Who Are Your Life Teachers

The summer I was eight-years-old my family moved from Watertown to Delmar, New York. One of the first things my parents had to do was to enroll my sister and me in our new schools. She went to Junior High School (yes, there was no such thing as Middle School) and I went to Delmar Elementary School, just two blocks from our house.

It snowed so much in Watertown, sine it’s so close to Lake Ontario, that we missed a lot of school. In fact, we had so much snow one year, that my sister and I could have jumped out our second story window and not gotten hurt. Maybe buried, but not hurt.

The local school officials in Delmar felt that I should repeat third grade in order to catch up with the rest of my class. I didn’t agree with this decision, but I was a kid with no power, so off to third grade I went.

Fortunately, it only lasted a week and they reconsidered and put me in a fourth-grade classroom. My teacher, Mrs. Hosey, was incredibly welcoming and made sure I felt at home. Not surprisingly, she is my all-time favorite teacher. Not just because of her welcome, but for all that she taught me. We did all kinds of fun stuff and she engaged every one of the kids in my class.

I’m not saying she made things easy, she didn’t. She challenged us and helped draw out talents we didn’t believe we had. She asked us to search for meaning in what we were studying. I loved the fourth grade and I loved her.

I guess the feeling must have been mutual, because many, many years later, when I was a bank manager, she found me and opened an account at my bank. And, when I moved to a new branch, she moved with me, keeping us connected.

It was a beautiful thing to be able to help her with her needs and it felt like a kind of repayment for her guidance, kindness and generosity. I consider her one of my best life teachers.

When I was thinking about this topic, I recognized that it’s not just teachers who have profound effects on us. Sometimes it’s one single seemingly random connection we have with someone or some specific life event that occurs that changes our direction.

And, it’s not always what we label as ‘positive’ experiences that teach us, even though those may feel much better.

Sometimes it’s the ‘negative’ experiences that alter our lives and teach us important and valuable lessons. These instances can shape us and help us grow, if we allow them to.

So, who are your life teachers? Your spouse, parents, grandparents, school teachers, clergy, bosses, coworkers, those in government, police, friends. The list can be very long.

And what about your experiences?

Have you found that an illness (yours or someone close to you) has brought you wisdom and an increased awareness about life?

What about a job loss or relocation to a new home or losing a friend? Have they shown you new insights and challenged you to find hidden meanings in your life?

So many situations present themselves to us in ways we find difficult to understand or accept. Sometimes we fall into despair or become angry because of the circumstances we face. It makes me wonder about all of the teachings I’ve missed because I wasn’t open to them.

On my best days I think back to Mrs. Hosey and realize that the challenges that approach me all have meaning and value. I try to keep my eyes open and see if I can find the hidden gems, just like I did in her class.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

A Sense of Fairness

Often it seems that fairness is hard to come by. We are apt to judge by so many different standards that arriving at any agreement becomes difficult. It can make you wonder if there is such a thing as fairness.

I’m pretty sure the whole idea starts out early in life, as if we were born with an inner sense of what could be considered fair. Watching children for even a short period of time it’s likely you’ll spot this. I think most parents would say it happens every day. One child has a toy the other wants and an argument breaks out or one of the children rips the toy from the others hand and runs away, each one shouting, “it’s not fair”.

I’m not sure that any of us ever outgrows some version of this.

We seem to have an expectation that life will be fair. Why is this? Who is it that made this promise to us, as if the world owes each one of this valuable gift?

When the balance tips and we sense injustice, it hurts. We feel it most keenly when we act in a certain way, using our idea of good behavior. We anticipate or expect a reward and if we don’t receive it, we may claim that life is not fair because, after all we’ve done our part.

This happens all throughout our lives. At home, in school, at work and in our relationships.

Maybe part of the challenge is that we don’t all use the same definitions of the word ‘fair’. One dictionary says that ‘fair’ is defined as, ‘acting in accordance with rules or standards’.

I can certainly see how this creates a problem. Whose rules are we talking about? And who is in charge of setting up the standards? If we end up with numerous rules and standards, how could there ever be any hope that there would be only ONE way to measure fairness?

Maybe it’s time to take a step back.

There seems to me to be a short, medium and long view here.

In the short view, we have two basic choices, we either complain about a situation or we accept it. In the medium view, we may choose to try to find ways to change a situation and arrive at a better sense of fairness. A negotiation of sorts.

I wonder if there is a long view we can take. One that supposes that life is operating on a grander scale than we can see. That fairness is bigger and broader than we thought.

Three questions pop up for me.

Do I actually know all of the facts involved so that I can make a determination about fairness? Not even remotely likely. There are just too many things I may not know.

At what point is it wise for me disregard my opinion about fairness, if it makes me unhappy? After all, I don’t have control over every outcome. If it’s more important to lead a happy satisfied life, maybe it doesn’t matter as much about my perception of fairness.

And the most important question is who can I turn to for some insight and inspiration?

My answer is always the same, the divine. For me, it is the part of (god) I call Lia (love in action). When I asked her for guidance about fairness, she asked me to trust that everything in life ‘serves me’, no matter how it looks at the time and that there is always an underlying love that threads through every action.

To truly understand, I need examples. Maybe you do too, so here is a quick one.

I invariably pick the slow lane at the grocery check-out, which can feel unfair. If I step back I recognize this is a feeling, not a fact and that if it makes me unhappy, that is my choice, but not a wise one nor worth the cost. And if I look a bit deeper, I notice that, while I am waiting I see more. I have a chance to slow down and breathe and make eye contact with others. I can even close my eyes and call Lia to me and savor my connection to the divine.

So, it’s okay with me if I end up in the slow lane because I’m changing the name now to – the savor lane.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Acceptance

I have very good friends whose points of view on a variety of subjects are radically different from mine. I wonder, how this can be?

Whether it’s politics, religion, sports, food preferences, child rearing decisions, you name it, the disparity can be significant. Any one of these topics could be the source of a major argument, and there comes a time when we have to ‘agree to disagree’ and move on to another topic.

Maybe you experience this same situation with some of your friends and family members.

Part of me is always interested in how things like this come about. Try as I might, the answers elude me. We’re each a product of so many influences, that it would likely be impossible to unwind things enough to discover the source, even if we tried.

A curious question arises for me. What allows us to continue to be friends, in light of the disparity in our points of view?  

My answer is simple. There is a greater love between us than there is a sense of divide. We relinquish ‘rightness’ in trade for ‘harmony’. Somehow, we are able to allow each other latitude, because down deep we have formed a stronger bond than anything we disagree about. To me, this is certainly a case where love overcomes.

But, there are of course, folks I disagree with and whose moral compass and opinions serve to separate us and the gap between us can seem monumental.

Looking at the world today, it appears present everywhere, that our various points of view are widening and causing major challenges, resulting in violence and revealing deep seated fears. I have little doubt this has always been the case, but with our abundant social media platforms, we hear so much more about it.

No matter which side you lean toward, it seems everyone senses a measure of discomfort.

So, what to do?

It feels like the truth to me that we know by now that, ‘the fangs first approach’, will not heal the world. When we allow our fears to lead the way with visceral reactions, they create a predictable defensive outcome, the return of barb for barb. It’s highly unlikely that this will ever produce any real answers.

I believe things will change only when our love is greater than our fear.

Fear thrives on maintaining set ideas and an avoidance of anything new. Fear needs to be listened to and allowed to have its say.

I believe there needs to be a search for a true understanding. We have to be willing to suspend our own beliefs, in order to ask questions and listen carefully to the perspectives of others. We need to be open to hearing their answers, with an eye toward resolution.

This is a tall order, no doubt about it.

It seems like the fundamental question is whether the love that is within each of us can rise to the surface and accept another human being the way they are? Can we give them an opportunity to express their concerns, so that we hear them, before we express our own? Can we see if it is possible to find common ground first, then build on that toward a better future?

I am not always successful in doing this and sometimes I fail miserably. When this happens, I try to recognize that I’ve fallen into old patterns and awaken myself to a better path. I try to release fear and summon love, because it’s the only way to live the life I want to experience here.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Finding What We Look For

I understand the necessity and value in wearing a mask these days, but I really miss seeing people’s whole faces. It just isn’t the same.

I used to think you could tell what a person was feeling and thinking by looking at their eyes. That was before I lost contact with seeing their mouths. Now I understand, you need both.

So much is revealed through facial expressions. All the little hints and cues we read without realizing it, which help us to connect with others. To have some ideas about another’s mood or concerns, gives us a way in and opens a quiet door for us to be a part of another’s life.

What I miss the most is seeing smiles. I’ve seen a couple artistically drawn on the outside of a few masks, but they are a weak substitute for the real thing.

I’ve had to search in other places to find hidden smiles. The picture at the top of this post is one of my favorites. Every time I look at it, it makes me happy and gives me a little jolt, a kind of rush, knowing it’s there waiting for me, right in plain sight.

In case you aren’t familiar with this device, it’s one of those swiveling binocular machines that you put a few quarters in and look through to see objects that are far away. Most of the time they’re at look-out points, and you can use them to see distant mountains and lakes.

What I love about this device is the face I see. I think it’s adorable.

I have a whole collection of faces. I find them in the strangest places, like a child’s booster seat or a house doorway. I also create some on my own, mostly when I’m making lunch for one of my grandchildren. It’s really fun to arrange the food on their plate into a funny face and watch their reactions.

When I have a group of ‘face photos’, I make copies and send them to a friend of mine. She says it makes her day. To me, that’s a beautiful thing. It’s part of why I feel I’m here on this earth, to make a difference in someone’s life.

I’ve discovered, and you may have too, that it is so much easier to find something, if you know what you’re looking for. I’m sure that I would have missed many, many faces, if I hadn’t believed they were there waiting for me.

It feels like the truth to me, that all of life is like this. That we miss what we’ve convinced ourselves is not there, rather than opening to greater possibilities.

I wonder what would happen if I believed that whatever I wanted to show up in my life could be just like those faces I find.

When I reflect, I see that if I am fearful then a host of fearful things will enter my life. They are easy for me to find. They pop up instantly in front of me. It’s not really what I want to happen, so I have to stop and ask myself, is this what I want to find? Of all of the things in the world, is this really what I am looking for?

The answer is almost always, ‘no, definitely not.’

So, I encourage myself to make a shift. To remember to find smiling faces and then, the other things that light up my world. I close my eyes and imagine all of the things that would make me happy or give me joy that I could pass along to others. When I open my eyes and walk through my day, wonderful gifts are revealed to me. I discover that the surest path to finding what I am looking for in my life, is believing that all of what I seek is already here for me, waiting to be revealed.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

How Deep Does Pain Go

How deep does pain go?

The answer that comes to me is, as deep as we allow.

Please don’t stop reading yet.

Bear with me for a few minutes and hear me out.

I know there is a kind of pain that has an intensity far beyond anything we thought was imaginable. Whether it is physical, where the body is racked with enormous pain and limitations or emotional, where our heart is so broken it feels beyond repair. It could be mental or intellectual, where we can’t find answers to any of our dilemmas or spiritual, where we feel completely alone, distanced from any sense of love or caring.

There have been times when I’ve felt some of these brutal realities, not knowing whether things would ever get better. Certainly, for a while I could not see how it would be possible. There seemed to be no sunshine left. Maybe everyone has felt this way.

I don’t think you have to have lived into old age to know suffering. It seems to me to be sort of an ageless condition.

I’ve had many conversations with others about this. Every one of them ends in the same place, with one simple question…why?

Why is there so much pain and suffering?

No one I’ve spoken to feels they have the answer to this question. Sure, there are platitudes, but are they helpful? No one I know, including those who say them, seem to believe it.

So, the search for meaning goes on.

Once in a while someone tells me that pain and suffering is a punishment for the wrongs we’ve done. They often insert the word, ‘sin’ into the conversation. They tell me that (god) is so upset with our behavior that (he) has no choice but to condemn us and therefore, there we feel pain and endure suffering.

I don’t believe this. I never did, even as a child. You can not speak to me of a (god) who is everlasting love and always watches over me and cares for me and then add the ingredient of a (god) who sends me pain and suffering for being human.

Others I’ve talked with take a very direct approach to answering this question. They say, it is just a part of living on this earth and that it is a natural result of being here. This is also known as…’$#*% happens’.

Perhaps I’m unrealistic, but I think there’s more to it than that.

I want to go back to the statement I made at the beginning of this post. The answer that comes to me is, as deep as we allow. That’s how deep pain and suffering goes.

What I mean is this.

Imagine that you have a shovel in your hands. You aim it at the ground, step on the back and push your way into the earth. Once your shovel blade is full, you lift it up and set the dirt to the side. You now have a small hole in the ground. The hole is now how much pain there is in your life. It’s what you feel. The pain is relatively small, because the hole is small. You tell yourself you can deal with this.

But sometimes, the hole gets bigger and deeper and the amount of pain may exceed your ability to handle it. And sometimes the hole gets bigger still. You can’t imagine why, and you find it hard to see the bottom of the hole. The pain and suffering seem so deep.

I’ve lived through some deep holes. I think everyone has.

At some point I opened up inside and asked for help. I wanted to know what was at the bottom of the hole. I needed to know how deep it really was. So, I peered in and saw (god) at the bottom. And as I reached down, (god) reached up, until our hands met.

I realized that part of the pain and suffering was up to me. That I had something to do with how much I experienced. I was part of the equation. And I could ask for help and the pain and suffering would ease, if I allowed it to.

I know this is a hard answer to grasp. Do with it whatever feels right to you. I felt compelled to pass this along and I hope it helps someone.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Listening

I took the picture in the banner above last summer when part of my family was vacationing in the Adirondacks in New York State. The brook was at the back of the property and was a slice of heaven for me. I am most at home in the water and was able to lay, almost completely submerged, feeling the rush of energy from the water as it passed over my body. Pure bliss.

One of my favorite past-times is to create ‘rock people’. I’m sure it’s some kind of throwback to a former life where the formations guided my way when I traveled long distances.

I love being able to find rocks of all sizes and shapes and see how they fit together. It’s very tricky business to be able to balance them and every so often, they tumble and I have to start over. That’s okay with me. Maybe it’s just the rocks way of being part of the process, so I get it just right.

I like this photo because it suggests that one of the rock people is talking to the rest of the crowd. I’m not sure what a rock person would say to other rocks, but the scene intrigues me.

I started thinking about ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ and how different the two concepts can be.

According to one on-line dictionary, hearing is the ‘faculty of perceiving sounds’, while listening is either, ‘giving one’s attention to a sound’ or ‘paying attention to what another is saying’.

I began wondering which I do more often. When someone is speaking, whether near me or to me, am I hearing them or listening to them? I am conscious of there being sound, recognizing cadence, tone and volume, but am I truly hearing

them?

I ask myself what kind of a listener am I? Am I an active participant or is my role more passive? No doubt I vacillate, depending on the speaker, the subject or the circumstances.

I also wonder, when I am listening, what is the quality of my attention? Am I evaluating what is being said or perhaps, judging the content? Am I listening, but also preparing for my response, so that my attention is split?

One further question jumps in, what part of me is doing the actual listening? Is it my head or my heart?

These are a lot of questions. I think they are worth considering.

You see, I am also a speaker of words, trying to convey thoughts and ideas and feelings. I want to be heard. Not just the sounds that come from me, but the essence that is me. Maybe you want that too.

It feels to me that true listening is a gift, one that is beyond measure. To have someone paying careful attention to what you are saying and also to what you are feeling. To have someone listening from their heart, what a joy-filled present to offer another.

So, how does one offer this? To me, that becomes the rich, fertile question.

