins with staying focused on holding the vibration of growth and possibility and connectedness, staying ready for the richness waiting to be recognized and realized. A new relationship, an unexpected career, a surprise connection to a talent we didn’t know we had are all in our Now – ready to be incorporated into our foundation for the future.

Alan Watts said “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Let the music play.

June 29, 2015

Conflict

Ever notice when in conflict with others how we see ourselves as passionate, determined and persevering? And we see our “opponent” as stubborn, obstinate, and intractable?

Conflict isn’t necessarily bad if it brings us to better understanding of each other and ourselves, and we keep the objective well defined. “Conflict” can evolve into “negotiation” if we get our egos out of the way; resisting that evolution can mean either the purpose isn’t clear, or it has morphed into self-importance.

Mark twain said “we do not deal much in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.”

Taking time to examine (and admit) our true goal before pushing through a conflict can be the key to connecting deeply to others and understanding ourselves. We don’t need to let go of our sense of self; we just need to keep moving it to a more evolved place.

June 22, 2015

Clutter

Expansion is an intention of the universe. Ever since the “big bang,” this seemingly endless expansion has continued at breakneck speed; the question of where it is all going is for physicists to answer and a bit beyond this tune-up, but we can ask ourselves how we can expand without simultaneously cluttering our own path.

Our culture celebrates “more” – more stuff, more to do, more to own. All that “more-ness” can quickly add up to disorder blocking the path to expansion, instead of allowing it. Merriam Webster tells us the word “clutter” is from the middle English meaning “clot;” wading through a clotted physical, emotional or spiritual environment doesn’t allow for limitless expansion; it encumbers it.

Priorities that keep our egos in balance can also minimize clutter in our hearts. When we open up, allow space and light, take time to be, see and really listen, we can catch our breath, simplify our life situations, be available to those we love and go deeper into our humanness, our connectedness to all that is – our intended expansion.

Allowing space and light in our hearts, lives and calendars starts with setting the intention to keep the clutter to a minimum along the way. Now’s a good time.

June 15, 2015

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 8, 2015

Mistakes

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 them 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.

 

June 1, 2015

Welcome Uncertainty

That great sage, Charlie Brown, once said “In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.”

Reading the whole book and realizing it’s never completely written is very difficult for a lot of us; we want answers, and we want them now.

This book-writing thing is the Divine unfolding of all that is. And the gifts we offer to each other as we write our own chapters in this book are patience, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, acceptance and encouragement. We contribute to the environment of freedom where the book can evolve, allowing for all of us to realize, develop and share our potential.

Having all the answers (or thinking we do) stifles imagination; it closes us down, keeps us small, restricted and narrow. It is in the limitlessness of uncertainty that our vision is born, possibilities show up and surprises can be found.

Welcoming uncertainty begins with a decision. Liberation or confinement: the choice is ours.

 

May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

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.

A few days ago, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division – “The Old Guard” – placed flags on over 267,000 graves and niches of soldiers interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Two hundred sixty-seven thousand: a number that doesn’t include the fallen who are buried in the other 130 National Cemeteries, or in their home towns…and that’s just the United States. 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 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 we remembered Peace is the way to Peace. For now though, we work through the layers of mixed emotions – gratitude for the present and hope for the future.

May 18, 2015

Fear

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; 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.

May 11, 2015

Leaps and Bounds

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.

Love to all,
Marie

 

May 4, 2015

All That Is

The Second Law in Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success is The Law of Giving and Receiving. Seeing ourselves in this Law can sometimes be difficult as we often think of things happening “to” us, when really they’re happening; how we see things decides that “to” part.

We know ourselves as individuations of the Spirit of the Universe. We participate in the Law of Giving and Receiving every minute of every day through our individual choices in circumstances, relationships and thought processes. And because this Law is always at work, knowing ourselves as part of it can bring us to the flow, wholeness and power of all that is.

Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God tells us “There is divine purpose behind everything, and, therefore, a divine presence in everything.” Practicing seeing ourselves in this Divine Purpose of giving and receiving brings us to the truth of who we are: part of the Oneness and Wholeness of All That Is.

 

April 27, 2015

Radiance

Merriam Webster defines “radiance” as “a warm, soft light that shines from something.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all live our radiance? And have the spiritual confidence to let who we really are be seen and known and then celebrated? Often what stops us is the fear of being misunderstood, or rejected or somehow devalued.

Living our radiance should be our primary objective, but it is 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 and with whom we can be ourselves, understood and valued for who we are and we hide those parts that we know will bring rejection or criticism.

A Course In Miracles tells us the only two emotions we ever feel or exhibit are fear and love – our behavior, reactions and responses 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.

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 love gets easier the more we do it, allowing our radiance to shine.

 

April 20, 2015

Fundamentals

In The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer tells us the Universe has seven “faces.” These are the ways Intention manifests in our experience. Those faces are creativity, kindness, love, beauty, expansion, abundance and receptivity. Without these faces, the Universe as we know it wouldn’t be here, and neither would we; we are part of the Universe’s Intention.

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 that resonates with what the Universe is already generating – those seven “faces.”

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 are resentment, anger, recrimination or anxiety.

And that’s the work: bringing who we really are into difficult circumstances. This “bringing” begins with awareness. Without awareness we create habits or defenses or behaviors that perpetuate the very thing we’re trying to reduce or eliminate.

Becoming aware is fundamental to creating personal power. And it can begin whenever we’re ready. Now’s a good time.

 

Expansion

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 now; potential is 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 possibility, sparking imagination, generating ideas and broadening potential.

Expansion is an Intention of the Universe. And we can experience it as soon as we allow ourselves.

Now’s a good time.

 

April 6, 2015

Future

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 was 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.

Making the most of every minute starts with understanding its value, 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?

 

March 30, 2015

Surrender

“Surrender” gets a bad rap. All those overtones of defeat or losing at a contest or conflict. Even some dictionaries have “…because you will not win or succeed…” in their definitions.

Surrender doesn’t have to be giving up or giving in. Surrender is the freedom that comes from non-resistance of what is.

“Non-resistance” is different from “acceptance” because it allows for creativity. Acceptance – surrendering in the common understanding of the word – stops, stifles and immobilizes, causing stagnation. That kind of surrendering invites resentment, anger and vengeance because we feel broken and diminished. Non-resistance takes the moment as it is without pushing back; non-resistance allows possibilities to reveal themselves. That kind of surrender opens us to different solutions; it allows us to see an opportunity we might have missed while we were busy pushing back.

If we use our energy to reach and explore and imagine, the exhaustion that comes from creating opposition dissolves. Then we can keep our balance and come from our center, solid in our intention. Then surrender becomes our ally, our advantage, our friend.

 

March 23, 2015

Chance

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 searching for. 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.”

 

March 16, 2015

Spring

“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 intention, resurrection, revitalization. Furry animals shed their winter coats, shells of baby birds crack open to be left behind – their work done.

We 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 is something we can do anytime – not just in our physical world, but also in our behavior, our outlook, the choices we make. As human beings, we have an advantage many in the non-human animal kingdom don’t have: retrospection.

Spring renewal can be a time to reflect on our lives. 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 serves us as we release what doesn’t.

So as we surface, we take a deep breath and a good look…and begin again.

 

March 9, 2015

Time Out

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 yours if you’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?

 

March 2, 2015

Transition Team

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, 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, we will see opportunities for learning, healing and unification 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 fear or opening up in love. 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 truth and love.

