God’s Will

Are you familiar with the concept of God having a ‘will’ for you?
A specific plan for things God wants you to accomplish? A way to move through your life according to a long list of do’s and don’t’s?

The folks that seem to talk about this give the impression that you should know what God’s will is and comply with it, because after all, it’s God we’re talking about.

The incredibly tricky part is that although you are supposed to abide by God’s will, there are almost never any clear indications of precisely what God’s will is for you. This leaves you in a powerless position and opens the door for others to be the authority and speak on God’s behalf.

How can one person know what God’s will is for another? What source of wisdom allows them the clarity to inform and dictate what another person is to do with their life? Is their claim that God speaks directly to them and provides specific insights about all the people of this world and what each one should be doing?

You may have guessed by my questions and word choices that I don’t see life this way.

I’ve had many conversations with god and am a true believer in one of god’s greatest gifts, ‘free will’.

Free will is an open invitation from god to experience everything possible in this life. No are no exceptions, expectations, demands, requirements or strings attached. Free will is pure.

I believe logic would like to have a say in this discussion. If one of the tenets in life is that we each have ‘free will’, how can it be that there is another force called God’s will? The two would be mutually exclusive by nature, since surely there will always be conflicts, and any override of free will, voids it completely.

What proponents of God’s will have to offer is that God’s will is supreme, therefore, any instance where we use our free will in opposition to God’s will, must be abandoned or relinquished.

Of course, our free will allows us to make choices that create pain and suffering for ourselves and for others. It also provides us with the power to make choices that create healing and loving actions.

How we use our free will is entirely up to each of us.

I fully recognize there are dilemmas involved here.

How is anyone to know the truth?

How is anyone to know what God’s will is for them?

How does free will work if it conflicts with what one is told is God’s will? How does God’s will work if it is in conflict with our free will?

The answers depend greatly on what one has been told during their life and their willingness to explore new territory. If there is a strong belief that God’s will is sacrosanct and that someone else has been given the wisdom to explain what it is, there may be little room for an alternative view.

However, if one has been told these things but has never felt comfortable with them, there may be an open door to enter to consider the importance of free will.

Ultimately, I believe that having your own conversation with god, whatever your concept is for god, is the pathway to your own certainness.

I am a firm believer that sitting in stillness, breathing in and out, until a calm center is reached, and opening our mind and heart creates an opportunity for divine connection.

This is the place where all is known.

Choosing Your Memories

If someone asked you to share one of your memories, what would you choose to tell them?

Now imagine the same person asked you to share five or ten or fifty, how many of them would be ‘good’ memories?

If you were given a day or two to conjure up as many memories as you possibly could, how long would it take before you mentioned a ‘bad’ memory?

It fascinates me to consider what my answers to these questions would be. It feels like some sort of subtle test, a way to measure my satisfaction with my life.

I had an occasion recently to investigate this idea up close and personal. As my mom’s power of attorney, it was up to me to sign all the mortgage closing documents on her recent house sale.

I’d promised myself that I would walk through the house before the closing. I wanted a chance to capture the living memories I felt were stored there. I wanted to sweep them up and bring them with me. To store them somewhere safe inside me so that I could hold them, perhaps forever.

As I walked in the front door, the floodgates opened. I can’t recall the very first time I entered the home I grew up in and I that I have been a part of for over sixty years, but so many things stood there in front of me.

The house has so many interesting features and every inch of space is utilized. There is a shelf inset into the wall in the foyer. One of the shelves used to hold a small wooden ship I carved for my father. It had toothpick masts and thread rigging and it took me a long time to build. It’s not there anymore. I have no idea where it went.

I walked into the living room. A place where so many joyous family gatherings were held. A place where a mounted deer head rested above the fireplace. I’d bought it at a garage sale for 25 cents. I thought it was a great deal. I’m willing to bet the seller and his wife thought they’d made a profit. The deer head is gone now. I have no idea where it went.

