Beyond Miracles

Do you think that miracles can apply to you? Do you believe that you can experience them personally in your present life?

I wonder how many of us seriously consider this. Sometimes miracles are thought to be grand scale things that only a few ever encounter. But what if this isn’t true? What if everyone can experience miracles?

In my last post I shared that I serve as a channel. Sometimes directly from divine source and other times, well, I’m not always exactly sure. I know there is depth and worth to what I receive, and I guess it doesn’t always matter if I know the source.

I do recognize there is something sacred happening. It is at once fascinating and difficult to believe. I wonder to myself, why me?

It is then that I receive the distinct awareness that it isn’t just me. It’s there and available for everyone. We’ve been culturally trained to ‘stay in our lane’ and believe in our limits. We’re taught that life is narrow, or at least the ‘safe’ life is. We receive constant reminders to reinforce this belief.

But what if we were meant to be spectacular beings of energy and light and do profoundly great things with our lives?

Well, that’s something I can believe in.

My last post told the story of a woman who was healed from a condition she’d suffered from for many years. She moved within a crowd, neared Yeshiwa (Jesus) and touched his cloak. Yeshiwa silently called to her to step forward, which she did, despite her fears. He told her that her act of faith had healed her. He did not say, “I have healed you”. Yeshiwa was very clear that ‘her faith’ had healed her.

What a hugely significant distinction this is. It tells us outright that she exercised her own power, and this act of willing faith was the source of her healing. Amazing!

Do you believe you have this same choice to make? Do you believe that claiming your own healing is possible?

I think we both know what our cultural training would say. An unequivocal, ‘NO’. It would tell us this was not and is not possible. It defies too much logic. It isn’t scientific enough to be believed.

It might say, you’re misunderstanding the story. It might suggest that no healing is ever possible, except through direct divine intervention.

One of the most beautiful things about our lives is that WE get to choose what to believe. We can, of course, relinquish our choices to others and give them our power. In many ways, this is exactly what our culture teaches us to do.

If you are someone who seeks another way, please know that YOU have the free will to make your own choices. You can experience the life you claim.

I’d like to share some mechanics of faith with you. Imagine for a moment that there is far more than meets the eye here on this earth. Imagine that everything already exists. There is a pathway for every experience already laid out. Not chosen, just laid out and available for the choosing. Another grand distinction.

You do not have to create the path; you merely choose it. And in the choosing, your language changes to a more powerful word. You claim it. You claim it over and over again, until it becomes your personal experience of the world. You exercise your faith in what you claim.

This is what the woman in the story did. At first, she was fearful, both about what others would think about her or what they might do to her. She was hesitant, not knowing if Yeshiwa would allow her to touch his cloak and afraid of what he might do in response. She had a big decision to make. She chose to act on faith, that all would be well, that she would be healed, released from her physical pain. She ignored others and acknowledged her own power. She acted with faith, and she was healed.

And once healed, she told others, so that they might experience their own power of being healed by faith.

Miracles

Do you believe in miracles?

If asked to define a miracle, what would your answer be? It might be harder than you think or maybe everything in life is some sort of miracle to you.

One miracle I experience occasionally is that I serve as a channel. It could be as a conduit for a message to someone living from someone who has passed. It might be an insight about life worth offering to someone in need. Or it could be receiving divine words in the form of a story, offered to enlighten and guide us, if we are open to receiving.

I’d like to share one of these stories with you. It’s one I received from Yeshiwa (Jesus’s name in Aramaic, his native language).

Although it’s told in the bible, the version I received is much deeper and richer emotionally and spiritually.

Before I share the story, I’d like to say that I have no vested interest in you believing that I channeled this story directly from Yeshiwa. I am entirely comfortable with you deciding for yourself and not taking my word for it. What is important to me is that I act courageously and offer this to you, because I feel its truth to my core. I also realize that I cannot offer any proof, so all that matters to me is that you lean into this story and see whether it feels true to you.

The story is about a woman in desperate need of healing, and it is told from Yeshiwa’s perspective.

“I walk among you. The same and not. I know what power I hold. I feel it as my blood and know when it has been touched, even among a crowd. Some touch me, some touch my heart. This is a faith touch, and it can change anything, can change everything.

A woman nears me. I know her heart and I know what holds her body and grips it in a way that will not let go. Not by its own choice. It is subject to me and the power of love. She walks in my shadow, tortured by her awareness that all but me will revile her for her thoughts, because she wants to touch my garment. Others would not allow this, not understand this. They believe I become the same unclean they believe she is. This is not my way, and it is not my father’s way. It is not her way and so I call her to me, not with words but with my heart. Her timidity is exceeded by her pain, and she reaches out to touch my cloak. The moment she does her whole world changes, and she will never be the same. She has chosen a new way and seen me for who I am. She sees the face of god. She sees her own in its reflection. Her heart becomes still. I ask the crowd who touched me. I do not ask because I do not know, for I do. I ask so that she may choose to step forward and realize the magnitude of the change to her life. It is not the healed physical body that is important- to her or to me. It is her spirit, which now can be at peace. It is her spirit which knows me and rests with me. She will speak often of this and change many lives. This is how faith works. It enters the heart and seeks other open hearts, moving freely. This is how all actions of faith happen.”

At the beginning, the woman in the story knows her faith can set her free. But for her, she feels her healing is dependent on a confirmation from Yeshiwa. Her faith is conditional. Not only that, but she also understands that the opinions of others stand in her way.

Through his heart, Yeshiwa calls her to him, and she responds. She overcomes the messages that life has sent her and touches his cloak, believing that as soon as she does, she will be well.

And her whole world changes.

She steps forward and says she is the one who touched his cloak. She realizes that this simple act of faith is what has changed her life. That Yeshiwa offered her the chance to demonstrate and declare that her healing has come from this act of faith.

And her life becomes a living act of faith, as she spreads this message wherever she goes.

I have more thoughts about this miracle and how it might apply to you and me and I encourage you to read my next post.

Inner Voices

My last post raised a few questions and I’d like to move deeper and share some possible answers with you. Ones that may be worth considering.

For those who may not have had a chance to read my last post, it centered on why we might choose experiences that are challenging for us, rather than ones that are easier and more comfortable. It also offered a new way of gaining insight into our lives by listening to our inner voices.

I shared my belief that each of us has a physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and ego voice which wants to be heard. And, that these voices all have something of value to add to our lives, but that when one overshadows the others, some chaos can ensue.

Does this make any sense to you? Does it dovetail with any of your experiences?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my inner voices react to the cultural training I’ve received throughout my life. What seems true for me is that each voice is strongly influenced but not uniformly. It also seems to depend on the situation.

What has shifted into focus is that I sense inadequacies in my cultural training. I am questioning all those things which have entered my consciousness and become a part of me. Rather than allowing them to continue, I feel a need to reconsider whether they are still true for me.

I sense that my most of my cultural training (all the things I’ve been taught to believe by those of influence in my life) are distortions of what is, in fact, true.

Hints of the original messages offered to me are surfacing. A part of me needs to understand what they have to share with me. I need to look beyond the default settings I have established and beyond the automatic responses they create in my life.

Lately I’ve begun to realize that my ego voice, in its effort to protect me, uses my cultural training to establish a threat assessment for everything I encounter. Based on its assessment it sends what it considers to be important messages to my other voices. Most of the time the messages are fear based. Whereas the effect can be beneficial because it generates action on my part, I sense there is a much more gentle and effective method to accomplish this.

That’s where something I call my ‘translation table’ comes into play. Simply put, this is an idea, a process, where I evaluate whether my cultural training makes sense, rather than reflexively accepting it as true.

My translation table seeks more information and asks important questions. What do I sense in my physical body? How do I feel emotionally about what I am encountering? What do I think about it and whether it is logical, factual, or reasonable?  Does it connect in any way with my spiritual blueprint? What am I protecting and is there a better way?

Often, I find that examples help flesh things out and provide useful insights, so I’d like to share one of mine with you.

One message I’ve received through my cultural training is that I don’t ‘deserve’ (fill in the blank). That I am not inherently deserving. Instead, I must earn everything and even then, I am not safe. It can easily be taken away from me. If I think about it, the origin of this becomes clear. Mostly it is schooling and church, but also the comments of others; parents, friends, and those in the workplace.

I step back a moment and allow my inner voices freedom. I have an immediate physical reaction. It makes me feel weak and sluggish, sure signs it does not support me, nor speak my truth. Emotionally this belief drains me, sapping my energy. As I think about it, it becomes obvious that it only represents a story I’ve been told and is not factual. My ego weighs in, indicating that this claim of not deserving creates more work, because it broadens the need for protection.

And finally, my spiritual voice speaks. It tells me this idea; this concept and cultural belief is not a part of MY spiritual blueprint. It reminds me that every choice and decision is MINE to make, and I am not forced to accept anything which does not feel ‘right’ to me. I can safely release any cultural training which does not support or benefit me. Simply let them go. This frees up an enormous amount of space inside me, space now available for what does feel true. Space I can use to embrace beliefs that improve my life and offer me freedom. Allowing my inner voices the opportunity to share with me is a true gift and brings me abundant peace and clarity. I hope yours will do the same for you

Ego and Spirit

Suppose you were offered a choice between a beautiful, delicate, finely braided gold chain bracelet or a twisted, knotted, tangled bracelet.

If you don’t like bracelets, imagine you can give it to someone else who loves them, so the decision about your choice is still worth making.

Which would you choose?

I suspect that unless you love the challenge of untangling things, for the joy of success you feel afterwards, you’d probably choose the first option.

Changing directions a little…

Suppose you were offered a choice between living a life of freedom and ease, or a life full of unmanageable tangles and knots that complicate everything for you.

Which would you choose?

Again, I suspect that unless you thrive on facing challenges and difficulties, you’d pick a life of freedom, one lived fully in the present rather than one with heavy baggage that would weigh you down.

As I sat back and thought about these two options it seemed clear that the first one was far superior to the second. And yet I realized that I often choose the more difficult route through life. Perhaps at times you do as well.

I could not avoid the obvious question…why? Why would I choose to complicate my life in this way?

It didn’t make any sense to me.

That is, until I allowed myself to move deeper into the question. It was then that a beautiful clarity appeared in the form of individual voices representing my physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and ego selves. Each one speaks to me and offers insight about the whole of me.

I know this may sound a little over the edge, but give me a chance to explain, then decide what you think.

I believe that each part of me contributes something to the whole. Sometimes those contributions are helpful and sometimes they are harmful, in the sense that they affect the amount of joy I experience in this life.

When one part is overwhelmed, it tends to adversely affect the other parts and the whole of me suffers. This happens most frequently when my cultural training kicks in. Throughout my life I’ve been influenced by those around me to believe certain things. In effect, I’ve allowed myself to be programmed, that what I’ve been taught is correct. During some of my rebellious phases I’ve railed against some of this programming, but much of it still persists.

I realize my ego plays a key role in my life. Its primary function is to protect me, and it does this by performing threat assessments and taking what it believes are necessary actions. Over time, ego has created numerous default settings, which lead to automatic responses to the same or similar events. Unfortunately, my ego may treat all threats in the same way, and not see any distinctions. The truth is that some threats are real (encountering a bear in the wilderness), and some threats are false (I will catch a cold simply by being cold).

If I want to experience an untangled life, some interpretation is necessary. I have to be able to see beyond my ego’s misperceptions.  

I need to hear from my spiritual voice. So, I invite it to come and share its profound insights with me. I want to know how I can tell the difference between what is real and what is false.

Spirits appearance comforts me deeply. My breathing changes, slowing down, calming. A soothing feeling pours over me, and my ego relaxes and patiently awaits guidance.

Spirits voice is clear as it speaks to ego saying, “I love you and treasure that you try to protect me. I want you to know that you are precious and necessary. You can relax now. Together, we can share the load you carry. The truth is that our protection needs are few because we are safe. I see that there are other things you need to know, and I will tell you. For now, be patient and rest easy.”

Ego kicks back a bit, letting go of the gas pedal. It knows answers are coming and it believes all will be well.

More will follow in the next post.

Expectations

What do expectations do?

It’s been an intriguing question for me, and I’ve spent a great deal of time considering it. Considering, but not coming to any real conclusions…until today.

Expectations appear to jeopardize my success. They block my progress forward, making it harder to experience what I am hopeful about. They are harmful things because they are projections of an uncertain future and are not easily controllable.

When I create expectations there is a tendency to generalize them, which makes any evaluation of their success difficult. Worse still, I tend to attach my sense of happiness to them.

Expectations also create fear for me. Fear of not experiencing them exactly as I would like.

Often, I have a sense of what my expectations are, but I don’t write them down and recognize them. I don’t take specific actions steps to make them happen. I just expect them to occur on their own because that’s what I want. Truly, a recipe for failure.

I will be the facilitator of a retreat soon and I’m sensing an inner concern about meeting both the groups and my own expectations.

While considering this I feel guided to write down what I expect will happen. I come up with nine items and upon review, I notice that I have absolutely no control over the outcomes for five of the items and only limited control over the other four. I might be able to enhance the chances of meeting some expectations, but this seems entirely uncertain.

I also notice that if I allow my happiness to be conditional on successfully meeting my own and others’ expectations, I will be doomed to failure.

It becomes apparent that there are two key elements involved here. First, my setting any expectations, even if they are specific enough to be recognizable, creates a certain degree of fear. And second, it is evident that I have no real control over what will happen for any participant or for myself, which produces even more fear in me.

That’s when a beautiful thing happened.

I realize that in all cases, fear serves as a divine messenger for me. In this case it creates legitimate clarity because it brings home the message that neither setting expectations nor controlling outcomes is where I want to focus my attention.

Recognizing my fear allows me to widen my view, to take notice and to shift my awareness from what I can’t do to what I can do.

I can’t meet all of my own expectations nor those of others because I don’t have control over any outcomes. Life is too complex and fluid for that. And I can’t guarantee my happiness when it is tied to achieving all of my expectations. My vested interest if just too strong.

I can however release my perceived need for setting or accomplishing any expectations. I can embrace being present in each moment, realizing there is inherent value in simply loving myself and others and going with the flow of life.

When I am ‘in the moment’ and fully engaged I can be vested in the creation of depth of connection with and for others and myself. That’s when I experience joy and for me that’s what this world is all about.

Three Words That Matter

Imagine this for a moment. Suppose that we were going to play a game that would last one whole day and you could only use three words. What words would you pick?

I know it seems like a crazy idea and when I thought about my answer it took me a while to decide. I considered whether they would useful or descriptive or questioning words. I wondered what might I need and who would I be ‘talking’ with?

Maybe you want to stop right here and pick your three words before I continue, so mine don’t influence yours.

If you’re back or don’t want to choose at the moment, but still want to see my choices, here they are…

I chose; 1) hi, 2) yes and 3) no.

I am fascinated by words. Three specific words are having a profound impact on my life, so much so that I felt a strong desire to share them with you.

They are want, choose and claim.

I recently had a conversation with Lia (an ethereal feminine voice of god that I often talk with) where I asked if she could provide some insight and clarity about the differences between these three words.

She said, “wanting expresses a desire, but what is missing are the actions necessary to make the experience real to me.” She went on to say, “wanting does not create anything but the sense of itself- wanting. Without action, there will never be a sense of having.”

I told her I understood now how little power there was in the word and concept of ‘wanting’ and that I needed to shift away from using this word unless I was prepared to take action.

I then asked about ‘choosing’ and Lia responded immediately by saying, “choosing is an action word, ordinarily making a decision between different choices, but sometimes between either doing or not doing something.” Lia went on to add, “choosing means you are consciously setting your direction and will experience results based on your choices. If you are unsatisfied with the outcomes, you have the power to choose differently.”

So far, so good. I sensed the next word was going to take me in a new direction. I asked what ‘claiming’ meant.

Lia didn’t hesitate, telling me, “Claiming is a very powerful word. It implies a deeper understanding about life, including the realization that every pathway of choice already exists. No pathway must be created, they simply can be claimed. Claiming also implies an awareness of your masterplan and is the most direct avenue to experiencing the object of your claiming.”

I sat in stunned silence. I’d never understood the relationship between these three words nor the magnificence of their progression.

After regaining my attention, Lia went on by saying, “Claiming contains conviction, while choosing is often tentative.”

I wanted a little more confirmation and posed this to her, “so, my wanting something is okay, but is only the beginning of the process. It provides some clarity and direction, but if I truly expect to experience the object of my wanting, I have to take action.”

She agreed and I continued, “so, I can change wanting into choosing by taking action and I can change choosing into claiming by recognizing that all pathways already exist and that they are available to me to claim as my own.”