 

February 23, 2015

Adventure

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.

 

February 16, 2015

Vision

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 overwhelming; an obstacle course of complications, detours and setbacks stretching out in front of us, becoming the path of one to the other.

That’s when we must remember that our circumstances will change once our path and our vision become the same thing, making our “there and then” our “here and now.”

Our daily living circumstances of clocks, lunch boxes and jobs can be the vehicle for our vision of love, joy, peace and abundance, if we intend to see them that way. The way is to live our vision in our circumstances. When we do, we can watch the Law of Attraction – energy attracting like energy – move us toward what we desire.

The obstacles we see between our circumstances and our vision are not on our path; they are our path. They present us with opportunities for patience, compassion, understanding, generosity, sharing. This is the path to love, peace and joy; this is the path to the abundance of our vision.

Bit by daily bit, together, our obstacles serve us, and our inner vision becomes our outer circumstances, which is what we wanted from the start.

February 9, 2015

Edit Button

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” and “you never’s” – 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’s going to 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. It is then that we go from defensiveness to understanding.

Issues of powerlessness, vulnerability, fragility or anxiety can hide in topics of leaving dirty dishes in the sink, or 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 gives us the space to hear.

 

February 2, 2015

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 unwelcome and wounding event, this “non-moving power” is an important position in itself. It’s a space, a place of rest, grounding and stabilizing where we can solidify our footing 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 call on our support system of trusted family, friends and professionals and let them create for us 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 and hesitations in our next steps. It’s where we reach deep inside ourselves to reveal the seeds of resilience we didn’t know we had.

Breathing and resting in this safe place of “not moving” allows us to reflect on the event, find ways to keep the wisdom while we lose the wound, then, with confidence, we can shift into our first gear and move forward.
Sometimes, neutral is all the movement we need.

 

January 26, 2015

Rejection

Psychologist and Author, Laurie Helgoe tells us “You’ve got to embrace rejection, or you’ll maintain a very limited life. It’ll be nice and neat – and very, very small.”

We’re not meant to be small. We’re meant to be limitless. We’re meant to grow, and reach, and learn and stretch, and then grow some more. If we base our self-esteem on the opinions of other people, we are guaranteed a life of smallness.

This doesn’t mean that the opinions and guidance from others shouldn’t be of value; it just means we should keep them Right-Sized. And keeping Helgoe’s “embrace” right-sized is important.

Right-sizing helps us hold our balance so someone else’s opinion of us isn’t more important than our own. It helps us keep our forward momentum as we embrace the rejection’s usefulness without being crushed by its overrated weight.

Then rejection becomes an exercise in structuring values, a pathway to safety and comfort and learning. Then rejection becomes a pathway to bigness.

 

 

January 19, 2015

Available

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.

 

January 12, 2015

Help

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.

 

 

January 5, 2015

Inner Vision

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.

Welcome 2015.

 

December 22, 2014

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 can be full or empty, depending on our histories, memories and feelings,

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 15, 2014

Permission of Yes

Don’t we live in a beautiful Universe? Endless, abundant, brilliant, innovative. There is no “no” in the Universe, only boundless creation, limitless “yes.” And even though the Universe is all about “yes,” in our energetic dimension of opposites, we know “no.” Our vibratory value and familiarity is one that allows us to understand up/down, light/dark, sound/silence.

This is the time of year when we’re asked by ourselves and others to be and do more with our time, energy, money, calories and miles. And saying “yes” or “no” to those requests can bring us the accompanying feelings of opposites: joy/guilt, abundance/lack, patience/anger, celebration/resentment.

As we move through our winter holiday observances, paying close attention to our feelings as we make our choices of how to contribute is important. Saying “no” to personal overextension or conflict (time, energy, money, calories, miles) means saying “yes” to personal health and balance.

Giving your personal well-being your first “yes” this holiday season will keep you relaxed, appreciating and partying. Each moment becomes a celebration.

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 8, 2014

Wiggle Room

This is that time of year when consciously including a little wiggle room in the calendar and clock is a good idea – you know, that little space between chores, items on a schedule or in the datebook.

Many of us always have some version of a to-do list and a ticking clock rattling around in our heads — what we need to get to, get done, get moving or just get. Remembering that all that “getting” gets in the way of being. And without the being, we can slip away from ourselves…then the getting is of little value. This time of year with the feelings of acceleration and compression mounting, a little wiggle room could be good.

Giving ourselves permission to simplify, slow down and invite some space into our days allows us to breathe a little deeper and think a little more clearly. It lets us take better care of ourselves and each other.

Wiggle room is good. And it’s yours for the asking. Now’s a good time.

 

December 1, 2014

Stillness

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 24, 2014

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, 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 yourself, others and the Universe that you are grateful and appreciative. It is this gratitude and appreciation that keep the flow of creation, and 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 the fabric of who we are. Then gratitude is seen as a way of life, a cause for celebration and remembrance all year ‘round.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

 

 

November 17, 2014

Letting Go

Anodea Judith once said “The more you let go, the less weight you have to carry uphill.”

The visual is one of people sweating, pushing, leaning forward to balance the load. And once the burden is dropped, they can stand up straight, take a full breath, refocus their gaze and see what is in front of them for the first time, because they’re not looking down anymore.

Letting go of the weight really levels what we think is a hill.

Letting go allows our potential to unfold naturally, keeping us light, curious, open, willing. Carrying past emotional burdens and hurts adds weight to our thinking, our heart and spirit, slowing our pace, creating more hills that weren’t there to begin with.

Peter Russell, spiritual teacher and physicist, once said “We cannot ‘do’ letting go; we must ‘undo’ holding on.”

Holding on keeps past wounds in our “now” and weighs down our future. Forgiving the past lightens our load and allows us to move forward. With practice, choosing between the two gets easier.

 

 

November 10, 2014

Leap

John Burroughs famously once said “leap and the net will appear.” Depending on your point of view, this statement is met either with “Whee!!!” or “OMG!!”

Vulnerability and possibility often occupy the same space whenever we try something new, or take a leap into the unknown. When we have an idea and see the potential in that idea, we often get this sense of exhilaration, brain cells firing in all kinds of directions; “YES!” in every breath. That’s the Law of Expansion in the Universe telling us to grow! Explore! Push limits! Evolve!

For some of us, that moment of exhilaration is quickly followed by our “yeah…but…” and…“what if…” reptilian brain cells reminding us to take a close look the line separating expansion and self-preservation. Moving past this line gets easier once we realize that our evolution is always going forward…we just don’t know it, since we often pay closer attention to the detours and what we think are “missed” steps. There are no mistakes – only learning points, turning points, where we take a chance and leap.

If in that leaping we fail, we fail while daring greatly as Brené Brown reminds us. Brown is research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and her question to us is “are you engineering your life to stay small?”

Pushing our creative limits opens us to our own courage, curiosity and self-reliance. Our fear can keep us stuck or we can reach and take the leap. The choice is ours.

 

November 3, 2014

Obligation

Merriam Webster’s definition of “obligate” is “to bind legally or morally.” The legal kind has more black-and-white in it, sharp lines designed to protect, delineate, clarify and hold accountable. The moral kind can get a bit messy, smearing those lines into a grayish smudge.