I don’t know if it is humanly possible to be a good solid listener all of the time. We have so much going on inside ourselves that it makes it very difficult to be an open channel. That’s not meant as an excuse, but rather an observation.

I believe being an active, compassionate, deep listener comes from the place inside us that knows love. There is a connection between us and the speaker. Our heart takes over and our breath slows a bit and our mind stills. We let go of our need to be right and our desire to fix anything. We become sponges, absorbing the words, thoughts and feelings of another human being who is trying their best to navigate this wonderfully incredible world of ours. We open to their need to be heard. We recognize that we are a part of a sacred exchange.

What a treasure to experience the divine in the hearing of sound.

And what a beautiful thing it is to give the gift of listening to another.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Trading

My sister and I spent most of our growing up years watching Westerns on TV. Inevitably, the action centered, at least for a while, on the main street of town. They always had a saloon with those cool swinging half doors that looked like such fun to push your way through. We enjoyed seeing when some bad men were thrown out of the same swinging doors after too much “fire-water” or for cheating at the poker table.

Somewhere close by there was always a Trading Post, where folks went to see if they could find something they couldn’t make themselves. Often, they were looking for furs or some kind of tools or farm equipment or goods made in neighboring towns.

Thinking about the Trading Post got me to wondering about the whole idea of ‘trading’ and how common it is in our lives, although we might not think so.

Here’s what I mean.

The concept of exchanging one thing of value for another works not only when applied to others, but to ourselves.

One of the challenges is that we may not agree that the values of what’s being traded are equal. Then what do we do? I guess that’s where bartering or bargaining comes in. There may have to be a haggling process to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.

It seems to me this process happens all the time in the world at large. Whether it’s boundary disputes, influencing important decisions, pursuing social justice or making economic choices…the list is endless.

Viewed from a distance it appears that the outcome takes one of two directions. It is either a mutually satisfactory trade or it is not. When one side gives more than receives, it feels wrong and the giver often becomes wary of the next trade.

When you add in other factors like power, money or influence, the process is often compromised and any satisfactory outcome is placed in jeopardy.

It takes a great deal of commitment to fairness and a sense of justice for a trade to be considered good.

And what about the trades we make with ourselves?

As I thought about what trades I make with myself, the first thing to appear was the idea of ‘time’. What amount of time do I have to give up in order to receive something else of value to me?

This turns out to be a pretty important question for me to answer.

Is it worth it to me to trade hours of my life in a classroom in order to obtain a college degree? Is it worth it to me to trade some of the money I earn in order to be protected against certain events beyond my control (car, home and life insurances)? Is it worth it to me to spend time exercising to improve my physical wellness and health for the future?

There are of course even more important trades to consider.

Is it worth the investment of time to maintain friendships with important people in my life? Is it a fair trade to donate money to folks who are in desperate need so that they have enough to live a better life? Is it worth all of the time I dedicate to enhancing my personal relationship with (god)?

Answering these questions ON PURPOSE has turned out to be quite enlightening for me and completely worth all of the time I’ve spent.

I wonder what your thoughts are about the ‘trades’ you make. If you care to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Free Will

Imagine you are sitting at a desk. You are in a comfortable chair with your feet firmly placed on the floor. Your posture is upright and your mind is sharp. You look down and see a piece of paper laying across the top of the desk. Surprisingly, it stretches out endlessly in to the left and to the right. A pen rests on the paper and you pick it up.

A voice calls out to you with a question. It is a soothing voice, one you think you ought to recognize. You decide to let go of trying to know who it is and center in on the question itself.

The voice says, “This is the continuum of ‘free will’ and you stand at the middle point. The left end represents your belief that you do not have any free will and that all things are already decided for you. The right end signifies that you believe you have absolute free will to decide whatever you want to experience in life, with no barriers or requirements. Consider carefully, because whatever you choose will determine the course of your life. On what part of the paper do you choose to make your mark?”

This is no simple decision.

Many of us are taught through our religious training that (god), regardless of the tradition, has a ‘will’ for us. Ordinarily, this ‘will’ is either unknown to us or must be told to us by others, who are said to possess greater understanding. They become the interpreters of (god’s) will.

I wonder, how is it that they know something we don’t? How have they come by this knowledge and how can they tell all others what is right and true for them?

I wanted to know more about this, so I asked (god) (Lia) this morning, and this is what she said.

“You may choose to experience life as unhappiness, discontentment and unfulfillment by choosing fear (rather than love) as the basis for your decisions. Aligning with what others tell you is my will is one way to do this. What is happening here is that you are allowing others to control your decisions out of fear that I will be displeased with you and reject you. You are accepting that they know the truth but that you don’t. Your trust is placed in them, rather than in me and in yourself. Whenever you concede to others, you lose all of your power and sacrifice your free will, which is your greatest and most beautiful gift.”

She went on to say, “This may surprise you, but I have no will for you to behave in any particular or specific manner. That does not mean that I do not know what you choose. I do. I also know that if it is your desire to live a happy, contented, joy filled life, exercising your free will is the pathway. You are made completely and entirely of love, so you are your most happy, contented, joy filled self when you are acting (choosing) in accordance with your very nature. There is an alignment of love in this. Just because I know this to be true, I do not have a will for you to be this way. That is your choice.”

And finally, she said, “You are in this world to create and experience whatever you desire. Free will gives you the choice to align with fear or with love. This is up to you.”

Accepting this as the truth for me, I feel free to choose any option and embrace any opportunity, knowing that the ones that most serve me are those made from love, because they align with my very nature.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Casting Rainbows

I’m usually sitting at my desk in my home office by 6:00am. When the sun comes up, it hits the windshields of the car passing by my house and sends momentary flashes of blinding reflected light into my eyes. It doesn’t last more than a second, but the glare is so incredibly bright that it’s painful.

This is another of those situations in life that seem so simple to fix. I could merely reach over and pull the shade down. Problem solved. Except that this also shuts out all of the beautiful sunshine. And considering the length of our winter and the amount of shadows we’ve lived with, especially over this last year, I can’t make myself do it.

To be honest, my first reaction was to feel a bit angry and wonder why it had to happen this way.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that if I’m at all patient, another idea will follow as to how to solve the problem facing me. And it did.

It was wonderful and a total surprise.

I imagined being able to pull down a thin translucent sheet of material that would act like a prism, casting gorgeous rainbows all over the wall in front of me. So beautiful.

I thought to myself, I need to figure out how to make this real. I want rainbows instead of blinding glare in my life. I know I’ll find a way. I’ve discovered this about myself. Once I shift my perspective, new things become possible.

It’s the way my mind works, or perhaps it’s my heart, but once a shift happens, an idea or question will pop up in front of me. One did.

“How could I turn other things in my life, that I find painful, into something I find beautiful…radiant, even?”

I thought about this for a while. What challenges does this pose to me? What challenges would it pose to you?

The first challenges to arrive were these; major world conflicts and disagreements between factions, mistreatment and oppression by those in power, religious intolerance and political ideological disputes. Those seemed kind of big to tackle right away. Maybe I ought to start with something easier and work up to these.

Okay, how about, simple differences of opinion, small acts of dishonesty, saying unkind things to each other, failing to meet expected standards and thinking less of others and more of myself.

Perhaps these were smaller, but it seemed just as difficult to see how I could turn them into anything beautiful.

The more I thought about this, the more obvious it was to me that, the closer I come to disliking another’s position, the closer I come to disliking them personally. And there’s the glare, the blinding reflected light flashing into me…’I’ve made it personal’.

Every time I do this, I find that I suffer inside and the distance between myself and others grows.

I’ve made us separate. It’s them and me. We’re apart because I’ve chosen to believe they are what they say or what they do.

I have to stick around long enough and remind myself, it’s not who they are.

I have to ask myself, can I stop a moment and see who they are on the inside? Can I find some thin translucent sheet to place between us so I can see the rainbows they cast?

Yes, this is the hard part.

I have to go inside and remember that we are all one, made from the same source of love. We cast different shadows and see different lights. We’ve been raised and trained to see different paths.

Why is that?

Could one answer be that our life is enhanced when we are encouraged to look beyond ourselves? When others views are meant to expand us, to foster dialogue between us and to create harmony out of discord?

Imagine if we could be open enough inside, willing to talk without our opinion having to be the conclusion, willing to see others real needs, willing to honor other’s lives.

And, perhaps the most important aspect in all of this, is to realize I can not change anyone else, I can only change the way I view the world and relate to it. Seeing this clearly is a wonderful thing.

To me this creates beautiful rainbows…radiant ones even.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

I See You

For those familiar with my book series, Little Buddha, you may remember this as the starting line of a saying expressed at the end of the first book. It is spoken by 18-year-old Michael, while addressing one of the main characters, Sam. Michael belongs to a native American tribe in the western part of the United States and is visiting his cousin, Claire, another of the main characters. He’s had a very important conversation with Sam and is about to leave to return home. But, before he goes, he wants to present his farewell to Sam. So, he looks directly into Sam’s eyes and says, “I see you.”

Sam immediately understands Michael is not talking about seeing Sam’s surface, but is saying he sees who Sam is.

Sam responds, that although it may sound strange, he ‘feels seen’. He feels acknowledged in a way he’s never felt before, especially not after just having met someone.

Sam recognizes that he’s usually so preoccupied that he doesn’t even look into another’s eyes, perhaps he thinks because he’s afraid to see or be seen.

What a beautiful thing it is to be seen. To feel that another has looked into you and found something of worth and value. To be held in another’s gaze with a sense of love shining through and coming in to you.

There is a part of Sam that is transformed by this simple exchange.

There are four other parts to Michael’s farewell.

He says to Sam, “I believe in your dreams”. Sam knows that Michael means this. He can tell the difference between the power in Michael’s serene stare and what others have told him in his life that lacked any form of truth.

Michael continued by saying, “Even the ones you don’t yet see.” That felt especially significant to Sam because he has just started on his spiritual journey and feels he knows so little about what direction to travel. To have someone say, that not only did they believe in his dreams, but all the ones to come as well. What a wonderful sense of assurance Michael has provided.

“You mean something to me,” Michael said next. Sam had just met Michael, but he knew without any doubt that he meant this. It was overwhelming.

And finally, Michael faced Sam and said, “You will be forever in my heart.” Michael placed the palms of his hands together and bowed to Sam. What an enormous gift Sam felt that he’d received. To be seen, believed in and cherished. It inspired Sam to keep this farewell close to his heart and repeat it often with those he knew and came to know.

It turns out that I offered an eleven-week book study for each of the three current Little Buddha books. It has been one of the most treasured events in my life. To be able to share with a beautiful group all of the lessons and insights that Sam experiences is so rich and rewarding. When our session is over, we gather in a circle and repeat these five sayings to each other. What a blessing it is to see and be seen in this way.

Please accept this as my gift, if it feels like something you would like to have in your life. Find others who may also want to see and be seen and share it with them. And if you are close enough to Albany, New York, come and share your life with us at the next book study.

Special Note:

For your reference, you can find this passage in Little Buddha Book One, chapter 9, pages 139-141. All of the Little Buddha books are described on this website under the Books page and are available on Amazon in print and ebooks.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Conviction

Have you ever heard of Jeannette Rankin? I’m willing to bet that you haven’t. I certainly didn’t know about her and her name only came to light because of a curious question I asked myself.

It seems we are living in a time of great political and social upheaval. The USA seems incredibly divided at this time, which made me wonder if there was ever a time in our history when there was a unanimous vote about anything.

My first thought was the United States entry to World War Two following the attack on Pearl Harbor. I decided to satisfy my curiosity and looked it up. Nope, not even then did everyone agree.

I discovered that one person voted against going to war. I had to know more.

That’s when I found out about Jeannette Rankin. She was the first woman ever elected to federal office in the United States. In 1916 she became a member of the House of Representatives from the first district of Montana. Shortly after her term began there was a vote to go to war with Germany. She and 50 others voted against it. Unsurprisingly, she was singled out for criticism, no doubt because she was a woman. She was not reelected once her term expired.

She went on to rise in the woman’s suffragist movement and championed social reforms, in particular a woman’s right to vote, which finally occurred as the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

In 1940 she decided to ran for a seat in the House of Representatives from Montana and won. Again, shortly after her term began, there was another vote to go to war. As a life-long pacifist, she again voted against the proposed declaration. This time she was the only person, male or female to vote ‘no’.

After the vote was taken and the session was over, she was pursued from the House floor by angry members, who cornered her in a telephone booth and would not allow her to leave. She had to call the Capital Police to rescue her and escort her to her office.

So, I wonder, how did Jeannette have the strength to vote her convictions? Certainly, she knew what was in store for her and how utterly persecuted she would be. After all, she already endured this once, twenty-five years before. She could not possibly have imagined that others would try to see from her point of view. And, she had to know how unpopular her pacifist beliefs were, especially right after the surprise attack.

I’m sure she knew, but she voted both her conscientious, and according to what she said, also on behalf of all of the mothers from Montana who did not want their sons going to war. Jeanette believed that war and violence were always unjustified, no matter the circumstances.

To me, there are at least two issues going on here. One is whether war is ever justified. There is no doubt a wide spectrum of opinion about this, ranging from the pacifist stand she, and others, like Mahatma Gandhi took, to the all-out hawks of the world who believe might makes right.

The other issue is, what kind of a stand is one willing to take based on their life convictions and beliefs?

Now, that’s a challenging question.

I want to say that I would have what it takes to stand fast, but I don’t really know. Perhaps, no one does until the situation arises.

I do know, that whether I agree with her pacifist beliefs or not, I have enormous respect for Jeannette and the strength and courage she displayed, particularly in the face of such vehement opposition.

When I’m presented with difficult decisions in the future, I’m pretty sure I’ll be thinking of her and grateful for the example of her life.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Life as a Public Service Announcement

Recently a thought just popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. I’m trying really hard to pay attention to anything that shows up in my life like this. I’ve come to the conclusion that thoughts and feelings don’t come from ‘nowhere’, but rather from some inner guidance, meant to reveal truths that would be helpful to me. I trust them now. All of them, even the ones I don’t understand right away.

What came to me was that each of our lives is like our own public service announcement.

I wasn’t sure where the idea for PSA’s came from so I looked it up on Wikipedia. I realize it is not the ultimate authority, but it did provide me some useful information.

According to the article, PSA’s began both in the UK and the US during World War Two. They were created to provide the public with health and safety information, but were also used for other purposes. One of these was the campaign to inspire US citizens to invest in US Savings Bonds, to assist with funding the war effort. Later, they were primarily used as “fillers”, when the broadcast industry didn’t have enough paid advertising to fill their schedules.

What’s the connection?

Good question.

How about this- are each of our lives our own version of a public service announcement? And, how vested are we in trying to influence others, hoping that they will agree with us and adopt our beliefs? What makes what we’ve been told or what we say, ‘correct’?

These ideas led me down an interesting path. At first, I didn’t think they applied to me much. But, the more I considered the questions, the more I see that they do.

And I wonder, am I trying to influence others to believe what I believe? I don’t want to. I would prefer that everyone make up their own minds and listen to their own hearts.

I recognize that from birth we are all influenced by those around us. Our parents and siblings, our grandparents, other relatives and friends. And that’s before we even get to school. Then there are teachers, religious leaders, authorities, the legal system and culture at large. We absorb our ethics and our expectations from those who are important in our lives. I’m not suggesting that there is anything ‘wrong’ with this, just that we’re often influenced without consciously realizing it.

It feels to me that there could be an enormous benefit for each of us in acting from a conscious point of view. Looking with an open mind at our own words and seeing if they are truly what we wish to put out into the world.