On into the dining room, where all our family dinners happened. My mom was an excellent cook and I remembered many of the meals we ate there. If I stretched a bit, I could almost taste them. It became my mom’s reluctant bedroom, when it wasn’t safe for her to go up and down the stairs any longer.

Going from room to room brought more and more sweet memories. Words, sounds, feelings. The comings and goings of six decades. All the games, conversations, fears, hopes, and dreams. All the wonderful cookies after school, fresh out of my mom’s oven. The mad crazy ping pong games with my father in the basement, which was too short for our smashing forehands. All the imaginative games with my sister, one of which was pretending to be radio disc jockeys under the dining room table. Don’t ask me why that was our station headquarters. It just was.

Upstairs I walked down the hall to my bedroom. I could still see it as it was when I was a child, the placement of my desk and chair and bed, the Hopi Indian wall hanging, even the closet that had a sort of secret compartment where I stored my prized possessions.

My memory lane is long. The savoring, both touching and sweet.

Perhaps you’ve lived and lost some parts of you, a house, a family member, friend, favored pet or a lessening of your skills and senses. It happens.

What I think matters most to me is what I do with my memories.

Do I let the ‘bad’ ones overtake me, bringing me down and crushing me into silence and grief?

Or do I sift through them until all that are left are the golden, glowing, shiny memories. The ones I wish to keep and hold near to me.

The beautiful thing is, we each get to choose.

Dementia’s Song

I’d like to share a very personal story with you, one that may resonate with your life experiences if you know someone with dementia.

No doubt this condition takes many routes. Some happen quite quickly. Others occur in a slow ebbing spiral, descending almost without notice, until one day the stark differences become painfully obvious.

It demands a very high emotional price, certainly from the one personally experiencing it, but also from those surrounding them. Watching the progression can be numbing, knowing there is so little that can be done.

Each person living through the changes must face their own emotional challenges, which of course are impacted by physical, mental, financial, and spiritual concerns.

I’m guessing that no two experiences are alike, but that there can be help and healing through sharing. That’s why I’m writing this post. I cannot know what assistance it may provide, but saying it here helps me and I hope it opens some doors for you.

Recently I awoke at 4:30 in the morning with a poem inside my mind, waiting for release, asking to be written. I hadn’t been expecting it, and yet it was there. So, I rose and wrote it down and felt a strong urge to put it into the world.

Here it is.

Dementia’s Song

I hope she knows me today.

My mother sits in her chair.

More than half faded from this life.

I cannot tell if she knows me.

And her stare gives nothing away.

I am left to wonder.

Is any part of her still here with me?

Once so sharp.

Now

With so few words.

Is there any promise for tomorrow

Or is that hope gone,

Like the sun winking out

At the end of the day

On the far horizon?

I wonder

Can I surrender

This fantasy inside of me

That I have any control

Over her staying?

I wonder too

Will her love remain

Here with me

When she finally leaves?

Perhaps that is for my heart to decide.

I want it to be so.

I hope she knows me today.

This was written after I’d visited my mom only to discover she didn’t seem to know me anymore. It left me fully disoriented, my world upside down. How could we have had such a good interactive conversation just the day before? Hours ago, that’s all, just a few hours.

I watch her trying to assemble words into sentences. The words will not come. They are like a skittish kitten hiding under a bed. The more you try to coax them to come out, the further they retreat from you.

Something obvious occurs to me.

I have no control. I cannot do anything to change this. I feel helpless.

And another thing occurs to me. Perhaps she feels the exact same way.

I wonder, how am I to deal with this?

A word shines brightly inside of me, grabbing my attention.

Acceptance.

It doesn’t mean I don’t try to help or be supportive, but it does mean I accept the reality we are experiencing. The wisdom inside this teaches me to accept all outcomes. It alerts me that my suffering is caused by my resistance to accept what is.

It is important for me to feel my feelings, to dive headlong into them, rather than trying to avoid them, even though I know it will be painful. By now, I know that it is far less painful to acknowledge my feelings, rather than a prolonged avoidance or resistance to letting them come into the light.

