Learning Gratitude

Is it possible to learn gratitude or does it come naturally?

Maybe, it’s both.

If I asked you, what do you think you’re likely to answer?

More and more I hear about gratitude as a practice, something you incorporate into your life, so when I read a book recently that focused some attention on this, I decided it was time to see what it meant to me.

While in Maine this past summer on vacation I came across an intriguing book. It’s written by Chris Gentry and is titled, The Little Book of Prosperity. It’s divided into twelve chapters, which I discovered were organized in a very thoughtful progression. It starts with goals and dreams, then taking action and growth. These chapters are followed by self-confidence, gratitude, and positive self-talk. The book escalates into a chapter on master mind (groups) and concludes with positivity, decision, perseverance and giving back. I dutifully read and did the encouraged exercises in order with one exception. I waited until the end to complete my dream collage.

I found each chapter provided a great deal of inspiration and support for my earth adventure. When I arrived at the section about gratitude I decided to proceed slowly.

At the end of the chapter, Chris recommended that readers commit to a daily practice of gratitude for ninety days. He suggested that each morning a journal be kept where you would record at least five things you were grateful for. The items could be anything, big or small, quick or long lasting, it didn’t matter as long as they were true for you.

I decided to embrace this practice and see what sort of change(s) it made in my life. I confess it was difficult to do every day because sometimes I got distracted or felt too busy. I had to remind myself of my commitment and that I would never know the worth of this if I didn’t give it my best shot.

So, in late September 2021 I began keeping track. I noticed that the ‘quality’ of the items I chose varied substantially and their range was extremely wide. As a sometimes overachiever I added some items in the evening and occasionally noted more than the suggested five items. Since I was doing this for me and not as an assignment to be handed in, I felt fine with setting up my own rules.

Several times through the first ninety days I lost steam and considered abandoning the challenge. That only lasted a day or two and I ended up sticking with the program and being very grateful that I did.

When the ninety days was up, it wasn’t even a consideration as to whether to continue or not. I found the practice to be so valuable that I incorporated it in my daily routine. When I’m too rushed, I give myself permission to record my five (or more) items when I get to it, as long as it’s the same day. It’s now been 146 days and I can foresee this continuing far into the future.

Why? And what could be in it for you, if you decide to embrace this as one of your practices?

My simple answer is…A LOT.

The most striking impact this had on me is the change it brought about in the way my day began. It helped set an extremely positive tone. It raised my conscious awareness of how many wonderful things I experience in my life. And although this was a morning practice, my attitudinal shift stayed with me throughout the day. I found myself feeling thankful for so many things I’d previously taken for granted, which added remarkably to my positive outlook on life. It also broadened what I considered valuable and worthwhile and helped make me more aware of expressing gratitude to others.

And I discovered that the changes in me were reflected in who and what I encountered during the day, which was a huge bonus.

If you decide to give this a try, I’d love to know what your experience is like. And if you know or ever stumble across Chris Gentry, please be sure to tell him how grateful I am for his contribution to me and the world.

PS- I did try to reach out to him but wasn’t successful.

Are You Going the Right Direction

Is it challenging for you to answer the question, “are you going the right direction?”

For me, part of the difficult is in defining the word, ‘right’. Somehow, I feel an assumption exists based either on what I want to experience or what others expectations are of my choice of direction.

It’s fairly easy if we’re talking about physical direction. If you’re old school like I am, you can get out your map and plot a course to arrive at your destination. Those with GPS only need to enter the addresses and let the machine take over the guidance. If they get off course somewhere along the way, it’s okay, they’ll be told a recalculation is in process and then a new set of turns to take.

What makes some of this interesting is that you never know if your planned route is the best. There could be an accident, road construction, or an unexpected traffic jam, any of which could pose problems for you.

But the ‘right’ direction applies to so much more than where you are going physically. It could be your intellectual pursuits, emotional stability, or spiritual direction.