I’ve often caught myself repeating things I’ve heard others say, only to realize they aren’t what I actually believe. I sit back and see that I have been influenced. How easy it is to forward that along to others in my life.

It can happen so subtly. The other day I was singing along with a song on the radio. The beat was strong and the tune was popular for a long time. It dawned on me, once I centered on the words, that the message was terrible. It was reveling in one person’s sorrow. I had to stop singing. It wasn’t a part of my truth.

I had to ask myself, how often does this happen to me, that I repeat the influences that surround me, often while disconnected from their meaning? A lot, I bet.

And, I wondered, what about me, am I living my life as some form of public service announcement? Do I have all sorts of vested interest in influencing others to see things from my point of view?

Maybe it’s inescapable, I’m not sure. But, I do know that I am trying to speak what feels true to me, without the need for anyone else to agree or accept my beliefs. This actually applies to all of my Posts, so I hope you always choose your own path.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Open Road

I love the open road.

Getting in my car and heading out with no destination in mind, free to go anywhere. The thrill of endless possibilities stretching out before me (or us, when my wife and I are together in the car).

The sense of exploration always triggers happy feelings in me. And no matter how many times I’ve traveled the same roads, when I’m in a creative carefree space, I see new things.

The world is such an amazing place and I’ve always been fascinated by those who make a career out of discovering all of its joys. One of my all-time favorite TV shows was, On The Road, with Charles Kuralt. He had a passion for exploration and connection, and along with my father, probably inspired my sense of adventure the most.

I recognize that there are always bends in the road, which can add to the fun, because that’s where a lot of surprises sit waiting for me. Yes, I think they are waiting for me, ready to mystify or dazzle me.

But, sometimes someone pulls out of their driveway, headed to the grocery store or the doctor’s office or somewhere else, with no intention of driving anywhere near the speed limit. My wife and I have a saying we apply to them. ‘They have nowhere to go and all day to get there and no idea how to.’

Of course, this is unfair. They may have some idea, it’s just not obvious to us.

It is one of the drawbacks of beautiful country roads, there are almost no places to pass slow drivers or extra wide farm equipment or huge semis that chose the rural route over the superhighway. So, I have to wait until they make it to their destination or turn off somewhere.

It’s a call to patience for me. I know this is the truth.

Isn’t it funny how the experiences we need most, come up so often in our lives? It is as if I am universally connected to the pokey country driver and he or she knows exactly when I am coming, even if I don’t. He or she knows when to get up, get dressed, eat, pull on their coat, start up their car and back out into the road right in front of me. The precision of it boggles my mind, after all I didn’t even know which roads I’d be taking.

Do you think I’m imagining all of this, that this scenario couldn’t possibly play out as I’ve described it? That it is pure coincidence?

I wonder sometimes.

So, what keeps bringing me back to the open road?

I think it is the sense of freedom and surprise. The slice of priceless beauty looking off to one side of the road and seeing a vast stretch of green grass, bordered by huge guardian trees, with mountain peaks in the far distance, beckoning me to come to them.

When I am at my clearest, I can see into the story of my life.

Everything that appears real to me and that I take for granted, shifts right before my eyes. The open road becomes a vivid metaphor to me for the awakened life I hope to lead. It is filled with beauty and promise and grand opportunities, if I believe they are there. And if I am patient, and look around instead of straight ahead, I can see and reach for them and draw joy into my life.

So, I try to remind myself, that the open road leads in every direction and promises me adventure no matter what.

Next time you’re out on the road, maybe we can spot each other and wave. I’ll be looking for you.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

To Know Flow

I’d like to share a poem I wrote in 1975 when I was 23 years old. At the time I was about to start my ‘real’ working career with two part time jobs; as a youth director at a church in Albany and as a teller at an Albany bank. It was mid-summer and I was finding my way in the world and seeking direction from whatever or whoever would speak to me from inside myself. I was surprised by the clarity of the voice that responded. The poem has stayed with me all this time, which I have to assume means something. Here it is.

to know flow

goals are the rocks of bondage

time is the eternal essence of mind

mind the essential ice to melt

acceptance is the bearer of peace

wisdom is the moderator of the flow

flow is the way of life

I’m a big believer in folks making up their own mind about things. You are certainly free to interpret this any way you choose, or read it and pass right on by. However, if you’d like to know why it means something to me, please keep reading.

goals

Perhaps you were taught to honor goals like I was. They were cornerstones to reach for. Inherently valuable and worthy of all of the time it might take to achieve them. They were what grown-ups ‘should’ strive for and the promise seemed to be that they would make you happy and satisfied with your life.

While this has been true in some cases, it has more often been that my goals were unattainable, or at least not achievable in the ways I want to experience them. Most of them became ‘rocks of bondage’.

It was not until recently that my vision shifted away from ‘goals’ and moved toward ‘aims’. This is a much more gently word and concept. It implies a certain amount of freedom, because the emphasis is on the direction of your movement, not the final outcome. I try now to leave goals out of the process and instead envision those things I am aiming for in my life. Maybe you might want to try this with one of your goals and see what happens.

time

It seems to me that everyone knows time is a man-made construct, an arbitrarily agreed upon decision to break up days into hours and minutes. I get how necessary it is, but somehow, I’m uncomfortable with the idea. I’ve never worn a watch for this reason and yet somehow, I’ve managed to show up for all of life’s meetings. I’ve also discovered that time is malleable. The same fixed amount of time can seem incredibly short or excruciatingly long, depending on the circumstances. Time seems to be an ‘essence of the mind’.

mind

Everyone has one. Everyone needs one. But, I’ve seen in my life how often my mind wants to be in charge, as if it always knows best. Knowledge is a wonderful thing, but to me, wisdom is far superior, so that ‘mind is the essential ice to melt.’

acceptance

Even though I’ve given intolerance, defiance and resistance every possible chance to solve my problems, they have all failed me. Quite miserably, in fact. Only acceptance has offered me a way forward, guiding me gently, yet firmly and being for me, ‘a bearer of peace.’

wisdom

As I see it, wisdom comes from the inside of me and knowledge comes from the outside of me. Wisdom follows a pathway through my feelings, while knowledge moves through my mind. When it comes to trusting, I choose wisdom over knowledge every time, because I recognize it as ‘the moderator of the flow.’

flow

Here is the truest way to feel and know your truth, are you moving against or with the current of your life? It is really a simple question and so revealing. Would life actually be trying to move you in a direction that did not benefit you? Not only is this a question of flow, but of faith. I hope that my choices are made in such a way that ‘flow is the way of my life’.

Do Overs

When I was a kid we resorted to the strategy of ‘do overs’ a lot, finding countless opportunities to take advantage of this practice. And why not? Everybody makes mistakes and wants a chance to do better.

It starts pretty early in life.

I remember one hot summer day when I received a beautiful cold sweet ice cream cone. I was so excited that I didn’t pay enough attention as I took it from my father. You can probably guess what happened. Yup, the ice cream scoop fell onto the ground and I was left holding the cone. I don’t remember whether I screamed or cried, but I got a do over…another ice cream cone. Go Dad, you rock!

Funny thing is, that do overs are programmed in to some things, kind of a recognition that everything doesn’t always work out the first time. Take our national pastime of baseball, for example. If you’re really good or perhaps, really bad, you can stand at homeplate all day long and hit foul balls. You get to keep trying till you hit the ball between the first and third base lines. I guess Abner Doubleday liked do overs a lot.

And sometimes in school, on rare instances, if you flunked an exam, you might get an opportunity to take a make-up test. I’m not sure how this gets decided, which ones you do and which ones you don’t, but I know it exists. Not that I ever flunked a test (wink wink).

I recognize that we are usually under some kind of pressure to perform tasks and that there are often expectations attached to our results. Supposedly, some people thrive under these conditions, but more often, I believe we’d feel much better if we knew there would always be the possibility of a do over.

What if life was like tennis, where you always get a second serve. Or even golf, where you can take a ‘mulligan’ (a well-loved, but unofficial opportunity to hit your shot over again), in case you drove your golf ball into the woods. I realize this doesn’t fly in professional tournaments, but in my opinion, life isn’t a tournament

Once you transition from school to the work world, you encounter all sorts of new experiences. Sometimes there’s latitude for errors and sometimes not.

I worked as a bank teller for a few years before moving up the ladder. At the end of each shift you had to ‘prove’, meaning that all of what you took in had to equal all of what you gave out. If it didn’t match, you had to find out why. This could be a very tedious and unnerving experience, especially if the amount was significant. Surprisingly, $100 differences were not uncommon. This happened to me a couple of times. We eventually found most of them, but imagine if every teller had to be perfect every day with no allowance for mistakes. No do overs.

And then there is the world of relationships. We all make so many mistakes no matter how hard we try. Of course, we can apologize and ask for permission to try again, promising to do better and hope our do over is granted.

I feel it would help us all if we remembered that each of us is a giver and a receiver when it comes to do overs. The giver can extend mercy and compassion. They can offer encouragement and express love and leave the door open. The receiver can promise to be more thoughtful or careful. They can show gratitude and love for their second chances and do those things that they promise.

I’m going to take some time over the next few days to pay attention to giving and receiving. I’d love to have you join me, and if you’re inclined, let me know how it goes with your do overs.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Feelings

I may have mentioned this before. I know it’s in my most recent book, talking with (god). I keep a daily Feelings Journal, which gives me the chance to actually spend time feeling, instead of always focusing on thinking. Of course, I can’t help that some part of me is thinking while I do this. That seems inevitable. But, offering myself the chance to express how I really feel is priceless.

I discover so many wonderful insights when I open to what my heart is experiencing. Over the years, I’ve learned to open as wide as I can and to say whatever feels like it needs to be said.

Recently, I was sensing despair surrounding me, especially as it related to the political turmoil in our nation. Bravely, I chose to allow everything that upsets me to rise to the surface. In doing so, this observation came into view, “we fall off the rails and slip into our own darkness when we judge our lives by the darkness of others”.

I think this explains a lot and I can see how it applies to my life. Perhaps it may apply to yours also.

Others darkness affects me. It spreads out, enveloping everything in its path. Have you felt this?

It can affect my whole world, altering it and fading it, sometimes turning it into formless shadows.

One of the beautiful things about acknowledging my feelings is that I get to reclaim the colors in my world. I get to recognize that I am in charge of my own light and my own darkness. By allowing each of my feelings to be seen in the light, rather than staying deep inside of me, I can choose what is to become of them.

Sometimes only one or two feelings pop up, but other times there is a multitude. The last time this happened I allowed each feeling to have it’s own voice. It was very loud at first, but it subsided and a wise voice spoke saying, “don’t try to start with everything, start with one thing.”

One thing, one feeling.

Yes, I could manage that. There is certainly wisdom in allowing the rest to wait their turn. And if they become unruly, I can always put them in ‘time-out’, after all, I am the one in charge.

So, where to start when there can be so many?

It’s up to you of course, but I’ll share my approach and you can decide if it feels right to you. I hope that’s the way it always works when you come here. You have your own magnificent life to live, so I hope you always feel free to choose your own way, no matter what you find here.

Sometimes I choose the feeling that speaks the loudest to me. I figure that if I do this, I’ll be able to hear the feelings with quieter voices better. Sometimes I have an inner knowing that the feeling with the quietest voice is the key to everything, so I start there. The selection process is mostly intuitive.

It probably doesn’t matter where you start, but it does matter that you start.

For me, the ideal starting point is by talking with (god). You know, if you’ve read my book, that (god) comes to me as father (Abba), mother (Na’a), brother (Yeshiwa) and sister (Lia or love In Action). I spend the most time with Lia these days. I can lay out all of my feelings in any way and in any order and they are all heard. Doing this gives me enormous peace. And talking with Lia and hearing her response fills me and brightens every color in my world

For you, there may be a different starting point. The beautiful thing is it’s up to each of us to choose our own path.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

SPECIAL NOTE:

I case you want to know more about creating or expanding your relationship with (god) you may want to consider reading talking with (god), which you can learn more about on the Books page of this website.

Asking

One of the most consistent things I’ve heard about me in my life is that I ask good questions. It is a skill I spent a lot of time developing and has almost always proven to be beneficial, mostly for others, but also for myself.

It is a curious thing, this idea of asking. It is both encouraged and discouraged, depending on the circumstances. Parents often invite children to try new things and ask questions while they are learning. This is also true in school, but mostly applies to learning facts not questioning the teacher or the school’s policies.

Asking questions may also result in a lot of frowning when the subject of the asking broaches taboo topics, like politics, religion, a person’s weight or orientation. Actually, the list can be rather long.

Recently, I was thinking about the value of asking, mostly because I often refrain from asking for things for myself. I wonder why I do that? Perhaps I’m not alone. Maybe you do it too.

So, I spent some time and came up with several reasons why asking is such a good idea and why it is important for me to shift my perspective and find the value in asking.

Here’s what I want to share with you.

Asking prompts action. To me, it is not a step by step process, but rather an opportunity to purposeful choose the experience one wishes to claim as their own. Each question aids in exploring options and taking action.

Asking also creates an opening. It has the power to dislodge ‘stuck stuff’ and open some space so that one can choose whatever option seems wisest to them.

Asking generates excitement. It ignites sparks and wonderful ideas can spring forth and catch fire.

Asking initiates dialogues and connects people. It brings folks closer and clears the way forward in relationships. I’ve seen it happen so often that folks have conversations to try to resolve issues and get just so far then stall, when asking one more question might open the right door for them.

Asking sharpens our focus and provides opportunities to deepen thinking and create clarity. It forces folks to define situations, encouraging both analysis and insight, so that the direction forward is easier.

Asking can help us to let go of whatever we are asking was about. What I mean is, there is power behind every question in our lives and sometimes the power overwhelms us. By asking questions, we can unlock some of the power, releasing us and giving us some distance and peace.

Asking provides clarity, perhaps not immediately, but as a result of thinking about the issues and giving ourselves time to gain insights.

And, asking helps us to put out into the world what we hope to experience. Defining our questions shapes our view of the world. And once the questions exist and are real, we have the opportunity to form answers and create what we desire.

I find that it is always helpful for me to know what I am asking for and to have a sense of the actions I need to consider or perform in order to arrive where I want to be in my life.

I find it valuable and necessary to give myself permission to ask for what my heart desires. I haven’t been very good at this, but I’m interested in changing.

So, I’d like to ask you for something. If you find some merit in these posts, would you please tell a friend and invite them to join us here at my website: https://messagesforinspiration.com/

Or, if you’re open to it, invite more than one friend, because I would love to connect with as many people as I can. Thank you.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Claiming Your Best Life

I’m not sure how you feel about mind opening ideas, but I have one for you. Actually, it’s not mine. I’m just the one passing it along to you.

It came from Lia (see below if you are new to this website for an explanation of who Lia is).

We were having a conversation and I was pushing for deeper insight. Really pushing. I told her that I wanted to know everything there was to know. I wanted to wake up and fully remember. I wanted to believe that we humans are really spiritual beings with unlimited abilities. I do believe that.

I asked Lia how I could experience my best possible life. Her short answer was, “claim it.”

I have to admit this type of answer has always been difficult for me to hear. It makes it seem simple or merely a case of deciding between available options. But it is not that simple for me, mostly because there are so many things I don’t know or understand. I don’t even know what all of the options are, so how can I choose the right ones?

Lia is very patient with me. Always. It’s one of the many things I love about her.

I’m so dense sometimes, but I keep trying, so I asked for more of an explanation.

Lia told me that there are an infinite number of lives that already exist and have always existed. They are fully formed and available for whoever chooses them. She said that no matter what sort of life we desire, the one we ask for is always open to us. Always available for us to claim as our own.