Lia agreed, then shared this insight, “the idea of claiming your best life demands that you identify, know, or clarify what that looks and feels like to you. Once you have this awareness deeply inside you, you will be able to claim and experience anything.”

I am extremely grateful for this conversation because I now understand the difference between these three words that matter to me and how to shift my perspective so that I can claim my best life.

Paradox to Paradise

If I asked you, could you define or give me an example of a ‘paradox’?

It’s interesting to me that we can often recognize a paradox when we hear it but aren’t able to explain why it’s a paradox. According to one internet source, a paradox has three key elements or aspects. First, it is a statement that contradicts itself. Second, it seems absurd and third, it points out the absurdity of life.

My post title begins with paradox but implies a movement to paradise. We may all have our own definitions for the word ‘paradise’ but I’m going to suggest we start from a common point, that paradise represents an ideal place or state of being.

So, you may be wondering, how do these connect and why would I spend time writing a post about them. Good question.

I’d like to share two examples and hopefully they will provide the answer.

When I mention the word, ‘failure’, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s something you’ve experienced in your life, in the past or something happening right now.

A common understanding of failure is that we don’t reach our objective, however we’ve defined it. Or maybe it’s how someone else has defined it. They may have placed demands on us, and we were unable to meet their expectations. Often, failure is challenging because there are so many potential opportunities for it to occur and it may become overwhelming to continue our pursuit of success.

I’d like to invite you to consider shifting your attention and your view of ‘failure’. What if you altered your concept and embraced the idea that failure, is the absence of trying? That failure has nothing to do with any outcome, so that you are free from any expectations of success.

What if you gave yourself permission to TRY, recognizing that it may or may not work out exactly as you plan, and accept whatever outcome occurs? In this way, ‘failure’ has a built-in freedom.

Seems like a paradox to me which leads to a paradise of freedom.

The other example I’d like to offer is, ‘fear’.

I’m quite sure I needn’t provide you with any illustrations of fear. I believe we all know intimately about fear and its impact on us.

One of fears hallmarks is that it prevents us from living our lives to the fullest. It can overshadow, overwhelm, intimidate, riddle us with intense feelings and stop us in our tracks. Fear disguises itself, masquerading as seeming logical statements, but its intent is always the same…to prevent us from moving forward and living a satisfying life.

There is another way to view fear. We can shift our perspective and claim a new concept, one that can dramatically alter our outcomes.

How?

By seeing fear as a source of power. I suspect that each of us has felt the enormous power fear manifests. If we shift our understanding, we can harness fear’s power and use it to our advantage. I’d like to suggest that we consider that fear exists to provide us with a valuable message. If we allow it, the message can show us how we would benefit by changing direction. Fear can serve as an energetic motivation to give us the drive we may need to improve our lives.

Seen in this way, fear becomes a divine messenger, offered to us to assist in moving the direction we most cherish.

Feels like another paradox to me and one which can certainly lead to paradise, if that is what we choose.

Changing an Attitude

Are you task focused, or can you go with the flow?

I recognize that many times I become very task oriented as I’m sure folks who know me best would confirm. They’d probably tell you about my To Do lists, several of which are color coded. That should give you a pretty clear picture.

Fortunately for my peace of mind and sanity, I’ve altered my views about my lists. I now use them more as guides, rather than as mandatory self-assignments. They currently stand as reminders of things I need to attend to (doctor and dentist appointments) or people I’m getting together with or meetings I have. Things I don’t want to forget.

To be completely open, I do have other lists too, the kind that can become overwhelming and oppressive, if I let them. Maybe you have a few of these too.

Over the course of time an antidote arrived in the form of a complete sentence.

“Aim for progress, rather than completion.”

What an incredible freedom this offers. It allows me to keep an item on my list and make strides with it, but without the burden of feeling like I have to finish it (or else). It helps let me off the hook.

I also discovered a companion to accompany this antidote.

“There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way.”

For me, this one takes a lot of getting used to, especially considering the amount of cultural training I’ve received. My entire educational and work experience demanded and rewarded the completion of tasks be done in the ‘correct’ way. Thinking outside the box was often punished and there were only rewards for compliance with the ‘right’ way. It took an abundance of years for me to understand there are other possibilities and more than ONE right answer.

Then I was struck with a novel question. What if there was no such thing as a ‘right or wrong’ way, only the way I chose? This idea encouraged me to reexamine my entire thinking process and question the underlying assumption of there being ‘one right way’. I came to discover that in many cases, perhaps in all cases, I’d never know until I experienced the final outcome. There are just too many connections along the way to know the truth about any of my choices.

Then came another idea to join the group, a helpful suggestion designed to shift my attitude and attention.

“Focus on feelings, rather than on accomplishments.”

I love this one because it reorders my world and focuses my awareness on what’s most important to me…my feelings.

It’s entirely likely I will not accomplish every one of my aims. For whatever reason, I might get only so far and have to stop or redirect my attention elsewhere. However, the progress I did make and how I felt along the way, I get to keep and savor.

As it turns out, my feelings are the truest barometer of my satisfaction with life. They connect me with my source (divine nature) and with others, all those I love and whom I want to share my life with.

One final idea came along, and it enhances all the others before it.

“Come to a place of peace and joy with everything.”

And, I think to myself, isn’t this what I am really after? And my answer is YES.

Things Worth Considering

Random thoughts run through my mind all the time. Does this happen to you too? Do you wish that you could keep them around a little while longer, so you could take advantage of what they might offer you?

Many years ago, I decided that I would buy a few small notebooks and place them in spots where they would be easily accessible to me, that way when a thought popped into my head, I could capture it.

I’ve filled several of the notebooks and recently paused to scan some of them to see what I’d written. What I discovered was fascinating to me and I have the feeling that it might make an interesting book, even if its distribution is limited.

I thought I’d share some of my ideas and observations with you and see what you thought.

So here goes…

** What is the first question I ask myself in the morning when I wake up? Responses included the following: how do I feel physically, what time is it, is it too early to get up, did I get enough sleep, what is happening today, will I be able to get the necessary things done today, how important is it that I do my exercises?

I pretty much know my answers to these questions and although I want to be happy about them, sometimes I find they bend me in a ‘negative’ direction, one I have to dig myself out of. Maybe I need to ask better questions.

** How many good years do we have to travel and where do we want to go…Banff in the Canadian Rockies, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Paris, Hawaii?

There are so many places that interest us. Of course, we could stay close to home and enjoy our own fantastic scenery. But what’s really important about this question is the state of our health and whether we are doing things to promote it and improve it, so the focus shifts in that direction. Travel can take care of itself.

** In one moment of insight an idea came to me that I (anyone) can CLAIM (intentionally choose) to experience anything or move in any direction, because ‘everything already exists’. We do not need to create it or manage it or maintain it. There is already an infinite web of creation, far beyond what we are capable of presently conceiving or understanding. This web stretches infinitely in all directions and everything is a part of it. What we believe are detours in our lives are only alternate paths headed toward the same destination.

** In a moment of clarity, a quote came to me (or is it ‘through me’) that feels true to me…” worrying about unpleasant outcomes in my life makes me an immediate victim.” I wondered, what is the sense of doing that?

** I have long felt and believed that heaven is an ocean of bliss, and that love is its expression on earth. I feel this way because I have memories from heaven, not what it looked like, but how it felt. And it feels wonderful, and it belongs to each of us. We all came from there and return to there. What a beautiful awareness.

** I sat wondering why I am here, on this earth, at this time. It seems to me that I wanted to experience ‘separation’ and an incredibly strong sense of abandonment. Separation from my home in heaven and a feeling that I was abandoned here, left to fend for myself. And yet, shadows have shifted, leaving me in the light and I realize those intense feelings gave me direction and ‘forced’ me to open up. And once I did, I began to remember, to awaken to the truth that we are all divine beings, seeking a depth of connection (like the one we experienced in heaven). And now that I see more clearly, I want to share, to speak my truth and encourage others to do the same.

There are so many more musing. What strikes me is that everyone probably has passing thoughts that are important to them, they only need to offer themselves the chance to capture them and sit with them. If they do, I believe wonderful treasures await them.

Joy

Do you think there is a difference between happiness and joy? Or do they seem like the same thing to you?

I admit that in the past I was confused about the difference between the two terms, or I used them interchangeably, until one conversation occurred with a friend of mine. He shared that, for him, joy was a much deeper feeling. It gave me pause and inspired me to reconsider my views.

While I love both feelings and enjoy their power, I believe one is far more important to me than the other.

Happiness seems to come from the outside, while joy comes from the inside. Happiness is triggered by all sorts of things I encounter in the world, while joy feels like an overflowing of love from my heart.

There are things and events which create and produce both feelings. Personally, I find happiness is short lived when compared with joy. Sometimes happiness feels like a present I’ve dreamed about but once I have it, its power fades, and I’m looking for the next thing to make me happy.

When joy arrives, its power remains with me, and I feel its love radiate through me. Although my life moves on, the memories of the joy linger and will easily return, if I bring them to mind.

So, what about you? Do moments of joy visit you and stay with you? Would you like there to be more moments of joy in your life?

If I answered my own question, my response would be, ‘yes, absolutely I want as many moments of joy as possible.’

You can probably guess my next question.

What would bring about more moments of joy?

Part of me is always pragmatic, searching for an approach that supports me and brings into my life that which I most treasure. In this case that would be to create and experience more and more moments of joy.

I sat back one day and let a calmness wash over me. I opened my heart and encouraged myself to allow my love to overflow. I did this because I know that joy responds to this call. It lives within me but wants to be unleashed into my world.

I believe that joy lives inside each of us, ever present no matter what our outward experience of life is. And perhaps it wants to spark and ignite into existence when we are down and need it the most. But we have to allow this. We have to open the pipeline, and the wider the better. We are the ones in charge of clearing the way.

I wanted to know if there was something specific I could do to enhance joy’s presence in my life. As soon as I asked the question, the answer appeared…give yourself the gift of illumination…and create a memory list of moments of joy.

I thought…what a phenomenal idea. And what started out as a simple list, expanded into thoughts of a joy journal or a joy scrapbook.

Something inside me caught fire.

One recollection ran into the next and then cascaded, filling page after page. It was as if I had opened a treasure chest of joy. What a sensational feeling.

One of the best parts of this experience is that I can share it with you. I am absolutely convinced that we all have the power to overflow joy into our lives and into the lives of those who surround us. We are connected to each other, both here and beyond and joy is one of our most intimate languages.

I hope you call forth the joy that lives in your heart and let it overflow into your life.

New Year Love

I’ve chosen to repeat my post from the end of 2020 because I still believe it represents the truth and I wanted to remind you about it. So, here it is.

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.

Thank you for allowing me to repeat this. My next post will be new, I promise.

How to Be Bigger Than You Are

I want to see if you are interested in being bigger than you are at present. Are you game?

Maybe you want to know what I’m really asking before you commit. Okay, fair enough.

I’m wondering if you’d like to challenge yourself with a new experience. It might be something on the wild side or simply different from what you are used to.

Here’s one example of a choice I made.

Recently I was offered an opportunity to write a haiku and submit it to a contest site. In the event you’re unfamiliar with what a haiku is, it’s a very short poem with a specific structure. It takes the form of three lines, the first and third lines are five syllables and the second (middle line) is seven syllables. It is a style created in Japan and has a fabled history dating back to at least the sixteenth century.

I could have ignored the prompt to create using this unique style but something about it grabbed me. The contest was very specific that you must use the word ‘blue’ somewhere in the haiku.

The very first image that formed in my head was the brilliant blue ice of a glacier my wife and I saw while in Alaska. Simply gorgeous!

Conforming to the 5/7/5 syllable format presented quite a problem for me. It limited my freedom and I think that’s a big part of any new challenge. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is always difficult, but if you never do, you’ll never know what you are truly capable of.

So, I spent time creating and recreating. Finally, something came together, and I liked how it felt. The image really stood out for me and gave me a sense of inner satisfaction, which was the whole point to me. Although it would be fun to ‘win’ the contest, I’ve already experienced enough value and enjoyment that it doesn’t really matter if I do.

In case you’d like to read the haiku, here it is.

shafts of midnight blue

silhouetting moon lit ice

dreaming of heaven

I’m not suggesting that this is a way for YOU to be ‘bigger’, just that it was one way I chose.

Are there ways that occur to you? Things you’ve always wanted to try but never got around to?

Do you know what’s stopping you? Can you imagine it being fun to try something brand new and see where it leads you?

Obviously, safety plays a part in this adventure. My wife has exempted me from skydiving, hang gliding, even rollerblading, but that’s not really very limiting. And I can think of lots of ways to explore the world.

I don’t want to stay the same size that I am right now. I want to be bigger and to expand, learn new things, meet new people, experience new journeys. How about you?

I’d like to encourage you to follow your dreams. You can start small and work your way up if that feels more comfortable to you.

The idea here is to release a bit of the rope that keeps you tethered close to the ground. If it feels right to you, let go a bit and explore. There are literally thousands of ideas out there in the world, many of which require no money, travel, or a dependence on others to try. They only require your willingness and excitement and participation.

I end with this hopefully encouraging haiku:

it is up to you

to explore your dreams or not

i suggest you do

A New Context for Disappointments

How good are you at dealing with disappointments? Does it make a difference about the size of the disappointment, or do they all effect you the same way?

It’s a topic that’s on my mind at the moment because I’m experiencing a significant disappointment. There isn’t anything I can do about it practically speaking, and of course, that’s also part of the problem. If there were things I could do, then at least I could take some action, even if it didn’t entirely fix everything.

Maybe you’re experiencing some disappointments of your own. They may be the temporary versions or perhaps, ones that repeat themselves over and over.

I decided I needed to have a chat with Lia (an ethereal feminine voice of god who loves and cares for me and who is always willing to talk with me about anything).

I brought up my issue and asked for some guidance.

Lia responded by saying, “Your attitude about your disappointment is completely under your control. You can be disappointed and feel your feelings BUT then exercise great care with your next choice. You can allow this disappointment to manifest into intense feelings of it being ‘unfair’, but you need to realize this is a subjective judgement based on limited information.”

One thing I immediately realize is that Lia will never allow me to consider myself a ‘victim’ in any circumstance, since I am in complete control over the attitudes I choose in my life.

The next thing I realize is that Lia is challenging me and offering me something valuable to consider…that I am taking the ‘short view’ (limited information) and I would be wise to reconsider this.

I’m not sure how though and she already knows this.

Lia continues, “Whenever you choose to view life solely from the short view, you miss the full story. Everything is not revealed in one single moment (or event). It takes time to become aware of the fullness of life.”

Admittedly, I’m still a little confused. I get the essence of what she’s saying but need more.

As always, she understands and adds to her explanation with a magnificent illustration.

“Imagine there is a string of dominos set up in a line, so that once the first domino is tipped over, it creates a chain reaction…a sequence of falling dominos.”

It’s a great picture for me because I’ve done this hundreds of times in my life.

I can feel Lia smiling at me as she continues, “This is your life, a constant sequence of events, which may appear unrelated, but which are intimated connected. If you judge the whole solely by the first domino, you ignore the end result of the chain reaction. Try to remember, everything is connected.”

And although I get what she’s saying, I still wonder how I can release my disappointments and shift my attitude.

“The shift I’m suggesting is for you to develop an awareness, to pay attention, and to carefully observe your life. When you encounter a disappointment, feel it fully, then make a wise choice based on knowing the disappointment is a part of something much larger in your life. It is connected to the events that preceded it and the events that follows it. Watch carefully for how marvelously everything is organized and how everything serves you (in the long run). Cultivate a level of trust in the process so that you can sit back and watch how, what you at first thought was a disappointment, turns out to be a significant part of something much larger and wonderful.”

I recognize this is going to take practice, but I already sense the incredible value it will bring me. Now I think I’m ready to put my disappointments in a new context.

The Upside of Physical Pain

Do you believe it is possible that physical pain could provide you with any benefits?

This may seem like a trick question at first. It’s not. I really want to know what you think and what you believe.

Sure, some physical pains might make you want to see your doctor, so they can diagnose your condition and offer you some appropriate remedies. Remedies that help you recover from the physical pain before it becomes a more significant problem. But what about all the lesser pains, the ones you’re tempted to ignore or try to cover over? Is there possibly a message in any of them for you? And if so, how do you discover what the messages are?

I feel as though one of my approaches to this dilemma is somewhat unique. I haven’t talked about it a lot, so I don’t know if others do something similar.

Let me explain and you can see for yourself and then decide if it might make sense for you to try.