So, I will try to sit with no expectations and just be with her, accepting what each of us is experiencing and centering in love, as best as I can.

Engagement with Life

Do you ever wonder what it means to engage fully with life? Or, what you need to do to interact in a way that creates exactly the experiences you desire while here on this earth plane?

I’d like to share a conversation I recently had with Lia, a part of (god) that comes to me as a feminine voice filled with love.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you may already know about her, but if not, I think it would help for me to explain a little bit.

Lia is always available to me (and to everyone) and waits for me to begin our conversations, although I do believe she places a constant string of reminders in my path. I know she’s there and loves to talk with me, but I have to decide to quiet my world so that I can hear her.

Every time I do, I fall in love with my connection to her.

So, when I felt challenged by the route my life was taking, I literally stopped what I was doing and sat down. I breathed in and out and allowed my mind to slow down until it was at peace. It was then possible for me to engage with her. You see, she never overrides my free will, because this is my life.

The thought that was circling my mind was, ‘can I experience exactly what I choose here on earth’?

This question cycles around and around for me and I desperately wanted an answer. I waited, patiently (well, mostly).

I don’t actually hear an out loud voice, it’s more like I ‘know’ what she’s saying to me.

Lia began speaking, “At this point, with much of your life you are not choosing consciously, rather, you are allowing life to take its own course. This means you are not fully engaged.”

I thought about this for a bit and came up with a three-part conclusion. First, I recognized it was true, I don’t always consciously choose my path. Second, when I do, I don’t consistently choose the same path, so I don’t experience what I say I want to experience. And third, I don’t always believe in what I do choose, so I get very mixed results. I asked, “Is this what you’re talking about?”

Lia acknowledged, “Yes”, then continued, “the engagement I’m speaking about is found in the sacred formula of ‘conceive, believe and act’. This is what determines your level of success and whether you experience your intended choices.”

I needed to let that sink in. It seemed to me there was more to it, so I asked for clarification.

She paused, then told me this, “You can’t just say you want your life to be a specific way and then magically experience your request. It would be helpful if you understood an important nuance. The use of the word ‘want’ produces an experience of ‘wanting’. It does not produce ‘having’. Wanting is an action word without the power to create. It is weak because there is no conviction or action behind it. Similarly, when you express a ‘desire’ or a ‘wish’ for something, it would be wise to recognize neither leads to creation. They are ‘hollow’ words. Their only result is a buildup of more desire or wish fulfillment. Without action, they are both useless.”

I sat back and thought about this, and it became even more obvious to me that words really do matter.

Lia added, “Your cultural vocabulary plays a significant role in your life and how you choose to experience the world. You say that you want to engage fully with life and to experience exactly what you choose. Now that we’ve spoken, I’d like to ask you how you believe this will happen.”

After a moment I responded with these words, “For me to experience anything in this world, I need to consistently conceive, believe, and take action. And part of this active process is ‘claiming’ the results, rather than merely hoping, wishing, wanting, or desiring them.”

I could feel Lia smiling at me and nodding agreement.

I believe I have a pathway now and I wanted to share it with you.

Heart on Fire

What sets your heart on fire? If you stopped right now and made a list, how many things would be on it?

Maybe you have a list already, one that’s blazing inside of you. I’d love to hear about it. I find that when someone shares the dreams that light them up, it inspires me. I catch a part of their glow and feel brighter and there is a desire in me to reach beyond where I am. To reach higher and wider than I have before.

I am constantly watching and waiting in expectation for ideas that will give new dimension to my world.

I came across one recently. I listened to an audiobook by Marie Forleo, titled Everything Is Figureoutable. She is a wonderfully dynamic person who has an incredibly simple and effective strategy for solving life situations. I strongly encourage anyone interested, to check out the link I’ve provided about her at the bottom of this post.

Here’s one of the ideas she suggested. It a simple exercise but if you allow it, it has profound ramifications.

You write down this statement and then complete it with your own personal answer, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”.