How can you know when you’re on the right track?

Perhaps one of the answers lies in whether you’re achieving your goals and objectives, but what if you haven’t identified them yet? What then?

Setting down what you hope to achieve isn’t always easy. There may be some benchmarks the world offers, but they may not suit you personally.

Often, we think we must accomplish a standard set of goals to feel successful. Goals that bring us more credentials, money, prestige, awards, or notoriety. But are these the only achievements worth directing our efforts toward?

How can you tell what your most beneficial direction would be? Is it an intellectual, emotional, or spiritual decision?

Some part of me wonders whether if, ‘what actually happens in our life’, IS the answer to that question.

I probably need to explain this statement a bit.

What I’m trying to say is that our lives have a way of moving forward, and that each open space we experience eventually fills up and what fills the space, IS the answer/decision/direction. This certainly seems to suggest that we’re not particularly conscious during the process and that it just sort of happens.

An entirely different way to approach this is to take charge.

My nature is that of a goal setter and planner for most experiences in my life. This is an effective way to map a direction, but it isn’t for everyone. There are those who treasure the ‘stop and smell the roses’ approach, which offers wonderful opportunities to engage directly with life.

And there are those that place a premium on flexibility which allows one to pursue whatever objective or goal they choose without stressing about how or when it will be achieved. This also provides some space to discover that it’s more about the journey, than it is about the destination.

I wonder too, which direction will be the most worthwhile for me, the one my head plans or the one my heart seeks?

Over the course of my life there’s been a transition from prioritizing what my thinking mind wants to what my heart feels. It’s a huge shift and I heartily endorse it, while realizing it isn’t for everyone or for every occasion. The reason I’ve chosen it is because my sense of inner satisfaction is so deep when I trust my feelings to guide my way and choose my direction for me.

The Trouble with Choosing Sides

Imagine you are standing amongst a group of kids. You’re facing two other kids who are looking at you with a careful, critical eye. You can see little wheels spinning in their heads while they make their choices. Basically, they are thinking one of two things.

Who will help me win the game we’re about to play (“I want them on my team”) or who will lose it for us (“I absolutely don’t want them on my team”)?

I was a part of this scene dozens of times during my childhood, both as the one making the choices and as the one hoping not to be chosen last.

There is a tremendous emotional imprint made during these sessions which can last a lifetime. It can also affect your self-esteem level, which carries forward to many other situations.

I realize that choosing sides seems to be a part of life and perhaps I would be wise just to accept it.

But I can’t. There is too much at stake.

Every way you look there are expectations for you to make a decision on who to support. Which sports team, political party, religion, talking head, family member, TV show, you name it. You are expected to agree with a certain number of important figures in your life, family members, teachers, business leaders, all to show your allegiance.

But what if you disagree with the crowd? Or, as some others will see it, worst yet, have no opinion at all?

There could be some trouble in that for you, couldn’t there?

Earlier in my life I didn’t have many opinions and I only reluctantly chose sides. Well, except for football, because of course I knew who the best team was. Or did I?

Being forced to choose a side is a tricky thing. Suppose you have no real opinion, or you don’t truly know all of the facts, or you don’t care which side seems to be ‘more right’? In many situations you are expected to choose a side…the ‘right side’ of course. Staying neutral can be dangerous and can place you outside of your group, family, or nation.

Okay, so why would anyone hesitate?

Well, the first reason is that once you choose a side, it makes it very difficult to understand those on the other side. It’s as if your brain goes on strike. It says, “I’ve come to a conclusion and I’m sticking with it and now I don’t have to think any more…case closed”!

You want to talk about dangerous, there it is.

A second reason is that you might feel as though you are missing something. How could there be all these other people who have decided another way is better? What do they know that you don’t? Are there some facts you are unaware of? Maybe it would be valuable to talk with them and find out.