Many years ago, I had an insight that there are several different aspects within me, and they each have a voice. The aspects are physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and ego. I found it possible to isolate their individual points of view and was able to listen to their individual voices. I was also able to moderate their conversations so that I could gain firsthand insights.

As with so many things, it’s much better to share an example, rather than continue to try to explain how it works.

Recently the moderator (‘me’) began by saying that it was very difficult to trust my body because when aches and pains started to arrive, I felt betrayed by my body, especially if I’d done all of the things that my cultural trainers had told me to do (exercise, eat healthy, stay hydrated…you get the picture).

My physical ‘self’ responded immediately by saying, “It’s a curious thing that you should feel betrayed, because it is you who stopped caring about me and just assumed I would provide you with constant good health.”

It continued, “The choices you make have a profound impact on my ability to maintain good health. You’ve done some of the things your cultural trainers have recommended but you have ignored the most potent and important ally you have…ME. I ought to be the first one contacted to discuss any physical issues.”

I felt reprimanded by my physical voice.

I also heard the truth.

This IS what I have done throughout most of my life. For as long as I can remember, I have expected my body to maintain my health no matter what the circumstance. And when I get sick, am injured, or need medical attention, I feel my body has let me down.

So here is my physical ‘self’ speaking to me about ‘my’ being a large part of the problem. And I realize that I have allowed the pain I encounter to be blamed on my physical ‘self’, which clearly creates additional problems.

The conversation takes a dramatic turn when my physical body poses a question to me, “When was the last time you asked me what I need?”

I have no good answer. I haven’t been paying attention. I’m feeling apologetic and I want to know how to fix this.

My physical ‘self’ responds. “Trust is a two-way street. We both have to trust the other. We have to listen and then take action.”

I think I’m ready for this. I wonder if the presence of physical pain in my life is an attempt to grab my attention, like waving a big red flag, one I can’t possibly miss. I wonder if continuing this conversation will yield clarity and direction. That would certainly create an upside for me.

As with all things, it matters most what you ‘do’. I could continue to ignore my physical ‘self’ and assume it will provide constant good health or I can listen for the truth and take whatever actions it suggests.

I want clarity and I want a relationship with my physical ‘self’, so I am going to shift and pay better attention. I am going to check in with my body, both when I feel well and when I sense a need for healing.

Allowing

What do you allow into your life?

This word may mean several different things to you since ‘allow’ is an open word. Allow, as in, let happen. Or allow, as in, give your permission to. Allow could mean to authorize or admit or even, to accept and believe in.

And depending on which meaning you choose; it alters the way your life proceeds.

When I considered this topic, one of my first thoughts is how the things I allow into my life might not work in my favor. They might not go right or to a place I am comfortable.

Why would I think this?

It could just as easily be the opposite, that things I allow into my life will benefit me and even bring me happiness.

My simple answer is that I have a default setting that points toward imagining that things I allow into my life will create challenges for me or work against me, instead of for me.

Where did this concept come from?

The first thing that occurs to me is that I learned it from someone. That it was a part of my cultural training. And although this may be entirely true, it doesn’t help me. In fact, it can become another part of the problem because it may trap me into thinking there is someone else to blame or that I am a victim. Neither of these things work for my greater good.

I certainly recognize how unfortunate a default this is for me, and I have tried to reprogram myself. I’ve tried to let go of what my cultural training has taught me and shifted toward a smarter, more beneficial approach.

When I encounter something new, I envision the positive outcomes it could bring into my life and then consciously allow them into my world.

I train my inner being to recognize the lies I tell myself, that allowing things into my life is dangerous. It’s only dangerous if that is what I believe.

It takes constant reminding to live with the truth that all things can work to my benefit, even and sometimes especially, the ones that at first appear challenging or difficult.

As with so many other things in my life, I feel I need an example to help me shift my consciousness. I want to see how the whole idea of ‘allowing’ will open my world and bring me joy.

So, I sit back and allow myself to breathe into a state of relaxation and see what comes to fill the open space.

An awesome thought pops in.

Allowing opens a door. As I keep breathing, the door swings wider. I begin to feel the presence of possibilities. I have no conscious opinion about whether they are positive or negative and am at peace believing they are just open possibilities, available to me to experience, if I choose to allow them in.

I sense the presence of faith and trust, which feel like very necessary ingredients in the process, because without them, it feels as if nothing will happen.

A part of me wonders, faith and trust in who, in what?

But I know the answer to that. Faith and trust in me and in my inner divine nature.

The more I breathe, the deeper the resonance with knowing that what I choose to allow, will serve me. There is a knowingness and I sense that this same essence exists in everyone. We are all divine, and we all have a choice what to allow in.

Release

What are you holding on to that weighs you down or causes you pain and suffering?

What would your life be like if you let them go?

I have a pretty long list as it turns out. It sparks me to wonder why I hold so tightly to ideas and opinions that clearly no longer serve me, if they ever did.

How about you, can you say the same thing? Can you feel how wonderful it would be to loosen your grip and release things that clutter your life?

Perhaps right now you might want to take a moment and join me by creating a list of thoughts and observations. And once created, explore the idea of letting them go.

Here are some of mine to help you get started. If something ignites your own awareness, please feel free to follow it and see where it leads you. Remember there are never any ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.

I believe I would be well served by releasing the following:

** my need to be, feel or think that I am ‘right’ (about anything).

** my idea that I need to be ready to say the next thing when I am in a dialogue with someone (rather than just being present with them).

** the idea I have about all of my past ‘mistakes’ (especially since I cannot possibly know what was or wasn’t a mistake).

** the inner need I feel about ‘my’ team having to win in order for me to be happy.

** anything that I am holding inside my body which causes pain, suffering or discomfort (because I cannot feel safe, whole, or complete without letting go).

** any need I have to make comparisons (which hurt all parties).

** any value judgements I make (because they lock in the notion that I am ‘right’ and that others are ‘wrong’ and I don’t/can’t see far enough or wide enough to know the truth).

** the inner desire I feel for more food than my body needs (which can feel like a competition and one that profoundly impacts me).

** any restriction I place on experiencing JOY (there are times I feel I have to ‘earn’ joy, rather than knowing it is a part of my spiritual essence, always yearning to be freely felt).

I’m sure I could go on, but I bet you get the idea.

Now for the hard part…how do I make this happen? How do I effectively release all these things I seem to realize are not helpful for me?

It strikes me I’m not starting in the most beneficial place, because I used the phrase, “now for the hard part”. Maybe you were quick and picked right up on this. To begin any process with the thought that it will be difficult or challenging or ‘hard’, prejudices you and sets the stage for self-fulfilling prophecies to come true.

So, now for the easy part. I know it might sound simple, but I believe it is also quite true. YOU CHOOSE. If it’s obvious to you that your thoughts are complicating your life in any way, you simple choose new thoughts. You replace the ones that restrict you or run contrary to what serves you (makes you happy, fulfilled or joyful).

As soon as you recognize the appearance of conflicts or judgements entering your life, you make a conscious choice to release them, knowing it is you who profits from this. You place your sense of self-worth above what you imagine others expect or demand of you.

And, you keep doing this, decision after decision after decision. The constancy of choosing to release that which does not serve you, will create new patterns in your life, ones that do serve you.

Choosing is always up to you. I hope you choose well.

The Greatest Reward

I sat at my desk, ready to write whatever came to me. Not surprisingly, it was a question rather than a statement. It’s often this way for me. I find that questions are creative sparks that generate the heat of discovery.

Here’s the question that arose.

What are the things I’ve done which have returned the greatest pleasure?

For the purpose of this post, I changed the last word from pleasure to reward.

Why?

Well, mostly because I’ve learned so much from unpleasurable events in my life. They’ve led to significant rewards, despite what my initial thoughts were about them.

If you came from the financial world like I did, you might be tempted to think in terms of ‘return on investment’. The notion that there is an important relationship between the amount of time, energy, and resources you expend and the resultant benefits, usually stated in dollars and cents, that you receive.

Fortunately for me, I left the business world a long time ago and have shifted away from this kind of thinking. So, when the question placed itself before me, I was able to allow it the full freedom of expression.

What a gift, to be able to sit back and see what fills the empty space.

Can you take a moment to relax, breathe in and out gently, perhaps close your eyes, and I know it might feel strange, but give yourself permission to smile. Feel for your own empty space and drift along, allowing your memories the chance to come and be with you.

I promise, it can be incredibly fun.

As a way of helping you get started, I’d like to share a small sampling of the ‘greatest rewards’ that came to me. One or two may even surprise you.

Saying “I do” to my wife and joining our lives together. Sharing our living dreams and knowing we are there for each other. And even after over forty-eight years of marriage, we still hold hands on our afternoon walks.

The births of our children. No other single thing has created more pleasure for my wife and me than the births and lives of our two beautiful children. And of course, by extensions, the births of our grandchildren.

Stopping in traffic to hand a folded twenty-dollar bill to someone in need by the side of the road, knowing they now have options and perhaps, a bit more hope.

The cold I am currently getting over because it reminds me that my body is an amazing thing and is capable of healing and restoration, far beyond what I give it credit for.

Making a paper ‘Best Waitress Award Certificate’ while at lunch and handing it to our waitress along with a generous tip, because she did such a great job.

Writing a series of books (Little Buddha, Books One-Four, so far) because they absolutely elevate my level of joy, since I love the characters so much. Then being able to share the stories with others during a book study group and discovering the characters are as important to them as they are to me.

Going for a nature walk and breathing in the fresh air, allowing it to spread throughout my body and fill me with happiness.

My morning meditation after my shower because it offers me depth and disappearance. I can fade from this world for a short time and reconnect with the divine.

There were so many others and there will be more because this is a practice that yields rich dividends for me.

I hope it offers you the same.

Problem Solving

Are you a good problem solver? Does it depend on the problem or set of problems that you face?

Maybe you’re good at puzzles or crosswords but feel challenged by issues you face in life. Or maybe you’re fairly skilled at dealing with difficult people but not financial or medical situations.

One of the obstacles I’ve encountered while trying to solve problems is that I hit a ‘wall’. I seem to be making great progress and then something comes up and stops me in my tracks. I try to figure out what went wrong and am forced to restart the process over again.

The funny thing is I get to the same point and hit the same ‘wall’. I’ve explored some options and thought through some potential challenges but haven’t been able to reach any solid conclusions.

And the whole process can become even more difficult if I’m interrupted, which increases my inability to make any progress.

Time for a break.

I sit back and wonder about this whole thing. Don’t I want to arrive at a conclusion? I think I do, but perhaps there’s some reason or reasons I don’t.  Maybe I’m afraid of the unknown. Maybe I’m afraid of failure. Maybe I’m even afraid of success. Or could it be I don’t think there is an answer and that’s why I keep hitting the same wall?

I’d like to float an idea for your consideration.

Often it feels as though we get bogged down with problems because we feel we have to create their solutions from scratch.

What if this is not true. What if, what IS true, is that every solution to every problem ALREADY exists? If we accepted this, then problem solving would merely be a matter of claiming the solution, not creating it.

But you say, how can I claim a solution I cannot see?

A very good question indeed.

So, here’s a three-step process I’d like to propose.

Step One is to open your mind and conceive that the solution to your problem already exists, despite it not being immediately obvious.

Step Two is to believe you have the power to find the answer, either by yourself or with the help of others.

Step Three is to take action, to move beyond the wall by releasing any attachment you have to the idea that an answer does not exist. Let that go and instead, embrace the idea that an answer not only DOES exist but that you are capable of finding it and claiming it.

Here’s a quick case in point. Imagine you’re on an explorer ship leaving Europe and sailing eastward across the ocean, headed to the ‘New World’, which no one knows about yet. You’ve made preparations (conceived of the New World’s existence, stretched into beliefs that it must be there) and are now taking action, sailing with the wind. Day after day you continue and after several months, land ho, you arrive!

I think to myself, what if those sailors believed as others did, that they would sail off the edge of the world? Talk about a problem solving ‘wall’ (or rather no wall, since they’ve already fallen off the edge).

Somehow, they found a way to trust they would be successful. After they conceived and believed, they took action.

In the same manner, I’m suggesting each of us can discover (and claim) answers for any and all problem(s) we encounter. I’m not suggesting that every answer will come immediately, certainly not. But what I am suggesting is that our attitudes and beliefs play a vital role in all of our life’s successes.

Plotting Your Course

Do you know where you are headed in life? Are you going in a direction with intention or are you going with the flow, allowing life to guide your steps?

This question got me to thinking about how folks have navigated their lives over the course of time, especially the ancient seagoers.

For me, the thought of getting in a boat, leaving shore, and heading out beyond sight of land creates a good deal of concern. I suppose if I could sail along the edge of land, I’d be okay, but crossing an ocean by myself, no way.

I wondered how the early seafarers managed to arrive at their destinations, especially if they were going somewhere no one had ever been before.

I did a little research and discovered that they used the sun and the North Star (Polaris) to help guide them. Always knowing where north was became extremely important to them as a reference point. While the sun was up, they could easily track their east/west route and at noon they carefully watched the shadows the sun cast. They also became familiar with the constellations in the night sky as navigational aids. There was even a reference to watching the flight paths of birds and the direction the fish were swimming to help set their course.

What does all of this have to do with us?

Well, one thing it suggests to me is, what do we use as our aids to navigate our lives?

No doubt there are many ways for us to move through our lives and I’m wondering if I asked you, could you tell me how you do it?

Do you have a set of intentions, a kind of road map for what you desire to experience in your life? It strikes me that without intentions, it is very difficult to arrive where we say we want to go, for if we don’t have any set points we often drift an aimless path.

I’m not saying there aren’t times when it’s nice to kick back and relax, but it seems to me that most folks want to experience certain things in their lives and without knowing what they are, it is much more challenging to have them.

One thing that may help is to have some mid-points between your starting and end points. Sort of mini goals that keep you on track. Often it is easier to make advancements when your goal is nearer and seems more practical. Breaking down the process can be especially helpful when you start to veer off course from a mid-point because you can bring yourself back and not stress over how far afield you are from your end point.

What other navigational aids are there in reaching our intentions?

Perhaps you have many you use, and I hope they always help you reach all of your dreams. However, if you could use a few suggestions, here are the ones that come to me.

Although I’m not usually good at this, it has been one of the most important pathways to succeeding in my life…ask for help. None of us know everything, so it’s important to have your own North Stars in your life, folks who want to help you. And once you’ve asked for help, accept it when it’s offered to you. Learn from what’s given to you. It may not be the precise way for you, but it may spark something in you that does create a path forward.

I also believe we are all gifted. We came here with an idea in mind of what we’d like to experience while here. Each of us has an inner knowing. So, believe in yourself and then surround yourself with others who believe in you and who share your dreams. They can be cheerleaders helping you reach all of your mid-points and all of your end points.

Power

A visual image popped into my head. It was of a roadside mailbox, the kind that stands on top of a post and has one of those arms that the postal delivery person raises to alert you that you have mail.

But then the image shifted and somewhere in the background, I could hear a ‘ding’ and a voice saying, “you have mail”. I’m aware it’s there but some part of me is refusing to open it.

Have you ever been tempted to ignore messages being sent to you?

They could be from a boss, coworker, family member, doctor, attorney, or they could even be from YOU. Perhaps some part of you is trying to get your own attention.

I think I occasionally resist reading or listening to certain messages because I’m not sure I want to know their content and the simplest way to avoid them is to pretend they don’t exist. I sometimes do this despite knowing it won’t actually work. I know that whatever message I ignore, or resist will just keep coming back until I am open to listening to it.

I wonder what this image is meant to convey to me. Is there symbolism in it or some necessary guidance?

I ponder this for a bit and then something jumps up and waves madly at me. It has its own voice.

It says to me, “This message is about ‘power’, specifically ‘your power’. The voice goes on to say, “There is only one true source of power, which is your connection to the divine. It is from here that all power emanates. Every action, belief, and decision needs some of this power to manifest in your life.”

“It takes power to create each of your life experiences. Sometimes you are conscious of this dynamic, but most of the time you are not, and yet it remains the truth.”

“Every time you believe you are empty, you seek to fill yourself back up, so you expend power (your energy) by seeking positive responses or reinforcement from others in the world. And you attempt to refuel yourself using others as your power source. This will never work, no matter how hard you try. This will not work, even if they are willing to give you some of their power. Power does not work this way.”

Frankly, I’m stunned by this message. I feel its truth for me. I recognize that it is exactly what I do and what I’ve observed others doing. When I sense an emptiness inside of me, I do not always return to the divine source for replenishment. Rather I seek out others and expect them to share some of their power with me. It’s not a fully conscious decision on my part and it feels like one of my default settings kicking in.