I needed a few minutes to try to absorb this.

I admit that I was confused, so I asked for clarification. Was she really saying that I could live whatever life I truly wanted and live it without any limitations? And, what about the life I was already living? Was she saying that I didn’t need to spend time fixing it and correcting all of the things I felt were wrong with it, before I could live ‘my best life’?

Lia smiled at me and went on to say that, of course, I could experience any life I desired. All I had to do was choose it as my own. She said that since the life I wanted to live already existed, I merely laid claim to it.

Lia said I could close my eyes and imagine what the life I wanted looked like and bring it into focus and see it as my truth. And to feel it as my truth. She told me that the more often I did this, the easier it would be for that life to appear. Lia told me this is how all lives can change.

I was stunned. Did this mean that I could choose to release all of the life stories I have been told? And, did this mean that I could hit the reset button and let go off trying so hard to fix all the things I felt were wrong with me?

Lia said, yes, I could release all of what no longer served me and claim my best life, for the rest of my life. What beautiful news.

Lia is a feminine part of (god) that I am connected with and her name stands for Love In Action. She and I are inseparable and she often comes to share (god’s) wisdom and love with me.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Cease Fire

So, you have your story about yourself or more likely, you have a handful of stories. In order to manage your life, perhaps you try to use one of your stories to suit different situations you face. Maybe that works and maybe it doesn’t.

What I sometimes find is that my story seems out of sync with life, forcing me to make some adaptations. When this happens, there can be challenges within me. I’ve come to recognize and accept that there are distinctly separate parts to me. There are my physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and ego parts. No doubt there are others, but these are the ones that raise their heads first.

When one or more of these parts are in conflict, the whole of me is pushed off center and a sense of unhappiness can take over. Often, it’s only for a brief period of time, but occasionally, it lasts for an uncomfortable span.

Here’s a quick example.

When my family and I were on vacation last summer, I moved wrong and hurt my back. Physically, I needed to rest, gently stretch and take it easy. Emotionally, I was torn between knowing I needed to give my body time to heal, and feeling sorry for myself for the fun I would be missing. Mentally, I wanted to figure out how to heal faster or decide how I could have fun while recuperating. Spiritually, I wondered about the mind-body-spirit connection and about the healing process. Would it be possible for me to marshal energetic forces to heal more quickly? And, my ego, well it had a field day, offering plenty of advice and opinions all aimed at self-protection. It also chided me that I should have been more careful. Thanks, really helpful!

Maybe you are wondering where the cease fire comes in. Actually, right here. Well, almost.

One quick reference. According to Wikipedia, cease fires date back to the Middle Ages, when warring factions decided they needed a break in the battle. They were supposed to be reconsidering the need to fight and whether resolution was possible, but often each side used the time to resupply, as preparation for more fighting. Curiously, it was also known as a ‘truce of God’.

To me, a cease fire is extremely important because it creates an intentional ‘pause’. A pause, not to resupply inner arguments as part of the ongoing war, but to allow the story to be reconsidered. And perhaps to find a resolution, hopefully where all parties are satisfied with the proposed outcome.

You can think about it as a ‘reset button’. Imagine what a relief it would be, in the middle of a fight, an argument, or an internal battle, to be able to hit the ‘reset button’ and pause the conflict. Imagine the pause giving you time to start over, to see the conflict from another perspective or to allow the intense energy to dissipate and drain away. Imagine the freedom this would create inside of you and how it could change your story.

I’d like to say that my vacation experience provided me with an immediately effective cease fire, but it didn’t. I had to spend time working through a few things before it leveled out. I discovered it takes practice.

I also learned that the practice is worth it and that each time I hit the reset button to call a cease fire, it becomes easier.

It also creates a wonderful opportunity for me to claim my best life, which I’ll talk about in the next post. See you then.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Stories We Tell Ourselves

Three different thoughts occurred to me recently. Interestingly, they seemed connected, so I’m going to string them together in a series of posts for you.

The first one is about the ‘Stories We Tell Ourselves’ and how they impact our lives. The second post I’m calling, ‘Cease Fire’, and it is an opportunity for us to call a truce with ourselves. The third is an extension of the first two and is titled, ‘Claiming Your Best Life’ and may provide you a new perspective about the way you live.

I’d like to ask you a question first. Take whatever time you need to consider your answer.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the main story be?

Of course, there are tons of sub-stories, each with their own plot lines and twists and surprising endings. But, what is your main story about?

I’ll assume you’ve come up with something, even if it’s a quick answer. Now, give it a moment to sit with you, then ask yourself if it is YOUR story or the story others have told you about yourself.

When I’m in a reflective mood, I often conclude that I’m really repeating old stories I’ve been told by others or ones where I’m responding to what I think I want my story to be, but not what it is. It can be pretty confusing.

Here’s another couple of questions. Is your story mostly good or mostly bad? Has it taken the turns you want or fallen short of your expectations? And, how susceptible are you to complying with what others want your story to be?

These can be very difficult questions to sort out and work through.

The first story that came to me was, The White Knight. The protector, the fixer, the shiny one. I don’t think anyone told me this was MY story. Rather, I believe the image of the white knight and the values surrounding the image were appealing to me. I have little doubt that I built this image to make myself feel stronger and to give myself a sense of worthiness. I liked the idea of riding in and rescuing someone in distress.

I believe what happened over the course of my life was that I took bits and pieces of others stories and added them to my own. And, I listened to what others said when they talked about me and accepted what I felt fit and rejected whatever didn’t.

Although your story may be completely different, does any of that apply to your story? Do you feel that you created your story and modified it to suit a view you liked?

Or perhaps, if you are dissatisfied with your story the question becomes, did you accept too much of what others told you? Have you allowed their story of you, to become your story of you?

I know it can work this way. I’ve seen it happen in my own life, after all, White Knights do fall off their horses. And, there are also more powerful knights in the kingdom who gain favor by knocking white knights off their horses.

To me the biggest question comes when you arrive at the place where you no longer like YOUR story.

That’s where the next post continues, so please come along for the ride.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Stilling the Storm

I believe in the value of wisdom wherever you find it. Sometimes it’s found by observing the natural world. And, at other times, it can be seen through the eyes of a child or inside a vivid dream that connects you to the world beyond.

I believe we all have our own individual religious or spiritual paths to travel, so I tend not to advocate for one version over another.

For me, I’ve also discovered incredible wisdom in the stories from Yeshiwa’s life. Yeshiwa, being the Aramaic name for Jesus.

I feel a very strong connection to Yeshiwa. I feel and hear the messages revealed and they speak truth to me. I’d like to share one with you, but I understand if you need or want to shy away.

                             *********************

There is a story about when Yeshiwa and his disciples were gathered along the shore of a great sea. They were sitting and talking and waiting for Yeshiwa to tell them what would be happening next in their lives. Where would they go and what would they be doing? Everything was so new to them. Many of them were fisherman by trade and understood much about fishing and the sea, but still knew almost nothing about Yeshiwa’s mission.

Yeshiwa spoke, telling them that he wished to cross the great sea and preach to whatever crowds would be there. So, they all got into a long wooden boat and pushed away from shore. Yeshiwa crawled toward the stern and immediately fell fast asleep.

The crossing would take many hours, as it was broad in this part of the sea and the current was running swiftly against them. Despite the disciples taking turns rowing, exhaustion overcame them all.

The fishermen were the first to become aware of a growing storm heading toward them. At first, the crests of each wave rose gently over the sides and spilled into the boat. But, as the fierce winds howled and the waves grew in size, more and more water filled the boat, threatening to overwhelm it.

Even the most seasoned fisherman became very afraid, worrying that their boat would sink and they would all be drowned.

The nearest to Yeshiwa shook him, over and over, until he awakened.

“Master, do you not see what is happening and how much danger we are in?”

Yeshiwa stood, raised his eyes to the furious sky, breathed out one breath and said, “Peace, be still.”

All was instantly calm and silent. And the sky returned to brilliant blueness and the water appeared as smooth as glass.

Yeshiwa sat and looked at the faces of his disciples. They were in awe. Never in their lives had they seen such a thing. How could this have happened? Who was this man, who had command over the wind and the sea?

Yeshiwa asked them, “Why were you afraid? Did you not know where to place your faith?”

The disciples cast their eyes downward and could not meet his gaze. They heard the gentleness in his voice, but understood so little of what he said and none could answer his questions.

Yeshiwa spoke to them saying, “Raise your eyes to mine my beloveds. Hear my words and place them deeply in your hearts, so that you may carry them with you always.”

“I tell you the truth, it falls to you to teach, as I have taught you. You are one with the Spirit and can not be separated. Not by wind or waves, nor by anything else that will ever happen in your lives. You may take this on faith, that you and I are one, always connected and never apart. No storm can change this, so be free inside your heart and rest in me.”

                                    *****************

I remember this story when my life is a storm. I close my eyes and fall into my heart, knowing that I am always connected, a part of the one. And I can say to any storm, “Peace, be still.”

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Benefit of the Doubt

My six-year-old grandson, Evan, was playing with Legos on the floor and was searching for a particular figure. He described it to me, so I could help him locate it, by saying that it was the one with the smiley face, not the mad face. To him, smiley face equaled, ‘happy’ and mad face equaled, ‘angry’. He wanted the happy one.

I can’t help myself. I asked him, “what do you think the mad faced Lego figure is angry about?

He stared up at me and said, “huh?”

I know it was silly of me to ask, but I wanted to see what he might say. Now I knew for sure. He ought to know better by now that I ask ‘dumb’ questions.

This little episode got me thinking. Do I gauge someone by their facial expression?

Of course, I do. If I see a person with a smiley face, I imagine they are happy. And, if I spot someone with a mad face, I’d assume they are angry. I wonder, how much of the time this is the truth?

There are no doubt a million reasons why someone is displaying one face or another. Then, there is the fact that everyone’s facial expressions change all the time. That makes it even more unlikely that I could make any accurate assumptions about what’s going on inside of them.

I recognize that what they’re experiencing is completely about them, but I also know that I let others emotional states impact me. I let their faces influence me and, if I’m not aware enough, I make some judgements about them or come to conclusions that may be totally incorrect. Once I do this, it becomes all about me.

I try to guard against this tendency by reminding myself that, even on my best days, I can’t possibly know what’s going on inside another person.

And, I ask myself whether I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. To hold in my mind that they are doing the best they can under whatever circumstances they’re facing. And, to offer them whatever support I can for their journey.

I’ve come to realize how powerful it is to give someone, ‘the benefit of the doubt’ and how wonderful it is to receive the same. I sometimes think to myself, what would my life would be like if I did this more often? Or better yet, if I set this as one of my defaults, so that when I initially reacted negatively (with a mad face) to something, I stopped and told myself that there is probably a very good reason for whatever was happening, (shifting to a smiley face).

I grant you this takes practice. From my recent attempts, I’ve come to the conclusion that the practice is well worth the time and effort.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Never Mind

“Never mind.”

Have you heard these words before? I certainly have and I suspect you have too.

I’ve heard them most often when used to cancel out a request that’s been made. An individual has asked a question or expressed a need for help. If the question isn’t answered quickly enough or the plea for help is ignored, ‘never mind’ can be uttered with some passion and anger. The subtext is a kind of, ‘thanks anyway!’, and the person who asked the question or needed some help usually walks away frustrated.

It also happens that ‘never mind’ is used more softly. At times an individual will request something, but realize they are capable of filling their own need or rethink the importance of their request. Saying ‘never mind’ is their release of need, both for the one they asked and for themselves. It is often accompanied with a shrug or a little laugh, as if to say, ‘sorry to trouble you.’

It is interesting to me that we can use the same expression to mean two very different things. I’m pretty sure there are a ton of examples that fit this description.

Beyond these two examples, I’ve thought of three other interpretations I’d like to share.

First, I want to tell you how this post came about. These two words popped into my head and I just knew they needed to be the subject of a POST. I knew nothing beyond that. I stared at a blank page in my notebook and said to myself, ‘let’s just see what happens’. I’m telling you this because it represents a state of being I encourage, where you let go and trust there is wisdom to fill the void.

And, I want to tell you, there is always wisdom to fill the void.

What about ‘never mind’ meaning that it is okay to be open and to accept what comes your way, knowing you are loved and cared for by the divine universe (you choose the name you like best for the divine universe). Whether it is a less than desirable grade on a test, a bump in your fender, a perceived sense of disrespect or anything else that makes you feel less.

Or the slight variation of ‘never mind’ meaning that you allow everything to be as it is, without having to control it. A kind of ‘never mind’ freedom. So, when others don’t act as you would prefer or say the things you don’t want to hear, you release whatever sting of pain their words or actions might have created in you.

Here’s my last one.

What if ‘never mind’ became a suggestion to shift where you live your life from. So, the expression would read, ‘never mind (first)’.

What if you lived your life from your ‘heart’ first, instead of your ‘mind’? What would that be like?

This idea is not to suggest that your ‘mind’ doesn’t play a significant role in your life. It does. It has to. But, is it first?

What comes to me is this question.

Where is my best life going to come from?

My answer is, ‘never mind’, but rather from ‘my heart’. How about you?

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Embracing Imperfection

I’d like to make a case for imperfection. This is not a minor suggestion, especially not coming from me, since I am by nature a perfectionist. Those who know me well, probably see ample evidence of this, so you can take their word for it too.

I can spot the ways this shows up in my life and maybe you’ll identify with some of them. I look down at my right hand and see an age spot there, what my granddaughter, Tessa, calls a “boo-boo”. Even her kissing it won’t make it go away.

I have several scars, only one from surgery for which I am very thankful. There are spots on the carpet next to my living room chair, a few small dings in my car and some unidentifiable stains on our beautiful front porch. It is my belief that I am not responsible for any of these, but who can know for sure?

There are also imperfections in my life. Two speeding tickets, a job loss, words I said that weren’t nice, people I’ve let down, investments that went south. You get the picture.

If you gave yourself a couple of minutes you could probably create your own list.

I’ve come to realize several things about all of this.

The first is that perfection is a person standard. I might share the same ideals with some, but others would no doubt see them differently.

Second, the price of my suffering depends on how high I set the bar. I don’t always see ‘perfection’ in the same light. There is sort of a sliding scale depending on how strict I’m feeling at the time.

Third, if I give myself some slack, I can see that there is almost no value to perfection. In fact, more and more, I see there is great value in imperfection. The slight crease in a page often turned because I’ve read a favorite book many times. The beautiful and intriguing laugh lines next to my wife’s eyes that say to me that she still enjoys my jokes. Feeling tired from a long walk that fed my soul, but exhausted my body, when it wouldn’t have a few years ago.

If I pay attention, I encounter lessons in imperfection all the time.

Here’s one.

When our upstairs bathroom was remodeled, I decided I wanted one of those mirrors that affixes to the wall and extends outward, so that I could bring it closer to me, which would really help when shaving. I bought one and began the installation process by using the template to mark the places to drill holes in the wall. I drilled the holes and screwed the back plate to the wall, then fitted the fixture over the top of the back plate. It fascinated and horrified me that once the fixture was secured it was off center, so that as the arm extended, it was angled rather than straight.

Maybe this might not bother you and I congratulate you if this is the case. But, for me, this was totally unacceptable.

I considered my options.

Taking it off the wall and starting the process over again was my first thought. However, there were a number of logistical problems with this I won’t bore you with.

So, what else?

Could I do the unthinkable? Could I accept the imperfect installation, especially knowing I would see this every day of my life?

I want you to know that it was not lost on me that while I was trying to make this decision, I was staring at my reflection in the off-center mirror. I saw a man with obvious blemishes of one kind or another. I saw a man who prized perfection, but could not achieve it. And I saw something else.