And here’s another thing that happens when you choose a side. Huge rifts are created, and greed and envy polarize positions making it impossible to see beyond them. Wars and territorial issues surface. Borders and fences of all sorts are erected. And emotional attachments harden hearts.

So, what if we didn’t choose sides? Would society collapse? Would there be chaos?

What if we searched for some common ground? What if we were willing to listen so that we could truly know the fuller story? What if we were willing to compromise for the sake of unity? What if winning and losing became unimportant, but everyone gaining peace and harmony took center stage?

And there is more at stake because having to take sides has an emotional impact on each one of us. Being forced to comply with arbitrary positions corrupts us, makes us smaller and weaker as people and blankets our free will which is one of our greatest gifts.

Well, perhaps I am choosing a side after all, one where we aim toward peace and understanding and harmony. I can live with that one.

Giving In

What if we gave in?

I want to be clear here.

I am not talking about giving up or resigning from life. What I am talking about is a kind of letting go and not holding on so tightly to specific results.

When there is only one outcome that we find acceptable, we are limiting life and all the other wonderful opportunities that could happen. It’s as if we are creating roadblocks that prevent us from seeing and experiencing a larger world.

I’ve done this so many times in my life.

It’s hard not to. We are often programmed to want what we want. To set goals and achieve them. To create wish lists. To ask for very specific things; a certain car or watch or book…you name it. And sometimes we can even become obsessed by what we hope to possess.

We tend to think that we need to visualize or manifest only one thing or one outcome or we risk feeling like a failure.

So, what I’m really asking is whether we are capable of giving up this kind of thinking, this kind of asking, and this kind of expecting?

What if we gave in and it expanded our world?

Think of it as opening to a full allowance for everything to be possible, not just the one result our conscious mind can dream up. Our lives are so much bigger than that.

When I consider this, I wonder, what would that look like? How would that feel? What could happen if I could shift my attitude and mind-set?

My immediate answer is…anything could happen!

At first this sounds a bit scarry. ‘Anything’ is pretty wide open and could include things I’m not ready for. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we tend to want specific outcomes, so that we both get what we want and don’t get surprised by other things.

But how do we really know that what we think we want is what is best for us? I think the answer to that is, we don’t.

How could we?

And this begs another question, a far deeper one.

Will life, the universe, god, or whatever concept that feels right to you, provide whatever is best for us, if we give it a chance, and don’t shut the door and focus on only one thing?

Can we find a way to trust that?

That is a very tough question and one I’ve struggled with over the years.

What form of proof would you require before you could accept that what you experience in life is exactly right for you?

On my best days I am patient and open. I encourage myself to pay attention and carefully watch what happens. I counsel myself to accept what appears in my life, believing it is meant for me. I let go of what I’ve established as my goals, aims or desires and allow what comes to fill, feed and nourish me. When this happens, I recognize a greater truth, that I am cared for and all things in my life serve me. It may take a bit of time before I see how they do, but if I let go of my expectations, I come to see this clearly.

There is an awesome grace in giving in and letting go of whatever creates disharmony in our world and I am grateful each time I allow this to happen.

Sitting For Ideas

Can you imagine finding a quiet comfortable place to sit, then closing your eyes and peacefully waiting for marvelous ideas to arrive inside your mind? Ideas that would improve your life, offer you specific direction and help you to navigate the world.

There is such a place and it’s inside of every one of us.

One of my favorite mentors is Napoleon Hill. I’ve written about him before and probably mentioned that, when he was a cub reporter, he was given the opportunity to interview Andrew Carnegie, who was one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Carnegie took a liking to Napoleon and extended to him introductions to many of the most successful people in business, finance, and the scientific world. Napoleon would spend his next ten years assembling their best ideas and placing them in his book, Think Big and Grow Rich, which is still one of the top ten best-selling self-help books ever published.