Love should be the basis for our family, romantic and social relationships, but that isn’t always the case, is it? When love has eroded and been replaced by a sense of obligation imposed by one party or the other, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s really happening,

There is only great love in the universe. And whatever our “obligations” are, unless we feel that great love in our actions, we need to do the hard work of defining what we do feel.

Resentment, betrayal and coercion all feel so terrible because they’re not the intention at the root of our existence. We are loving, generous, compassionate, sharing human beings. And when we don’t feel all we’re supposed to feel, we need to back up, examine the causes, take ownership, and find our way to love again, even if that means inserting time and distance into the relationship.

Finding our way to love starts with mutual hearing, understanding, support and respect. This process keeps egos in check, balance in our relationships, and a sense of self based in worthiness for all parties. Then we can find our way to compromise in the situation, and reverence in and for each other.

In love, there is no room for obligation. Only the fulfillment of Intention.

 

 

October 27, 2014

Clutter

Merriam Webster defines “clutter” as a noun or an intransitive verb. As a noun, it is “a crowded or confused mass or collection.” As a verb, it means “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.”

Noun or verb, clutter gets in our way.

Clutter on our desks, in our homes, or in our workplaces can slow our progress toward an objective. We need to work around it, step over it or move it before we can get to our real agenda. That kind of clutter can be dealt with easily enough: make time, start sorting, keep going until the path is clear and you see light.

Clutter in our hearts is not so easily dealt with. It can get complicated. There’s all that history to consider: words to take back, behavior to re-examine, apologies to contemplate or expect. Because we are hardwired for love and connectedness, however, the Universe’s goals of creativity and evolution keep tugging at us, telling us that in order to grow and fulfill our intention of expansion, we must first clear the clutter.

Then clutter can be our friend.

Clutter in our hearts tells us where we weren’t honest enough, or sensitive enough, receptive or generous enough. Maybe we were stubborn, or self-centered. Maybe it’s the same clutter we carried with us from a past relationship, or belief. It could be a hurdle we keep working around, stepping over or ignoring. This kind of clutter will follow us no matter where we go – impeding our movement and reducing the effectiveness of the love we need to give and receive.

Maybe the process of clearing our heart’s clutter really is the same: make time, start sorting, keep going until the path is clear. True love is on that path – you’ll see light there, too.

 

 

October 20, 2014

Light

One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of “beam” is “a line of light coming from a source.” Our headlights and flashlights give us beams – limited illumination for a path in the darkness.

A lightning flash during a storm can briefly and brilliantly illuminate our whole 360º vision for a momentary flash, but then the darkness returns and we have to depend on other sources for our light once again. That momentary flash, though, gives us a hint of what else there is to see; we know there’s more, even if it’s obscured for the moment.

This metaphor applies when we allow ourselves to see the world through more than our own little ego. Our narrow way of seeing each other can be broadened if we allow an encounter, event or confrontation to act as a flash of lightning, illuminating our whole human sky so we see and can understand another’s point of view.

A Course in Miracles calls this “another way of seeing” and it can be the path to forgiveness, balance and softening around the edges of our own opinions, intractability and narrowness.

The more we allow our beam to combine with those of others, the more light we will share, and the more darkness will subside. More light, less dark. This could be good.

 

October 13, 2014

What If…

What if this planet we are living on, with, and through, is really just a stage, a place for our energetic and spiritual development? And maybe Earth is a school, of sorts, where we learn how to manage our individual and collective energy for the greater good, so that we all evolve, together, as one humanity. Would we change our view and treat each other as classmates instead of competitors?

What if we really understood and lived by the quantum physics law that all possibilities for all manifestations exist in every moment. And all we have to do is decide to live our lives in peace, wholeness and pardon, and let the Universe do the rest. Would we let go of what our ego tells us to “want” and instead shift to what our spirit guides us to “choose”?

What if there really is a heaven, nirvana or paradise waiting for us when we “die”? And “dying” is really just releasing who we think we are, detaching from this illusory and demanding ego we fight so hard to preserve and embellish. Would we allow ourselves to create heaven, nirvana and paradise here, now, in every moment in this lifetime?

What if we really are each others’ keepers?

Maybe we should let that sink in for a minute. And then see what unfolds.

 

 

October 6, 2014

What Is, Is

How many times have we heard or used the phrase “that’s just the way it is” to describe an issue crying out for a solution? We might see the situation as too big or too complicated to unravel, redirect, or do over. Often we tell ourselves and each other we need to just accept it; what is, is. And that, of course, is true: what is, is.

We can respond to that “is-ness” a couple different ways, though, and there’s a subtle shift in our energy, depending on our view.

If we accept the situation, we can feel a sense of stop, loss, defeat, concession. If we do not resist it, we can open up to a “go forward” sense of recognition and understanding, then release and possibility. We move from what is to what’s next, what’s doable, where can we go from here. Depending on our perspective, that energy shift is an invitation – we can choose between “stop” and “go.” Between closing down and opening up.

It took the Universe 14 billion years to make this moment. Pushing back against it guarantees frustration and defeat; seeing it as the leading edge of possibility summons imagination and inventiveness. The choice is ours.

 

September 29, 2014

Your Self

“Be yourself. No one can say you’re doing it wrong.” Sage advice from Peanuts’ pooch, Snoopy.

We can find ourselves getting hung up in that “yourself” part, though, when we don’t know who we are. Then if someone tells us we’re “doing it wrong,” we think they’re right.

Our self – our authentic Self – is an individuation of the creativity of the Universe; everything the Universe is, we are.

We are creative, and expanding, and brilliant and beautiful and endless. All that creativity, expansiveness, brilliance, beauty and endlessness manifest in our daily living as our thoughts, words and behavior. They are in the decisions we make and the gifts we share as we choose relationships, work and pass-times. If we are sharing the truth of who we are, making choices based in our authenticity, we create an atmosphere where others can do the same. And all that truth adds up to an environment of love, forgiveness, compassion and sharing. And, as Snoopy reminds us, no one can do that wrong.

We all bring gifts to the party. Then we all open them up – and we all play.

 

September 22, 2014

Avoidance

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 look inside at the wound we’re trying to protect, we’re missing an opportunity for inner healing.

When we’re squeamish about addressing a painful person or environment, that’s the time to remember that we keep getting our lessons until we learn them. Maybe the situation isn’t the problem; maybe it’s the solution.

Painful as it might be, staying with the pain is the beginning of healing. This is where we examine, understand and forgive. This is where we explore, learn and release. Distracting ourselves or pacifying our feelings denies us the opportunity to reconcile and grow. We transcend by addressing – not by avoiding.

Our 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. We go from depletion and exhaustion to strength and energizing. Our 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.
September 15, 2014

Comfort Zone

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 derive comfort 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 freedom, spaciousness, and the “let’s-see-what-happens” limitlessness that animates us.

Well-being is a necessary part of our comfort zone. Combining structure with spontaneity can get us there, but that’s the tricky part.

If we live only for the moment, and do only what we feel like doing, we lose sight of the pieces we need for financial security, physical and spiritual health management, social and community connectedness. If we stay lock-stepped in a 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: finding the place where spontaneity and structure can live side by side or overlap completely.

We begin by clearly defining our goals along with the soft lines around achieving them. This first step is the beginning of a broadened comfort zone, and can be taken whenever we’re ready.

Now’s a good time.

 

 

September 8, 2014

Good News

Deepak Chopra’s second law in his The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, tells us that the Universe is in a constant dynamic exchange, a process of giving and receiving. And because we’re part of the Universe, we’re always giving and receiving too. Our thoughts, words and behavior all offer an energy we share with each other, planet Earth, and the cosmos.