I think this is so important that I’ve decided to do the exercise once a month. It appeals to me not only because it is fun, but because it encourages me to explore grand possibilities. Each time I do it, I open to a sense of adventure and excitement and write down my biggest dreams.

So, if you took a few minutes, what would you write down? What do you think would be cool to experience in your life?

I find it works best if you release all the normal limitations we place on our dreams. Just go for it and write down everything you feel like putting out into the universe.

My answers are outlandish now. At first, they were somewhat contained, but I asked myself, ‘why are you restricting yourself’? So, take it from me, let go and write everything that comes to you.

Would it help if I gave you a few of my answers?

If you said ‘no’ then skip to the next paragraph, but if you said ‘yes’, keep reading. Wouldn’t it be cool if…I could share my thoughts, dreams and revelations with people across the world, wouldn’t it be cool…if I could fly, if I could visit Bali, if I could talk with anyone I wanted (now or from any time), if I could see like a hawk, if I could walk the Appalachian Trail, if I could sponsor children to a better life, if I could create amazing art, if I could write something that would brighten someone’s life, if I could dream every night in color, if I could see the aurora borealis from my backyard.

The list of things I can dream is endless and they are not all beyond my reach. That’s part of the benefit and joy of doing this. They trigger something in me that feels real and that creates joy inside me.

So, what do you want to experience in your life?

Here’s something to keep in mind as ideas come to you. Write them down without hesitation. Save the second guessing and analysis for later. This is a brainstorming exercise, so just let go and get carried away.

In case you are wondering, the answer is ‘yes’, some of the ideas I write down inspire me so much that they become real. I invest time, money, and attention in them. I don’t allow myself to get caught up in any kind of restrictive logical thinking which prevents action. I set that thinking aside and instead of asking myself ‘how CAN I do this’, I ask myself, how WILL I do this? The word ‘can’ often stops me, but the word ‘will’ offers me power and I use it to create solutions and bring my ideas to life.

So, wouldn’t it be cool if…

Here’s the link to learn more about Marie Forleo.

http://www.marieforleo.com/2016/05/everything-is-figureoutable/

What Writing My Own Obit Taught Me

Have you ever wondered about the marvelous truths that could be revealed by one simple act of writing? In this case, I’m talking about writing your own obituary notice.

Okay, let me explain.

I know this may sound a little crazy and you needn’t be concerned because, in order to write your own obit, you have to be alive, so all is well. What I want to share with you is that this can be an incredible celebratory experience, quite the contrary to what you might be imagining.

I’ll start at the beginning.

Several years ago, I attended a workshop at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. Our class was given a number of challenging writing assignments. Writing your own obit was not one of them, but the material we covered generated a spark that led me to consider the idea.

I didn’t do it right away. It felt too threatening somehow, so I filed it for later consideration. But like so many things in life that beg for attention, it wouldn’t sit still. So, after a few weeks of trying to ignore it, I gave in.

Because of what I discovered, I’m very glad that I did.

Many things became clearer to me about my life. The first one is that many obits focus on how a person died rather than how they lived. It isn’t as important to me how I leave this world, but I care deeply about how I live while I am here, and I would want others to know something about me. Writing gave me a chance to do a life review and choose some meaningful events and I had an absolutely wonderful time sorting through my memories and soaking up the joy.

Several obits I encountered concentrated on lengthy lists of milestones and life achievements. I wondered; did this truly give value to the person’s life?

What I decided to write about were all the moments of celebration that occurred during my life. The events that gave my life deep meaning and connected me with others. I realized I had lots of my own milestones and a host of noteworthy accomplishments, but they all paled in comparison with the simple moments of sharing with the people I held dearest.

Another aspect of most obits is the listing of relatives who either passed away before the person or who survived them. They are often shown in chronological order and seem, at least to me, somewhat perfunctory. What I decided was to list everyone who brought heart-felt meaning into my life. I wanted to acknowledge them and tell them how much they meant to me. Listing everyone was an intensely beautiful experience for me and I glowed for weeks thinking about so many things we’d shared.