Elmer Gates was one of Napoleon’s interviews. Elmer was a prolific inventor and at the turn of the 20th Century owned the largest private laboratory in the world. Napoleon was curious to know where all his ideas came from. When he arrived at Elmer’s office, the secretary asked him to take a seat and told him it might be a while, because Mr. Gates was ‘sitting for ideas’.

Eventually Elmer came out to meet Napoleon and invited him into his office and explained about his delay. He told Napoleon that when confronted with a problem or seeking a solution for a workable invention, he would ‘sit for ideas’. By this he meant that he would enter a darkened room which had only a desk, a chair, a pencil, a pad, and a flashlight. Without distractions, he would sit and wait for ideas, and when something came to him, he would write it down, then go back to sitting until the next idea came. Elmer told Napoleon that this was how he was able to discover answers and solutions that had evaded his busy waking mind.

Given Elmer Gates enormous success it makes me wonder what I can gain from this strategy.

I’m not immediately drawn to the darkened room approach, and you may not be either, but I feel there is something of significant value here.

Perhaps it is that, releasing distractions, creating a peaceful open environment, and embracing an attitude of expectation are key components to success.

I have little doubt that each of us would be well served by distancing ourselves, for even short periods of time, from life’s distractions. Shifting our environment, whether that is a darkened room, a long hot shower, a walk in nature or a meditation period, would give us time and space that could be greatly beneficial.

For me, there are many mornings when I wake up filled with thoughts and ideas. So many, that I have to begin writing them down the moment they come to me. That’s why there are pads all over my house, so that none of my ideas escape. I refer to this process as my overnight download.

I don’t know where the ideas come from. I could speculate, but what feels important to me is their arrival, not their source.

Elmer Gates is not the only person to take advantage of seeing beyond the observable world. Michelangelo said that every block of stone has a masterpiece inside of it and that the job of the sculptor is to let it out.

I believe that in order to find the masterpiece living inside of each of us we need to open ourselves to a truth. A truth that we are a part of the divine, whole and holy. A truth that every answer exists within us, and it is our task to set it free. Believing this and expecting to discover our answers is the gateway to all ideas becoming real.

Profound Puddles in Your Life

Tell me, have you fallen lately? I don’t mean this literally. I mean, have you taken a step that you thought would lead you forward, only to find you missed your goal completely, and maybe landed in one of life’s puddles.

When I was in Junior High School, I went out for the tennis team. It was going to be a stretch for me to make the squad, but I thought it might be good for me. Well, that’s not entirely true. My parents thought it would be good for me.

When I got there, seven other guys were waiting for the coach to arrive. We lined up and were assigned to four courts and told to volley with a partner. The coach watched us for a while, then asked us to gather around for his decision.

I’d made the team, he told me. I was pretty enthusiastic about it, that is until I discovered everybody who showed up made the team.

Over the next couple of practices, we all played against each other to establish our ranking. The top ranked player was number one of course. When our names were posted I scanned down the list. There I was, I’d been assigned as player number eight. Well, nowhere to go but up, I thought.

Every day after school we’d head out to the courts for practice and matches. When the weather was great, everything went along nicely. But often the courts would be full of puddles from our frequent rain showers, and we’d be forced to push the water off them, using long poles with wide flat rubber heads. They were supposed to clear the surface. They didn’t and we would have to do our best to play around the more obstinate puddles.

I don’t know if you’ve ever played tennis on a court with puddles, so I’ll give you some insight. When a fast-moving tennis ball hits a puddle, it skids wildly. There is no predicting which direction it will travel and it’s a rare thing to be able to return the ball back over the net. Not only that, striking a soggy tennis ball is like hitting a grapefruit.

Fortunately, practices were short those days.

As a side note, I eventually moved up to number six, but never played against kids from other schools, since only the top four played official matches. Actually, this was okay with me.

Over the course of my life, I’ve discovered that the tennis court is not the only place that has puddles.

The puddles I’m talking about now are those that potentially await us all. The death of someone close to us, an intense physical challenge, a financial set back, a string of endless arguments, the loss of a job, an accident, or the end of an important relationship.