That’s good news!

It reminds us that we have the power to determine our future as individuals and as a species. We do have a say in what happens to us. We can choose our vibration and decide what we create and how we contribute or respond to events, relationships or environments. With practice and awareness, we see that we’re not victims of circumstance or someone or something outside our individual little-ego worlds. We see our connectedness to each other across the street or across the globe.

This practice and awareness takes place in our marketplaces and voting booths, in our school curriculum and internet blogs, in our websites and 24/7 news cycle. We can offer a vibration that lifts the tone of discourse in conflicts and eliminates judgments and labeling. We can take a breath and a moment before we choose what we give, so what is received can be moderated as well. If we remember nothing happens “to” us and instead it happens “with” us, our choices can direct that “dynamic exchange” in the direction of peace and unity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Life is a perpetual instruction in cause and effect.” With the right approach, this is good news indeed.

 

 

September 1, 2014

Blindsided

Merriam Webster defines “Blindside” as “to hit (someone who is facing another direction) suddenly and very hard.” Webster continues the definition with “to shock or surprise in a very unpleasant way.”

A lot of us can point to these “blindsided” moments in our lives: jobs dissolving with no notice, marriages crumbling with a stunning betrayal of trust, financial security vaporizing after unexpected downturns, health suddenly threatened. No notice, stunning, unexpected, threatened…blindsided. We’ve all been there. The pain, waiting and bewilderment can be excruciating and interminable while we’re going through it.

This “going-through-it” agony can be softened once we realize releasing what isn’t right for us makes room for what is. It is at that moment that our recovery begins.

The Universe is self-correcting, self-healing, self-balancing, and we’re all part of that correction, health and balance. We’re always given chances to grow beyond the wounding, add value in unexpected places or energize possibilities. This is where we find richness in our relationships by giving our loved ones the chance to be the powerful support we know they are. This is where our children show us their depth as we watch them explore their own strength, resilience and compassion. This is when we begin to see our own potential as we “come out on the other side” realizing a bigger and better “now” than we ever dreamed.

Someone once said “the only way to put something behind us is to go through it.” The other side of “through” can be pretty good. And it will be waiting for us there whenever we’re ready.

 

August 25, 2014

Just Be

Someone once said “your head wants you to be protected…and your heart wants you to just be.” Sometimes your heart wants you to be protected too, and that’s when “just be”-ing isn’t so easy.

“Just be”-ing can be a scary place. All that openness, vulnerability, uncertainty. We have a hard time getting comfortable with unwelcome events, unanswered questions, wondering what’s coming next. We need to feel safe, controlled, sure. Viewed this way, “just be”-ing keeps our heart closed, small, afraid.

That same “just be”-ing can also be a place of growth. It can be an invitation to go deeper into our humanness, our connectedness with the strengths, vulnerabilities and scariness we share with each other. Viewed this way, “just being” keeps our heart open, stronger, bigger.

Opening to “being” can begin with a little courage, a little trust, a little willingness find out. We can surprise ourselves as we reveal our heart’s depth of compassion, understanding and renewal. It is then that we know what Mark Nepo means when he says “Whatever opens us is not as important as what it opens.”

Every day can be another day of opening important things in each others’ hearts – and all we have to do is just be.

 

August 18, 2014

Spiritual Capital

One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of “capital” is “accumulated goods.” Through our lives, we do our best to accumulate personal goods in the form of monetary wealth, and in material symbols such as cars, homes and vacations. We admire this “accumulation” in ourselves and others and we measure that capital in our work history and affiliations, home pantries and bank accounts.

Spiritual capital is what we accumulate over time and it comes in the form of integrity, kindness, trust, fidelity, courage, honor. This capital is always within easy reach, because it’s part of who we are, it is our authentic nature, and it can be deepened. We become more aware of it the more we practice and make it part of our conscious decisions.

Taking a little time each day, or even a few times a day, to remind ourselves of our spiritual capital can fortify and steady us, center and still us. These little meditative reminders can underpin our decision-making and help us recognize our wholeness.

Our spiritual bank account is always part of our core. Realizing it at a conscious level and infusing it regularly into decisions and experiences will bring wealth and abundance into every area of our lives. And all we have to do is stop, take a deep breath and remember.

Now’s a good time.

 

August 11, 2014

Porous Boundaries

Personal relationships are important. As humans, we’re hardwired for connectedness and identity with each other. Because we are all just one energetic, spiritual existence, our need to stay close to others is part of our nature, our human character.

With this connectedness and identity come vulnerability and trust. We need each other, we depend on each other. And in the sweet spot where vulnerability and trust overlap, we develop love for each other and then can grow together.

All this can fall down if the boundaries meant to protect our vulnerability give way to trusting unwisely.

We get signals when we’re nearing that giving-way point: the twinges in the pit of the belly after a harsh word or an unexpected hint of disloyalty, intrusive questions, or gossip. When minimized or ignored, those “Boundary Here!” twinges can lead to debilitating wounds, compromising our welfare and putting our well-being at risk. Before we realize it, we’re weakened. We’ve given our power away to the wrong person.

Having no boundaries at all leaves us vulnerable to any possible mistreatment at any time. Building protective walls around our hearts is equally unwise; we’re left insulated and isolated.

Porous boundaries can be a good balance; they help us with those “go/no-go” places in personal relationships where the line between vulnerability and trust can be respected. We can see the “go” part as a pore, a breathing space, a safe opening where we can share, and receive; those “no-go” places are where we get those first twinges, those little warnings that if we proceed, we’re in danger of losing our power.

Well-being is our birthright, part of our Intended existence. Porous boundaries can be a powerful tool for keeping our well-being safe and thriving.

August 4, 2014

Perspective

Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote Wherever You Go, There You Are. And in just the title of his book, he summed up human “cause and effect” pretty well.

Wherever we are in our lives is the sum total of our experiences, reactions and choices as our days and events and years unfold. We might or might not like where we are today – as individuals, a species or culture – but if we reflect on and own our part in the whole evolution, we can see all that connect-the-dots stuff…for better or worse.

If the dots are “better,” we see them as progress; if the dots are “worse,” we see them as disappointments. We can keep our balance in all this if we remind ourselves to see the “worse” dots from the standpoint of their times.

We often try to put the past behind us when really we should just put it into perspective. We all make decisions that might have made sense in the “now” of our moments, only to have them come back – upon reflection – to bite us as “mistakes.” Understanding that it was a different “now” then can soften the edges around those bites and help us make better decisions as we go forward; we made the best decision we could with what we knew and needed at the time.

If it’s different now, it’s because it’s a different now now. Knowing this can help us move forward with self-understanding, self-compassion and self-forgiveness, giving us…perspective.

July 28, 2014

Obstacles

Some of us don’t like surprises very much, especially when they bring something unwanted. They knock us off our pins, take us out of our routine, ask us to stretch and reach more or in a direction outside our original ego-based path. “But the plan was…” or “What I wanted to do was…” or “What I thought would work is…” Obstacles on the path change everything.

We can see these hurdles as setbacks, stumbling blocks, or interruptions, or we can ask ourselves what the gift is. Questions such as “What is here that will make me better?” “What can I do now that I couldn’t do before?” or “What’s my contribution in all this?” push us to unlock our thinking and find ways through the unknown. This pushing and finding opens us up, allows more flow, enables more growth. Growing is the gift in every obstacle – even if we don’t see it right away – because that’s what the Universe does; it’s what we do. We grow.