This self-assigned task also provided me with another shift in focus. I noticed a tendency to consider that a life could be defined by a list of the things a person accumulates during their earthly existence. A house, cars, artwork, seasonal property, bank and brokerage accounts, jewelry, titles, memberships. When I started thinking about this, I gravitated to the exceptional opportunities I encountered in my life that led me to deep spiritual connections with others. It became an adventure in cherishing experiences and releasing my attachment to things.

I also realized that the purpose of the money I earned or was given was that it allowed me to trade it for the value of worldly experiences, especially when others were involved. Others who at first were acquaintances, then friends, then kin to me (those I loved the most).

I found this writing exercise to be life changing because it allowed me to alter my perspective and see life as one continual celebration of events.

I wonder, if you chose to accept this assignment, if you would find that true as well.

Profound Puddles in Your Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fortunately, practices were short those days.

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

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

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

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

Maybe you’ve stepped in a few yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

A Gentler Way to Heal

Sometimes a disease may find its way into our life. When it does, the intended cure or treatment may be more painful that the disease itself. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a gentler way to heal?

I am not naive enough to think that all of our experiences with a disease can be easily cured, if at all. I know they can’t.

And even though there may be several treatment options, they might all fail.

What is our resort then?

Its asking a lot, but might it be worth it to try to shift our perspective. Perhaps we could take a deeper look.

Several years ago I wrote the first book in the Little Buddha series. Its the story of a young girl (Claire) who becomes a mentor to a man (Sam) who has been searching his whole life for illusive answers to his questions. He struggles with the idea that she could possibly be wise enough to share the wisdom he seeks, yet something within him opens and allows her in.

She offers him insights, not only to the mysteries of the world, but to his own inner life. Most of them come as a result of the assignments she gives him to complete. In the second chapter of the first book, Sam has been been searching for her without any success, until one day when he sees her lying in a chair in her front yard. He immediately knows she is not well. His worry propels him forward and a conversation follows.

Sam wants to know if there is anything he can do for her. Claire attempts to reassure Sam that although her body is not in harmony, her spirit is alive and well and that Michael is helping her. Sam does not understand her statement and wants to know who Micheal is. Claire explains that he is many things. He is her cousin, but also a ‘lightgiver’, who is one who knows a lot about the ‘light’, or what others would call ‘life’. She goes on to explain that Michael came to show her another way to understand wellness, a better, a gentler way.

Sam asks what Claire means by a better way.

Claire responds, “Well, my doctor says that I must fight and never give up and never give in. But Michael says there is another way. He says that everything we think, feel and say is either from love or from fear. He says that fear is not real. It is there for us to push against and to point the way toward love. It is our choice. So, if we choose to fight our condition, like my sickness, we are feeding it fear and this always creates conflict. And when your energy is already low, any kind of fighting works against you. Michael says that when you are sick and you are forced to slow down, if you can look, you can see things as they are. This can be an enormous gift, because when you look closely at things it can change your perspective and allow you to see the ‘dots’ so they become meaningful to you. Michael says that love is the key, not always easy, but always right. Love creates harmony in the body and in life. He says, the ‘light’ is filled with love. He works with me so that I see how my life is about ‘connecting the dots’ with love.”

Sam is perplexed and requests more of an explanation from Claire. As she often does, she asks Sam to share a meaningful and challenging event from his life. As he does, it becomes clear to him that each decision he made was connected to the one before and the one after. He also learns that labeling each outcome as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ made it harder for him to understand what was happening. Through the process, he discovered that fear, rather than being something to avoid, was actually a beautiful messenger, meant to lead him toward the light, toward love.

Sam gains valuable insight and starts to rearrange his view of the world. He comes to understand that Claire sees her disease not as a punishment, or a trial to be endured or a battle to be won. She places herself in the middle of it all and allows fear to have a voice and to help guide her toward ‘the light’. She acknowledges that her body is not in harmony, but allows her spirit to soar. She steps aside and looks at each moment seeing their connection and embraces the love she finds, using it to return to wellness.