The voice returns, “No one can take your power away from you, although it may feel this way. Every person has their own power, drawn from the same divine source. If you feel as though you are losing power, it is because YOU have allowed it to be released.”

I wonder, why would I do that? What would possess me to release power that I need? And I wonder, what energetic dynamic is at work here?

Some clarity arrives when the voice continues, “As you connect with the divine, you are filled with power, and it is up to you to decide how to use it. You make all of the choices. You can release it (allow it to slip away), retain it (for later use), use it (for all of life’s decisions and actions or enhance it (share and combine it with others). Each choice is yours and yours alone. Neither you nor anyone else can give away their power to another, so remember this when you fill empty, and return to the divine source to be filled.”

I am grateful that I finally opened and listened to this message and the power it holds for me.

Bridges

Are you a fan of bridges or do they scare you a bit?

I’ve driven and walked over lots of bridges and most are okay. But then there are a few that are truly nerve-wracking because they are so high or seem to sway with the wind or the end seems to disappear before it reaches the other side, leaving you wondering if you’ll ever set foot on firm ground again.

I know a few people who will drive out of their way to avoid going over certain bridges. I recently discovered that there is a recognized phobia for this condition, referred to as gephyrophobia, and that it often produces panic attacks. I feel badly for those afflicted with this condition and know of many bridges that would produce these effects.

This morning I was thinking about bridges of a different sort. The ones it would be wonderful to build between people.

We have such strong opinions and reactions regarding how we view the world, and they can create large chasms between us. I wondered to myself, what causes all of these and easily came up with an extensive list. No doubt you could add to it with ideas of your own.

Political ideologies, religious dogmas, social mores, economic stratification, injustices, wars, philosophical differences. And, branching off each of these are even more opinions and hardened ideas that make it very challenging.

So, how are we to bridge the gaps?

I suppose it is up to each of us to decide what approach might work for us. I’m wondering, do you have a proven method, or would you like a suggestion?

If you have something that works for you, I hope you share it with others, because it often feels that our human race could benefit from a lot of bridging.

If you’re open to an idea, I have one to share.

The idea begins by visualizing a bridge in your mind. There are two ends, and each has a firm foundation, which suggests something to me. It feels as though both ends are necessary and important. But there is a feeling of them standing alone and apart, so that without the lanes that crossed between them, they cannot support each other, and they are less because of this.

The visualization shifts.

One side of the bridge is now connected to my head, where all thoughts about the world reside. It is powerful and capable of great things, but it falls short of being complete.

On the other side is my heart where feelings exist. It is a loving, caring place, but it too is incomplete.

The two sides need each other to be wholly effective. And they also need a way to communicate. They need the lanes in between them, and they need to partner together, otherwise nothing significant can be accomplished.

And they need to find common ground and a reason to work toward mutually beneficial outcomes.

I often find that I learn best through examples, so here’s one that came to my mind.

While driving in a city, I’ll often notice a person standing by the side of the road holding a sign, asking for money. My head recognizes that there are many opinions regarding those who do this. Some folks feel they should get a job like everyone else. Others resist offering them money because they feel they’ll use it for liquor or drugs or something else objectionable. And while folks may be sensitive to their plight, they don’t want to encourage them to continue and feel there must be a better way.

On the other side of my bridge, my heart fills with love, sympathy, and empathy for them. It hopes that they will receive whatever they truly need, whether it’s money, a smile, or a word of encouragement.

But without a bridge between my head and my heart no action will ever occur. For me, that’s where compassion comes in. It’s when the love in my heart finds direction through an outpouring of compassion. It overflows into my mind and creates a desire to offer aid, support, and kindness.

Compassion builds bridges. Simple acts of encouragement, caring and sharing from the abundance we each have within us. Compassion builds lanes between the two foundations, making the entire bridge come to life.

Spots

If you thought about it for a moment, how many references come to your mind for the word, ‘spot’?

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while now, you’ll remember that my mind doesn’t always travel in a straight line. Often, I see new routes and explore different directions.

So, when I landed on the word ‘spot’, many things came to mind, and I thought I’d share some of them with you, ending with one that may alter your life.

Looking down at the carpet on our floor, I noticed several spots. I wondered how they all got there, and something occurred to me. Two different ways of thinking, objective and subjective.

Objectively, it’s most likely that someone (and it could have been me), spilled something on the carpet and obviously, something that couldn’t be cleaned, otherwise, I wouldn’t still see it.

Subjectively, the cause could have been carelessness on someone’s part (animals included), or it could have been a simple accident, and no one’s fault. This led me to wonder what the difference between the two is.

Perhaps in the first case, the one responsible doesn’t care and in the second case, the one responsible may care a great deal. I wondered how I determine which one it is? Do I judge solely by their reaction to the spot? And how does my judgement impact how I feel about the spot and the one responsible for putting it there (me included)?

Another reference to ‘spot’ is the saying, “x marks the spot”. In some cases, this means that there is an ‘x’, perhaps on a map, which exists to indicate something significant is located there. Maybe the ‘spot’ is the source of buried treasure or marks the place to dig, so that a project can be accomplished. The spot is important, not in and of itself, but because it serves as a guide.

I wonder, are there ‘spots’ in our lives which would help guide us, if we knew they were there? Is it a case where they are already there, but we don’t recognize them? If so, what would we need to do, so that we would take note of them?

After a bit of consideration, it seems to me that everything in our lives is actually a ‘spot’. If we pay attention, everything is here to guide us, especially our intuitions.

A scary ‘spot’ is the one found on an x-ray. Once located, it usually creates immediate anxiety. It’s almost impossible to calmly sit back and wait for the results. Our minds are inclined to fill in the absent results with worst-case scenarios. Although it might be nothing but a shadow, we’re strongly tempted to believe the ‘spot’ will be life threatening.

This kind of ‘spot’ generates panic and fear and for good reason, especially under certain conditions.

So, what else can do we do about this kind of ‘spot’? Are there objective and subjective ways to approach it or do they blur together, making our path forward difficult?

Can we see this ‘spot’ as some sort of guide? And if so, how can it give us direction?

This feels to me like one of those decisions where, to use another expression, “the rubber meets the road”, meaning the point at which things become the most important.

This is everyone’s own personal decision point. And we each arrive at this ‘spot’, sooner or later.

If you have a guide who aids you, this would be the time to connect with your guide.

But, if you have arrived here, and have done so many times in your life and haven’t found a source, a guide who offers you wisdom and comfort, perhaps you’d like to consider this invitation. It is an invitation to form your own connection directly with the divine.

The process is simple. Sit back, close your eyes, breathe in and out gently and allow your body to settle. Relax into yourself. If you hear or see any objections or obstacles, acknowledge that they exist and promise to talk with them later, then release them, let them go. Allow yourself to feel a sense of freedom. Give yourself a chance to create some space inside you, as an opening to the divine, by whatever name feels comfortable to you. Imagine whatever ‘spot’ is creating a challenge for you and ask for help, then sit in stillness and listen. It may be a quiet voice at first, but over time, it will become a great source of strength, comfort, and wisdom. It will become a sure guide.

The Greatest Among You

I want to share an incredible experience with you. It may stretch your beliefs a bit, but I think it will be worth your time.

I realize it’s up to each person to find their own way in this world. I do not ask you to believe me. I ask only that you read the following words I am writing and let them reveal to you the truth they have to share.

Beginning on Good Friday in 2018, I started receiving an intimate understanding of the events surrounding Yeshiwa’s life (Jesus’ name in his native language of Aramaic). I sensed a strength, peace and clarity and felt a ‘knowing’ arrive within me, as if I were present during the events which occurred during Yeshiwa’s last week on earth. I felt the entire story channel through me. So much so, that I wrote it all down.

It took a great deal of courage for me to share this dramatic portrait with others, especially because there are some elements which differ widely from the traditional Easter story. But I did, and with the help of many others, the play Nine, A Holy Week Story of Love, was performed live on Good Friday at Unity Church in Albany (NY) in 2019. The congregation sat in rapt attention while each part was spoken. It was the quietest congregation I’ve ever experienced.

Recently I was rereading the play and one section jumped out at me. I could tell instantly why it did because it was an answer to a series of questions that have been troubling me.

I understand that you, as a reader, may have different religious and spiritual beliefs and I honor that. I wanted to share this with you, because I believe that no matter what faith you embrace, there is profound wisdom in these words.

As a part of the story, Yeshiwa is speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper and is explaining the meaning of his washing their feet.

Here is the passage:

“And I responded, because I love you and care for you and to show you the way to live. Others have told you that the greatest always receives rich treasure and reward. But I tell you that the greatest among you will open their hearts wide and will serve others. They will draw love from the deep well inside them and let it overflow into the world. This will be their service and reward.”

For me, there is enormous relevance in this passage and a great deal of clarity.

I’d failed to fully understand that ‘others’ refers to all those who surround me, but specifically to all of the cultural training I’ve received from others since day one. And I recognized in a new way that the reference to the ‘greatest’, were those I’d considered as the most popular, prettiest, most famous, those that have the most followers or influence or who have received the most complements and praise. They were the ones with great wealth, premium cars, big mansions, and those who received major awards and recognition. And even though I intellectually understand none of this necessarily bring joy or happiness, I felt attracted to it.

After rereading the passage, I felt a huge shift. A very welcome huge shift.

I sensed the usage of the word “I” to mean the divine (in this case, Yeshiwa) and that the ‘greatest’ refers to those who are the most joy-filled, happiest, most open. And that when a person chooses to ‘open their hearts wide’, they naturally offer others love, compassion, aid, hugs, encouragement, companionship, and they give freely from their strength. When one chooses to ‘serve others’, they offer themselves freely and fully, they provide support and care. They donate their time, talents, and treasures.

Those who decide to live this way in the world will find they can always draw from the deep well inside. And this well never runs dry because when one lives this way they are connected to the divine source.

This is what I want most in my life and I needed this reminder to help me shift away from what ‘others’ may feel is important and center in on what I know in my heart is important to me.

SPECIAL OFFER There will be a live performance of Nine, A Holy Week Story of Love at Unity Church in Albany on April 7, 2023, at 7:00pm. This performance will also be livestreamed on YouTube. I’ll provide more details a few weeks prior to the event

The Origin of Disease

I am curious about where diseases come from. It seems to me there could be many sources and I wonder how much control any of us have over them.

Are you curious as well? Have you ever wondered it’s just the luck of the draw whether you get sick or do you think there is more to it?

I am not a doctor or scientist, and I don’t profess to have any of the answers, but what I do have is a lot of questions, some of which might be valuable.

After doing some preliminary research there seems to be a sense that perhaps most disease results from interactions with an individual’s environment. Some harmful external force impacts our internal workings and creates an interference with our normal healthy selves.

It’s not too hard to believe this is the truth, especially when you consider air, water and soil pollution, toxic chemicals, contaminated food sources, insect and other infestations. And when you add in other disease sources likes viruses and bacteria, the list of possible diseases expands rapidly.

I discovered that it is felt by some that there is a simple underlying factor, which is that when disease is present, there is an imbalance within our physical system. That seemed to make sense to me. When something that does not belong in one place is introduced, it certainly could interfere with normal functioning.

And as much as disease effects our physical being, it also impacts our emotional, mental, and spiritual selves. It feels true to me that when one system is compromised, others may be as well. This of course compounds the problem, and no doubt creates more challenges in the healing process.

I am extremely grateful for the whole medical community and their contributions in identifying and treating all of the diseases that afflict us.

What I am wondering about is the impact of our thoughts and beliefs regarding disease. How much influence do they have on whether and to what extent we experience diseases in our lives?

Is it possible that what we think will happen (good or bad thoughts) effects our experience of any disease? Is it possible that our beliefs create our diseases? If so, is it possible for us to return to health, with new or different beliefs?

These are the intriguing questions that run through my mind. Of course, each person would need to answer these for themselves. I wondered how a person goes about making their decisions, and began considering my beliefs about health, wellness, and disease.

Would there be any value in thinking about the sequence of events that led up to the disease’s arrival or is there too much randomness?

Personally, after giving all of this a great deal of thought I have come to a few conclusions I’d like to share. Of course, none of these are intended to sway you from seeking qualified professional help or medical treatment. They are just some things you might want to consider for yourself.

It seems to me that my beliefs play a key role in my overall health and depending on my decisions, contribute to experiencing wellness or disease.

What I believe creates my life experience.

A simple case in point was a belief that if I got cold (walked outside without the proper clothing) I would catch a cold. It worked EVERY time, until I changed my belief. One day, I decided to shift my belief and told myself that what I used to believe was no longer true. Interestingly, I’ve never had another cold merely from being cold.

What would be fascinating to know is how many diseases in my life were created by my beliefs, rather than from an outside environmental source. It’s unlikely that I could ever know this, but what it suggests to me is how beneficial it would be to investigate my beliefs whenever I experience any dis-ease.

Dropping Weight

I wonder what the title of this post suggests to you. Perhaps, it might imply the idea of losing physical weight, by following some diet and exercise plan. But, if you thought for a moment, could it also mean something else to you?

Could it mean letting go of the things that weigh you down emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually?

For me, it does.

When I journaled recently about how life was going for me, I discovered several items that came up all had one common theme. They all represented things I felt were missing in my life, or at least it seemed so.

As I thought more about it more, it became clearer that, not only was it about things I felt I didn’t have and wanted, but it was also about things I had, but wanted to get rid of. It was both ends of the spectrum.

That seemed like a pretty significant challenge to try to work through.

That’s when an image appeared. Without thinking about it, I began drawing in the margins of my notebook. I started on the left side with a stick figure that represented me. I was under water and sinking quickly because I was holding a huge heavy weight in my arms. There were little air bubbles escaping my mouth and rising to the surface. I colored in the weight with my pen, making it darker, which gave me an even stronger sensation of descending. It felt oppressive and a sense of desperation began to form.

After a moment I started drawing a new figure in the right margin. It showed the same stick figure, but I had released the weight, which was descending rapidly downward. Once I’d dropped the weight from my arms, I began ascending, up, up, up, until my head broke the surface, and I could breathe again.

Ahhhh, what a relief.

I glanced back and forth between the two drawings, stunned at what they conveyed to me.

In one, I held onto the weight. In the other, I let it go. Could it get any simpler than that?

The outcome depended on a singular decision, which was entirely up to me. I wondered, is that really the case? Could it truly be that easy to change things in my life? Could it be that easy to change things in your life?

As I centered my gaze on the position of the weight in both pictures, the starkness of the difference seized me. On the left, I would not let go, so began sinking. On the right, I let go and began rising. I realized I was repeating my observation, but sometimes that’s necessary for me to actually understand things, even simple things.

So, what in my life weighs me down? And even more importantly, why do I allow this to happen? Why don’t I let go, especially when I know it will harm me in the end?

Of course, the ‘weight’ could be anything; the extra physical weight I carry, past emotional traumas, worries about getting day-to-day tasks completed, whether we’ll always have enough of what we feel we need, or anything else that runs through my mind, sometimes at warp speed.

It feels important to ask myself a question at this point. Will carrying this weight help me or hurt me? In many cases, the answer is obvious, it will hurt me.

So, what do I do about this? How do I just let go?

An answer forms inside me.

In every case where I feel weighed down, I sense there is a message for me. Something meant to illuminate me and guide me toward the surface, where there is air to breathe. Discovering the message then becomes very important to me. So, I began to spend time with each one, allowing them to unfold and offer their wisdom, so I can release them and rise to the surface.

Knowing I have the option to drop the weight makes all the difference to me.

Steps to New Beliefs

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the beliefs I hold and wondering if they all benefit me.

If I asked you, would you say that all your beliefs serve you? Do they help you throughout your day, save you time, improve your relationships, make you happy?

Have you ever wondered if you would be better off if you changed some of your beliefs?

Either fortunately or unfortunately, I ask myself this kind of question all the time. I’m happy about it when the answers come easily, but not so happy when they don’t. I have to confess, more often than not, they don’t come very easily.

However, what I’ve also discovered is that that’s not a bad thing, because much of their eventual benefit to me is found in the struggle I have while considering my beliefs.

Even so, I do occasionally get stuck and need some help digging out.

By now you probably know my source for aid often comes from Lia, a feminine voice of god that speaks gently to me.

When I reached a low point in trying to mentally figure out the origin and benefits of a belief recently, I became fatigued and disappointed. That is always my cue to sit back, close my eyes and breathe deeply, allowing my mind to take a much-needed break. It is then that I can hear Lia’s voice clearly.

So that’s what I did, and I was absolutely shocked by her words and contribution to my sanity.

