Friday, February 28, 2014

The story of my life

I had the privilege of sitting in as a listener at a creative writing workshop that the non-profit group I collaborate with organizes. The instructor is a young, vibrant and wise-beyond-his-years writer. He has a way with the group he is workshopping, engaging them lovingly into a creative warm-up exercise. The group is made up of young adults that have outgrown foster care, but that are not legal adults yet.  They shared very personal stories of tough childhoods, difficult relationships and where they are at in this moment of their lives. In the warm-up, the participants had to speak of themselves as characters in a story with their own stories as the basis. These stories were moving. What I found curious is that every single "character" was insecure in spite of an outside appearance of toughness. Every single one also needed to be heard and approved of.

This is a common thread that runs through us. We want to be appreciated and we want to be understood even when we pretend we don't, even when go about with our tough attitudes. And, though we all pine for the same, it is the one thing we withhold from each other, the kindness to listen, to understand, to acknowledge that we too want validation for who we are, for what we have been through, for what we can do.

Until we reach that level of awareness in which we already find our worth within, we should lower our guards and see, accept and empathize with each other as we travel our paths. Each of us is the main character in our lives. We interact with all sorts of characters who play the leading role in their own lives. And so, not one character is more important than the other. Each is complex, and beautiful, and deep. Each has the same need for compassion, sympathy, recognition and love. And each needs accompanying characters to complete the story. Let us be those companions and in so, beautify and strengthen the story of our own lives.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I have changed my mind...

...not about anything this moment. I was just thinking about how many times we tend to talk in absolutes. Never. Always. I will never... We see this in politics, in academia, in relationships. Those who claim a thought absolutely tend to think that those who change their minds are not to be trusted, that they are wishy-washy. Yet changing our minds can be a result of an experience, a revelation, learning or mere appreciation of a different perspective. Changing our minds can be a sign of growth, understanding, wisdom, adaptability and mental plasticity.

Today is a good day to change our mind, to be open to new ideas, different points of view or ways of doing things. How about we have a different thought today?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How dare you?

You know those people. The ones that go out and achieve things in spite of the odds. I'm not talking about the ones who struggle and strive and fight for what they want. I am talking about those who non-chalantly stay the a good mood, in a tireless way accomplishing goals and reaching their dreams regardless of the circumstances surrounding them. It's as though they are not aware of the difficulties and the obstacles the rest of the human race has to face. They are the ones who don't seem to listen that these things they are doing are not par for the course, that they are going against the grain, they are not supposed to happen. Know them? Me too.

I happen to work with a few people that are that way. Together we have carried out some pretty spectacular programs and events. In the current environment we live in, we get a lot of puzzled looks. Why would we do this? How do we this? And, the kicker, How dare we?

How dare we? This is not about us daring as though we are rebelling or breaking a rule. This is about us daring in the face of uncertainty, economic distress, critical junctures, political pressures, lack of support and general negativity. I have learned from these people why they dare. They are sure. They are not sure of the outcome, or when or from where the money will come in, who will participate, who will support them. What they are sure of is that there is a big purpose in what they do, that the funding will come in, that the right people will show up, that the resources will appear.

How dare you? You dare in faith, in the inner knowledge that you are loved, protected, guided and supported. You dare because you are connected to Spirit and, as you listen within, you know your purpose. You dare because you trust your inner wisdom.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Doing nothing

Some of us are busy, very busy... and with good reason. We have careers, children, spouses, families, committees, communities, friendships, duties, chores, businesses, books to write, travel engagements and many other commitments to attend to. Being busy is not always an option. Yet I believe we take it to an extreme. 

Even when our activity is productive, we stay busy for mistaken reasons. We stay busy in order not to face reality. If we are working, tied up, involved or otherwise occupied, then we don't have to think about our questions, our dissatisfaction, what we fear, our mistakes, what we are leaving undone, what we don't know. Even worse, we don't have to think about our greatness, our choice to be happy, or what's good in our life. Facing our reality may mean we have decisions and changes to make. It may mean that we have to accept that we have chosen a wrong path, married the wrong person, accepted a job that is taking a toll on our families, have habits that are detrimental to our health, are procrastinating on a dream, are postponing an important step, have apologies to make or have to let go of our old selves. On the other hand, when we don't pay attention to our greatness, we are afraid of making a mistake, of losing what we have gained, of failing, of continuing to shine when others remain dim. We feel guilty of choosing to be happy in the midsts of others' woes–real, created or imagined. We stay busy and disregard the blessings in our lives. 