Something snapped in me. Something wonderful.

I discovered the beauty of imperfection. I accepted that the mirror was okay, just as it was. It was still usable and functional. And I released my need for the mirror to be exactly as I intended it to be and let it be as it was. I decide that my usual suffering was no longer as valuable as my accepting life as it came to me. And I shifted my perception and looked below my surface, realizing I too am perfect just as I am, with all of my imperfections.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Chaos Transformed by Love

I look at the world today and see so much chaos. Fear seems to have taken deep root and manifested intense feelings that surface in disturbing ways. The air around us seems filled with worry, heart break and anger.

What can be done to help heal all of this?

For me, I realize I can not be at peace if I harbor animosity in my heart for another person. If I fail to see that we are one human family and that we are all made from the same love, then I am lost.

When I see the cruel and violent actions of others, I have to be able to distinguish between who they ‘appear’ to me to be and who they truly ‘are’. They are more than the show of their outward actions and beliefs.

Before I cast a stone in their direction, I have to force myself to realize they are no more who they ‘appear’ to be than I am. Beneath our surfaces, we are all a part of the one. All made from the same source of love.

What I am saying goes far beyond ‘acceptance’. If I am to help in the worlds healing in any way, I have to be able to live from a center of love. I have to embrace all of my own weaknesses and my wholeness.

None of this is about condoning the behaviors or beliefs of others that arose from their fear and hatred. Rather, it is looking beyond and seeing that all of their actions come from their separation from the truth. The truth of who they really are, beloved of (god).

If I want to experience more feelings of separation and dissonance in my life, the surest way is to believe myself separate from them or superior to them. I benefit from realizing that I have no idea what their lives have been like and what stories they’ve been told and come to believe about themselves and the world.

If I want to help heal the world, I know that I have to start with myself. And so, I ask for a shift in my focus and that I seek a sense of clarity. I ask to have my heart opened fully, so that I can understand the difficult paths others have chosen. I have to suspend my judgment and I have to listen carefully. And, as best as I can, I have to see the world through their eyes.

My task is to see and feel with a loving undivided heart, knowing I am part of the wholeness and the holiness, and see all others as the same. If I live with this kind of heart, I can be in the world, but not of the world.

For there to be any peace inside of me, the depth of my love has to be deeper than the depth of another’s fear. I need to see beyond their misperceptions and find something within them I can hold inside of me. I have to breathe into stillness, letting go of my fear, until I find my loving heart and some part of the truth that can serve as a guide toward understanding and peace.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Random Image

Do you ever have ideas just pop into your mind, completely unaware of their origin or reason for coming to you? I do. In fact, it happens pretty often.

When this first began, I didn’t pay much attention to when ideas arrived. I thought to myself, ‘oh, that’s interesting…but, I’ve got stuff to do’, disregarding them, only to have the ideas return later.

Believing myself to be someone who respects both intuition and inspiration, I’ve learned now to slow down long enough to take the idea inside and let it sit with me. This is definitely an acquired skill, but offers such value to me and to anyone who chooses it.

So, when my latest idea arrived, I leaned back, breathed into it a bit and let it have its way with me. Here’s what it said:

‘Why don’t you create a post from a random image.’ A statement, not a question.

I responded that I needed more information than that to take any action and was given this:

‘Go to your website, click on the POST button, click on the IMAGE button, see what comes up and SELECT a picture that speaks to you, then write a post about it.’

‘Oh sure’, I thought, ‘simple.’

I confess, I tabled the idea and went on about my business.

Over the next week or so the idea reappeared, sort of like someone knocking at your door, leaving and coming back and knocking again. I knew I would give in.


‘Okay,’ I said, ‘Stop already, I’ll do it!’

At the beginning of this post is the image that spoke to me.

It’s beautiful and very intriguing to me. How is that the tree is growing in the middle of this gorgeous body of water? I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before. I also loved the subtlety of the colors and the mix of purple and orange as it spreads across the picture.

I looked closely at the image. I don’t think it’s photo-shopped, but again I wondered, how is it possible for the tree to be there?

I let my mind wander. I let my heart go with it to see what my mind would pick up on. I wondered if the ‘idea’ that started this all directed me to this specific image. Was that possible?

And, I wondered too, what has this all to do with inspiration?

As it turns out, quite a bit, I believe.

This whole exercise is about inspiration. It’s about thoughts and feelings appearing inside me with no obvious cause or reason. They just show up and it’s up to me to recognize them and to learn from them and appreciate them. To invite them to sit down with me, like I would if a friend called me up to have a chat.

If we truly pay keen attention to our lives, I believe it is always like this. Invisible, intangible, delightful inspirations come into our day. We have the chance to work with them and see where they will take us. The question I feel it’s important for me to ask myself is, ‘will I invite them in?’

Once I’ve decided to open myself up, it becomes magical, mysterious and memorable. I can’t explain from where, or how the ideas come. Or, why they chose me. And I can’t explain about the tree in the middle of this water. The thing is, it all inspires me. It’s beautiful and wonderful.

And I sit back…thankful for inspirations.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

One Good Thing and One Bad Thing

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while you may think you know where I’m going with this title. Perhaps you believe I’m going to ask you to embrace the ‘good things’ and release the ‘bad things’ in your life.

Nope, not this time.

Instead, I’d like to make a case for something else.

I’d like to suggest that we find ways to learn from both the good things and bad things in our lives. I believe we’d be best served by looking for the enormous values inherent in each, far beyond what we might imagine exists.

But first, a few thoughts about the usage of the words ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I think they’re problematic, mostly because they depend on the situation.

For example, salt. For some situations it is an absolute necessity, while in others it contributes to high blood pressure, which can in excess, be fatal. And what about water or fire. Both good and bad.

I think the concept extends to other areas as well. Compassion, when given, offers support, hope and love. When compassion turns to enabling it can hurt the giver and receiver and make the situation even worse.

So, maybe it’s best to accept that it is our choice how we interpret good and bad that sets the stage and realize that it is more about what happens next, once we’ve decided which category something falls into.

I’d like to ask you to do something. Grab a piece of paper and pen then sit quietly and allow your mind to drift a little and see what comes to you when you ask yourself to name one good thing and one bad thing from your life. It can be something that just happened or something that stands out from some other time in your life.

I’ll pause while you consider.

Okay, hopefully you’ve decided.

Here’s what comes next.

Write down what you chose for a good thing, skip a few lines and write down what you choose for a bad thing. Then, choose one to focus on first.

Let’s say you picked the bad thing. In the space you left open, write down your reasons for why you chose to view it as a bad thing. Now, look deeper into it and see if any good also came out of it. Then, repeat the process with the good thing.

I’ll share my example to help illustrate.

My car heater fan stopped working one day this week. Here’s why this seemed like a bad thing. It’s January in the northeast US and very cold to drive without heat in your car. Also, it’s inconvenient to get my car to the shop since I still have places I need to go. There’s also the matter of the potential expense.

What I ended up writing down after considering what took place is this; my wife and I were able to fairly easily work around the inconvenience, the heater fan actually began working again (still took it in to have it checked out) and the cost for repairs was only $46.56. Plus, my mechanic was able to thoroughly check out my elderly car and tell me I could keep it for several more years without concern (which is great news for me- I don’t have to buy a new car!)

It turns out that examining the actual outcomes presents a much clearer picture of reality than paying attention only to my initial fears.

For my good thing, here’s what happened.

I received some very positive feedback on my book, talking with (god) which I really enjoyed. After glowing for a while, I realized that I haven’t actively pursued my marketing plan to share the book with the world. This made me sad and a little frustrated with myself.

These bad feelings inspired me to think deeper, to brainstorm directions I could take and eventually to decide that what I really want to do is to donate copies to places where folks really need a sense of love and hope (prisons, half-way houses, domestic abuse centers, shelters, hospitals).

Allowing yourself to look beyond your initial concerns and fears and view each situation from different directions may provide you with wonderful new insights. I hope it does.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Take A Chance

How does inspiration actually work? I think it’s a good question.

When you name a website ‘messagesforinspiration’ like I did, you really probably ought to know. When it comes down to it, everyone has to decide for themselves, but I thought I’d give you my answer.

I believe that all inspirations start with an idea. It can be any idea, but the ones I favor are meant to open a door or a window for you. Maybe it opens only a crack, but still it represents something new or perhaps something that you haven’t tried in a while.

I think that the ideas can come from anywhere. They can be very simple or seemingly complex, but they have to capture some part of your imagination and offer some hope for a positive change in your life.

My aim is to provide thoughts and ideas which may intrigue you or prompt you to accept a challenge or embrace an opportunity.

So, for today, here’s one for you.

Take a chance.

I don’t mean being cavalier about your choices in life or doing anything dangerous. But, I do believe that we can become so set in our routines that we rarely look outside the box. And, there is a lot outside the box!

I’m suggesting that you take a chance about one thing and see what happens.

What fascinates me most when I take a chance, is the revelation of how everything is connected. On the face of it, things seem separate, but if I look carefully, I realize they link together. And, if I really, really look carefully, they link both forward and backward.

It’s always helped me to have examples, so I’d like to share one with you from my life to illustrate what I’m saying.

Many years ago, Maureen and I were visiting Asheville, North Carolina and were shopping in its quaint downtown area. We ended up in a local bookstore and I was attracted to the display of local writers. One of the books had a beautifully hand drawn picture on the cover. I picked it up and began reading. As I turned the pages, the author (and illustrator) recounted the first leg of his journey on the Appalachian Trail. I fell in love with the idea of vicariously walking the trail with him, especially since the idea had always appealed to me. I bought the book and told myself to read the daily entries and not rush ahead. It was a fabulous experience.

I wanted to let the author know how much his book meant to me, so I researched him and found his home address in Asheville and decided to ‘take a chance’ and write to him to express my appreciation. Along with my note I decided to offer him a gift copy of my first Little Buddha book, as an additional thank you. I mentioned to him that I didn’t expect any reply, but would certainly be happy to receive one.

Several weeks later his reply arrived. He was thrilled that I’d bought and read his book, honored that I would share mine with him and wanted to stay in touch, which we did.

A few years later, he began his fourth and final section of the trail which put him within 50 miles of my home. He called and relayed that he’d miscalculated his food supplies and wondered if I’d be able to help him out. I met him just off the trail where it crossed Route 20 in Massachusetts. I bought him a hot breakfast from McDonalds plus gave him a lunch and dinner I’d made, so he could make it to his next food restocking location.

Fast forward a few more years.

If you’ve checked out the BOOKS page on this website you’ll notice the first book mentioned. It’s titled, talking with (god). I encourage you to look carefully at the cover. It’s magnificent  and so beautifully draw. Guess who drew it, as well as the rest of the incredible illustrations inside? You got it, my friend, the Appalachian Trail hiker, Mike ‘Sketch’ Wurman.

I am so profoundly glad that I took a chance and wrote to him. Thank you, my friend for being in my life.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Fun

What are you aiming for this year?

Are you unsure or do you have some thoughts about it already?

Here’s a suggestion you might not have considered. How about including fun in your life? I mean an ‘on purpose’ kind of fun, rather than hoping fun arrives when you need it.

If you’re game, grab a pencil or pen or even better, a crayon. The color doesn’t matter, whatever is handy will do. Oh, and a piece of paper, notebook, journal, or as my dad always used to do, reach for an old envelope.

Now, this is very important. This is an exercise of speed. You may find it works best if you write down exactly what comes to your mind immediately. The things that are sitting inside you and close to the surface are probably the ones you need the most.

You can always dive deeper once you’ve captured the quick and easy stuff.

Ok, here goes. Write down everything that comes to you that sounds like fun. Remember, it doesn’t have to be practical, reasonable or affordable. Stop now and just write.

I’m going to assume you wrote some things. I hope so.

Are you pleased with your list? If not, you can have a do-over whenever you want and as many times as you want.

Here’s another idea. Wouldn’t it be fun to see what other people wrote down on their lists? To me, this offers several opportunities for joy. One, you may want to borrow a couple of items from their list. Two, you may want to get together with them and do some of the items that appeal to both of you. Three, if you expand this to more folks, you may be able to do some fun things in a group.

As with all ventures, it is up to you to decide.

Just in case you’re interested, I’m going to share some of my list with you and maybe plant a few seeds:

Zoom with our Game Group friends, paint some rocks and put them around town, do art projects with my grandchildren, go for a drive with Maureen, put together some Legos, create a Zentangle heart and get it made into stickers, read a good book, make another tie-dye shirt, play cards, watch some shows we like, listen to music, email and text some friends to catch up, have conversations with Lia, and dream about when the weather is warm enough to be in water outdoors (any water really; a brook, stream, pond, lake, ocean, pool, even a puddle will do).

Earlier in my life I thought that intellectual aims were the most important things and that fun just filled in the gaps. But life can become serious and when it does, fun can become lost in the mad shuffle and get squeezed out.

That’s when my alter-ego has to appear. Inside me, there is a perennial four-year-old just waiting to be in charge. His job is to say, ‘enough work, it’s play time’. This is easiest to pull off when the grandchildren are around, but I’m getting to be pretty good at when I’m solo.

I hope you get good at it too.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

New Year Love

I wonder what you want from this life. If you were given a notebook or a journal or a clean slate, what would you write on it?

Here’s a choice…you can stop reading this post for a few minutes and write down the first things that come to you or you can keep reading and perhaps, if you’re interested, do this later (although I may spoil it a little with the rest of this post).

This isn’t the typical New Year’s resolutions, nor a list of challenging items to attempt to accomplish. Rather, it’s a wish list of the experiences you most want to have this time around.

Now, what would happen if I asked you to narrow your list down to only one thing. Would that be difficult for you?

I think it is often the case that we have so many options it becomes challenging to sort through them and choose only the ones that we think will make us happy.

Years ago, Maureen and I were in San Diego and went to brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado. It was incredible. I think they boasted that they had over 130 selections to choose from. It was overwhelming and almost everything looked delicious. I seriously doubt whether anyone left there without a massive stomach ache. They should have handed out Tums as folks walked out the door.

That’s how it can be when we’re given too many choices. Often, we want more things than we can manage. That’s my reason for asking you to narrow your list to only one item. To gain some clarity and focus.

I want to share with you what I chose.

I want to feel loved and that it makes a difference that I’m here on this earth.

I am profoundly grateful that there are those in my life who tell me that they love me and that I make a difference in their lives.

But sometimes, I only hear long after the fact that what I did or said, reached someone. I long to be a part of others’ lives, connecting deeply them. I want them to know that I love them.

From time to time, there is an aloneness that comes to join me. When this happens, it is hard to feel others love for me.

In one of those moments I asked Lia (a feminine part of god I know as Love In Action) about this and was surprised by her answer.

She said, “YOU are always free to do this…to offer love to yourself and to others. And you can always talk with me and I will tell you the truth…you are made from pure love.  You needn’t be troubled by your own misperception that you are anything else but love. The truth remains the truth, that you and I are ONE. One pure love.”

I don’t know about you, but for some reason it’s hard for me to tell myself that I love me. It’s only on my wisest days, that I can hold still, take a calming breathe and tell myself that I love me and that I know it matters that I’m here. That I have a purpose and a mission.

Lia offers this reminder, “It is the same for every one of you. You all want to know and feel love. I ask that you believe me, that you are love.”

My hope for you, heading into this new year, is that you know love and feel loved. It’s truly the reason why I write these posts.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Play-Doh

Play-Doh, what a delightful material. Talk about fun!