You could see all of this as a gross oversimplification or a scenario unlikely to produce real results. That’s certainly one choice.

And perhaps I would agree with you, had I not had numerous occasions to see how this actually worked in my life. Being able to connect the dots, releasing any strength I’d assigned to good and bad labels, allowing fear to be a trustworthy guide and knowing that everything points toward love has changed my life.

And if you wish to see the connection between dots, I hope that it brings clarity into your life and a gentle wellness into your being.

Permitted Invasion of Stress

Have you ever experienced something in life, where despite your best efforts, things went completely out of control and spun off in all directions, creating total havoc?

I sure have.

It happened again recently. Maureen and I had replaced our front storm door with a brand new quality unit we thought would be ideal for us.

For no apparent reason one of the parts in the lock mechanism retracted and I could not get it to move, even a fraction of an inch. I imagined leaving home and returning only to find that somehow it snapped itself back into place locking us out of our house. And to add to this scenario, of course the key would no longer work. So, I taped over the opening to make sure we’d be able to get back in until we could get it fixed.

A few days later our brand new iMac computer, which had previously been working flawlessly, decided to question our standard password. I entered it and the little gray dots on the screen shook in place, saying in effect, ‘uh uh buddy, not your password.’ So, I tried again. Same result. I called in reinforcements. Maureen entered the password and again if shook it off. We both looked down at the keyboard. Nope, the Cap Lock key was not on.

I waited a bit to see if it would come back to its senses and watched as the screen froze in place and would not respond to any keystroke. I was completely locked out.

So, now my house and my computer were both restricting access. Interesting.

I won’t try to explain in detail, but there were a number of other things happening that were going the same way. And as it happens we were trying to get ready to go away on vacation. I admit that I was stressed out about the intersection of all these problems hitting at once. I took no time to step back and breathe. I didn’t get up and go for a walk or tell myself it would all be okay and that the things I was experiencing would all work out.

No, instead I permitted an invasion of stress into my life and rushed ahead and made matters worse. Instead of dialing Apple Customer Service I mistakenly got through to Apple Care Customer Service. And yes, they are a scam outfit. But given my inner stress and lack of forethought, I fell into their trap, which resulted in having to change all of my passwords and other information and a great deal more stress, and still no functioning computer.

I hope that you don’t have any stories similar to this, but you probably do. You may be able to identify with my confusion and understand why I didn’t step back and more carefully consider my actions.

I believe that everything that happens in life contains hidden gems waiting patiently for us to reveal them. I’ve spoken about this to lots of folks and am often asked to share what has come to me. Sometimes I think the requester wants to judge the benefits I discovered for themselves and see if in their opinion they justify the stress I encountered. Other times I believe there is a genuine curiosity and desire to see how they might be able to reveal gems in their own lives.

Here’s what was revealed this time to me, so that you can see for yourself.

I realized that I am human and will make mistakes and will sometimes berate myself for them. Seeing this clearly allows me to acknowledge my feelings, then release them and any ego attachment to them.

I recognized that fear was the driving force behind all of my stress. And, in my case, the fear represented a lack of faith in the loving universe. This gave me the chance to center myself in my belief that I am loved, protected and cherished by the divine.

I accepted that when I feel stress and time pressure building I loss focus. This helps me to realize I can consciously release whatever stress enters my life and shift my attention to addressing things positively. I also realize that I can stretch time by slowing down, sitting back and breathing into it.

I acknowledged that anger was playing a significant part in my experience. It blurred my vision so that all I could see was unfavorable outcomes. I embraced the idea that being angry is a choice. A choice that does not benefit me and one that requires a high price to be paid. I don’t want to pay this kind of price and I can make better choices. It’s really up to me.