She guided me through a process which transformed something in me. It shifted my whole perspective and gave me a fresh approach to use, one that felt very right to me. It felt so right in fact, I wanted to share it with you.

Lia cautioned me to not make it too formal a process, but rather to listen to the intent of each of the series of steps she provided. For me, the name I used for ‘beliefs’ in this case was, ‘problems’, so when you see the word appear, remember this is my reference.

Step 1: Identify all of your ‘problem’ areas, because it is very difficult to hit a target you cannot see or name.

Step 2: Note (list) your obstacles and objections about this process. Be candid about your roadblocks. Take note of each of your fears as they appear.

Step 3: Review you list of obstacles and objections, then reread them and note any clarifying thoughts. See how fear drives each of them and consider whether ONE speaks for all the rest (this would be your primary fear).

Step 4: Examine your primary fear and realize that every fear is a message about a belief you have.

Step 5: Explore all of the messages you encounter. Ask the primary fear- how will my answers speak my truth to me? Or in other words, what is their purpose? Recognize that the answers are always tied to your spiritual blueprint (the experiences you came here to earth to experience). Know that each message is drawing your attention and will become louder, until it has your full attention.

Step 6: Realize that your beliefs form the basis for all of your experiences in life and that shifting your beliefs allows you to create (choose and claim) any reality you desire.

Step 7: Applying the message reveals ways to shift your life (through choosing and claiming) so that you live a new truth, one that will serve you.

I am currently playing with this new approach to understanding my beliefs and shifting the ones I feel will be most worthwhile to change. So far, I’ve discovered some rich rewards and I hope you experience the same thing, should you decide to give this a try.

Rules

Do you always follow the rules? Do you know anyone who does? Do they have to make sense to you before they feel worth following?

It’s a fascinating thing to me that when I pulled up my Word application to begin typing this post, a screen popped up that indicated that Word would automatically be checking my spelling and grammar.

Should I take that as a sign that Word doesn’t believe I can spell or use proper grammar? Maybe it’s noticed that upon occasion I make mistakes and wants to help me out. Or maybe, Word believes everyone needs support.

One other way to view this is that Word feels I need help following the rules.

I wonder, what if I don’t care about Word’s rules? Will Word allow me to write what I want without changing it? Is there a place within the application where I can check a box that says, “no thank you”?

I’m probably overthinking this, but there is something within this simple action that sparks something in me. Some reminder no doubt, from an early English class.

I distinctly remember learning some rules about grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, and pronunciation in seventh grade. Occasionally my mom would help me with my homework. She was very interested in this whole subject and if I used an incorrect word or pronounced it wrong, she would tell me about it.

Given the nature of the English language there are so many rules and exceptions to the rules I wonder if anyone even knows them all? Or cares to know them.

I find it a curious thing that there are rules about what words are allowed to be included in a dictionary. What path do hopeful words have to take?

According to one internet source the folks who get to decide (called lexicographers) usually expect three criteria to be met. They want to see that the word has become widespread, has an agreed-upon meaning and has been used for a long period of time. Once they feel confident about this, they include it in an updated version of the dictionary. (Ain’t that great)

Many people don’t care to wait for this lengthy process, and would rather the new word appear immediately, so they add it to an Urban Dictionary. They kind of jump the gun on the whole formal process. Maybe they don’t like all of the rules either.

Now, I do realize there need to be rules for there to be an orderly society. I understand that most are critical to a smooth-running world, but I wonder about the exceptions.

Are each of us allowed to use our own commonsense to decide which rules to follow or would that constitute a breakdown in the process?

Have you ever wondered if we follow the rules to stay out of trouble or because they make sense to us? And what are we supposed to do when the rules create injustice? What if they are only in place to favor certain people?

I suppose the first answer is, we can attempt to change them so that they are fair and equitable for everyone. I am in awe of those who stand on the front lines in this endeavor. Those who care about others and take actions to help and support them, especially when the rules need to change.

They are true heroes in my mind, and I want to aid them in their quest. I am not as interested in being a rule breaker as I am in being a rule changer. It seems to me there is room for growth here and I hope I am a part of the answer, not another part of the problem.

Retreat

Have you ever gone on a retreat? It doesn’t have to have been for a specified amount of time, just long enough for you to feel separated from your normal existence. A pause, a time out, just for you.

If you haven’t, I’d like to invite you to give it a try.

I know, it can feel like there are a million reasons why you can’t do it. Not enough time, money, family coverage and I’m sure every reason is legitimate.

But what if you could spare an hour, an afternoon, or a day, and if you’re very fortunate, even more time? How might you benefit?

Okay, maybe it can’t be a block of time. Imagine if you were to be  able to separate out a half hour every day, where it was ‘your time’, able to be spent in ways that rejuvenated you or where you could map out some new and exciting directions?

This is certainly something I wished I’d paid more attention to earlier in my life. I can see now how beneficial it would have been to have had a few dedicated hours of ‘me time’.

Of course, if you’re in partnership with another or part of a family group, it’s important to make sure you’re also supporting others needs for the same thing. This mutual caring is part of a loving relationship and at the core of holding good intentions for others growth.

Maybe it would help you decide to give this a try if you knew some of the benefits, so I’d like to share some of those that have come my way.

For several years I’ve made it a point to block out time for a retreat. Often, it’s part of a formal program, but within the program there are many hours each person has to themselves. Time which can be used in whatever way brings them fulfillment.

Recently I attended a workshop (retreat) and discovered a variety of ways to enrich my life.

At the beginning I encouraged myself to be open to connecting with others, to letting them in, so that we could form friendships. This isn’t always easy for me because I have to overcome my own past history, where as a child, I went to summer camp and found it challenging to make new friends. But I recognize that releasing my fears clears the way for all that others will bring into my life and for what I might be able to offer them.

In addition to having some trouble making new friends, my childhood history includes bouts of loneliness and that comes to sit with me every time I go on a retreat. Knowing this, I try to find the courage to accept the feelings when they arrive, to let them have their say and then to move past them by taking the first step in connecting with others. I’ve discovered that taking some form of action often allows me to move through most any ‘pain’ I encounter.

During each retreat I consciously choose to explore new opportunities, try new foods, create art, write poetry, probe new thoughts, and spend time giving of myself to others, and if given to, I try to accept their gifts with grace.

Most of all, I attempt to speak my truth, to say what feels important to be shared, to support others growth and to affirm everyone’s value.

Of course, this type of group retreat provides the opportunity for connection and interaction with others. But I also do retreats by myself, and this creates different and beautiful experiences as well. So, no matter what you choose, whether you are with others or all by yourself, there are wonderful experiences awaiting you.

Early on I discovered there was only one way to truly find out if a retreat would be worth it. I had to go on one.

I hope there is some time in your busy life where there is a retreat waiting you.

What Are You Going To Be When You Grow Up

I was thinking about a few different things lately. One item that took center stage was the question, often asked of young people, what are you going to be when you grow up?

Do you remember ever being asked this?

I think it’s pretty common, especially for adults to ask kids. It seems to grow in intensity once children are in high school and nearing college age. The focus seems to change from speculation to a need for precision.

Our high school asked every senior about to graduate what they thought their eventual career would be. Like most everyone else in my class I had no real idea. I liked facts and figures, so I answered that I might be a statistician.

Yeah right. Who in their right mind chooses that for a career?

That led me to wondering how far astray each one of us goes from our original plans. That was certainly the case with me. I spent twenty-five years in banking and thirteen years more in the non-profit world before retiring. As soon as I left the work world behind, I began helping take care of our two local grandchildren, which I consider my most rewarding ‘career’.

Of course, none of these things were on my mind as young child or even as a seventeen-year-old high school senior on my way to college. In retrospect, I wonder just how many people end up choosing the career they’d imagined when younger.

This is certainly the case with my daughter. Prior to attending kindergarten, she wanted to be a gas station attendant because she liked the smell of gasoline so much. This was back when the gas station staff filled up your car for you. But, as soon as she went to school, she wanted to be a teacher and she never looked back and in fact, she still is a teacher, and an excellent one at that.

I wonder about the number of times folks change their careers or pursuits. In the generation before me and well into my generation, it was a rare thing to shift to a different job. But now it seems to be fairly normal to have many different jobs and employers during your career. It makes me curious about what inspires the changes and whose decision it is.

Back when this whole idea surfaced something jumped out at me. When our focus is on the future, how much of the present is lost? Do we miss valuable present-day experiences because we’re planning and dreaming about our future life?

I thought about this for myself, wondering what I’ve missed out on, by side stepping the present, in favor of thoughts about my future.

Could the present and future somehow sit side by side in an easy companionship? Can they for you? And would there be some benefits if they did?

I also wondered about the clarifying part of the question, “when you grow up.” When exactly does this happen? Is it by a specific age or maybe once we’ve achieved certain milestones? It’s also amusing to me what children answer about this, especially because they consider anyone older than them to be a ‘grown up’.

Since I’ve asked a lot of questions, I thought it would be fair to answer some of them, so here they are. Personally, I don’t ever intend to ‘grow up’, if that means having to pay full attention to all of the TO DO items and lose sight of the fun stuff, like throwing snowballs, jumping into a puddle or two, staring at rainbows, watching the sun set and finding laughter in everyday events.

If I had it all to do over again and my current self could give some advice to my kid self, I’d tell him to relax, slow down, enjoy what you have, try new things, explore more, make mistakes, and connect with as many people as you can.

What would you tell your younger self? What changes feel like good ideas to you?

Here’s to hoping you find all of your best answers.

Speaking Your Truth

If someone asked you what speaking your truth means to you, what would you say?

Some might say that it means being honest with others about how you feel and what you think. Or it could mean expressing yourself in a way that mirrors your inner thoughts and ideas clearly, so that another understands your position about something.

It might also mean taking a stand about something truly important to you. And maybe even more critically, taking action to ensure others know how dedicated you are to whatever cause or concern you support.

When I was thinking about what I consider to be my answer, I reflected on a number of obstacles that get in my way making it difficult to speak my truth. Perhaps you’ve encountered some of them as well.

In my ordinary day to day life, it is often challenging to separate out what is most important to me from the host of tasks I feel I need to complete on any given day. Some of the mundane chores seem to take up so much time that it feels like I run out of time. I’m sure this is not really the case, but it feels like it to me and I recognize my perceptions rule my life.

Another, and very different issue, is that I can initially become quite concerned about what others think about what I say (speaking my truth) and either disagree with me or disregard me. I realize I have no control over their reactions, nor do I really want any, and that it is wise to release any vested interest in their opinions, but a human part of me is tempted anyway.

An additional obstacle is that I don’t always fully know what my truth is. I may have picked up on hints or formed parts of what feels like the truth to me, but it’s not always completely formed or not clear enough for me to see it or speak it.

Courage is yet another challenge in speaking my truth. I suspect I am not the only one who fears not being accepted by others, even while knowing I’ll probably never have enough insight to truly know what they think or feel.

Beyond that, speaking my truth is ultimately not about being accepted by others, having them agree with my views or supporting me in any tangible ways.

Speaking my truth (or you speaking yours) is about exploring and discovering what lies inside you, in your heart and in your spirit. And once revealed, allowing it to grow and flourish, so that it can be shared with the world.

And believe me, it’s there for that very purpose.

I feel strongly that each of us has within us parts of the whole. We share a connection to the one, the divine, where everything is known. Speaking our truth out loud encourages those around us to do the same. We all learn from each other. We all can invite each other into our inner worlds and thrive together.

At one point in my life, a few years ago, I made a conscious decision to speak my truth, both inside and outside of me.

Inside of me, I chose to spend solitary time talking with (god), as I’ve mentioned several times in these posts and to journal and meditate and walk, contemplating what I believe or know to be true for me.

Springing from this deep source, I’ve come to the conclusion that what is important to me to be shared is what I feel the truth is about life. To speak out loud so that others may hear my words, not to convince or sway, but to invite them to consider if there is any value for them in what I choose to say.

Speaking my truth then becomes a witness of what I perceive about the nature of things, in an effort to share my depth with other’s depth, and in that sharing we all become a part of the one.

Winning

What if there was no such thing as winning? Can you even imagine it?

How would anyone be able to establish who was the best at anything if there were no outright winner?

What would happen to all of the championships, the rings, medals, awards, belts, trophies? Wouldn’t they become meaningless?

This thought came to me one day and it intrigued me. I wondered what the upsides and downsides would be, ignoring for a moment that it was unlikely that others would accept it as a practical idea.

They might also be afraid that in addition to giving up the idea of winning, the concept could extend to grades, evaluations, promotions, and all sorts of other endeavors that appeared to be desired.

But I needed to sit with this because it felt like there was something important behind the scenes that was worth considering, even if just for myself.

I wondered what could be wrong with casting out the idea of winning and the flip side, losing. Who would it hurt?

I thought back to instances where I won something, a game, a contest, an award, a promotion. What did they mean to me?

In the moment, something about them felt good. They added to my sense of self-worth. I believed they altered others impressions of me for the better. Some of them increased my bank account or furthered my career. So, what could be bad about them?

Does it hurt others to have lost? Could it be said that if they tried harder, they could have been the winner? Could have taken the prize from me?

It occurred to me that there might be a handful or a thousand contestants, all trying their best to win and only one individual or team would end up in the winner’s circle. Does that seem fair?

How do all of those who lost feel?

Part of me had a very strong reaction to all of this. It’s the part that wanted to explore this idea. Its voice rose higher and higher until it had my whole attention. I had to ask, was any part of this ‘sour grapes’, the sensation that comes when you can’t have something, and you have a bad attitude about it.

The fact is you can’t always win at everything. Sometimes everyone loses unless they never compete at all.

When I finally reached this sentence it all became clear. What if life and all of the events we experience were not competitions, ways to rank order things, to establish winners and losers?

What if instead, life was collaborative? What if folks worked together? What would happen then? The part of me that started this whole thing sat up and took notice of this idea.

But another part of me joined in and pointed out that human nature always has an element of competition involved. That some amount of it is in everyone…how they look, how smart they are, how much money they have….and on, and on.

Where was this inner conversation going to go now? Was there some middle ground?

A new thought sprung up and a question formed.

What if it’s not about winning and losing itself but about what each of them mean to us? Is there a way to have a game, a contest, an evaluation, where the idea is to raise everyone up? To find ways to encourage, congratulate, reward, assist, appreciate, and acknowledge everyone’s innate value as a human being?

I’d like to think so. I’d like to incorporate this idea into my life and help others do the same. I’d like to think that winning and losing are not the point and that valuing everyone and the contributions they are capable of making is the point. I’m going to try to shift my mindset about this and see what happens.

When Kindness Comes From Joy

Have you ever wondered where kindness comes from? Is it innately inside each one of us or does something need to happen before it appears?

It feels to me that we operate with different definitions and ideas about kindness.

I say this because I recently heard someone suggest that ‘we should be kinder than necessary’. While I appreciate the idea that kindness is important, two things about this statement challenge me.

The first is the use of the word ‘should’. Personally, I’ve gone to great lengths to eliminate this word from my vocabulary, because it is a ‘shaming’ word, meant to enforce one person’s opinion on another.

I wonder if you react the same way that I do when ‘should’ is used. I am immediately suspicious of the motivation of the one using it. Why do they think I ‘should’?

The second concern I have about this statement is the word ‘necessary’. I have a difficult time reconciling the use of the words kindness and necessary in the same sentence. The implication being that there is some sort of requirement or obligation involved with kindness. That isn’t how I conceive of kindness.

I went looking for references to kindness and found one that seemed to mesh with my understanding. It suggested that it is any selfless act of caring or compassion and can easily be recognized in both our own or others large and small actions.

I wondered how often kindness flows to me and through me. I paused for a few minutes to see what would come.

If you sat back right now for a moment or two, what do you think would come to you?

Two events jumped to the head of the line for me. In each instance they were infused with joy, not only for the receiver, but also for the giver. And it seemed to me that joy was the real source for the acts of kindness. I recognized a deliberateness to the actions, a meaningful opening to spirit and a flowing from abundance, as if kindness was an endless source.

I’d like to share mine with you in the hopes that you see some of your own and let them wrap you up in a feeling of joy.

The first one happened a few weeks ago while I was at a workshop at Kripalu Retreat Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. After classes were over for the day our group decided to get together in the evening for a kind of impromptu ‘talent show’. One of my friends, whom I’d met six years earlier at the same workshop, stood up and mesmerized the group with her divine performance poetry reading. We sat spellbound. I could not believe the incredible growth in my friend and went over to her; hugged her and told her I was so proud of her. Some might view this as an act of kindness, but she and I knew it was more than that because it came from a deep well of joy we share.