I hope that everyone reading this post has had an opportunity to create with this soft, colorful, mold-able compound. If not, I strongly suggest you buy a few containers and discover the joy for yourself. You can buy small plastic cans for fifty cent a piece. It’s an incredible deal when you think about it. Of course, there’s no price tag for pure joy.

I remember playing with it as a child. And, it just so happens that it was marketed in the mid 1950’s, so Play-Doh and I grew up together. I loved it from the start, even though the selection was pretty basic, unlike today’s explosion of colors.

Not only was it fun to mold, it smelled great too. I couldn’t wait to open the container and get that first whiff…mmmm. And I confess, yes, I’ve eaten my share. Not whole cans mind you, but a nibble here and there. It’s very salty, in case you wanted to know.

To me, the ideal is to enjoy Play-Doh with children. Watching them is a magical experience. It’s also an opportunity to learn about the world.

Think about it for a minute.

You open up a few containers, take out the dough and then what?

Here’s what…you create something out of nothing. Of course, you can copy something you’ve seen but you can also allow your imagination to run wild. It’s all up to you.

What a divine experience, to be a creator. Free of any rules or restrictions. Well, maybe one restriction. Don’t let it fall on the floor and get mashed into the rug. It’s super hard to get out and homeowners are funny about things like that, unless it’s your home and you don’t care, then you’re free again.

I wonder.

Is our life like play-doh? Is it fully moldable? Is it a little bit salty and a little bit sweet? And, are we truly the creators of our own experiences here?

To me, a lot rides on our answers to these simple questions.

What’s really at stake here?

When I watch children create with play-doh, they fully engage in the experience. They often choose lots of colors, so their creation is more beautiful. They aren’t afraid to mix and match and smash and start over again. They walk away for a snack, then come back. They talk about their life, or at least bits and pieces of it and some of their energy gets infused into what they create. They seem to understand that joy is a part of the process, not only the end result.

Every one of these things inspires me to see my life from a different angle. I don’t always have to be in a rush. I can enjoy the moment. I can explore. I can release pursuing life as a goal. I can open to an inner freedom. And I can know a truth, that it’s okay to start over, because there’s always more play-doh.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Calming the Inner Voice

Is it quiet inside your mind?

You know the answer. Sometimes you may not like the answer, but you surely know it.

What I hear, when speaking with friends, is that quite often there is a lot of background noise. A sort of low-level incessant chatter which makes it hard to concentrate. And sometimes it’s not one voice but many, each clamoring for attention.

For me, I hear a kind of general chatter, but there are times I hear some very distinct voices. I swear there is a whiny two-year-old that shows up, especially when there is something I want, and he tries to take over everything, so that he can get his own way.

Some days the noise inside my head feels like I’ve turned on my TV set and EVERY channel has come on at once. I try to tune them out, but it’s nearly impossible.

Perhaps this or something like it happens to you too.

When our children, Jenny and Tommy, were growing up, they would often have multiple electronic devices on while studying. It amazed me that they were able to concentrate and get anything done. When I asked them about it, they kind of shrugged and went on about their business, like it was no big deal.

For me, it is a big deal. I find that I need quiet to focus and concentrate.

And then there is an associated issue that enters the mix.

I believe that one of my voices is responsible for loading programs into my mind, so that for every situation there is a ready-made response. It’s a kind of auto-pilot setting.

I understand this is for my convenience. After all, who would want to have to think about every step necessary to accomplish a task each time they did it?

The down side seems to be that not every situation is identical. There are nuances to be considered and it might be the case that new answers are required.

So, what to do about the noise level and the automatic responses, which might not be suitable?

I’ve been fortunate to have had many great teachers in my life. That is not to say that I liked them all. I didn’t. Some of them were very unpleasant, but they offered me valuable lessons, quite often I feel without intending to.

One teaching was the wisdom of letting go.

I believe that we each have a natural center of balance inside of us. If we are being pushed away from our center by loud inner (or outer) voices or, because we are listening too intently to our auto-pilot, we tend to know it. There is a huge pay-off for recognizing this and then taking immediate action.

Here’s an example.

Imagine that you’ve been listening to the news on the car radio. Its stressing you out. And then, when you get home and come inside, you turn on the TV or decide to check out Facebook to see what’s happening. When you do, you realize it’s more of the same, which increases your stress level. This picture can seem very familiar, as if you’ve experienced this before. Hmm, it appears your auto-pilot may be engaged.

The lesson of letting go starts with recognizing how you feel. The moment you detect stress is the ideal time to stop, to consciously slow your breathing and then ask yourself, ‘what am I feeling’?

Being honest and paying close attention and naming your feeling(s) allows you time to return to your natural center of balance. From here, you can acknowledge the way you feel and then consciously choose what to do next (disengaging your auto-pilot).

All decisions are open to you. You may sense an answer or direction, or you may decide to talk with a trusted friend or counselor. You may even choose to speak with (god). Or you may decide to simply be kind to yourself and release whatever feelings you are experiencing.

I hope for calmness for you.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Bob’s Your Uncle and World Peace

There are so many interesting expressions used in our language. I wonder, have you heard this one, ‘And Bob’s Your Uncle’?

Although I’ve heard it many times, I didn’t know where it came from, so I decided to look it up. The most popular explanation is that Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (yes, Uncle Bob), the 20th Prime Minister of England, became famous for appointing his favorite nephew, Arthur Balfour, to several political posts in the 1880’s. Despite Arthur not having a great deal of talent, Uncle Bob wanted him to become successful, so always tried to ensure his placement in important roles.

The practice became known so widely that a phrase emerged. Today, it has come to mean, ‘and there it is’ or ‘and there you have it’. Typically, folks say it to conclude a set of simple instructions or when a result is reached.

No doubt the context allows for a great deal of flexibility. One and one equals two and Bob’s your uncle. Or, you put thousands of pieces together in an orderly fashion and you can send a rocket to the moon, and Bob’s your uncle.

What does this have to do with world peace?

Actually, a lot, in my opinion. A long shot you say?

Here’s why I feel the way I do.

What do you suppose is the reason why world peace does not already exist?

You probably have an opinion about this and since there are likely many, many reasons, you’re probably correct.

It seems to me that when folks set out to solve this problem, they search for the reasons why it exists. I understand this approach, but I’ve never found it particularly effective in solving challenges. It becomes a rather large rabbit hole to fall into, having to know ‘why’ before taking corrective steps.

What makes more sense to me is to find a way forward, rather than looking backward for answers.

Enter, Bob. What did he care about? I don’t know if he was married or had children of his own, but he did have at least one nephew. Family. He cared about his nephew and his success.

Let’s suppose that you and I could survey every person on earth and ask them what was important to them. What do you imagine they would respond?

I believe one answer would be…family. No matter what their circumstances were, whether they lived in relative peace or inside of a fierce war, I believe they love their children and would want them to be healthy and safe. And, they’d want them to have a chance at a good life, just like Bob wanted for his nephew.

What if folks everywhere were able to sit down at a table and talk about their children and their hopes and dreams for them? And, what if they were able to agree that this was what was the most important thing in life? What if their children’s futures were more important than religious ideologies, territorial boundaries or commercial success?

What if, in sharing our love for our children, we discovered we could look beyond our differences and see our sameness?

I believe that’s when things would change. I believe that’s the pathway to ‘world peace’, if there is one.

Since there can not be peace in the world until there is peace inside of me, I’m going to try to take every opportunity to focus on how to make the world the best possible place for my children and grandchildren…and Bob’s your uncle.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Failure IS an option

Some people say, “failure is not an option”.

Most times I think what they mean is that they can’t or don’t want to accept the result of what they perceive as a failure. They have in mind certain acceptable outcomes and no deviation can be tolerated.

I’ve been there. It’s not a great place to spend any time. Having your back against the wall with nowhere to go is hard.

But having an unrealistic expectation that you are never going to fail is even harder.

We’ve each been taught about the meaning of failure, whether directly or indirectly. I wonder, were you taught that failure was an enemy or a teacher? It makes a really big difference in how we see the world and our place in it.

And, what about success? Is success the opposite of failure? Do we listen to our inside voice or are we swayed by the opinions of others?

How do we define each of these words? And based on our definitions, how is our world altered?

And then there is this. Have I gained more from success or failure?

These all strike me as worthwhile questions to ask. For me, it’s been a valuable struggle to come to some conclusions. I’d like to share a few thoughts, in case you are struggling too.

When I was in high school I was an okay student and I thought my Math skills were decent and yet I failed one year. I had to go to summer school, which I certainly didn’t prefer. But I connected with the teacher, really learned the subject and was prepared for the next year. A real failure?

Fast forward a few years. I am staring downhill from the top of a black diamond ski trail. In case you’re not familiar with skiing, this is a trail for experts, which I was not. I thought to myself, I can do this, so down I went. Quite literally in fact. This one short trail produced all of my most epic wipe-outs. I mean spectacular, snow flying everywhere, unqualified disasters. Definitely a failure?

One more. My son, Tommy and I spent a weekend in the Adirondacks with the intention to hike one of the peaks called Three Brothers. We started pretty early in the morning and made our way up through blankets of rain and shrouds of mist. It was richly enjoyable spending time together. The hike though seemed like it took forever. Finally, we thought we’d made the summit, only to find a couple coming at us from what we learned was a higher elevation. We conferred with them. They took us a bit further up a trail and pointed to the distance. There was still much more to go to reach the peak. While I’m positive Tommy could have made it, I couldn’t. I’d have to content myself with having hiked up Two and a Half Brothers. For sure a failure, right?

Here’s what’s come to me.

Failure is inevitable, if what you mean by failure is not achieving a specific defined goal. If you open up failure and see it as a sacred teacher, you’ll see something valuable show up in your life. If you ask yourself what have I gained from this experience, you’ll encourage some extraordinary truths to surface.

I found a teacher who cared about me.

I created a sense of admiration for myself for trying something I suspected was beyond my limits.

And, I learned it’s not just about the destination or the summit. A truth was revealed to me that life is a beautiful journey, lived one step at a time.

I hope failure reveals truths to you too.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Exercise One- Seeing Beneath the Surface

An idea came to me that it might be fun to include exercises that readers could choose to do as part of this adventure. So, I thought that maybe after every twenty posts, I’d offer you one.

I hope you like the idea.

Here’s how the first exercise goes. You can use any size paper you like. A standard notebook page will work well. Begin by turning your paper so it goes lengthwise and make five columns, labeling them as follows; Concern, Reason, Reaction, Deeper Reason, Benefit(s).

Let me explain and then share an example to get you started. I find this exercise rewarding and have made positive shifts as a result of spending some time with it.

In the first column you write down some issue or concern that is troublesome for you. This may only take a few words, but write whatever you need to define the issue.

The second column identifies the reason or reasons why the issue concerns you. You may need to list several reasons or it may be as simple as one.

In the reaction column, write down how you respond to the issue. Consider your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual reactions.

Column four is an opportunity to go deeper and explore what might be beneath the reasons you initially identified. This is often where the shifts begin, so give yourself a little extra time with this one.

Hopefully you find there are benefits that arrive from this exercise and you can note them in column five. A great focus here is to allow yourself to see what positive outcomes are created by shifting your perspective.

So, that’s the set up. Now for the example.

Although I’d like to think of myself as a pretty tolerant individual, I have to admit that when I’m driving, there are lots of things other drivers do that bother me.

So, my column one lists…slow drivers.

In order to better understand myself and find a way to deal with this ongoing problem, I have to ask myself, why does this bother me?

My answer for column two is…because it wastes my time and keeps me from getting places when I expect to get there.

And my reactions in column three are…a great deal of sighing, inner irritation, drumming on the steering wheel and maybe some inappropriate language.

There has been a great deal of predictability to this. Certainly, more than I would like. That’s why the next step is so important to me. It’s where you get a chance to open up and ask to receive clarity. For some, the asking will be internal, while others will open to the divine for support and guidance.

For me in this case, I asked Lia (the part of god that appears as the divine feminine, also known to me as Love In Action, or simply Lia).

I sat still, slowed my breathing, calmed my mind and asked Lia for help to see beneath the surface.

Here’s what appeared in column four…what came was an image I recognized immediately. It was a car accident I was in. I was sitting waiting for the traffic light to turn green and was rear-ended by a pickup truck traveling 30 mph. It never slowed down and hit me so hard it shoved me through the entire intersection.

Wow, I knew this meant something big.

Enter column five. What was the benefit in seeing this image that lived beneath the surface…I realized that when I’m in my car and on my way somewhere, I’m impatient to get there because, without consciously knowing it, I’m afraid. I want a smooth ride with no interruptions. I don’t want anyone slowing me down and preventing me from getting to where I’m going. And, I don’t want to be in another accident. I want to be safe.

The benefit of seeing at this depth is that I can modify my behavior and reactions. When I get in the car I can tell myself to relax, take my time, enjoy the scenery, be patient, and realize I am loved and cared for.

Sometimes it takes a while before I can see beneath the surface, but, I’ve found it is always time well spent.

I’d love to hear what happens for you, if you decide to try this.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Try Outs

As I grew up there seemed to be quite a few different opportunities to ‘tryout’ for things. Whether it was for a sports team, a musical group, a play or something else I might have been interested in.

One theme seemed pretty common to them all. They each created some uncertainty inside of me. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know if I’d be any good at what I was trying out for. I wasn’t sure I’d get picked and what it would mean to me if I didn’t.

I might be terrible and embarrass myself. I couldn’t know for sure if I’d be welcomed and, I didn’t know in advance, if I’d stay with it or perhaps find, it wasn’t for me. Would I be allowed to quit, if I didn’t like it?

You may have experienced some of these same thoughts.

The fact is we’re always trying new things, sometimes because we want to and other times because we have to. If we’re sick, we have to try new medications. If our car dies, we have to find a new one. If we lose our job or give it up, we have to search for another. The list of new things we have to try or tryout for is considerable.

Interestingly, I rarely assumed that all would go well, that I would like what I tried out for or that I would be good, perhaps even great at it, or that it would bring me joy.

I wonder about that now. How much time did I spend thinking about the potential downsides? I believe the answer is, quite a bit.

And, I think I brought that attitude with me for much of my life. It sat on my shoulder during the college admission process and job interviews and some major life decisions.

I place no blame here. I realize we all absorb ideas and attitudes from our cultures. It’s pretty much a given.

Then one day something changed. I began to ask myself what was really true. Instead of allowing my standard responses to continue to guide me, I challenged everything. I became something of a rebel.

I shifted.

I opened to new possibilities. I started asking myself, what if I absolutely love this new thing? What if I change my idea of ‘success’, making it more about enjoyment than accomplishment? What if I learned to treasure the adventure and release my attitude that it has to lead to something tangible?

I began to embrace the idea that this life is mine. I get to decide what it means and what direction it takes. I get to choose which attitude to accept.

I found that I could let go of my tendency to believe I had to prove myself to others and recognize it is more important what I think and believe about myself. I am the one leading this life. I am the one with hopes and dreams.

I am not trying out for this life. I am this life.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

More Forgiveness

Perhaps you’ve witnessed the same thing I have.

At times I’ve seen a wonderful relationship between two people come apart at the seams. The glue suddenly melts away, because of something said or left unsaid. Hearts become hardened and everyone loses something important. And always, there is a loss of the connection to love.

In 1990, I wrote a series of stories which became my first book. The title of the book is, Witness of the Heart, and it’s very precious to me. It’s the first experience I had where I felt (god) was writing with me. And, writing it was my way of speaking what felt like the truth to me and of saying what my heart yearned to tell others. Doing this released something that was wrapped up inside me. It was incredibly liberating.

Once the story was down on paper, everyone else could make up their own mind about its value. But, at least it was there.