Staying vigilant for opportunities and “seeing things in a new way,” to paraphrase A Course In Miracles, is our responsibility, our contribution to this Intention. We need to listen for that little voice whispering in our ear, asking us if we’re preserving our ego or following Intention, the Spirit of who we are.

Welcoming this voice keeps our egos right-sized and attachment to outcome minimized. Then we get to the place where we don’t see obstacles on our path; we see them as our path.

July 21, 2014

Back to Basics

“First principles” can be defined as core beliefs, fundamental truths or the foundation of an objective.  They can be scientific or personal, and can be distinct to an individual or enterprise.

Many of us start out with the good intention of serving others through a product, service or idea but then find ourselves overwhelmed by shifting pressures of business, family or culture.  We begin to confuse flexibility of process and style with surrender of goals; the place where we keep focus on those goals is first principles.

Getting back to basics can be as straightforward as reading and re-reading a mission statement, clearing clutter from our work space, unloading or redirecting distractions from our calendars, and learning to say “let me get back to you on that” instead of a reflexive “yes.”

If we take a minute, take a breath and take a look at our first principles, we can remind ourselves of our good intentions.  First principles are our friends.

Now’s a good time.

July 14, 2014

Happy

Abraham-Hicks tells us “a happy life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don’t allow for a happy moment because they’re too busy trying to get a happy life.”

Happy moments are those that seem unexpected, unplanned or uneventful at the time, but turn out to be special memory mile markers along the way. Waiting in line with your child for an ice cream cone, a power failure when the air conditioner goes out, sitting in traffic hoping for volume to dissipate at toll booths can all be opportunities for those happy moments. The ice cream cone, cooled air and moving traffic might look like the objective, but the happiness is in the moments of enjoying each other in the stillness leading up to them.

Someone once said “The best gift we can ever give each other is a lifetime of happy memories.” Stringing together those happy moments. Sounds like good guidance whatever the season.

Much love to all,
Marie

July 7, 2014

Zero Base

“Zero Based” is a term used in business for budgeting. It has been defined as “having each item cost anew, rather than in relation to its size or status in the previous budget.” Zero Base can be a good way of approaching relationships, personal goals, or dreams too.

Sometimes we don’t see where we artificially limit or confine ourselves as we dream of our futures, basing expectations on past experience or what others think. Old heartaches and failed personal or business relationships are teachers – not destinies.

There is no “no” in the Universe; it is the “yes, but’s…” in our inner dialogue that hold us back from our own possibilities. “Yes, but I’ll never have enough money. Yes, but it’ll take too long. Yes, but I’m too old to start now. Yes, but…” – fill in the blank.

All those “Yes, but’s” are artificial bars, lowering expectations.

We are all the intended abundance of the Universe; we are always at the leading edge of our own unfolding. We’re always going forward from our now. And regardless of how we got to our now, forward is the only way we can go. History teaches us – it doesn’t define us. Staying open to the enormity of the Universe’s gifts keeps us open to the enormity of our own power as creators – individually and collectively. There aren’t any but’s.

Nelson Mandela said “We must all exceed our own expectations.” Wise words. He also said “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

June 30, 2014

Vulnerability

Merriam Webster defines “vulnerable” as “capable of being wounded…open to damage…” And in relationships, who among us hasn’t been there. Some of us more than once.

New relationships bring with them a degree of vulnerability. Finding out if we can trust this person to keep our heart in a safe place can be a scary process. We hesitate remembering past history and doubting our own ability to know if someone has our best interest at heart. Taking that first step into the unknown means getting comfortable with vulnerability – a contradiction in terms to be sure.

Embracing the uncertain in new relationships demands that we release the certain and make room for the possibilities. We might not like how our habits or past relationships or our work environments are holding us back, but at least we know what to expect. No surprises. Moving on from anything that confines us leaves us a little shaky and raw as we take those first timid steps; we’re tempted to go back to the old ways, the old partners, the old habits. But it doesn’t work; they don’t fit anymore. We know better. We’re bigger, smarter, healthier.

Getting comfortable with the vulnerability we feel when we step into the unknown is not easy but it can be the first step to trusting ourselves and others again. Surrounding ourselves with good friends and professionals as we reach outside that uncomfortable comfort zone is a good start.

Now’s a good time.

June 23, 2014

Purpose

Merriam Webster defines “purpose” as “the reason why something is done or used; the aim or intention of something.”   For many of us, finding our purpose is a goal in life.

We can relax a little about that “finding” part.  We’re already living our purpose – every one of us – whether we realize it or not, whether we have defined it or not.  We’re here because we were Intended here, as part of the unfolding Universe.  That is our purpose – to be the Universe realizing its own expansion.  And that’s a good start.

In our human experience, our biology has advanced to the point where we can recognize our own consciousness:  we’re aware, and we’re aware that we’re aware.  It is this awareness that makes us question the living of our own purpose.  Do we have the right occupation, the right mate, are we using our talents enough to serve others.    These are the questions we ask ourselves as individuals and as a species so we evolve consciously.

Our very existence is proof that we’re living our purpose; we fall down when we judge, compare or question the purpose we or others are living.  Contributing to a safe environment where we can all explore, exercise curiosity, build relationships, follow our intuition, make mistakes and try again gets easier the more we do it.  It is this contribution that invites more purpose.

We all bring gifts to the party.  Then we all open them up – and we all play.  On purpose.

June 16, 2014

Living

We’ve all heard the platitudes – “A plan is just a dream with a timetable.” “Dreams only come true when we’re awake.” “It all starts with a dream.”

Another one keeps us grounded though: “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” – as J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” character, Albus Dumbledore, reminds us.

If we remember that the dream is the beginning, the gift of our imagination, the reach toward the possibilities, we let life show us the way allowing the unknown to become the adventure and the fulfillment of the dream. When we get caught up in over-orchestrating the plan, the process, the trappings, we lose our way. These might be tools of measurement and progress, but it’s the “caught-up” part that we need to watch for.

It is in the space between reaching and obsessing that we truly live.

Living is maintaining a sense of humor, being soft when experiencing setbacks and mistakes, keeping the eraser handy and using it without self-recrimination. It’s in welcoming the “yeah, but…” part of life. Living allows for an openness, a receptivity within the structure of a plan, an ease around the edges as we bump into the dreams of others.

Humor, softness, erasers, openness, receptivity and ease: if we allow ourselves to live as we bring our dreams to fruition, these can be tools of measurement and progress too.

Much love to all,
Marie

June 9, 2014

Ready

One of Merriam Webster’s definitions for “Ready” is “immediately available.”

This “ready” vibe shifts us from “wanting” to anticipating. “Wanting” tells the Universe that what we wish for is not here, and because we live in a time-space dimension, our experiences are based in “here-there-now-then” terms. But to the Universe, everything is here and now.

Holding ourselves in the vibration of anticipation – readiness – being available – tells the Universe we’re open and prepared for success in manifesting that new relationship, that new home, new job or healthy lifestyle.

Readiness always begins with anchoring into gratitude for what we already have. We expand our gratitude in current relationships, possessions and experiences to include our Intentions and Desires. We make room for more, bigger, better, by clearing clutter from our lives, our outlook, inner dialogue, clocks, calendars and to-do lists. We make space and are “immediately available” for more.