We go on fearfully. We produce, yet not enough to justify what we are ignoring. We need to tend to our inner needs. Today is a good day to do nothing but appreciate our lives in a moment. Breathe. Smile. Acknowledge. Feel. Know. That knowing will lead you to the next action you should take. Today is a good day to do nothing. Sometimes, doing nothing is doing everything. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Falling out of love

Falling out of love is not what we believe it is. Falling out of love is not a permanent state and it is not the cause of the end of relationships. Falling out of love, like falling into a pool or falling from our bikes, is a momentary event. It's what we do after the fall that matters. When we fall out of love we lose sight of the truth, we argue our points to the detriment of the other person and the relationship, we focus on the negative, we follow the wrong path. This is when getting up quickly makes a difference. When we fall out of love we see the other through a veil of ego-righteousness, what we fear most, our selfishness, what we are unsure about and our memory of past pain. We attack, we say unkind things and we become irrationally hostile. Very quickly we can go from resentment to anger to hatred and completely out of love.

Falling back into love is as simple as recognizing that we are acting outside of love. We can go from acknowledging to forgiving to peace and into love. This is not easy, but it is love. Today is a good day to jump up if you feel that you are falling out of love. Think that whatever you are thinking is not real. Soften your gaze, listen without judging, let go of what you think has been done to you, remember the reasons why you fell in love in the first place. If you are falling out, lean the other way and fall into love.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why we pray

My friend is frustrated. We are having coffee and she is telling me about everything that is going wrong in her life–her job is complicated, her love-life is dull, her finances are tight and her relationship with her family is difficult. In the middle of our conversation she says, I don't even know why we pray anymore. 

I hear her. I understand. I find myself disappointed at times, frustrated, lost, angry, sad and confused. We, collectively, are disappointed, frustrated, lost, angry, sad and confused. We pray for things to get better, for people to change. Yet we find ourselves in the same situations, with the same feelings, over and over again. We need to change our prayer. 

We don't pray to change our circumstances, Spirit's mind or other people. We pray to change our perception, to remove the blocks to our guidance, to eliminate our resistance to forgiveness, to take away our doubt, to see things and people as they are, to understand, to reinterpret our experience according to the truth. When we pray in this matter, we restore our connection to Spirit, to our inner wisdom. Ultimately, when we drop our resistance, we receive what makes us happy, what is good for us and the highest and best version of ourselves. When we are willing, our highest-self comes true and through.

Today is a good day for us to pray to see, to listen, to understand. When we are willing to release our misconceptions, to change our thinking, miracles happen. Even if nothing changes, we do...for the better. And that's why we pray.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dream a little dream...

I took my car in for service at the dealership about a week ago. I received such great service. I got a cheerful reception, coffee and an offer for courtesy transportation to my office. Exactly what I needed. I boarded the courtesy transportation van...and so did two other people. Where to?, the driver asked us. We each had to go in different directions. I was going to be the last one dropped off. Oh no! I had nothing with book, no notebook, no tablet. What was I supposed to do during the trip?

I stared out the window. But instead of thinking about everything I had to do or seeing the other cars stuck in the same traffic jam, I started seeing buildings I never notice, landscapes I never see. Before I realized what was happening, I was daydreaming. What a treat.

Because our lives are so packed with activity, we seldom take time to dream. I meditate, contemplate, reflect and pray very purposefully, but daydreaming is just something I don't get to do very often. Do you? Daydreaming allows us to build the vision of what we want for ourselves, to explore what is possible, to exercise dormant parts of our brain, to nurture our imagination. Because we can only really focus on one thought at a time, daydreaming gives us a break from what troubles us. Dreaming on purpose strengthens us and stirs up our creativity. In a daydream we can try out ideas. We can also feel something different, sort of like trying out feelings. Moreover, daydreaming helps us figure out our preferences, what excites us and what makes us happy.

During the ride back from the dealership, I took elements of the present moment to build a dream. When I returned to my office I was relaxed and in a good mood. I was also excited about new ideas I came up with, ideas I am now developing into projects.

How about we take some time today to dream? What could we unravel? What great idea could we come up with? What if we came up with nothing...but only a few moments of enjoyment, serenity and entertainment? Wouldn't that be dream a little dream?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Let her go...

I come from a beautiful line of women...on both sides of my family. My grandmother, on my mom's side, was a strong-willed, admirable woman. Her mother was even stronger-willed...a lovely human being who prayed, loved and nurtured intensely. Both of them died the same year, months apart...the year I got married, the same year my father retired in. I can't even begin to tell you how much stronger my mother is.

In April of that year I travelled to the city I was moving to after getting married to find an apartment. I bought a plane ticket, packed a weekend bag and went to see my great-grandma before leaving. She was 93 years old. I spent a couple of hours with her attempting conversation, but mostly we just held hands, in silence. As I kissed her goodbye she asked Would you let me die? I smiled and said, Grandma, you go ahead and die as soon as you are ready. I did not know why I said what I said. I was 20 years old. Not old enough to know enough. This answer came spontaneously and from a deep and wise place I didn't recognize. When I returned three days later, she had died.

I miss her. I miss her terribly. I miss her smell, the way she loved me, the way she said my name. Losing her hurt until, but only until, I let her go. Grieving her took its time, yet letting her go has allowed me to enjoy her all over again.