Here is the story that came to me about the experience of forgiveness.

many things have a beginning

but most do not,

they just continue.

they include

some of what has been

and reach for what will be.

some things

we seem a part of

others

leave us outside

it is that way.

but,

we strive to always

be within

even at the center

and this causes each of us pain.

once,

we saw

how two lost sight of this.

they hadn’t meant for the fight to happen

but neither could they stop it

once it had begun.

and it hardened each of them

and they would not speak

nor look at one another.

and time did not heal them.

a season passed

and another

until it became more and

more difficult to remember

what had split them.

but this did not change

their resolve

instead their bitterness grew.

and another season

came and went

and to their shame

nothing changed.

and as it happens

some are strong

others weak

and one of them

slowed

and became sick.

the other saw

but could do nothing

for their hardness

kept them away.

and sliding from this life

the one who was sick

called for the one who was well.

and the well one came

and their eyes met

and as it has the power to do

sickness allowed a bridging.

and they overcame

their distance

and held each other’s hand.

while they sat together

the sick one formed

“I’m sorry”

on his lips

and the well one saw

and wept.

and in that moment

each realized what burdens

you carry

when you can not forgive.

and how it lessens you

and closes you

and keeps you from the

fullness of life.

It strikes me that there is an anatomy to forgiveness.

At first, a seed is planted. We let what is said or done enter some part of us that keeps track of all things. Our reaction may happen through a thought or feeling, but some part of us has taken it personally. A remark or action has challenged us or forced us outside our comfort zone and we feel the need to defend ourselves or to attack others.

I wonder, what if we didn’t take anything personally? What if we allowed everything to flow through us, not bothering to hold anything inside, especially those things which seem to hurt?

The Toltec wisdom tradition teaches this as one of its four cornerstones. They recognize the incredible merit to understanding that what is said or done to you by another, is solely about them. None of it is about you, unless of course, you choose to believe that it is.

I grant you that this is a skill that requires practice.

The question, as always is, is the practice worth it?

That’s a decision we each must make for ourselves. I hope what you choose creates peace and harmony in your life.

Information about Witness of the Heart is available by clicking on BOOKS and scrolling down.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Forgiveness

I’ve spoken with a lot of people over my sixty-eight years. One of the most common themes I’ve heard is the sense folks have of being out of balance. Things are going along nicely and then, poof, something happens to change them.

Often, as the stories unfold, a disagreement has occurred. Sometimes it’s small or seemingly insignificant. But, at times, the issue creates a major flare up. And when a resolution to the issue doesn’t happen quickly, everything can unravel.

When each side feels that their opinion is worth more and that they should not have to give in, a distance occurs. Closing this gap and restoring harmony requires a degree of openness, a willingness to listen and a belief that common ground can be found.

Forgiveness can become the key, allowing each person to release the thought that there is only one right path. Hearts can be opened to see other directions so that new possibilities can become visible.

I want to offer two consecutive posts about forgiveness because I feel it is so important.

Many years ago, a friend of mine was having an extraordinarily difficult time forgiving an important person in their life. They asked me if I had any suggestions. My response to them came by way of a story. And, this story became the first chapter in my Little Buddha book series.

A man, Sam, asks Claire, a young six-year-old girl he’s met on the beach if she can help him understand how to forgive others. She’s shown her wisdom to him, enough so that he feels he can risk asking her this.

This is her response to him.

 “Imagine (pointing to the pail beside her) that my bucket is you. It’s everything you think and feel and experience during your life. Imagine that everything that is within you- YOU chose to put there. Nothing got in without your choosing. Nothing. Whether conscious or not, every thought, feeling, idea, reaction and prejudice. Every cruel word, every kind gesture, every act of faith, every indifference, everything. Imagine that each of these things takes up space, just like the grains of sand in my bucket. Once it’s full it’s very hard to find any space for anything, no matter how valuable or important. There are ways you can empty part of your bucket if you choose. One way is forgiveness. But first you have to imagine one more thing. Can you imagine that everyone else here is just like you? They’ve lived their lives filling their buckets and sometimes they don’t have any space left either. They’re doing the best they can with what weighs them down. In their hearts, they too wish to be free and to have open space to experience more of the beautiful things in life. But they too don’t know how. They probably sense it, dream about it and desperately want it just like you do. This is very important to know. To forgive anyone anything, requires YOU make a conscious choice. No one else can do it for you.” She eyed (Sam) carefully, “now bring to mind something which begs forgiveness. Feel the space it holds within you. The weight of it, the size, color and dimension. Imagine knowing it needn’t exist and that you can fill its space with something beautiful. Now, close your eyes. Welcome it in. Let it rest in front of you. Believe that it has served its full purpose for you, but does so no longer. Look inside your heart and allow love and compassion to open within. Breathe easily. Smile for a moment. Know that no matter what, this decision is up to you and no one else. Picture your love and compassion surrounding you and the focus of your forgiveness. Now, allow it to fade and fade and fade until it disappears. Breathe and feel the space inside you open. Feel the sunshine enter you and the air move around you. Listen for the sound of your own being. Sense the room created inside of you, now open for that which does serve you. For beauty. For wholeness.”

More to come.

Information about Little Buddha Book One, Two and Three is available by clicking on BOOKS and scrolling down.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Second Chances

I believe in second chances.

I’ve seen them arrive in my life from many directions. Sometimes given to me and sometimes given by me.

When I was in Junior High School, (yes, there was such a thing at one time), I lived so close to the school that I had to walk back and forth each day. There was a short way and a long way. The short way was initially my preference because it meant I got home for cookies sooner. The downside was that there was a group of bullies that often walked the same way.

A friend of mine, who walked with me, and I were consider great sport for them. Insults and taunting, snowballs in the winter and threats and chasing whenever the mood stuck them. Not fun! And remember, this was long before bullying was taboo in schools.

Somehow my friend and I made it to Senior High School. The bullying subsided, probably because, in addition to living far enough away to be able to ride the bus, they were fortunately on another route.

Fast forward about twenty-five years.

I was a Branch Manager for Albany Savings Bank and had just transferred to the Delmar branch. Part of my job was to interview and hire all of the staff. Applications were forwarded to me for review by Personnel. A batch came one day and guess what? One of my candidates was one of the kids that bullied me in Junior High School.

I had total control over who I interviewed.

So, what to do?

I was curious about him. How had his life unfurled? Was he still a bully? Would he remember me? I wanted to find out. So, I had Personnel set up the interview.

A few days later it was his appointed interview time. I saw him as he walked into the branch. He showed no signs of recognizing me, not even my name, when I introduced myself. During general conversation he understood I’d gone to the same high school he did and during the same years, but nothing else. Not from his side or mine.

I liked him. I could tell he’d led a troubled life but was trying to put things back together.

I hired him on the spot.

He did a good job as a teller. Not flawless, but respectable, and he was very good with our customers, which was a high priority for me.

It seemed that when I was called upon to oversee any of his transactions, he was a little nervous. It was like this every time.

A few months later apparently, he couldn’t stand it any longer. He came out front to see me.

I looked up and he began speaking, “Rob, you know who I am don’t you? You know I used to give you a hard time on your way home from school, right?”

“Yes,” I said.

His baffled look told me a lot. “Then why did you hire me,” he asked, obviously confused?

“Because,” I responded, “I believe in second chances…yours and mine”.

It didn’t appear that he understood, so I continued, “by hiring you, we BOTH got a second chance to see who we want to become in this world.“  

I am very glad that I made the decision I did. I think he was too.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Hope

One block from the house I grew up in there are two large pillars. Silent sentries, standing guard at the gateway of a five-way intersection. They’re probably made out of concrete blocks and are covered with some sort of stucco facing. They’ve been there my whole life or at least as long as I’ve lived here in town.

I remember as a kid sitting on top of one of them each Memorial Day, watching the parade pass by.

I had to ride my bike down to the pillar, even though it was a short distance. I did this because I had to lean my bike up against the pillar so I could climb onto the bike seat and jump up on to the top. It offered me a wonderful view. And surprisingly, no one else seemed to think of sitting there, so it was always available to me.  

I often found the pillars to be a source of strength. Especially so, when I used to walk home at night by myself from my boy scout meetings at church. It was kind of scary. But the pillars gave me a sense of peace. I did find I had to also repeat the twenty-third Psalm to myself, at least until my house was within sight.

I still see the pillars a lot. Every Tuesday morning, I pass by them on my way to visit my 96-year-old mom who still lives in my childhood home. And often on evening walks I cross paths with them.

Both have cracks now, one more than the other. Large chucks of stucco have fallen off. They lay there on the ground at the feet of the pillars. There is something incredibly sad about this to me. They’re coming apart, piece by piece. I feel like I need to do something about this.

It feels symbolic to me somehow. It seems to fit the whole feeling surrounding this pandemic. A sort of crumbling.

I wonder, is it the same for us? Do we sometimes come apart, piece by piece?

I’m strongly led to take action. I want to fix the pillars. I want to resurface them, sealing them tightly, so they won’t come apart again. And I want to write a word in bold bright red letters across the face of the patch. I want to write a beautiful word there:

                                           HOPE

I want it there for everyone to see…to remember that no matter what happens in our lives, there is always hope.

I wonder, who do I ask for permission to fix the pillars? The Highway department? The Town Administration?

Part of me is drawn to the expression that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

I wonder too, how would I patch them? What materials do I use? Who would know the right way to do this? Is there a DIY YouTube video for fixing crumbling pillars?

Every time I walk by, I think about these questions.

I come back to the same thought over and over. It’s a thought that the NIKE marketing team would feel so proud of. JUST DO IT.

I have a lot of reasons why I won’t be the one to get this done. But, the most valuable question for me is…do I have one reason TO get it done.

I want the answer to be YES. I want to share a vision of hope with the world. At least the part of the world that passed by my beautiful, ugly pillars.

I’ll keep you posted, so stay tuned.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Ants and Uncles

Have you ever heard of the expression, ‘cry uncle’ or ‘say uncle’? In case you haven’t, it means to submit or give in to someone else.

During my childhood, this most often happened when two of my friends were fighting, and one had the other in a headlock. The ‘locker’ would make the ‘lockee’ utter the phrase, ‘say uncle’, before releasing their grip. Usually it required some tightening before this occurred.

As you can imagine, it’s not a pleasant experience for the ‘lockee’.

It seems to me that there is a grown-up version of this practice. Every so often I witness one person trying to force another into a verbal headlock, demanding their submission.

Maybe all they really want is for the other person to agree with them. But, more often than not, it becomes a classic power struggle, where one person wins and the other losses. This doesn’t feel good either.

Why is winning so popular? Why do we sometimes feel such a need to be in control of others?

Intriguing questions.

Here’s another, which at first glance, may seem unrelated.

Do you have any idea how much an ant can lift? According to scientists who study ants, they can lift between 10-50 times their own body weight. So, if I had their strength, that would mean that on my best day I could lift over 9,000 pounds. That’s the weight of one of those monster trucks that drives over the top of a bunch of cars, crushing them to pieces.

Wow, are ants amazing creatures or what?

Here’s another thing you might not know. The average colony is made up of thousands of ants. There are even ‘super colonies’ that number more than three million ants living together.

That’s shocking to me.

During the early spring, for some reason, ants want to live in our house. I have no idea what they are looking for or how they get in, but for a period of several months they apparently want to commune with Maureen and me.

Ordinarily, if I can, I coax them into an old empty Dove soap box (which I call the ‘bug box’) and escort them back outside. I have no real idea, but I suspect some are repeat offenders.

Occasionally, before transporting them, I will sit and watch them. I’ve seen them lift what I consider to be HUGE things and then easily carry them away. They never seem to give up nor submit to any of the challenges they face.

Perhaps one reason is that there aren’t other ants telling them they CAN’T lift or carry the item they intend to walk away with. Without being told it’s IMPOSSIBLE, they just go ahead, bite down on the item and move along.

I admire them a great deal. I think it’s awesome that they don’t say ‘uncle’ when faced with difficulties and that they aren’t adversely influenced by other ants.

I want to be more like them. I want to believe all things in my life are possible. I want to believe I am capable of lifting things far greater than I’ve previously thought could be done. I want to do amazing things, like they do.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Four-Year-Old Eyes

For a few moments pretend that you are a four-year-old boy. You’re at the grocery store with your mom and you’re sitting in the shopping cart. Not in the seat where you stick your legs through the slots. That’s for babies. You’re a big kid and you’re sitting where all the groceries go.

You and your mom are done shopping and are now waiting to check out. You’re looking around and spot a really cool looking toy. You don’t know why it’s in the grocery store, but there it is.

So, you ask your mom if she’ll buy it for you. You can tell by the look on her face the answer is probably going to be ‘no’.

She looks at you, but doesn’t say anything right away. You can tell she’s thinking things over, but isn’t sure of her decision. It seems simple to you, it’s either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Her answer surprises you.

She says, “No, honey, we can’t buy that today.” You thought so. That part doesn’t surprise you at all.

But, the next part does, because she goes on to say, “It’s almost Christmas, so you can ask Santa for it. Maybe he’ll bring it to you…IF you’re a good boy.” She continues, “You know Santa is always watching, so you’ll have to be good.”

That last part changes everything for you. There’s no way you can be good all the time. Sometimes you’re in a bad mood or are over tired. And sometimes your little sister is so annoying you scream at her. You apologize later, but you’re not sure if that counts.

And then another thought strikes you and it’s kind of scary. What does she mean, Santa’s always watching? How? You want to ask, but you’re not sure you really want to know the answer.

Why did she have to say that, you wonder? Up until then you thought Santa was fat and jolly, wore a red suit and loved to bring toys to kids. You had no idea he was watching you all the time.

And finally, another idea hits you. If I don’t do what other people want, I won’t get what I want. I could see all of this in his eyes.

This event really happened the last time I was at the grocery store. Of course, I’ve supplied what he was thinking. That was very easy for me, because there’s a strong part of me that is still four years old. Don’t believe me, ask any of my grandchildren.

Here’s what troubles me about this story.

Not only does it fill the boy with unnecessary fear, but it also directs all of his efforts into pleasing other people. And, it takes away his power and gives it to others.

I don’t want to place blame on the mom. She’s probably only repeating what she heard as a child. I’ve probably even done or said the same kind of thing, without considering the impact.

So, what could she have done or said?

How about this.

She could have said that it was possible, that together, they could think of ways for him to get the toy he wanted. That he could put it on his Christmas list and wait to see if it arrived on Christmas morning. If it didn’t, perhaps he could do a few extra chores around the house to earn the money to buy it later. She could help him see that HE has power inside of himself and let him know that she will always help him.

I would love to have heard that.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Three Dollar Wisdom

At some point a few years ago I stumbled across an idea. I didn’t know exactly where it came from but I think it’s worth sharing with you.

I realized that I was losing some really good ideas because I wasn’t writing them down at the time they came to me.

So, I went to one of my favorite places, the Dollar Store. Sure, that may be hard to believe, but I’ve discovered a few simple treasures there. This time, it was $3.00 worth of small lined pads of paper.

When I got home, I placed them strategically around so one would always be within easy reach. That way, I reasoned, I could capture any thoughts that arose I felt were worth remembering.

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t write something down when I’m thinking of it, it’s likely to disappear. Sort of like when you wake up in the morning after having had a particularly vivid dream, but later when you try to recount it to someone, all the details have become fuzzy.

Not all of what I write down is of the same quality. I can prove that to you. 

Here are two examples of some inconsistencies in life I’ve observed. Why, I wonder, do they call two baseball games played back to back a ‘double header, but when they play just one game it’s not called a ‘single header’? 

Or this. Why is December 21st known as the SHORTEST DAY of the year, rather than the LONGEST NIGHT of the year? I don’t get it, do you?