A few days later I received an email from her with an attached video of her reading a poem she wrote just for me. I was touched to my very core and a kindness born of joy was returned to me.

The second event happened a few days ago, while my wife and I were on a day trip together. We stopped at a restaurant my parents loved to visit and sat down at an empty table. Our waitress came over and engaged us in a conversation and asked if she could get us something to drink. When she returned, she inquired if we were ready to order. She took my wife’s order and turned to me. I said I’d like to start with a piece of their coconut cream pie (knowing that they sometimes run out of it). She told me she liked the way I ordered the best first and from there we had an extremely pleasant exchange throughout the meal.

After our meal was over and she came to our table with our bill, I told her that I was awarding her my ‘best waitstaff of the year award’. She absolutely beamed with pleasure and told me I’d made her whole day…maybe her whole week, as she went to help the next customer.

I took the paper ring that encircled my napkin and silverware and made it into a small award certificate for her and gave her a tip that matched our bill total. I handed everything to her, and my wife and I started walking out. She ran after us and called out to me, that she was going to keep the certificate forever and that I’d made her whole year!

There was such joy in her voice, and I knew that my simple act of kindness came from joy and reached out to create more joy.

Each of these things are important to me because they represent a connection to our divine source, where joy and love exist in abundance.

Take Another Look

I’ve discovered that I’m prone to keeping my first impressions and often don’t take another look. Does this ever happen to you?

If you can’t see the banner picture I chose for this post, it’s a pretty famous one. It’s known by different names, and it features what is either a beautiful woman with her face tilted away from you or an old woman with a large hat on her head.

Folks looking at it usually see one image or the other, but not both. And even when told there is another image, they find it very difficult to shake the first one out of their head, in order to see the other.

This has certainly been the case for me with optical illusions, despite knowing ahead of time there is a trick to seeing one or more images, I can’t do it right away.

The same goes for trying to find Waldo in the famous illustrated pictures of ‘Where’s Waldo’, where there are literally hundreds of figures in a picture and you’re trying to find Waldo in his stripped outfit and glasses. Even using a grid search, it’s difficult.

Well, both of these cases made me wonder about whether I would benefit from taking a closer look at my life.

Are there things I miss because I don’t look carefully enough or make up my mind too soon? What would happen if I allowed myself to form a first impression, but recognized it might not be the best impression? And maybe if I took another look, there could be something pretty special waiting for me.

I think to myself, where would I start? If it were up to you, what would you choose?

What I decided was to sit back, relax and see what came to me in the empty space. This is what filled in the gaps.

People in my life.

Is there a deeper story below the surface I don’t see because I’ve already made up my mind? Why have I accepted my formed impressions and could there be more to it?  Perhaps if I watched their actions, as well as listened to the words they speak, I might learn a great deal more about them.

Folks in the news.

Maybe they are not who they ‘appear’ to be and that there is another side to their stories. Would I want folks assuming they knew about me based solely on what others say? I don’t think so.

Events that happen to me.

I wonder about all of my physical issues. Do they hint at something I ought to be paying more attention to, especially if they stay with me or become more intense?

And what about any emotional issues? Are there hidden, deeper messages for me, something far more important than what first appeared to me?

What about any financial issues? Even though I’ve spent time thinking about things, is it possible my initial plans may not hold up? Would it benefit me to do the math one more time and check to see if my assumptions are truly valid?

Then there are spiritual matters. Is what I think I know true or is there something of more value waiting for me to uncover it, something beneath the surface?

Well, for me, part of the value of writing these posts is to explore thoughts and ideas to see if there are treasures that want to come to my attention.

So, instead of stopping at my first impression, I think I’ll pause from time to time and take another look. Maybe you’d like to join me, and we can both have some fun and learn something new.

Challenging Yourself

Do you remember the last time you challenged yourself to do something you’d never done before?

If you answered, “yes”, was it scary, daunting, exciting, or maybe all three?

Often, I find that I like to stay within my comfort zone, that quiet place where I feel safe and warm. But every once in a while, I sense a need to step out of the box I’ve built and try something completely new.

One such opportunity came along while I was reviewing my email. I got an offer through Word Press, which is where my website is hosted, about an intriguing writing contest.

I’ve never entered one and wondered how it would work.

So, I investigated and discovered that it was organized by a woman named Lydia Lukidis and was titled the Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. Those entering would be requested to write a story of 200 words or less based on a photograph. Many choices were offered, and you would have a couple of weeks to complete your entry and then submit.

I scrolled through the photos and was immediately drawn to one provided by Danielle Colucci (for Unsplash). The photo showed a stone alleyway bordered by buildings along both sides, with a hillside in the background. One of the buildings has a porch light on which casts a reddish glow on several stones of the alleyway. It was taken at dusk with a fading blue sky and gray clouds. Although a story started to form immediately, it would not come into focus.

I tried and tried, but nothing would take shape and I found it quite frustrating until I realized I was trying to write it from my head and what drew me to the picture was from my heart.

So, I let go and sat back and waited for my heart to fill in the words. I found I had to walk away, think about other things, and then come back. Once I did, I could lean into writing what my heart wanted to say.

What came to me felt like a true story. It touched me deeply and I wanted to share it with you.

Will The Light Be On (my title)

She knew I had to leave. My family would starve without food. Without me.

I remember the last thing I said to her. I told her that I loved her and would be back soon. And then I kissed her, gently brushing my lips against hers and walked out of the door and her life.

She must have believed that I lied to her, because it’s been three years since I’ve seen her face, heard her voice, held her in my arms.

How could she have known that I was taken, forced into the back of a truck, and made to be another’s servant, working in their fields from before the sun rose until after it fell out of the sky.

They gave me only enough food for one day’s strength. What they did not know was, she was my food. She was my hope. Hope that I would one day see her again, be with her, marry her.

So, one day I ran. I ran so fast and so far, they would never catch me.

And now I am here, turning the corner to her street. If the light is on, I’ll know she still loves me. (end)

One of the things I learned during this creative process is that I cannot discover anything new if I remain standing in one place, locked into doing the same things over and over again.

I know that it takes courage to step into the unknown, but there is so much freedom and joy waiting there for us.

While checking to see if my contest entry was received, I found I have no record of it being sent. At first that really disturbed me, but after I thought about it for a few minutes, I relaxed and noticed that the real value to me was in accepting my own challenge, enjoying the creative process, and loving the resulting story that still warms my heart each time I reread it.

I hope you enjoy the story too.

A Visit From Sadness

How often would you say you feel sad?

I know that there are specific times and events where sadness can be quite intense, but I’m asking about the smaller versions, the ones where we seem to fall into a state of temporary sadness.

As humans, I believe we all realize our lives are going to be made up of many different feelings, some we welcome and others we hope will never arrive.

Recently I had an encounter with sadness. There was a faint sense of it and then wham, sadness seemed to ooze in from every direction.

I was away from home and although I was in a place of my own choosing, I still had an overwhelming sense of sadness overtake me. And it reminded me of other times when sadness came to me and was accompanied by its friend, loneliness.

My first reaction, as it usually is, was to try to push it away, hoping that by sheer force of will, it would move on. I was afraid of feeling it and unsure how deep it would travel inside of me. After all, why would I want to feel sad? Why would I want to get dragged down, unsure of when the sadness would let go?

Something about how I felt was different though. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I tried and all I could come up with was that it felt ‘lighter’.

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I’ve spent a great deal of time exploring my feelings. Part of that process is focused on allowing them in and being open to what they have to share with me. That may sound a little unusual, but it’s something that has been very helpful for me.

So, when this sadness arrived, I coached myself not to panic, but rather to stay open to it, and in the opening, to see if I could listen to what the sadness might share with me.

I softened my normally apprehensive self and leaned into it, allowing the sadness to enter me. What I discovered was that it didn’t really want to stay long. It just wanted to let me know it’s okay to spend time together every once in a while. And, after a short time, it stood up and waved goodbye and wished me a good day.

This whole exchange fascinated me. Here I was worried that sadness had decided to move in permanently and all it really wanted to do was come for a quick visit.

Sadness, like every other feeling, comes and goes.

What occurred to me later was that I am the one largely responsible for its length of stay. Every time I resist it or try futilely to push it away, it gains a certain amount of strength so that when it finally does arrive, its’ power is far greater.

It also occurred to me that many other feelings follow this same curve. They arrive asking for me to pay attention to see if there is a useful message attached.

In this case, sadness came and went, a fleeting feeling. It opened me up and I realized I would survive its stay. I would move on and after a bit, be happy again. I think it’s this way with all of our emotions and feelings. They don’t have to be permanent. They can just be visitors, filling past, on their way to somewhere else.

It’s up to each of us to decide how long we wish to keep them.

So, I decided to wave back as sadness left me and accept its offer to have a good day.

Celebration

I wanted to wish you all a happy anniversary because this post marks the beginning of my third year of offering posts to you to contemplate. So, happy anniversary!

I never believed I would be able to stick with my original commitment of writing two posts per week for this long. It feels like an amazing thing to me and if you’ve been with me for the whole trip or just joined me recently, I want to thank you for journeying with me.

At first, I thought I was writing these posts for YOU, but I’ve come to discover that the truth is I’m writing them for ME. They are a way of speaking what feels like the ‘truth’ to me. Most of them help me see the world and my place in it more clearly. I want that for me, but I also want that for you. I am always aware that, once I’ve placed words on the page, they become your words too, if you want them.

I feel we are connected, and I treasure that you are here with me. I wanted you to know that, to hold that inside for a moment, and know that I care about you and celebrate you.

This day feels different to me from other days.

Do certain days feel different to you, perhaps because something special occurred, something unique in your world? When this happens, do you celebrate, or give gratitude for your blessed fortune?

I don’t always. I let some beautiful events and days slip past me. I am poorer for this and encourage myself to pay better attention, to broaden my awareness and let joy overwhelm me.

When is the last time you let joy overwhelm you, when you actually sat back and allowed love to move freely from the inside of you to the outside of you?

If it’s been a long time, perhaps you’re ready to jump start the process. Maybe today is a great day to celebrate, to make into an anniversary of joy. Do you want to give it a try?

Yes, I mean right now in this moment.

I’m going to ‘assume’ you said, ‘yes’! I’m hoping you said, ‘yes’.

Okay, if you’re ready, let’s begin with this…

Tell me, who do you love? You don’t have to shout it out loud but bring the person or animal to mind and let your love overflow. Really, let it pour out of you and feel the pleasure it creates.

And maybe it’s not a who. Maybe it’s a what or a where. A wonderful gift you love or a place that feels sacred to you. Allow the intensity to build and burst forth. It’s okay to let go of our normal day to day ways and give ourselves this treat.

Perhaps it is a feeling or a thought that creates a special sensation inside of you. If it is, go with that, let it move and grow and explode into wonder.

I have a friend, John, who taught me a lot about the gift of celebration. About seeing the value and worth in all things. After listening carefully to my story, he would find something in it to cherish and celebrate, even and sometimes, especially what I considered the ‘bad stuff’. Many of his observations passed right by me. I didn’t hear what he was really saying, until one day, it dawned on me. He saw the truth that everything in life ‘serves you’ if you put it into the ‘right’ perspective.

He showed me that I could learn to celebrate anything and everything, because it’s all important and valuable.

So, today, I encourage you to give yourself the chance to celebrate anything and everything in your life and see where it takes you.

I hope along the way, joy comes for a visit.

Hazardous Waste Day

Do you live in a place that has a hazardous waste day, a time when you can gather up all of the things you can’t put in the trash because they are too dangerous and drop them off where they can be properly recycled or disposed of?

My town does and I’ve been waiting a long time for it to come.

Incredibly, I have over 40 empty or partially used cans of paint, a host of cleaning products we no longer feel comfortable using and lots of small miscellaneous containers filled with I don’t know what exactly. They all need to go and I’m hoping it isn’t too much.

When I looked at the ‘acceptable items’ list it was overwhelming, from aerosol sprays, to fertilizers, fluorescent bulbs, mothballs, paints, resigns, weed killers. There were over 70 items and the first thing I wondered was where they were all going to end up?

It made me realize how much we contaminate this planet, and I pondered the magnitude of the situation. The factories that produce the items, the transportation to get them to market, the consumers who use them, and those who hopefully find safe ways to recycle or destroy them.

A nagging thought popped into my head, can they all actually be handled safely and destroyed, or do they live on and on?

This post was not meant to be a social commentary about our society and how we tend to turn a blind eye to cooperating with our environment. But it is sobering to consider.

I think it would be a meaningful question to ask myself…what is my contribution? Am I being a good steward of the earth’s resources? Most days, I wonder if I am.

And then another thought ran through my mind, offering me a new question.

What hazardous waste do I carry inside of me? What thoughts and patterns do I engage in that create toxic results for me?

I wondered what kind of a list would be generated if I sat with this for a little while. So, I did just that and here’s what came easily to me.

My Hazardous Waste List

Resentments (most of them pretty petty), prejudices (despite my best efforts not to), expectations (of the ways I think things ‘should’ be), anger (typically about things that don’t even matter), assumptions (which often lead to trouble), misperceptions (because I don’t wait long enough to see the whole picture), and blame (for things I don’t feel are my ‘fault’).

Do you recognize any of these? Are you home to any of them?

And given that I don’t like to get stuck in the middle of any process, I began contemplating what I could do with them. Was there a place I could put all these hazardous waste materials (thoughts)? Was there somewhere I could take them to drop them off and be rid of them?

I believe this is a question worth asking. I realize that one person’s method may differ from another’s; however, I think it’s often helpful when you hear what others choose to do because it might also help you and it might be something you would never think about on your own.

So, here’s my choice of what to do. I bring to mind an item from my list and ask myself one simple question.

Do they come from love or fear?

If they come from love, then I choose to keep them, but if they come from fear, I choose to release them. It’s a conscious decision. If, for example, a resentment surfaces, I have to look at it, accept it, and recognize that at least in part, I own it. It is a part of me, but one I no longer wish to keep, so I give it away. For me, I hand it off to Lia, a feminine presence of god that loves me and helps to guide me. She takes it and it vanishes. And if it returns, I give it to her again.

For you, there may be other places to drop off your hazardous waste. You might write them down and burn them. You might send them love and if they come back, send them more love.

Whatever method you find that works for you, I encourage you to let go so that you can live your best life. May it be so.

(OR) Everything Serves You Indirectly

Although unusual, this is the continuation of my previous two posts, all dealing with the interesting and challenging topic of how everything that happens to us serves us, either directly or indirectly.

I realize that it a huge claim and I’m not saying I don’t have my own difficulties comprehending it, but I nonetheless believe it is the truth and I want to share with you why I feel that way.

During recent conversations, Lia, a clear, beautiful feminine voice of grace and love who is always with me and is part of god, began explaining how, even though I may have challenges accepting this idea, it is still the truth.

Lia had previously shared with me an example of how an experience in my life served me directly (see my last post from September 25, 2022). After she pointed out several things to me it became quite clear.

But what baffled me was her statement about how all things serve me ’indirectly’ as well. She told me it would require a shift in my frame of reference and that I would have to release my cultural perceptions, because they limit my ability to see the ‘big’ picture.

She went on to say that I would need to shift from my earthly perspective to a heavenly perspective, at which point I felt I needed a whole new conversation to stretch my understanding.

Lia reminded me of a few of our previous conversations where we touched on this subject. In one of those she told me the following, “Your frame of reference is the KEY. In heaven you know everything there is to know. Every answer to every question. What you may want though is to ‘experience’ life, to create, to feel and think and sense life. In order to do this, you choose to come to earth, and you choose to forget all that you knew, so that you can fully experience life. You let go of knowing how all things are connected and interwoven. You allow yourself to be emptied, so that you can use your free will to decide how to view life. Part of this choice is to accept what your culture teaches you, rather than remembering what you knew in heaven, and you are provided space to make any and all decisions.”

I sat back for a few minutes absorbing her words to me.

Lia continued, “Every experience is filled with meaning and with hints about life (earth and heaven) and completely open to whatever interpretation YOU wish to choose. Each time you choose, you create patterns, pathways that become convenient routes for your thoughts to travel. You allow your cultural training to guide this process and although it saves you from making every decision, it also blinds you to the truth. A part of you already knows the truth, that all things are connected and that all things ‘eventually’ serve you. Some of these are obvious, others are not. They take time to unravel and become clear.”

Wow, this was a lot to take in, and as usual, I needed an example, so I asked Lia for one. I knew I needed to prepare myself, to not automatically reject what she had to tell me, merely because it would challenge me.