When we lose someone, letting them go is difficult. We fear letting go. We are afraid we didn't say all we could say, that we didn't love them enough while we could, we fear being alone, we fear going on not knowing what comes next. Yet letting someone we love go, transcend, helps us heal and have a closer relationship with them. We live in a world of spirit. We are spirits housed in flesh. Once our bodies die, we go on. We relate in spirit.

I remember my great-grandma–what she taught me, the stories she told, her character, her worrisome personality, her cooking, her tender touch. I dream of her. My memories of her are alive. I remember her joyfully and I honor her. This is how our relationship continues. I have let go of my need to have her here physically. I have let her go, but she is not gone. I feel her love. I have let her go, but not my love for her, for love never dies.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday morning

My intention today is to create. I sit for a few moments...quiet, still. I breathe:

I create well being.     I am well. 

I create positivity.     All is well. 

I create happiness.     I inspire others by being happy. 

I create abundance.     I am thankful for all I have. 

I create health.     I breathe. 

I create joy.     I share my inner light. 

I create goodwill.     I am kind. 

I create peace.     I forgive. 

I create prosperity.     I share what I have. 

I create kindness.     I am charitable with what I say. 

I create my dreams.     I am passionate and on purpose. 

I create love.     I am love. 

I am creative.     I create.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I started to brew coffee while I got dressed for work. I woke my son up. I started to write something on my to-do list. I started to pack what I needed for the day. My coffee! I took the percolator off the stove and poured. I still needed to finish getting dressed. What about my to-do list? My mind was all over the place.

Much like a computer, we fragment ourselves in use, in daily life. When we do, we don't operate to full capacity. We drag, we freeze, we don't recall information as quickly or easily, we grind, we sputter and make other weird noises. When our computers become slow and start to make extra sounds, it's time to defragment them. When we become this way, we need to defragment ourselves as well. We do this in meditation.

When we meditate, we physically affect our neural pathways, clear up space for new thoughts and reduce the production of stress hormones. All of this helps us get it together, defragment. Meditating helps us call to mind the information we need quicker, think in more intuitive and creative ways, stay calmer, learn easier and concentrate better. Moreover, we grunt less.

To defrag we follow specific steps in our computer systems. To meditate all we need is to sit still and be quiet for a few moments each day. There are other forms of meditation which work really well. Walking meditations are great for improving our problem-solving skills and to find solutions to situations we are puzzled by. Mantra meditations are great for centering ourselves. Other forms of meditation include Transcendental Meditation, Kundalini, Guided Visualization, Mindfulness and Zazen. Only you will know which form of meditation works best for you. What matters is our practice, our consistency, our commitment. After a while, meditation helps us operate better and achieve a feeling of wholeness, ease and calm.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tickle me joyful

They say we are born knowing what we need to know, that the path to enlightenment is an unlearning of some of what we pick up through the act of living.

My three-and-a-half-year-old nephew is throwing a tantrum. He screams Nooooo, I don't want to, Don't look at me, Don't tickle me, Don't touch meeeeeee! My sister lovingly looks at him and in one swoop, picks him up, squeezes and kisses him, turns him around so that he sees the world upside down. My nephew smiles. The world is happy. Everything is love. He is back to his normal self.

To unlearn takes a tremendous amount of effort. To unlearn being right to be at peace is difficult. Through our living, we learn to exercise our ego, to identify with a short-sighted concept of ourselves and to defend the slightest grievance. Yet this keeps us far from happiness. Today is a good day to overcome our initial defensive responses when another injures us, acts insanely or throws a fit. If another is angry, offer them love (if they agree to be flipped upside down, squeezed and kissed, then do), regardless of who is right. When we do, we move into love and to the sanity that it provides. Instead of snapping, let us unlearn anger and respond with kindness and goodwill. Let us unlearn the attitudes that keep us at odds. Let us find the joy we were born with.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The two humps

I ran my hands over
the two humps
of a camel
one held truth
the other held everything I knew

I ran my hands
and they became tangled
in the space between
I only believed
one hump

I untangled my hands
to reach for each hump
and there they lay
on what I knew
and what I was meant to know

I stopped running
my hands
and gazed at the softness
and the ease
with which they stayed

I turned
my hands over
and felt
the knowing
and unawareness

In my unfurled hands
I received
the peace of certainty
of gentle mercy
in what is real

I let my hands
flow free of my will
and they cupped
the camel's face–
we were lost

I left my hands
on its face
waiting for it to turn
but it didn't–
it remained a camel

My hands on a camel
that the camel stays a camel
and the two humps
make him so

My hands on the changeless
came to know
the two humps–
ambiguity, uncertainty and contradiction
truth, faith and wisdom

My hands on the changeless
came to know
that between the humps–
the antithesis, the polarity
lay love