I came to understand that a big part of me was flashing the ‘fairness’ card, enticing me to jump inside the loop of seeing the world as not fair to be treating me this way. The whole idea of fairness is a trap. Quicksand really. The more you struggle, the worse it becomes. I heard a small beautiful voice inside my head saying, “There is no such thing as fairness or punishment and there are no required lessons to learn. You are free to choose to experience life in any way you desire. You can release yourself from anything that feels too heavy or creates stress. Please choose wisely.”

And a companion to fairness rose up during this experience. Control. My desire and my need to control not only the outcome but the process as well. I realized that control is born from fear and I also realized that control is an illusion. We make choices, but we don’t control all outcomes. We are not here by ourselves and there is an incredible web of interconnections throughout the universe. I opened to accepting that there is great wisdom in releasing any sense of control and trusting in the innate intelligence of the universe.

Lastly, I found that when confronted by overwhelming challenges, I can be sustained by consciously releasing whatever rises up in me. I can focus on being patient with myself and offer myself love, knowing I am part of the divine and a radiant being of light. In this way I can be wholly engaged in life, ready for any beautiful encounter that comes my way.

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I Dare You

I dare you to read this post.

I dare you to cross the imaginary line that separates you from where you are and where you could be. A place where you may find something new and worthwhile.

I dare you to cross a line you don’t even see yet. A line that offers you an adventure you weren’t counting on. Can you resist the dare? Do you want to resist it?

As a kid I heard the words ‘I dare you’ pretty often from my friends. Most of the time they were trying to get me to do something stupid. Something that I’d look foolish doing or would likely hurt me and they could enjoy some laughs at my expense. That’s often what young boys do.

Well actually, that’s what older boys do too.

I was fairly good at resisting their pleas, so they escalated the intensity of the phrase, getting louder and louder. I DARE YOU, they would shout. Eventually I had to decide if I would knuckle under or walk away. Unfortunately, I didn’t always walk away and they ended up getting their laughs and yes, I ended up getting hurt.

The older I got the better I was able to ignore those who dared me. But a funny thing happened. I began to take over their taunt and dared myself to do things.

One time I was walking through a train yard and thought it might be fun to hop onto one for a ride. I dared myself to do it and disengaged my brain. The next second I was running alongside the moving train and hoisting myself into the open boxcar. So far, so good I thought.

After the train picked up some speed my brain reengaged and I thought it might be beneficial for me to get off before it sped up any more.

Here’s the thing about jumping off a moving train, in case no one ever dared you to do it. You have to hit the ground running at least as fast as the train is moving or you fall. Hard.

In my case, after jumping off, I took one step and fell forward, a pretty spectacular face plant, into a roadbed of cinders. Cinders are very hard, sharp, unforgiving black rocks that can pierce clothing easily. And they hurt. Quite badly.

Now you would think I would learn from this experience not to do it again. From where I sit today, I would have counseled my younger self to choose some other dare.

You’ve probably guessed already.

Nope. I dared myself to do it again. Perhaps to prove that I can learn from my errors in judgement (mistakes).

So, I dusted myself off and hopped aboard another train. This time, as it sped up, I ran inside the boxcar and jumped out, got my balance and continued running, keeping pace with the train. I slowed after a short distance and then stopped, watching the train disappear into the distance. Ahhh, success! How sweet.

I wonder whether anyone has dared you to do something you didn’t want to do. Or maybe, you decided to dare yourself. Often dares are meant to challenge you and it can be difficult to overcome your fears or to take a chance, not knowing the outcome. Sometimes the risk seems excessive or you’ve seen others attempt and fail and you don’t want to experience the same results.

What if you knew for certain that you could accomplish whatever you or someone else dared you to do? Would you do it then? Do you need that much certainty?

Here’s my dare for you. I dare you to believe that love is the answer to everything. I dare you to accept that you are loved unconditionally by (the universe, spirit, the divine, god, or whatever you view as sacred). I dare you to be the answer to someone else’s prayer or need. I dare you to look inside of yourself and embrace you innate goodness knowing that you are beautiful and worthwhile and radiant.

I believe you are all these things and more.

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