I could feel her smiling at me sympathetically, knowing how hard it is for me sometimes. “You can take any situation, and if you look at what happened before it, during it and (most of all) after it, you’ll see there are always connections and outcomes that ‘serve’ you, despite how it may appear. Here is one example I’d like to share. When your job was eliminated abruptly after twelve years and a great deal of success, it shook you to your roots. Immediately separated from your source of income, group of friends and professional colleagues, stripped of some of your sense of self-esteem, and a host of other conflicting thoughts and emotions, a part of you imploded. In no way could you see anything about this that served you. You felt it was not fair or just or right and these reactions blinded you for a period of time from seeing any positive outcomes. That is how your culture teaches you to see the world, in this case, personal rights and wrongs. But that is only a small part of the story.”

Lia went on to share, “You ended up still employed, but at a different location, one that you chose to leave after six months so that you could retire, and as you’ve claimed on numerous occasions, begin your best career- helping take care of your three-year-old granddaughter, Kirsten. This change also provided you the flexibility to write, travel, spend time with family and friends, exercise and many other pleasurable pursuits, all things you would not have been able to do. And it gave you an opportunity to forgive those involved in your ‘firing’ for their actions and insensitivity. And there are so many other connections that came months and years later, ones you are yet to see.”

I felt the absolute truth of her words and recognized that stepping away and gaining some distance allowed me to shift my frame of reference. Part of me could see this whole situation from heavenly eyes and it made all the difference.

Everything Serves You Directly (OR)

Would you agree that claiming that ‘everything in your life serves you’ is a pretty bold statement?

It certainly feels that way to me and if you read my last post, you’ll recall that this is exactly what Lia (a loving voice of god) told me.

I thought, there has to be a catch, some loophole or fine print, after all, don’t each of us experience dozens of things that would defy this idea? I could easily come up with many from my life and from observing the lives of others.

Just to name a few there are wars, diseases, oppression, famine, natural disasters and then there are additional challenges that may affect us more personally, like a car accident, the loss of a loved one, having our job eliminated, a house fire, or being homeless. The list seems practically endless.

I wondered what Lia could possibly mean and approached her, asking for an explanation. To be honest, the way I phrased my question felt more like a demand, then a request to me, but she didn’t seem to mind in the least. I felt her love cover me over and sat back, now prepared to hear what she had to say to me.

Lia spoke these words, “It’s important to choose the right frame of reference in order for this idea to make sense to you. The first thing that would help you recognize the truth, is that everything serves you either directly or indirectly.”

Examples always help me, so I asked Lia to explain something that happened to me last week, where my car suddenly overheated, forcing me to pull off the road. How did that ‘serve me’? She responded with a question of her own, “What happened next?”

“Well,” I said, “I pulled into a Hoffman’s Car Wash/Quick Lube station and a man came out to see what I needed. He consulted with me and offered a few helpful suggestions. I spoke to a very nice woman at AAA who set me up for a tow. The tow-truck driver, who was also extremely helpful, came by and brought both my car and me to my Service garage. I was told that since they were really jammed up, it might take 1 ½-2 weeks before they could fix it.

Shockingly, I was calm throughout this whole sequence of events, even realizing the delay in fixing it would greatly complicate my life. As it turns out, my mechanic was able to fit me in the next day, due to a cancelation in his schedule.

Lia listened attentively, then asked a follow-up question, “So, how have you been served by this incident?”

I thought for a moment before responding with this, “There were at least four different individuals who offered to help me (five counting my wife who picked me up, and when my car was fixed, dropped me off). I never felt alone or helpless. And I allowed myself to go with the flow, rather than get upset, scream at my car, and become angry at the cost of the repairs, which (sad to say) would have been my normal reaction.”

I could sense Lia smiling at me.

“Okay,” I said, “I get how there are some direct ways I was served, because I believe I’ll carry a more positive attitude into my next challenging situation and I recognized how grateful I am for the presence of other wonderfully helpful people in my life, which makes me want to be one of them for someone else.”

I hesitated and asked, “But what about the indirect ways you mentioned?” I admit I find it baffling some days to make any sense of the ‘big’ things. Maybe you do too.

“It requires a shift on your part, a change of reference points. You are accustomed to thinking in terms of good and bad, labels you use based on your cultural perceptions. This forces you into seeing only the ‘small picture’ and limits your ability to see the ‘big picture’. To fully understand the ‘big picture’, you need to shift from your earthly perspective to a heavenly perspective.”

“Wait, what?” Obviously, we have more to talk about because I want to understand how my life works. Clearly Lia is interested in answering my questions, but it’s going to take more time. So, if you’d like to know more, please stay with me and read my next post.

How To Settle In

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘getting up on the wrong side of the bed’?

In case you haven’t, it is commonly understood to be the cause for waking up in a bad mood. You can’t think of any particular reason, but you know you’re sad, angry, testy, or otherwise unhappy.

I wondered about the origin of the saying. A little research produced a popular explanation based on superstitions that getting out of bed on the left side is bad luck. I presume that it originates from a time when beds were narrow and you had a choice of getting out on the right or left, without having to crawl over someone. It made me wonder, what if you always sleep on the left side of the bed…would you always start your day in a grumpy mood? Hopefully not.

Recently I woke up and felt as if I’d ‘gotten out on the wrong side of the bed’. For no reasons that I could think of, nothing felt right to me. My body ached and was uncomfortable, my mind was disjointed and there were lurking tasks to be completed, which I had no energy or ambition to accomplish.

Ordinarily I love getting up and doing my exercises, then journaling, before I come downstairs for breakfast.

But not that day.

So, what was I going to do about it?

If you’ve been with me on this journey for a while, you can probably guess. I opened up a conversation with god, in this case, Lia, a clear, beautiful feminine voice of grace and love who is always with me.

She explained, “There is an ebb and flow to life and your energy level, as there is for everyone. Accepting this reality fully will ease your mind and you can allow it to settle into you. Once you do this, your feelings will pass. If instead you decide to offer some resistance, like saying to yourself, ‘that it shouldn’t be this way’, your feelings are likely to persist. They can in fact pick up steam every time you invoke the word ‘should’. Trying to tell yourself you are some sort of victim, decreases your energy and power. So, if you’d like to do yourself a favor, allow whatever comes to you, to pass through you.”

This sounded like extremely good advice and yet I had a question about how I could ‘settle in’ to feelings I did not want to feel. I did know that resisting would be counterproductive, but what I needed to know was what alternative(s) were open to me.

So, I asked for more guidance and receive this, “You tell yourself it is okay to experience whatever you are experiencing and encourage yourself to accept whatever comes your way, knowing that once you do, the feelings will begin to recede and light will begin to enter you.”

Lia went on to say that each and every thing I encounter in my life is there to ‘serve’ me.

I balked a little at this. “Really?” I could hear myself say and then wondered if my constant questioning ever ‘bothered’ her.

“No,” was her reply, “never. I love you no matter what you choose and nothing you ever say to me will change that. Please remember that my love for you is eternal.”

I was reassured, but I still had a nagging question. I understood that by feeling my feelings, then releasing them, rather than holding on to them or resisting them, I could contribute to my own peace of mind and heart. What I could not understand was how she could say that everything I experienced in my life was there to ‘serve me’.

Lia explained that this is how our lives are structured, but that we often do not understand this because we don’t see it from a distance. We are too close to observe the whole picture, but that once we do, we can find the clarity we desire.

Lia told me we could have as many conversations about this as I needed…and so, I’d like to invite you to join me for my next post to discover more about how my/our experiences always ‘serve’ me/us.

Wedding Vows

This post is a little different from what I ordinarily offer because it’s an invitation to lean into an unusual wedding ceremony and to taste a bit of the sweetness between two very special people in my life.

Along with the offer to read this, I invite you to share it with anyone you think might like to adopt it for their own wedding ceremony.

It comes from Little Buddha Book Four, which is part of a series of spiritual fiction books I’ve written. This particular chapter revolves around two of the main characters, Janine and Sam and their families celebrating their marriage. It happens that Janine’s father, Bright Sky and her nephew, Michael, both Native Americans from the western part of the United States, are officiating the ceremony. The narrative is from Sam’s point of view.

Here is the passage I’d like to share.

“We are here to celebrate and give thanks to the Great Spirit, and to witness the merging of two hearts into one as Janine and Sam choose each other for their earthly lifetime.”

Bright Sky nodded, took our hands in his and shook them upwards toward Father Sky, then downward toward Mother Earth, then released them.

Janine and I turned slightly and faced each other.

“Sam, I freely offer you all that I am, knowing we share one spirit and one source. We came from love and will return to love. While we walk this earth, I stand with you. I breathe your breath and will sing with delight, even when sorrows visit us. No thing that happens on our journey together will change my love for you. I rest inside of myself, knowing our connection is forever. I welcome you into my heart and my spirit and choose to walk our path, always as one.”

I looked deeply into her eyes and knew all that she said was true. I’d always known it.

“Janine, I freely offer you all that I am, knowing we share one spirit and one source. We came from love and will return to love. While we walk this earth, I will stand with you. Forever, I am yours. As it was before, so shall it always be. I offer you my heart, which you claimed the moment I first saw you. I offer you compassion, trust, faith and hope, and the best of me, at all times. I know humans falter, but I rest in the assurance of our love, that no thing that happens on our journey together will change my love for you. I welcome you into my heart and spirit and choose to walk our path, always as one.”

Michael came to stand next to Bright Sky. Each bowed to us, then walked around us, stopping at each compass point, while quietly repeating words I did not understand.

Their revolution complete, they took hold of the blanket and gently pulled it from our shoulders. They held it up for us to see our names and the two red hearts, then turned the blanket around to reveal one single white heart.

I don’t know if Janine already knew about this, but it was a complete surprise to me.

I loved the image and the idea and smiled broadly, nodded my head, and mouthed, ‘so beautiful’, to Michael and Bright Sky.

After showing the blanket to our guests, they wrapped Janine and me in it and placed their hands on our shoulders.

Claire, Michael, and Bright Sky gathered in front of us and spoke in unison.

“We witness the spirit of love which joins your lives as one.”

Claire held out two matching rings and Janine and I took them and placed them on each other’s fingers.

“With these rings always choose love for each other.”

Bright Sky said, nodding his head, “This completes the ceremony, for you are now one.”

NOTE:

If you’d like to know more about their story, please feel free to obtain your own copy of the series. Little Buddha Books One-Four are available in print and eBook versions from Amazon.

Leave It, Or Not

I doubt a day goes by that we don’t experience some statement or command given us by someone in our lives.

Seriously, can you think of one day where you got the chance to do exactly what you wanted, and no one suggested or told you to do something else?

I think it would be pretty rare for this to happen.

And if this is true for humans, imagine how much truer it is for animals.

Have you ever watched one of the shows on TV where they spend time training a rescue dog, getting it ready to become a member of a new family? Well, if so, you’ve probably heard there are seven basic commands; sit, down, stay, come, heel, off and no.

According to some trainers there are a lot more and in one case I saw twenty-one commands noted. Wow, tough to be a dog.

One of my favorites is, “leave it”. It’s mostly used on walks to keep the dog’s attention focused on moving forward and not becoming distracted. This can be especially difficult with young dogs or those with active imaginations (curiosity), the ones who are all over the place.

My childhood dog was like this. We’d go for a walk which I thought might take thirty minutes, only to spend twice that amount of time snooping around the neighborhood. I wished I’d known the command, “leave it” back then.

Recently I watched several dogs and their humans walking by our house and noticed that some of them moved in a straight line, while others wove back and forth, with the dogs clearly in charge.

It made me wonder about how the humans acted when they were by themselves. Did they wander about or make beelines directly where they were going?

I’m not suggesting there is any right or wrong pathway to travel, merely observing the choices they were making, and it got me to wondering about what decisions I make.

Am I often distracted and easily put off my path? Could I benefit from saying to myself, “leave it”, putting a little oomph in the verbal command?

I know that it can be challenging to try to set things aside and focus on the main mission. I also know that I learn a lot by wandering aimlessly as long as I keep my eyes open.

If you thought about it, when would you tell yourself to “leave it”?

Are there certain things that you know don’t benefit you, but you do them anyway? If so, do you have any idea why? I often don’t unless I take a moment to consider them.

As you’ve noticed by now, I ask a lot of questions. I find it’s one of the most effective ways to grow. The questions challenge me to rethink some of my decisions and force me to reconsider some of my actions.

Using the idea of “leave it”, provides me an opportunity to consider things in my life which may not be good for me, like another piece of blueberry pie, or watching a violent TV show before bedtime or criticizing someone’s actions without understanding anything about them or the situation they’re in.

Given a little time, I am able to create quite a list of things to consider “leaving” and maybe you can too.

I think I’ll keep this command in mind for a while and see what happens and where it takes me.

Patterns

Are there any recognizable patterns in your life or is everything a mystery? Do you ever wonder if there is a rhyme or a reason to what happens in your life?

Sometimes I wonder if readers ever see the pictures that precede my posts. I try to carefully select them to either give a clue about the meaning or provide a spark of interest in what might be coming.

In case you can’t see the picture for this post, it’s a nautilus shell, which has a repeating interior pattern that becomes more intricate the closer it gets to the center. It’s a fascinating shape and one of many repeating designs in the natural world.

According to one website I found there are four distinct repeating patterns: symmetries, fractals, spirals, and Voronoi. Each are unique and represent different ways of developing according to a plan.

Symmetries are organized around the principle of identical halves, like the feathers of a peacock or the wings of a butterfly or dragonfly. Fractals are detailed patterns that look similar at any scale and repeat themselves over time, such as snowflakes, tree branching, and ferns. Spirals occur in curved patterns on a center point and then form a series of circular shapes revolving around the center point, for example, pinecones, pineapples, and hurricanes. Voronoi patterns provide clues to nature’s tendency to favor efficiency. They form from a seed point and extend outward like the skin of giraffes, corn on the cob, honeycombs, and leaf cells.

Okay, so why the science lesson and what possible difference can this make in my life or yours? Do you see any clues that could shed some light on this?

I admit I am fascinated by how nature evolves and the patterns that occur, so it seemed a logical step to me to wonder whether our lives develop according to any sort of natural patterns, and if so, what could they be?

It turns out scientists have studied this quite a bit. They believe that humans recognize patterns as a way of allowing us to predict and expect what is coming. The process involves matching the information we receive with the information already stored in our brains. The idea is that we benefit from remembering and being able to use patterns to help us navigate our lives.

So, I began to wonder what patterns I see that aid me and what additional possible patterns would make my life better.

My first thought was recognizing how easy it is to fall into non-productive patterns. To think the exact same thing about someone or something, merely because I’ve experienced it with someone else. I’d call this my ‘assumption pattern’, expecting the same outcome without any valid reason.

The next thought to arrive was how easily I gravitate toward putting things in separate buckets in my mind, or to give it a name, my ‘labeling pattern’. Oh, that person arrived late, they go in the ‘can’t get anywhere on time bucket’, I wonder why?

As I got started, it became easier and easier to discover the host of patterns I have, most of which are not beneficial to me, except to recognize I need to take another look and make some changes as to how I see things.

Each of the patterns I came across exist for my convenience, so I don’t have to think about and decide what to do with all the new experiences I encounter. Choices are made quickly to place things in categories and then I’m done.

One of the beautiful things about seeing so many different patterns in nature is that they serve as a reminder to me to make conscious choices about my own human patterns. To take myself off autopilot and look more carefully at what goes on in my life.

It takes some effort, but it is well worth my time and energy.

Making Someone’s Day

Do you remember the last time someone ‘made your day’ and how you felt inside?

Can you remember a time you made someone else’s day? Was it something you said, perhaps some kind words. Or maybe it was something you did, like an unexpected, good deed.

Did it happen naturally, without any forethought or was it a conscious choice you made and planned?

Did any part of you wonder what you might get in return or was it an altruistic act, kindness for the sake of kindness?

One of the interesting things about either, making someone else’s day or someone making your day, is how deep the love feels. I’ve often experienced feeling intensely touched by the actions of others. Their actions don’t even need to be directed toward me. Just witnessing love in action is wonderful, no matter where it’s found.

This past Sunday, while driving on our way home from the local food co-op, my wife and I were approaching a traffic light and it turned red, giving me a chance to make a roadside donation. That’s my phrase for offering some money to someone by the side of the road. In this case, it was a couple. I handed the folded twenty I keep in my car door for this purpose, to the young woman standing closest to our car. She reached for the money and offered me a grateful smile and their thanks in return. The traffic light remained red for a long time, which gave her the opportunity to explain that she and her husband were on their way back home to Louisiana and this would be very helpful.