This making of space begins with awareness, with the shift from want to expect, from stagnation to anticipation. And it can take place whenever we’re…Ready. Now’s a good time.

Much Love to All,
Marie

June 2, 2014

Flexibility

Mark Nepo said “The glassblower knows while in the heat of beginning, any shape is possible.  Once hardened, the only way to change is to break.”

A lot of us can see this metaphor at work in our own lives when 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.  Our egos have a stake in being “right” – not changing or allowing for movement toward a different position.

Flexibility isn’t surrender; it’s strength.  Flexibility keeps us in our power, allowing for easier navigation of disagreements, less scarring, more understanding.  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, and that can be painful, bruising, longer lasting.  Flexibility enriches relationships, jobs, marriages and family cohesiveness.  It deepens unity in alliances globally and within our own government.  It can soften us in drawing lines around any kind of extremism.

Flexibility keeps us receptive, open, allowing for expansion, curiosity and evolution.  Powerful stuff, flexibility.

 

May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Have you noticed the interesting juxtaposition on TV and the internet of all the Memorial Day celebrations we enjoy? Car Sales, cookouts, days off from work, side-by-side with war movies and parades reminding us of how those celebrations were made possible.

A few days ago, soldiers from “The Old Guard” placed 220,000 flags on the graves of soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Two hundred twenty thousand: a number that doesn’t include the fallen who are buried in the other 130 National Cemeteries, or in their home towns…and that’s just the United States. 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 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 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 the war), State (preventing the war) and Veterans Administration (repairing the wounds of war).

Perhaps the day will come when we celebrate Memorial Day as the day we remembered War is not the way to Peace. Peace is the way to Peace.

In the meantime, in the mixed emotions of gratitude and hope, maybe we should also weep.

Much love to all,
Marie

 

 

 

May 19, 2014

The Dark Side

Many of us have heard or used the term “The Dark Side” to label a nasty aspect of our nature or another’s.   According to phrases.org, it is “The evil and malevolent aspect of human personality or society…”   The phrase was popularized in the Star Wars series and made manifest in the character of Darth Vader.

Our “dark side” has been defined, chronicled, justified, characterized and accepted as fact for many years and in many learned circles.  We hide it, write about it, compare it and accept it as real.  But is it? 

 “Dark” doesn’t have a property in itself.  It is explained through “negation” which is defined by Merriam Webster as “the opposite of something actual or positive.”  Dark is the absence of Light, the opposite of Light; and Light is who we are.  Dark can only result when our Light is removed, obscured or blocked.

Seen this way, dark doesn’t exist at all.  It results when Light is dimmed or denied.  It’s what we experience when our Light isn’t allowed to shine.  Dark is what we suffer when we forget – or don’t know – our Light.

And maybe that’s the work.  Finding our Light in the darkness, creating the environment where others can find theirs.

We can allow the wounds that take us to our “dark side” to be healed and bring us to understanding, evolution, maturity and growth.  Or we can keep them open and stay in darkness, brooding, resentment and obsessing.  The choice is ours.

May 12, 2014

Personal Power

Ever notice how we sometimes find ourselves in the same situation, or relationship, or dynamic where we end up feeling unfulfilled, abandoned or, worse, abused?  We get this “Wait a minute…I know how this movie ends” feeling.  Wondering how we “did it again”…

Pema Chodron tells us “…nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”

Our lessons come, over and over, giving us a chance at wisdom, which usually comes after the wound.  And when we reflect (painful as that may be) we can see the signs, the signals, the warnings, that appeared and were ignored along the way.  Our intuition was trying to get our attention.  It said “take another look – take another path.”

Much of what we need to learn comes to us in the form of a relationship – long and intimate or brief and seemingly insignificant.  Whenever we feel doubt, or diminishment of any kind, we need to take a good look at what’s happening and pay attention to that “I know how this movie ends” feeling.

Personal power can never be taken away; it can only be given away.  We give away our personal power when we ignore our intuition or allow our own worth in a relationship or environment to be diminished.  We give away our personal power when we devalue ourselves.

Personal Power gets reinforced with time and practice, and it begins with making the decision that we’re entitled to it.  It begins with surrounding ourselves with the right people and guidance.  It begins whenever we’re ready.

Now’s a good time.

May 5, 2014

Tonic?  or Toxic?

Dawna Markova wrote I Will Not Die And Unlived Life – Reclaiming Purpose and Passion.”  She dedicates this book to “…Those who live a life they can love.”

Markova asks us to examine the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.  “Some are toxic and keep our problems festering. Others are tonic and bring us beyond the limitations of our previous history.”

 This “tonic” or “toxic” can go further than our inner dialogue and can be applied to our choices in friends, work, commitments, family environment.  It can be applied to ideas, thoughts, words and tone of voice with ourselves and with others.  It’s a simple “yes” or “no” to our own wellbeing – and can be the conduit or the obstacle to living a life we can love. 

 “Beyond the limitations of our previous history.”  Intention fulfilled.

April 28, 2014

Overcome Inertia

Everything you do in your life gives energy to everything else in your life.

This can be a no-win situation if we try to control all eventualities of everything we do, preferring to stay out of the line of fire of unintended consequences.  We end up imprisoned in our own inertia if we’re not careful, doing nothing and preferring that relative peace to dealing with the fallout of something we can’t control.

An important distinction in all this is mistaking “nothing” for peace.  Silence isn’t peace.  Avoidance isn’t peace.  Delay isn’t peace.  Hiding isn’t peace.

So how do we overcome our own inertia and stay centered in our wholeness as we navigate what works and what doesn’t?

We do it by taking that first step: recognizing the Intention behind the energy we offer as love and growth and support and expansion and creation.  All the steps after that are easier – momentum forms, vision gets clarified, confidence builds until all is advanced.

Inertia can be a gift – asking us to look at what stops us, what impedes our own progress.  It can ask us to stare fear in the eyes and to remember who we are as the Intended unfolding of the Universe.

Once we remember, it gets easier to move.

April 21, 2014

Blame

Blame is such a cold word, isn’t it?  So personal.  But then again, it is personal.  Merriam Webster defines “blame” as “to say or think that a person or thing is responsible for something bad that has happened.”

Heavy stuff.   All that judging and condemning.  At the very least, we feel embarrassment; at worst, we feel shame. 

In David Hawkins “Map of Consciousness,” shown on page 69 of Power vs. Force, “shame” has the lowest vibratory level in human understanding; Hawkins lists it with the emotion of “humiliation” and the life view of “misery.” 

Shame, humiliation, misery.  This is what we inflict on others (and ourselves) when we judge and condemn.   It’s what we inflict when we blame.

But what if we rose above all that?  What if we left the temptation to point fingers and find fault with each other out of our Intentions and behavior altogether – because it’s not really who we are anyway.  A Course in Miracles tells us “It is when judgment ceases that healing occurs.”

To be sure, the “ceasing” The Course invites us to isn’t so easy when the “something bad that has happened” is deep, raw and relentless; when the ongoing-ness of the injury is so in-our-face.  But that’s exactly when we have a choice, isn’t it?  We can blame and hold on, or we can forgive and let go.

These things can’t be rushed.  So when we’re ready, if we really want healing to begin, the sure money isn’t on blaming; it’s on forgiving and letting go.

