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.