Thursday, November 27, 2014

One hairy leg

Mid-morning, I ran my hand over my right leg. It was stubby. What? I shaved! Did I shave? I did. I must have because my left leg was smooth. I just don't remember shaving. I know what happened. I have a bad habit of going over my day and everything I have to do while I'm in the shower. As a result, I miss the feeling of warm water over my skin, the lather I create with my hands, the clean smell of soap. I also walked around all day long with one hairy leg.

We are too busy, unsatisfied, unfulfilled, anxious and overcommitted. We try to fill every moment with activity, entertainment or anything that numbs us. We eat dinner while scanning the news feed on our smart phones, make calls during our drives home, mentally make lists while jogging, pay our bills online while at meetings, do several chores while cooking, text our friends while walking, and so the list goes. Moments go by and we are unaware of what happens in them, what value they hold. Of course, we can't be grateful for what we don't recognize. So what if we stopped being busy and looked around? What do we see? What do we hear? What do we feel? What is this present moment like? What are our present moments like? In them we could find meaningful conversations, laughter, beauty, inspiration, peace, fun, love and connectedness.

He drives, holds my hand and asks me about my day, tells me about his, we talk and enjoy each other. I ruin it every time I pick up my phone to check email. I ruin it for myself. I break the energy we create by dividing my attention. I am making a point of being there, being present. I want to enjoy my showers, dinners, my drives–the music, the cityscape, a laugh with my son, the wisdom shared by my parents, the creativity inherent in cooking, my hand held in love.

In stopping to appreciate this moment and what it holds, we not only receive, we give. In honoring the present moment, we give our attention, our respect and our appreciation to ourselves and those we share the moment with. We participate in the flow of goodwill.

Today is a good day to be fully present, mindful, thankful...happy.

Drawing by Malley McGuire.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


In investing, past performance does not guarantee future results. I am currently writing a book on personal finance and, as I do, I make this caveat clear. This could make investors nervous. This is not my intention. It is meant to educate and to caution. This warning is mainly brought up in the face of possible dissatisfaction if an investment does not yield as expected–to either remain stable or to take an upward turn. It is the notice investors are redirected to when an investment fails to perform.

In life, with people, we don't calculate our return on investment, our ROI, in the same way. We invest our love and, though we may not see personal or direct gains returned, the love we give, in whatever form we give it, is always a gain unto all of us. 

Many times it is great news that past performance does not gurantee future behavior. It is great news that people have the power to change themselves, to choose new thoughts, new habits and new paths. The power of forgiveness, personal and spiritual growth, maturity, wisdom and love can render past functioning presently worhtless. And though we know that people's past experiences can be great sources of knowledge, learning and understanding, in the present, the past is the past. To assess the value of a person on their past performance can lead us to disregard a friend, a lover, a mentor, a running mate, a guide. The return on our investment of time, understanding, goodwill and love can be a blessing unimagined and invaluable.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sacrifice and other words I hate

Well, hate is a strong word. It is true, though, that I really, really dislike the word sacrifice.

The word sacrifice has a deep religious link. This is not the reason I do not like it. In sacred texts and in good horror stories, sacrifice has a proper place. My dislike has more to do with the more common use of the word, with the sacrifice we claim, what we give up for someone or for something else. There is a tone of martyrdom or victimization in the use of sacrifice. It implies a burden we go through. 

There is something very beautiful in our offering of ourselves to others. But we take that beauty away when we place an expectation–explicit or implied, consciously or not–on what we do for the sake of someone or something else. We sacrifice for our children, for a career we want for ourselves, for the lifestyle we have built, for a well-sculpted body, for a marriage, for recognition in a particular field. But the expectations make us resentful. They become the moving force within us. We expect love returned, appreciation, acknowledgement, respect, a sense of worthiness, reciprocity and more. Sacrifice is rooted in fear. We do something to gain something. 

We return the beauty to what we do for others and for our dreams by replacing our feelings of expectation to love. When we instill our giving and our doing with this energy, we become grateful, we do things with grace and we enjoy what we do. Resentment subsides and we no longer bear crosses. 