Much love to all,

Marie

 

 

April 14, 2014

Moving On

With gratitude to Portia Nelson:

Moving on – An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter One:  I walk down the street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I fall in.  I am lost…helpless…it is my fault.  It takes forever to find a way out.                                       

Chapter Two:  I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I pretend I don’t see it.  I fall in again.  I can’t believe I am in the same place again, but it isn’t my fault.  It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three:  I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I see it is there.  I still fall in…it’s a habit.  My eyes are open…I know where I am…it is my fault.  I get out immediately.

Chapter Four:  I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I walk around it.

Chapter Five:  I walk down another street. 

April 7, 2014

Practice

Healing is so personal, isn’t it?  We go to doctors and therapists to heal our bodies and hearts.  We read books, take workshops, confide in trusted family or friends.   And in the end, we’re healed, or not.

 The “or not” part depends on how we see “healing.”   Healing doesn’t come from our outer world; it’s the natural process of our inner world. 

 Think about it.  If you injure your hand, a doctor can stitch it to keep it from getting worse, load it with antibiotics to prevent infection, and wrap it to prevent further insult; restoration just happens after that – it’s natural.  The doctor may have created the environment, but the healing came from you.  You respected the wound and kept it safe from continued injury.  You committed the time, patience, determination and understanding necessary for your natural wholeness to be restored.

 That’s the way it is with wounded hearts too.  A safe environment in our outer world is created for us in the form of supportive family, friends and advisors.  The form can continue with reading materials, counseling, meditations, prayer practices and workshops, but we’re the ones who have to make the effort; the healing is only successful if we do the inner-world work.

It’s a bit like playing the piano.  You can get the best teachers and books.  You can watch all the “youtube” videos to see how others play the same tune.  You can listen to the music of all the other artists, but until you put your own fingers on your own keys of your own piano, you’ll never hear your own music.

 And, as with playing the piano, it takes practice.  A note at a time, a measure at a time, a tune at a time.  And soon you begin to realize your music is inside you.  You just have to listen.

March 31, 2014

Spring

“From the beginning, the key to renewal has been the casting off of old skin.”  Mark Nepo said that in The Book of Awakening.

This is the time of year we are reminded that casting off is good – and is part of the cycle of restoration and revitalization.   Animals shed their winter coats, shells of baby birds are left behind – their work done. 

 We too shed winter’s leftovers with our spring cleanup of yards, garages, closets.  We open windows, and let fresh air blow through our homes, invigorating the indoor winter environment that served us well, but now can be released with our gratitude and a blessing. 

 This casting off is something we can do anytime – not just in our physical world, but also in our behavior, our outlook, the choices we make.  As human beings, we have an advantage many in the non-human animal kingdom don’t have:  retrospection.  This new season reminds us to reflect on our lives, resolve to replace undesirable habits and behaviors with healthier practices, and to be vigilant in keeping our bar high. 

 In this time of casting off, we can set an Intention to further realize and live who we really are:  abundance, replenishment, creativity, newness.  All the Intention of the universe unfolding for us, in us, as us.  We can take a deep breath of that clean, fresh air of opportunity and renewal.  Now is the perfect time.

March 24, 2014

Pause Button

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. 

 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.

 

Habit

Posted on March 17, 2014 by 01Marie

One of Merriam Webster’s many definitions for “habit” is “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.”

We’re all guilty of some bad habits, and once we recognize and admit them we can address them. Recognizing bad habits in relationships when we allowed them to develop over long periods of time isn’t always easy.

Maybe we excused the beginnings of dismissive or disrespectful behavior because it came from an important person in our inner circle and we wanted to preserve the relationship, or it began during a difficult time and we didn’t want to add to the stress. Whatever the reason, in retrospect we can see how we allowed this diminishment to ooze into our environment a little at a time, a bit like a headache that starts slowly, inching its way into our energy, our vision, our mood. We learned to live with it, until one day we realized we were existing or working in an unhealthy environment. It had become a habit.

Habits cannot be broken; they can only be replaced. And because we are grounded in the endless creativity of the Universe, we are part of its self-organizing and self-correcting Intention: we can replace our unhealthy habits with healthy ones.

This replacement begins with recognition rooted in self-respect, self-power, and self-actualization. It continues with clear definition, communication and anticipation. Our tone of voice, body language and choice of words practiced with sensitivity and respect can model – with Intent – the “mode of behavior” we require from ourselves and others.

Expecting kindness, honor and reverence in our relationships and environment can become a habit too.

Summer

Posted on March 10, 2014 by 01Marie

Journalist and Philosopher Albert Camus tells us “In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

This “winter” can be literal or figurative.

In a literal sense, many of us have been anticipating March for its gift of spring. Summer temperatures following close behind, at long last; a welcome reward for braving determined snow mounds, potholes and polar vortexes.

In a figurative sense, many of us don’t know when our Spring will come. Those warm summer temperatures eluding us as we endure the seemingly endless cold of unanswered questions, unreconciled heartaches or uncertain futures. We believe the fragrant breezes of answers and guarantees are found in our outer world, when really our “invincible summer” comfort has been inside all along, waiting to be revealed.

This revelation begins with stillness and willingness to listen, forgive, and be honest with what we’ve learned. It continues with celebrating our accomplishments, recognizing and valuing our strengths, living hard-won wisdom and knowing our history points to resilience through uncertainty.

Our task, then, is to find those guides in our outer world who help us recognize and remember our worth, stay focused on what’s right in our lives, remind us of our potential and clear our path as we recognize our inner world’s “invincible summer.”

Guidance can be found in our outer world; our answers are found in our inner world. Knowing the difference can keep us warm, no matter what the season.

Personal Power

Posted on March 3, 2014 by 01Marie

Merriam Webster has a number of definitions for “passive” and many of them point to a degree of helplessness: “acted upon by an external agency, lacking in energy or will, tending not to take a dominant part.” Webster’s first definition is “used to describe someone who allows things to happen or accepts what other people do or decide…”

Passivity undermines Personal Power.

As creations, Personal Power is our birthright. It is the way we express ourselves. It is the love – the Intention – of our existence. We are individuations of this energetic, creative Intention of the Universe, of God. and when we live this Intention, we live our love; we live our purpose. Our self-confidence, self-trust and self-knowledge grow, leading to more expansion, peace, wholeness.

Personal Power can never be taken away; it can only be given away.

We know we have given away our Personal Power when we feel diminished, minimized or dismissed in our relationships, careers or family dynamics. Often this “giving away” sneaks up on us, unnoticed. We find ourselves in situations or conversations where we are not heard, valued or taken seriously, and then we have this “How-did-I-get-here?” feeling. When we unravel this “giving away,” we can trace it back to internalized messages that resulted in trusting the wrong people, minimizing intuitive guidance, or the habit of assuming someone else is smarter than we are, more capable, more entitled. We believe we’re expected to “accept what other people do or decide.”

A wise Chinese Proverb tells us “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

If we find ourselves in negative situations in our work or home environments, intimate relationships or family patterns, maybe we need to plant a new tree. One rooted in self-loyalty and awareness of self-value. Living our Intention begins with this awareness, and that beginning is whenever we choose.

Now’s a good time.

Now…Again…

Haven’t we all done or said things in our lifetimes that we wish we could take back, rethink, or undo? The “regret” column can fill up with checkmarks pretty quickly if we allow ourselves to stay there too long. It could be five minutes ago or five years – how many “regrettable” conversations or events have we reconstructed after the fact with the “Shoulda’s,” the “How-could-I’s” and “If only’s”, just to come out on the other side feeling further diminished by the exercise?