They don’t happen every day, but you never really know when they’ll appear. Some days I feel surrounded by them. And some of them are quite deep.

Maybe you’ve stepped in a few yourself.

So, what do we do when confronted by life’s challenging puddles?

We have a lot of choices. We can swear at them and blame everyone and everything around us. I do this occasionally, even though I know it isn’t helpful. In those weak moments, I try to give myself some slack. I try to stand as far away from my circumstances as I can and be an observer, hoping the distance gives me better perspective. If I am kind to myself, I can see more clearly and often find some value within the experience.

Other times, I am able to adapt to the puddles I fall into. It’s not that I enjoy them, but I don’t resist them as much, which makes it a lot easier on me. I try to accept that difficulties happen to everyone and that there is almost always a pathway out. I try to shift my thinking away from my anger or resentment and toward solutions and growth. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a lot better than remaining in the puddle.

On my best days, I go inside myself. I rest for a while and slow down. I remind myself that everything that happens in my life is there to serve me in some fashion if I’ll only take the time to look closely and listen to my heart. Finding the beautiful message opens my world and allows me to release any unhelpful thoughts.

When I do this, I don’t mind running along and jumping in the puddles.

A Case for Not Living in the Now

So much is written and talked about regarding living in the present moment…the ‘now’. I wonder, is this truly possible? Doesn’t the present moment move too fast for any of us to capture or contemplate?

I believe I get the idea folks are hinting at. It’s an idea where your attention is, as much as any of us are capable of, localized in the present moment you are living. It’s a way of releasing all our other thoughts, the ones that drag us back into the past or shove us forward into the future.

Living in the ‘now’ is thought to allow us to be mindful and conscious of our current existence, so that we don’t miss anything. And so that we find value and pleasure in each moment, not mourning its passing nor avoiding the next moment to come.

I recognize that, whether conscious of it or not, we are always living from one moment to the next. It doesn’t matter what your mind or your heart is doing, the flow of time continues to move.

I may be missing some very important distinction or point about all of this and perhaps what I have to say won’t hit your target, but I have a different view I’d like to share. It’s a case for not living in the ‘now’, at least not as described above.

In part, as with almost any idea, there is an underlying expectation about living in the ‘now’. There is a perceived right way and a wrong way to do it.

I find that whenever the paradigm of right and wrong exists, there can be judgment, scolding and shame involved. Whether these are turned inward or received from outside matters not. Their poison is as strong, regardless of its direction.

Have you felt this?

Maybe it hasn’t happened to you in connection with this particular concept, but has it happened with other ideas?

Although it’s unfortunate, I believe we all have experienced this. So, I’d like to remind you that you needn’t ever accept your own or someone else’s judgment, scolding or shame. None of these belong to you.

If you initially allow them in, please feel free to release them. They are only meant to tear you down, never to build you up. That’s one of the easiest ways to spot them. If they come at you and hurt you, let them go.

If living in the ‘now’ feels like spiritual dogma to you, by all means, let it pass you by.

If you’ve tried to be present, staying in the chronological ‘now’ and failed. Let it go. If your failure seeps into you and separates you from happiness and joy, give your ‘failure’ away.

If you feel that you can’t hold a present moment in your grasp or that meeting this expectation overwhelms you. Release it and let it go.

If you feel your inner wellness is becoming conditional on your success at remaining in the ‘now’, do yourself a favor and abandon this quest.

Value is shared and available no matter where you are or what direction you choose, past, present, or future. Sweetness and brilliance exist everywhere. No one moment is more meaningful than another.

I don’t believe it matters what moment you live in, as long as it means something to you. There are beautiful memories from the past to keep, to hold on to and to cherish.

There are wonderful dreams you may have for the future, ones that need cultivating in the present moment in order to blossom and bear fruit.