I know some folks think giving money to ‘pan-handlers’ (the term most often applied to someone asking for money by the side of the road), isn’t a very good idea. I respect their point of view, and yet have come to a different conclusion and from my experience it’s a sure way to ‘make someone’s day’, no matter what they use the money for. I have offered myself a lot of practice in fully releasing any strings I might have wanted to attach to the money and so, both the giver and receiver in this exchange can share in making each other’s day.

Awhile back, a friend of mine told me she reads a book I’ve wrote (Little Buddha Book One) every night before she goes to bed. She told me it makes her happy, calms her from her day and allows her to drift off to sleep smiling. These kind words not only made my day, but they brought tears to my eyes. As a writer, unless someone tells you, you never know if your writings mean anything to anyone, so it was a very precious gift to me.

Knowing how good making someone’s day feels, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. I need an answer to this question.

What could it be? Is life so filled with ‘necessary things’ that I don’t have any time left over?

I immediately poked a hole in this theory. The two exchanges I’ve mentioned in this post account for perhaps four minutes in total, which easily tells me I DO have the time.

So, what’s the real reason?

I think it’s pretty simple actually. It’s a lack of focus on my part, an absence of attention to things that could matter greatly to me in my life and to others I come into contact with. I don’t say this to criticize myself (or you by proxy, as a reader). I say this to myself to heighten my awareness of what is, or can be, important and deeply meaningful to me in my life.

Sometimes all it takes is a moment of recognition that making someone’s day is a pathway for love to enter the world. A simple, direct, heart touching way and it’s free for anyone who wants it.

What a blessing.

Releasing Needs

Every so often I get stuck in a thinking loop and can’t get out.

Has that ever happened to you? Something seems to keep playing over and over and won’t let go, sort of like when gum gets stuck on the bottom of your sneaker. Ugh!

In this case, it was more of a ‘phrase’ that got attached to my brain. It repeated and forced me to consider it in more depth, even though I just wanted to get past it.

The phrase was, ‘as soon as you don’t need it, it can happen’.

There wasn’t any particular ‘it’ that I was thinking about. ‘It’ was just a general thought and could stand for anything.

I wanted to dispatch this notion and move on, but I couldn’t, so I surrendered and began to pick the phrase apart.

I was shocked by the depth this statement held for me and wondered if it might hold some value for you, as well.

My temptation was to read it quickly, as if I would inherently understand its meaning. As I struggled with it, I tried inserting different things for the ‘it’, for instance; ‘as soon as you don’t need others help, it can happen (they will help you).’

Hmmm, did that fit at all? My response…not really. There didn’t seem to be a direct connection I could see.

I tried another one, ‘as soon as you don’t need money, it can happen (money will appear)’. There were a couple of things wrong with this. First, who doesn’t need money? Second, if I didn’t need money, what difference would it make if it appeared?

Something was definitely missing, but what?

I tried other substitutions without any success. Perhaps I was going about it the wrong way. Maybe the value was in deconstructing the phrase, so I picked it apart, starting with the word, ‘need’. That seemed to be the key.

‘Need’ is a deep word to me, representing a statement of what I think or feel I want. But why do I want something? Where does the ‘need’ come from?

Clearly, ‘need’ represents an acknowledgement that I am missing something in my life. Whatever word I use in a sentence that follows the word ‘need’, becomes my focus. It represents a lack in my life.

So, what’s the connection that gives rise to meaning here?

After some more struggle I realized, I was trying too hard. I was overthinking. When I do this, I have to coach myself to step back and look at things from a distance. So, I closed my eyes and slowed my breathing and after a few minutes I came back to it.

And there it was, right in front of me.

‘Need’ for me is a loaded word. Every time I use it, it places some distance between me and the object of my need. The mere usage of the word prevents my need from being filled.

‘Need’ acknowledges ‘not having’ and ‘wanting’. It is self-fulfilling and all I end up with is a greater sense of ‘needing’, as if my initial ‘need’ creates more every time I think about it or say it. ‘Need’ blocks access and saps my energy.

Initially, I didn’t understand the ramification of this. It was only when I reached deeper into it that the meaning arose.

The phrase, ‘as soon as you don’t need it, it can happen’ became two sentences, not one.

And it offered me this…surrendering my ‘need’ frees me to receive and it unblocks my way forward. It allows me to think about things from another perspective, one that is creative and energetic. I can rephrase and direct my attention to helpful ideas and solutions that benefit me.

I’m glad I worked my way through this pesky phrase and hope it offers you some meaning too.

Choosing Your Ingredients

A funny question came to mind recently.

But first, a little background information.

In 1973, in an effort to standardize the food industry, the United States began requiring that packaged foods provide nutritional labels spelling out the number of calories, grams of protein, carbohydrate and fat and the percent of the US Recommended Daily Allowance of specific ingredients.

Then in 1990, the USDA mandated that all food companies were required to make consistent claims and include a detailed, standardized nutrition facts panel on all products intended to be sold.

This resulted in the nutritional labels you now find on almost every food item sold and additional changes are planned for the future.

My question is, what do you think it would be like if every human had a label attached to them listing their ingredients, like the food products we eat?

I’m not talking about the percentages of the most common chemicals found in humans; like oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, calcium, and phosphorus.

What I mean is, what if we came with a label identifying the contents of our hearts and minds? A label that provided insight into our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs.

In one way it might make it easier to understand each other.

And perhaps there would be warnings on our labels, letting others know which topics were most likely to trigger negative reactions before conversations began.

The idea also made me wonder, if we could see our own label clearly, would we still want each ingredient to be inside us? Or perhaps we’d recognize that one or more of them do not make us happy, fulfilled, or joyful. That some of our contents create misery and suffering.

If we knew in advance that some of our ingredients were harmful to us, we might make better decisions.

Well, what if we started over? Is that possible?

If you answered ‘yes’, what would you consciously choose to place inside yourself, if you could begin again?

I found the question intriguing and needed to sit back for a moment before answering.

I tried to clear my mind, which is quite a task some days. I think there are lots of ingredients that would be good to start with, but I ended up choosing ‘love’. Love for me and love for those around me. Is there any way that could ever go wrong?

But an important part of me asked what that actually means. How does love work? After all, there are so many difficult and challenging situations we all face. Is love really the answer to them all?

I sat back again, awaiting my own answer.

I came to an immediate conclusion…yes, love is the answer to everything. It is the main ingredient. With it firmly in my heart I see everything else fitting together. Love allows me freedom. It makes it possible to see through fear, sadness, anger, and all of the other warnings I might encounter.

And if I want to add other ingredients, love works with them all in unison, courage, compassion, bravery, generosity, empathy, faith, trust and so many more.

If you decide to start over, I hope you choose ingredients that serve you well.

Returning to Heaven

If you are a believer in the concept of heaven, do you wonder how you will get there and what it will be like upon your arrival?

In my last post I shared with you the ‘crossing ceremony’ that happened as I left heaven to come to earth. I asked you to imagine something that is far beyond words and tried to use imagery as a language to convey what the ceremony looked and felt like.

I know you may have your own ideas and I want you to know I honor them. It is not my purpose to ever try to convince you to accept anything I say as your own truth.

I do however feel a strong desire to share my experiences with you, in the hopes that they may provide some value to you. Perhaps you may catch a glimpse of something that has been just out of reach. Perhaps you’ll discover a connection that brings insight, peace, and a sense of love you’ve been longing for.

I realize my words may exceed what you’ve been told during your life and stretch the limits of your acceptance.

I ask only one thing, that you read it and then decide. See if any part of it ‘feels’ true to you. Does it find a way to your heart?

This rendering of words came during a deep meditation. I had no expectations or at least none I was aware of. I sat and melted into a state of openness and drifted without aim.

This is what came to me and surrounded me. I was offered a chance to visit heaven. As best I can, here are the ‘words’ that entered me.

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 lingered there with these beautiful essences, reveling in the bountiful feelings of their love, never wanting to leave.

Their answer to my last question, about whether I could return home any time I wanted, was essential to me. I had to know if I would be able to leave earth and cross over into heaven. I had to know.

Their assurance made (and makes) all the difference to me. I know I am welcome there anytime. I belong there. It is my home and when this earth experience is complete, no matter when that is, I will return to their loving, waiting ‘arms’.

I believe this will happen for all who choose it.

Imagine knowing this deep inside you, that you return home to the heart of love. For me, that changes everything about how I view this world.

The Crossing Ceremony

This is my 198th post. I mention this because I hope you know me by now and that what I choose to write about is personal to me.

I’ve chosen to share the depth of myself and my connection to spirit. I do this so that you can see inside my world and also in the hopes that my sharing may free you to open and allow others to know you, to see you, to learn from you.

We all have so much to offer each other. And the glimpses we choose to give hopefully provide a connection between us, one that increases our awareness and one that builds and cherishes the love we share.

It is in this vein that I invite you to come with me for a spectacular experience. One you likely have forgotten, but will hopefully remember, if it feels true to you.

I remember being in heaven before I came to earth. The memories are shadowy, but enough lingers to connect me. I call it the ‘before life’ and it’s very different from the ‘after life’ that many folks talk about.

I’d like to share one memory with you…the ‘crossing ceremony’.

I need to set the stage a bit, beginning with what heaven feels like. It is ‘bliss’. Since there are no words available to describe it, I’ll use images as my language. So…

Imagine looking out at the dazzling ocean. Imagine being able to use the most incredibly small eyedropper and sliding it into the ocean, then drawing out one single drop of water. If you squeezed the eyedropper, the water would come out and fall back into the ocean, becoming one again. Each of us is a part of this ocean. Each an individual essence and yet part of the one.

Each of us has the free will to remain in heaven where all answers are known before any questions are asked or we may choose to come to earth, to create and experience duality and exercise our free will.

When an essence makes the choice to come to earth there is a ritual that is held called the ‘crossing ceremony’.

So… imagine yourself as an energetic shell in essentially the shape of a human being. You are lying on a surface surrounded by a vast multitude of energetic essences, all crowding in to be an intimate part of the ceremony. These are your closest ‘kin’, and they will always be with you, both in heaven and on earth. While on earth some may appear to be adversaries, but this is not the truth, for there is only one single entity in existence…love.

There is a sound like the beating of a drum, which grows and grows in intensity and then transforms into your heartbeat. You ‘watch’ as your body shell intricately forms a web of impossibly rich interweaving energy connections. As they form and touch, you ‘flesh’ out, and are endowed with the gift or free will, the ability to choose your path, so that whatever you decide becomes possible. You accept all the energy you need in order to accomplish what you choose to create and experience during your earth life.

You begin to develop physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually and you form a ‘spiritual blueprint’, which lays out a moldable, adaptable life plan which is always available to your spiritual self. And lastly, you choose an ego, so that you are protected and can establish boundaries, so that you know where your earth self begins and ends.

You rest a moment then become aware that you still know the answers to all questions and must make a decision before coming to earth. Will you choose to remember or choose to forget what you know. In all but rare cases, essences coming to earth choose to forget what they know, so that their experience of earth life is completely open. This is called ‘the great forgetting’. In many cases there are pieces that remain, and some things are still remembered.

What stands out the most is the overwhelming intimacy of the ceremony. You feel completely and totally infused with love. You are love made real.

In my case, I remember an image of one essence touching my heart and sending me on my way to join my kin in this magnificent place we call earth.

PS

If anyone else remembers this, I’d love to have you leave a comment.

Releasing Expectations

Recently I noticed that I’ve been feeling like a prisoner, held captive by some of my expectations.

Have you ever experienced this? Has one of your expectations overwhelmed you, making it difficult to concentrate or focus energy on anything else?

I find this feeling very challenging and perhaps you do as well. I wondered what I could do about it and decided to ask Lia (an ethereal feminine voice of god that comes to me whenever I have questions I’d like answered). I felt I needed a breakthrough and wanted to know what she would tell me.

Her clear voice sprang forward, “It would be helpful for you to know that the basis of all your expectations comes from your cultural upbringing. As you grew up, important folks in your life placed expectations upon you, sometimes specifically and sometimes generally. Depending on your performance you received either rewards or punishments but were never entirely sure which it would be.”

I thought about this for a few minutes and decided that she was absolutely correct.

Of course, my next thought was, what can I do about this? I wondered what my options were and asked for some further guidance.

“At some point in your life, you came to the conclusion that decisions and choices were now up to you. You’d essentially grown past having to be told by others what direction to take. And yet, instead of rethinking setting expectations according to your own rules, you chose to continue your cultural training, allowing these preset decisions to guide your life.”

Yikes, that didn’t seem like a wise move on my part.

I couldn’t deny the truth of her statement. Surely it would be smarter to make reasonable and conscious choices about what to expect from myself and it would be a sound move to strip away any defaults that cause me stress and unhappiness.

So, how is this to be accomplished?

Lia chimed in, “Within each and every expectation there is the existence of that which serves you and that which does not. The simplest way to tell the difference is how they make you feel.”

I wondered, is it really possible to use ‘how expectations make me feel’ as a legitimate barometer? After all, is it truly possible to rely on ‘feelings’ as a measurement of success and forward movement?

I received a resounding “yes” from Lia.

And then this, “It is all about what you are aiming for. Ask yourself, what is most important to you?”

I came up with several answers.

Lia asked me whether my answers came from my feelings or my thoughts.

“Feelings,” I responded.

“It matters what you choose to release and what you choose to embrace. When you release others’ expectations and their attached rewards and punishments and consciously embrace your own softly held expectations which align with what is most important to you, your life will change enormously.”

I liked the sounds of that. A lot.

I needed one more clarification. “Softly held expectations?”, I asked.

“Yes,” Lia said, “softly held implies you allow for a range of outcomes and accept whichever occurs, knowing that each holds some value for you.”

I am so grateful for the release I feel. I am no longer a prisoner and can move about freely, knowing I have a choice. Thank you Lia for your wisdom.

The Power of Choice

Do you believe that you have a choice?

Not everyone does believe this. They maintain that they are limited and although they may at times have a choice, they don’t always. They believe that there are defined limits that cannot be exceeded.

I wanted to know where I stood on this question, so I began exploring this idea of choice. I wondered how far I might be able to go with my ability to make choices.

Could I for instance, decide in advance, how something could or would turn out?

One thing I discovered early in this process was that if internal fears were present, I felt very limited. I found that fear very effectively blocked my way forward. It didn’t matter which fear was present, they all seemed to have the same effect.

I also encountered an interesting dimension to fear. It has an amazing ability to alter reason. Despite the presence of facts, fear has the uncanny ability to sidestep them and create projected outcomes, some of which don’t even make sense, but appear very believable.

I wondered how do I, how does anyone move beyond this, once fear is present?

A voice appears inside me offering an answer. As usual, it is Lia’s voice (an ethereal feminine voice of god that comes to me whenever I have questions I’d like answered).

She offers this simple solution, “You just decide. That’s what you are always doing. You make a choice and then take action steps.”

Sounds easy enough. But then it occurs to me that there are many different kinds of choices, and they feel different to me, making me wonder if her solution applies across the board.

There are subconscious choices (my default choices), conscious choices (that I make either proactively or reactively), spontaneous choices (made immediately in the moment) and, at least for me, spiritual blueprint choices (ones I just ‘know’ are a part of my path).

Lia reacts saying, “As you explore the world of choices, it is helpful to keep in mind that nothing happens TO you. You are not the victim in any experience. All things that happen, happen THROUGH you. Everything is a part of your spiritual blueprint (those events you came to earth to experience), and each serves you, either directly (moving you forward) or indirectly (pointing your way forward by sharing that they are not the way).”

That statement was going to take me a minute to absorb.

I ended up telling Lia that I could use some additional clarification, so she went on to say, “There is a wealth of possible choices, and they exist inside your mind. Some of these you view as threats. You extrapolate these threats (fears) and create ideas in your mind which you ‘believe’ are true, but they are just ideas (thoughts), and you have the choice whether to believe them or not. No thought has any true independent power. They receive their power only if you choose to believe them. Without this power they are empty.”

This all made sense to me, especially as I brought to mind some of the idiotic fears I’ve created over the years.

Her wisdom continued, “Rather than focus on your thoughts created by your fears, it will benefit you richly to realize that you have other choices you can make, ones that do serve you.”

She went on to encourage me to find a way of shifting.

Here’s what I came up with. “I release any choice I do not wish to experience and embrace (choose) those I do wish to experience. I acknowledge my perfect freedom to do this now and at all times.”

Letting go of my fear thoughts allows me to shift and choose thoughts that directly serve me, ones that bring love and joy into my life. It’s a constant kind of thing, but I now feel equipped to make good choices and experience life in a positive way.