Shifting our perspective on those events gets easier with practice and awareness and intention. Changing our angle of vision from “lament” to “learn” is a worthy objective because one is in the past and one is in the now; and all we ever have is now.

Using our “now” to learn from our “then” begins with appreciation for the event – even if it was a painful event – and the wisdom that resulted. All our encounters, relationships, celebrations and conflicts are gifts for us to learn something about ourselves, about our needs and our evolution. They’re chances to learn about those we love; we learn about our impact on them and how to be present for them.

Dwelling on the past drains our energy, slows us down, and weighs us down because while we’re there and then we’re missing the opportunities in our here and now. This is not to say we should minimize our misdeeds or faults; they’re teaching us where we need to work and grow. The learning, we must remember, takes place in the now.

Now is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s the moment that never ends. Now is always a good time.

Courage

In Power vs. Force, David Hawkins’ “Map of Consciousness” compares high vibration and low vibration feelings, behavior and emotions in human experience. High vibrations of “enlightenment” and “peace” are at the very top of the map; “shame” and “humiliation” are at the bottom.

Many of us have experienced these feelings and everything in between, depending on our life conditions. In that same Map, we should note that Dr. Hawkins’ dividing line between high and low is somewhere around “courage.”

Courage is called on in the face of fear. For most of us in daily living, that fear can be of what people will think, fear of losing some ego-based ground in a competition, fear of somehow being exposed or betrayed.

We all have courage, whether we know it or not. We come to know it when we stand up for someone being persecuted, or say “yes” when everyone else is saying “no.” We know our courage when we stand alone in an aggressive mob and say “we know better” and then act on that better knowing. We only need to watch the evening news to see a dozen examples of courage being exercised or denied. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s taking action despite fear.

As Joan Borysenko tells us in her March 3 Pocketful of Miracles entry, “We do not have to learn courage, for it is part of who we already are. We have only to unlearn fear.”

Listening

Merriam Webster defines “Listen” as “to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said.”  Webster goes on to add “to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, true.”

Having someone listen to us – truly listen – is a gift.  We can finish expressing our thought without fear of interruption or judgment.   We feel worthy, supported, valued.   Interruptions can change the subject altogether by obscuring its message, diverting it from our original intent.  Judgment leaves us feeling diminished, devalued, sidetracking us into a self-preservation separating us from our listener.

Mark Nepo said “Listening is the doorway to everything that matters.”

Listening welcomes understanding; it right-sizes our egos, broadens our perspective and balances other points of view.  Listening helps us keep our perspective when we start sliding toward the tunnel vision of self-centeredness.

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 a scream or a whisper telling us our wellness is at stake.

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.

Follow-Through

There’s an old joke that goes “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. It’s when we’re faced with what we see as the relentlessness (the grindstone) of keeping the promises we made to ourselves for the new year, and the deepening of our commitment to healthier living (the wheel) for the rest of our lives – or not. 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).”

Wholeness is a healthy balance in all areas of our lives – body, family, inner spirit, work, partnerships, environments, relationships. Knowing this and following through on making it all happen, though, are often two different things when it comes to the everyday discipline, energy shift, determination and restructuring of values and habits; it’s in the follow-through part that we slow down, get fuzzy and lose momentum around the edges.

Now is the time, though, that we reach for trusted friends, partners, spouses and other support resources to help us stay focused. Now is when we see ourselves as worthy of the promises we made to ourselves to get in better shape, stop smoking, clear out the clutter in our lives and closets. Now is when we put distance in toxic relationships.

Living our wholeness begins with knowing it’s our birthright; it’s everyone’s birthright. Seeing our wholeness as a joy can help us transform this seeming “red zone” into a starting point. Now is when we convert what we saw as a grindstone and wheel into solid footing and momentum.

Now is not the time to slow down and get fuzzy – now is the time to get focused. Now’s a great time.

Orders

Soren Kierkegaard said “Every human being comes to earth with sealed orders.”  Sealed orders are not to be read until a specific time, and often we don’t know what that time is until it presents itself.

As individuations of this grand evolution called Humanity, each of us is opening our orders every day in our relationships, our work, our home environments.  We’re opening them alone or with each other as we face the unexpected or expected with our families, communities and culture.   Some of us are eager to know what our orders are; others of us would rather not know or not know just yet.  Some of us choose to ignore them altogether.  In any case, knowing ourselves well can prepare us for the consequences or benefits of our choices.

Knowing ahead of time what we can expect from ourselves in kindness, patience, understanding and forgiveness helps us face our orders with a degree of confidence and courage.  Knowing ahead of time how our anger or judgment or dismissiveness can get triggered helps us see where our work is – before our orders force us to face these limitations.

Practicing self-awareness, self-reflection and self-examination in the quiet moments of our lives requires candor, truthfulness and directness.  Practicing helps us admit and accept our dark side and our shortcomings, bringing these to light, inviting our work, giving us opportunities to grow.

Practice begins with taking that first step with intention, commitment and self-compassion.  Now’s a good time.

Service

Today is Martin Luther King Day of Service. We’ll see lots of news coverage about how this day is being recognized, respected, invested. We’ll see little children taking tours of historical sites, teenagers helping with neighborhood cleanup. We’ll remember that the banks, post office and stock market are closed, and maybe take advantage of special appliance or car sales. Some of us will sleep in; some of us will start working on our taxes.

Somewhere in there, we’ll ponder what it took to enjoy those everyday freedoms of choice where we can do and be whatever we imagine or desire, day by day or life by life. And if we’re mindful, we’ll take a moment to thank our history for the freedoms that are part of our laws, and recognize how much work still needs to be done so they’re also part of our culture.

Our work of Service continues as we expand the meaning of the word to include patience, kindness, safety and encouragement in our relationships, our neighborhoods, our workplaces and business enterprises. It continues in the way we view ourselves and each other. This type of Service can’t be legislated; it must come from our hearts, a bit at a time, a day at a time, a life at a time.

Today’s a good day to remember that continuing work, but really, any day is.

Happy Martin Luther King Day.

Change

We’ve heard it all before: now is all we have.

Knowing this and living it, however, are often two different things when our “now” is a place we don’t want to be. Maybe it’s painful, or filled with uncertainty, or is preparing us for an unwelcome event. Seeing peace and joy and possibility in those nows isn’t so easy when we’d rather project ourselves into a time when we can be happy. “I’ll be happy when…(insert future conditions here).”

Our now is always new, because the possibilities in front of us keep evolving and are the foundation for our future. Making room for the good that’s coming begins with releasing what doesn’t serve us anymore. Holding onto something that must go – whether we want it to go or not – blocks us from our own evolution. Maybe we’re working through job or relationship change, maybe it’s an illness or relocation. The process is often painful – and it is also a necessary step to greater abundance, because that’s the way the universe creates: through endless abundance. We are part of that creation, and welcoming change is important work.

Exhausting as it is, staying focused on what we can create, holding the vibration of growth and possibility and connectedness keeps us open to the richness waiting to be recognized and manifest. A new relationship, an unexpected career, a surprise connection to a talent we didn’t know we had are all in our Now – waiting to be recognized and inserted into our foundation for the future.

Wayne Dyer said “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

Now’s a good time.

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