But then, there are times I’m very glad I paid attention and took the time to record my fleeting thoughts. Here are a few I’d like to pass along.

PHYSICAL PAIN

“Breathing into physical pain, rather than tightening and accentuating the pain, allows it to release, move out and away from me. It’s so good to remember this for when the time comes.”

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

“What if there is more going on here (on earth) than keeping score? What if the score doesn’t matter at all? And what would happen if I released any need I had to WIN?” 

(Good things, I bet)

CONSCIOUS CHOICE

“What if what you want to happen ALREADY EXISTS, and that you have the ability to consciously choose it? And what if the more clear you are about consciously choosing (visualizing), the more accurately it will appear (manifest) in your life?”

SIMPLE

During a conversation with Lia, I asked, “Is fear behind every angry reaction (I have)? Her answer was, “YES, it is that simple.”

Again, I asked, “Is the antidote to fear always love?” and she responded, “YES, it is that simple.” And lastly, I asked, “Is everything that’s wrong with my body because of what I’ve put into it (thoughts, food, worry…)?” And as before, she answered, “YES, it is that simple.”

I pass these along as a way of offering you an opportunity to harness your own constant stream of inner wisdom. I know you have it in you and I hope you choose to let it surface and use it for your benefit. And, perhaps the benefit of others as well, if that feels right to you.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

More Heaven

Imagine that you are a being of light. You have form, but no tangible substance. And as light, you flow.

Imagine that you know everything there is to be known. For you, there are no unanswerable questions. You are pure awareness, pure consciousness.

You are part of the ocean of bliss. It is your home and you call it, heaven.

I was a part of this bliss. I am still a part of this.

This matters to me because the awareness of this represents an unbreakable promise, that I will return home, after my earth life is complete. There is immense freedom in this assurance.

There was a moment in time where I chose to shift my awareness and decided to live a life of a spiritual being, as a human being.

There was a ceremony for me in heaven. A passage. A losing and a gaining.

I chose to experience the ‘great forgetting’, where I released my awareness of all things, so that I could live without knowing the answers to all of my questions. I chose to shift my perspective so that I could create and experience every part of my human life with newness. And I accepted the gift of free will, the most precious of all gifts.

With free will, there are no requirements or obligations upon me. This is an incredibly beautiful thing, when I wholly accept and embrace it.

This matters to me because I am able to choose my own direction without restrictions, regardless of what my culture teaches. I can consciously choose to correct whatever I see or feel are my mistakes, not because I have to, but because I want to. Everything is open to me.

With the gaining, there was also a giving, because in this transition I chose to believe in separation. I chose to leave behind the truth, that I am part of the one, the whole, the holy.

I chose to accept what my culture taught me, that I have missing pieces and that I should live my life searching for them.

I accepted that (god) was not personally knowable or touchable and that my only way to the truth was through someone else’s voice.

And I did not see that fear was my beautiful messenger.

I did not realize that all of what happened to me was a part of my plan, so that I could create and experience anything I desired.

Understanding this, matters to me because I can wake up and abandon this illusion if I choose. I can give up my search for any missing pieces, in favor of accepting the truth. The truth that I am already whole. And I can live this human life, knowing that (god) lives within me, in each and every moment, and that when my human life is complete, I will be reunited with bliss and admitted to heaven.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Heaven

Several years ago, I was attending a workshop at the Kripalu Retreat Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. Prior to beginning one of our class exercises, we went into meditation. Instantly, I was transported. Even though I was sitting among my classmates, I was as far away from them as I could possibly imagine.

I want to share my experience with you and the poem that formed inside me, because it brings us to the heart of a question I believe almost everyone has asked themselves at one time or another. Actually, maybe even more than one time.

Is there really a ‘heaven’?

Despite how you may have been brought up, you’ve probably heard many different opinions expressed about the nature and reality of heaven. And I suspect, about the uncertainty of whether there is such a thing. After all, what conclusive proof can anyone offer you?

In the end, it seems to become a matter of belief. But where does one’s belief come from? Do we accept what we are told by some religious or spiritual group? Or perhaps we favor a scientific approach or we seek an answer from some special faction within society?

Interestingly, I’ve been asked about my belief about heaven on many occasions. What I have to say usually comes as quite a surprise to those who ask.

I want to preface what I have to tell you by saying I honor everyone’s decisions and recognize it is always up to each of us what we choose to accept.

For me, I feel really ‘nudged’ to share what feels like the truth to me, because it’s changed the way I view everything. And maybe it will open a doorway for you, one that creates beauty and wonder and new possibilities.

When you read the poem, I’d like to ask a favor of you. I’d like you to place yourself within the poem, seeing and feeling everything that is being described as if it was happening personally to you. Imagine opening your heart fully and giving permission to (god) and to your spirit guides to come and be with you.

If you have someone who can read the poem out loud to you, that’s ideal because it allows you to stay in the moment. If no one is available to read the poem to you, I suggest that you read one line at a time, pausing to feel into the experience before moving on to the next line.

And now, the poem.

Admitted to Heaven

During my meditation, I gave permission to all of my spiritual guides to come and stand behind me,

Immediately, guides were there, then there were hordes of them, pushing and shoving to stand around me,

A great crowd arrived, and one of the beings said to another, “they’re emptying heaven to stand behind him”, and still more came,

I was crying so hard now, and they lifted me up, and held me over their heads effortlessly on hands of light, and passed me around, as if I weighed no more than a feather,

It was the most beautiful thing,

And I heard many shouting, “He’s back, come see, he’s back”, and heaven lit up,

And I could feel it, they all loved me, truly loved me, an overwhelming love, so beautiful, I never wanted to leave,

I asked, “Can I come home any time I want to?”, “Yes,” they all said.

I have so much more to say, so I’ll continue with more heaven in my next post.

I hope to see you then.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Habits

Every day we experience opportunities for growth in our lives. Some of the opportunities we may long for, while others we’d just as soon not encounter.

When we’re provided these choices, we have to decide whether to resist or accept them. A great deal of our harmony and peace of mind depends on which choice we make.

The more I think about this, the more obvious it becomes that every single thing that happens to me offers me something of value. At first, the item or event may not appear to be important. But, if I open and allow myself a moment of consideration, often rewarding things happen.

Here’s one seemingly insignificant example.

I brush my teeth twice a day. Once in the morning and once before I go to bed at night. You may do the same thing.

So, there I am in front of the medicine cabinet. I open it and reach for my toothbrush and tube of toothpaste, which has a flip top. Being a creature of habit, I hold the tube with the label facing me, then find I can’t flip the top open.

This bugs me. I don’t know why, it just does.

So, at least twice a day there is something in my life that is guaranteed to irritate and annoy me.

I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking.

When I was a kid, I’d say, “Duh” and follow that with something obvious like, “so reach for the toothpaste and hold it with the label facing away from you (numbskull).”

Problem solved, right?

I have to wonder, what prevents me from executing this very simple solution? I’m pretty sure I know.

Habit.

Reinforcement of the same thing, day after day, until what I choose, becomes second nature to me.

But, is this helpful? Certainly, for me, not always.

My next question is, how many other things in my life are on this kind of auto-pilot?

My answer would have to be, a lot.

It’s fascinating to me that habits hide our power and become a substitute for conscious thought and decision making. Is the world too complicated for us to navigate, so we allow habits to take care of many things for us?

It makes me wonder.

Here’s another example.

Do I really listen to someone’s answer when I ask them, “How are you today” or is this just a habit? Not surprisingly, the answers we’re inclined to give to this question are often as habitual as the question itself.

What if I gave myself a chance to be present when they spoke? What sort of difference would that make in my world…and theirs?

I tested this out recently and discovered it makes a great deal of difference.

When I asked someone how they were, I looked directly at the person and stood still and waited for their answer. Most of the time, it took a minute for the person to realize I was actually waiting for them to respond. Often, they stopped, returned my gaze and appeared to consider their answer for a moment. When they got over their shock, they relaxed and said something about the way they felt, then stopped speaking and looked expectantly in my direction. I took in what they’d said and responded, saying something that I hoped made it obvious I’d heard them and that what they said mattered to me.

Amazingly, when I remembered to do this, I found we formed a real connection. I felt a spark and that felt good to me. And, it made me want to continue exploring other habits of mine and seeing what benefits I might be able to find.

If you do some exploring of your own, please let me know what you discover.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Energy

I share a belief held by many scientists that everything in our world is part of an energy field. Actually, the claim is even larger, because most state that everything in the universe is part of one vast energy field. Imagine that everything, ranging from the grandest scale all the way down to the unseen quantum level is included.

Belief in this is challenging for many, because they want undisputed proof. They want evidence in support of these claims. For them, feeling it is not enough, they want the facts.

For those scientists who do believe, and for all of the rest of us who join them, several big questions arise. Chief among them, what force created and sustains this incredible energy field?

One of the beautiful things in this world is that each of us is free to decide for ourselves.

I’m glad this is the case.

I’m a big believer in free will and my ability to choose my own direction.

I’d like to share what feels like the truth to me. I believe that

LOVE is the powerful force that creates and sustains this energy field and sets everything in motion. I believe that love creates vibrations that oscillate as frequencies. And these frequencies are in constant motion within and surrounding everything.

For humans, and perhaps all essences, it seems to me that we are nourished and depleted according to the flow of energy entering and exiting our being. And so, our sense of happiness or suffering occurs as a result of shifts in our energy fields.

At times, certain events which appear to be outside of our control, challenge us and disturb our energy flow. We may even perceive that we have needs that are unmet, which create further problems for us. The longer these situations continue, the more our balance is affected.

You might ask, how does this theory relate to everyday life? That’s a very good question and one I’ve been pondering lately.

I’ve discovered that all of the answers I desire come from (god). Lately my answers have come through a part of (god) I call Lia, which stands for Love In Action. For me, she and the other parts of (god) are what powers the universal energy field.

I’m not asking you to accept this as your truth, but I’d like to share what she had to say to me about when our needs are not met, to see if it might be helpful to you.

These are her words to me.

“Need is a distortion of the truth and a false impression. The feeling of need shifts your attention away from love and draws you into a feeling of ‘lack’, where you believe you are not whole. It makes you feel that you must acquire some missing piece or pieces. The truth is you are already whole and surrounded by an energy field of love. 

Need is a mirage. You know this as the truth most deeply when you observe that once you receive what you felt you needed and intensely desired, that it did not fill you up. Or, if it did, that the feeling was only temporary, quickly faded and was replaced by a new sense of need.

The way through and beyond this is to realize you ‘lack’ nothing, because you are already complete and always connected to love and to the vast energetic field of love.

(She continued) And before you ask, yes, of course there are ‘things’ you don’t have, but things don’t, nor will they ever, make you feel complete. Love alone provides this.”

So, I’ve decided to trust Lia and when a need in me arises, to remember her words and her promise to always love me.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

More Balance

I love trees. I have for as long as I can remember. They’re beautiful and they’ve shared many truths with me.

Recently I was gazing at a tree that sits between our neighbor’s house and ours. It has such gorgeous leaves, which have mostly turned various shades of orange. Some of them seem to glow, like they are electrified.

I noticed that the leaves closest to the trunk were still green and very healthy, while the ones furthest away, were the most colorful and vibrant. They were also the ones that were first to fall off.

And, for some reason, I thought about the hara line. I wondered if every living thing has its own hara line. Surely, if this concept is true, it would apply to a tree, with its roots sunk deeply into the earth and its branches reaching far up into the sky.

I looked at the tree’s trunk, firm, straight and incredibly strong. I watched as the wind played with its branches, moving them all around, while the trunk remained firm and solid and unmoved.

I wondered, how does the tree maintain its balance throughout the seasons. I wondered too, whether the tree was trying to silently teach me what it knows to be the truth.

It certainly felt that way.

So, I opened my awareness and let its message pour over me. As is so often the case, its wisdom came in the form of questions.

It asked me, what nourishes you? What fortifies you? What inspires you?

Wonderful questions and clearly meant to connect me with a greater sense of balance within myself.

One of my favorite experiences is to attend workshops at Kripalu, a retreat center about forty-five minutes away from me. On one occasion I drew a picture of a tree, complete with roots, trunk and branches. Along each one of the roots, I wrote the name of something that nourished me. Then, I noted on some of the branches those things which I hoped to accomplish in my life.

I realize now that what I choose as nourishing sources matters a great deal to my sense of balance and harmony in this world. The more sources I choose and the deeper they connect me, the more firmly I feel rooted.

I see too, that what I chose to believe about myself, either keeps me growing straight and tall or bends me, forcing me into wayward directions. Directions that keep me distant from what I say I want to experience while I’m here.

The stories we tell ourselves are so powerful.

And, just as important as what feeds me and helps me grow, is what inspires me. I want to reach toward the sky and feel the strongest sunshine on my face. I want to live with infinite possibilities all around me, ready for me to call their names.

And so I wonder, what nourishes, fortifies and inspires you? If you feel like sharing, let me know.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Balance

During the past year I’ve fallen a few times. I know the medical community regards this as a possible indicator of potential problems which should be investigated. But, I think I know the cause.

My feet. They don’t seem to rest firmly and flatly on the ground. My podiatrist says I have neuromas, which is another way of saying that there are nerves running down my feet and between my toes that are irritated and make it hard for me to feel things. And, if I can’t feel or sense with my feet, it’s hard to remain balanced.

Part of me wanted this condition to take care of itself, you know, some kind of magical resolution where I didn’t have to do anything other than wish it so. It didn’t happen. I gave it a pretty good shot, perhaps even a few years.

Sometimes it’s hard to be this honest with myself. And now I’m repeating it to you, which feels both embarrassing and freeing at the same time.

Recently, I told myself enough was enough. I started doing my own balance exercises. Simple. Just pick up one foot and try to balance for as long as I could. I consider my first try to be an epic failure. I could only stay upright for the count of 8, before I tipped over. So sad.

I knew I needed to keep at it, so I practiced every day. Within three weeks I was able to balance for a count of 30 on each foot. Another two weeks went by and the count went to 50, then 75. After another two weeks…90.

Along the way, I realized several things. First, it mattered what I thought would happen. Second, it was considerably easier to maintain my balance when I chose a single point in the distance to focus on. And third, I realized that it would require practice.

Perhaps you remember a child’s toy from years ago. Surprisingly, it’s still around. It’s called a Weeble. They were little people and sort of egg shaped and no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t knock them over. The company’s catchy slogan ran like this, “Weebles wooble, but they don’t fall down”.

I want to be a Weeble.

Sometimes I think to myself how nice it would be to experience my life without falling down or being knocked over. But, that’s not what happens to me. And, I’m guessing it might not be what happens to you.

So, how to stay in balance? Or the companion question, how to regain balance once you’ve been pushed off center?

Many energy healers believe there is a column of light that runs from inside the earth, upwards through the center line of our body and out of the top of our head, connecting all the way to our source (or whatever name we use for god). They call this the ‘hara line’. There is a strong belief that the hara line vibrates with our intentions and contains our life purpose and reason for being here on earth as spiritual beings.

Imagine for a moment that you accepted this as the truth, or at least, part of the truth.

It certainly might explain why it feels so uncomfortable when we are forced out of balance, whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. It also might help us understand that as our balance is disturbed, we’re unable to sense the same strength of connection with our life purpose.

Being out of alignment could then turn out to be a powerful message to us, encouraging us to take steps to regain our balance.

There’s so much more to say, so I’m going to do something a little different with this post. I’m going to leave it as a cliff hanger and promise to finish my thoughts about this on my next post (Post #7 on Sunday). I hope you’ll join me.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.