In A Course in Miracles it says, in terms of the psychotherapist/patient relationship, that if the relationship is to be holy, whatever one needs is given by the other, whatever one lacks the other supplies...there is no cost to either. This applies to all relationships.

As I was thinking about sacrifice, tolerance came to mind. Now there's another word I dislike. Tolerance has its place as well, yet, in common usage, it has an implication of putting up with, of superiority, of entitlement. I tolerate immigrants, gays, jews, white people, black people, Asians, autistic children, those less educated. To tolerate does not convey within us acceptance and respect. It does not convey love.

Other words I hate: Obligation (it's an imposition), penance (it stems from guilt, judgment), hormonal (its common use is sexist), starving (commonly used when we are really hungry. Starvation is a real problem. We have never been close to starving.). 

There are a few other words on my list. For now, I want to focus on words that lift us up, inspire us and bring us to what excites us. Enthusiasm, passion, aspirations, vitality, spiritedness, creativity and so on. Go ahead. Add your own. What words inspire you? What words do you love?

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Monday, November 24, 2014

I knew it!

I simultaneously dropped my shoulders, closed my eyes and exhaled in a universal gesture of disappointment. I don't know why I was disappointed. I had suspected there was going to be a line and I was not going to be able to stay for my appointment. I finally said it out loud, "I knew it!"

Gordon Livingston said it most clearly, "As with most things in life, our expectations are generally realized." I understand this. I have known this for a long time, yet I still fall into pessimistic thoughts that manifest themselves into unpleasant experiences. When we approach our days with pessimism, anger and mistrust, we are likely to find more of it wherever we go, whatever we do and with whomever we have to deal with. We fulfill our own prophecies. 

The good news is that we can change our expectations. We can anticipate good outcomes the same way we anticipate bad ones. We can assume that we will find what we are looking for.  We can suspect that the people we meet along the way are part of our path and the fulfilling of our purpose. We can count on serendipity. We can have high hopes for our dreams. We can expect what we are willing to give. I know this for, just as I have experienced bad days after expecting so, I have experienced great ones after reframing my thoughts, being thankful or simply staying positive. 

Approach today with openness, gratitude, joy and your best intentions. Know that everything is well. Expect it to be and it will be.

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Friday, November 21, 2014


It is the sound of my exhale–throaty, steady and full, that does it for me. In through my nose, out through my nose–centering me, calming me, steadying my nervous system, clearing my thoughts even if for just a moment. I feel it on the exhale. It all happens there for me.

Over the past six weeks I have been inhaling and exhaling trying to sort out my thoughts while in a whirlwind of activity and travel. My time away was a breathing pause. 

There was too much going on, so I only took on the urgent. This discontinuance was a time away from cyberspace, meeting with friends, socializing, weekends away at the beach, The Soulcerer's Apprentice, spontaneous fun, reading literature, yoga, writing and game nights. None of these are extra. They bring joy and balance to my life, but I became disconnected and in that disconnection I lost perspective and forgot what I know. 

Throughout the tumult, I did keep my meditation practice up. There were days I needed a second, sometimes a third, moment of meditation. In the thick of it, meditation helped me prioritize, endure and stay calm. Meditation took me from a possible breakdown to a breakthrough. 

During my breather, I paid attention. I saw, I listened and I received. I received guidance, intuitive insight, cooperation and love. I remembered how capable I am of disconnecting from my wiser Self and that reconnecting is a matter of getting still and quiet. Silence whispers all the answers. I am back, honoring my rhythms. My soul-verse has emerged more pure (as in uncontaminated by outside pressures, opinions and expectations), more open, free and Self-directed. 

Today is Friday and each Friday I like to share with you a meditation exercise. Today's is simple. If you have earplugs nearby, put them in. Otherwise, just plug your ears with your index fingers. Close your eyes. 

Take a slow, deep inhale. 

Exhale, as though you are slowly pushing air up your throat. Feel it rise up and come out your nose. 

Listen to it. 


Slowly exhale. Visualize your hands pushing the breath up. Listen. 


Push the breath gently and slowly out. Listen to it hollowing your throat.

Take a few more breaths in and out, focusing on the sound of your exhale. 


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