You have perfect free will, so whatever moment calls to you, choose it and live well.

Finding Things We Hide from Ourselves

Can we find what we can not see? And a deeper question, can we find what we will not see? By ‘will not see’, I mean what we won’t permit ourselves to acknowledge. We know something is there, but we willfully avoid looking at it.

It feels too threatening to us, so we shift our focus. After all, there are so many things that beg for our time and attention and it’s easy to tell ourselves we’ll get back to it when we have more time.

This happens to me quite frequently. It’s as if the hidden things want to see the light. They are insistent and return over and over until they wear me down and I feel forced to pay them heed.

One of my recurring themes is the idea of meeting others’ expectations of me. I need to be a bit more precise here. It’s not just about meeting others’ expectations of me; it goes further than that. It’s about meeting my ‘perception’ of others’ expectations.

This added challenge increases the difficulty for me, because I don’t really know what anyone else expects from me. I believe this is true, even if they tell me what they want, because they may not really know. The answer(s) may lie hidden and difficult to find.

It’s easy to see how unlikely it is for me to unravel this.

When I add my tendency to doubt myself, thinking I do not have the power or control to provide what they want, or my perception of what they want, it becomes harder still.

I also must confess that I take it one step further. I have another tendency, which is to overachieve. I not only want to meet my own and others’ expectations, but I also want to exceed them. This creates even more internal pressure. Far beyond what is reasonable or helpful. And it ultimately makes it more difficult to find the hidden meanings I’m searching for.

When I experience moments of clarity, I realize that overachieving is an attempt on my part to maintain or improve a vision of myself, whether necessary or not. It feels like I’m trying to prove my worth and that I am enough.

Before I began writing these posts, I decided that I would reveal what felt true for me, regardless of how it made me appear to whoever chose to read me. Honesty, within me and as expressed to you, is important to me. I want to be open, and I encourage you to do the same thing with yourself, in the hope that we can find some answers together.

So, the question that surfaces is, what to do next? Is there a remedy for uncovering what lies hidden from view within us?

I offer you this for your consideration.

Set aside your fear of the unknown. There is nothing inside you that is there to harm you. In fact, all hidden things are there to create light for your path forward.

Embrace a sense of trust, that you have an innate goodness. A goodness that can be directed first, toward yourself and second, toward others.

Ask for guidance from whoever or whatever you regard as sacred and divine. Ask for clarity and confidence in finding the hidden things. Ask for their meaning and purpose to be shown to you.

Open your heart and allow yourself freedom to choose to see what wants to be seen.

Release any need to control the outcome. Simply give yourself space for the worth of the hidden things to materialize in your life.

And, as much as is possible, believe that all your hidden things are there to serve you.

When they come, welcome them, and accept what they have to offer.

The Anatomy of Success

What was the first thing that came to your mind when you read this post title? Did you actively wonder whether you are a success in the world? Perhaps you began at once to measure and compare yourself to others who you believe are successful.

It can be quite a losing game, if you are not careful.

Maybe it would be good to back-up a bit. After all, what really is success? Do we get to choose our own definition, or do we feel obligated to use those others have created?

I’ve struggled with this concept during my life.

In my early years the expectations which defined success seemed to be easy to grasp. During my school years, it was primarily my test scores and grades and where I stacked up to the others in my classes. Sure, there were other measures, like how skilled you were in sports or music or extracurricular activities.

As time went on there was more friction involved and success became more difficult to achieve. Folks wanted to know what college you got into, what your major was, what your job prospects were, did you have a girlfriend, was it serious?

The focus seemed to be on bigger and better regardless of whether you could classify your actual anticipated outcomes.

That’s part of the problem with success. It slips away as soon as you start to accomplish it. It moves a little further from your grasp and keeps you reaching.

You think to yourself, I’m almost there and then another step appears, another task to check off.

If you are fortunate enough, you move into the business world and search for a job you hope will offer you a decent income, growth potential and a good retirement. You might get married and have children, a house, a car and go on nice vacations.

For some, these are the measures of success that matter most, and by and large, they are the ones society treats with respect.

I wanted all of these, and I am fortunate because they all came into my life. I am deeply grateful for this, for each one of these.

But do they define my success in the world? Can they? Am I not more than these?

What about our other dreams? The ones that live deep inside of us? The ones no one else can see? What about the success of these?

I care about these too.

Do you have some dreams that you want to live outside of yourself? Dreams that you want to shine?

If you do, I encourage you to breathe life into them. I also encourage you to relax all of your ideas about success.

Maybe, if you need to, write down what success would look like if you accomplished them, but then purposely set the list aside. Put it in a safe place and forget about it.

You see, dreams are different. They came with you when you arrived here on earth. They live in you but want to live outside of you. That is their great measure of success. They blossom and bear fruit and share themselves with others, perhaps far beyond your wildest imagination.

This post comes from inside of me in some previously hidden place that I wasn’t aware of until right now. It’s the same place my first book came from when it was born.

I’ve come to realize that I am a channel, a way for my inner dreams to reach the outside world. And I’ve come to realize that I profit by shifting my definition and measures of success. I try to release what the world believes and embrace what feels true to me.

When my dreams take flight, I soar with them, and they are my best version of success.

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Reframing Your Life

Here is a question for you. What if there is only love and fear and nothing else? What if you decided to dive headlong into this question, would you discover that the greater truth is that there is only love?

Maybe you need a moment to think about it. Maybe the presence of fear is so strong that the answer is obvious, that of course there is fear, and so much more. Perhaps you are in the middle of a place of strife, whether that’s inside or outside of you.

It’s possible that fear is the only thing that seems real in this moment. I hope that is not the case for you, but if it is, I hope I have something to say worth your considering.

Recently fear had crept inside of me and was burrowing around, looking for a home. I felt it in the tightness of my chest, and it would not move.

I called out to Lia (one of the names I have for god) and asked for some guidance.

She came and rested inside of me and told me that both love and fear lead in the same direction. She said that love leads directly, while fears takes an indirect path.

I asked what else she could tell me about the path of fear. I wanted the heaviness in my chest to go away. I was worried that things would not turn out the way I wanted them to. I dislike this feeling and wondered how it could be released.

Lia said to me, “Part of the answer lies in trusting. Trusting that ALL paths lead to me. Right now, your sense of discomfort is because you doubt this outcome. You believe that your fears are going to take you down some other path and that you will become lost. You believe your fears will lead you into a world of suffering, pain and sorrow and you want to avoid this.”

She continued, “The truth for you in this moment is that fear feels unavoidable, but you can reframe your life.”

Lia asked me to imagine an ugly frame with a beautiful picture inside. She asked me to imagine that the beautiful picture is not only my life, but the picture of love. The ugly frame surrounding it is fear because that is how I see certain aspects of my life. She told me that the truth is that I can transform fear into love and that the deeper truth is that even fear is beautiful.

I confessed to being mystified.

Lia said, “Part of the truth lies in the mission of fear, its purpose.”

She went on to clarify, “It exists to aid you in your life. It directs you and points the way toward love, as a sure guidepost.”

I wanted to know so much more.

Lia told me that we had taken the first step, which was my willingness to ask and to listen. I’d opened myself up.

I wanted more peace than that and to release the lingering heaviness in my chest.

Lia encouraged me to sit back, close my eyes and to force a few quick breaths from my lungs, then rest.

I did as she requested and there was peace and a new freedom of breathing. And it gave me a chance to consider her words to me.

Am I capable of trusting that any fear that comes to visit me is here to serve me as a guidepost and help direct me back to love? Can I reframe my world, releasing fear and embracing love?

These are important questions to me and they have the ability to shape my whole world. It is up to me where I place my trust and what path I choose to travel. I want the path of love.

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