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.

Ideas

Here’s a mystery for you to consider.

Where do ideas come from?

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the number of ideas that come to me. Far more arrive than I feel I can actually accomplish, despite wanting them all to become real.

At other times, no single idea stands out. There is just a swirl of activity inside me, but no clarity whatsoever.

It’s hard to make sense of this phenomenon.

Recently I was experiencing a wave of wonderful ideas and wondering what to do with them all. I found it very challenging to prioritize them or organize them in any meaningful way.

Maybe there are times when this happens to you too.

As usual I decided to ask my divine guide, Lia (which stands for Love In Action), a part of god who speaks to me in an ethereal feminine voice, to help me understand what was happening.

She told me to think of ‘ideas’ as menu choices and to choose the one (or ones) that most appeal to me. The ones that deeply absorb me or that I feel drawn to create or simply find the most joy in.

She went on to say that it was very important to realize that I might feel a sense of obligation or stress or some other negative emotion during the process of bringing an idea to life. She counseled me to release any idea that produced these feelings.

I guess Lia felt it would be helpful to provide an example that would stand out for me, and she did.

She said it would be like my going to a delightful restaurant and ordering liver and onions, which I can’t stand, and forcing myself to eat it. Ugh! Point taken.

Lia went on to say that all of the ideas I receive are flowing ‘to me and through me’ to have a voice in the world, if I choose to give them one. And before I could respond, she added, that if I chose not to act on any of the ideas, they would travel on and find a ‘home’ elsewhere. No worries.

This prompted a question in my mind about the nature of ideas.

“So, all these ideas are on a journey of their own, headed into reality, but not necessarily by or through me?”

Lia responded, “Yes, ideas have a life of their own and will seek out those that wish to bring them to into reality. Remember, even though you don’t like liver and onions, someone else thinks it’s a wonderful meal.”

This put an entirely different spin on things for me. I’d been feeling pressure to give every idea that came my way a life. And here was Lia telling me that it was not necessary, nor even beneficial for me to feel this way.

She encouraged me to consider how often it happens that the same movie or book themes take center stage or that the same invention happens, but in different countries across the globe.

Lia explained that ideas are energy in movement. They seek out those that are likely to be receptive, sometimes appearing once and other times coming back repeatedly.

I confessed that, at times, I feel so limited and can only help a few ideas become realized.

Lia responded by saying, “This is not true, you are not limited, but if it feels true for you, it becomes true for you. I encourage you to allow yourself the emotional freedom to give life to what moves you with joy and release anything that does not come from joy. When you use this principle as your barometer, all is well.”

Starving Your Inner Demons

Do any inner demons haunt you? Are they offering to rule your whole world for you?

If they are, what are you feeding them? Is their diet giving them their strength?

These may seem like unusual questions to ask, but there is a serious side to them.

Have you ever wondered how much of your behavior is prompted by your inner demons? Are you courageous enough to ask?

I don’t think I know anyone who is completely free. No one that doesn’t hear inner voices calling to them, asking them to come closer.

Perhaps, you are afraid to shorten the distance between you and these voices. That’s one way to approach things, but it has never worked for me, nor for others I’ve spoken with. Maybe you’d like to try another way.

I’ve talked before about the necessity of first feeling your feelings, because without doing so, you are running blind. You can’t see what is right in front of you. And you can’t follow any path forward.

Realizing that the feelings you are experiencing are there to serve you is one way to start. They are not in front of or behind you to threaten you. They merely want to walk along side of you and be acknowledged. They have a message for you.

If you gather your strength and release your attachment to your fear, your feelings will open you to a new perspective. And they will have a chance to deliver their golden message to you.

It is the same with inner demons.

We may think it wise to try to defeat them in battle. We may choose to pick up a weapon to hit them, but they become ferocious with us and will not back down.

If we tell ourselves, they are not there and try to ignore them, they bound around us and stare at us face to face. They taunt us and will not go away.

But perhaps we wish to alter our course and refuse to feed them. Maybe our choice is to without any food from them.

You may be wondering, how is this done?

I have my very own inner demons. It pains me to say so, but it is the truth. Maybe it’s the same for you.

My inner demons have various names. One of them is called abandonment, while another is rejection. They are sort of twins and often work together.

They say they are with me to protect me. I wonder who they believe they are protecting me from.

They cause a great deal of pain, for as long as I allow.

I need to repeat that last sentence, so you don’t miss it.

They cause a great deal of pain, for as long as I allow.

When they arise, sometimes out of nowhere, I now choose to stand still, open my eyes wide, slow my breathing and ask them to speak to me. They don’t want to. They would rather that I become angry, so that they can feed from me. Or withdraw, so they can have my energy. But I make them talk to me and tell me how my feelings of abandonment or rejection can serve me, rather than sap me.

No matter what they desire, I am still the one in charge, so they must share their wisdom with me. The harsh voices they use no longer scare me, because despite themselves they are here to help me. Abandonment tells me that I don’t have to feel or be alone. Rejection says that, although not everyone will hear what I have to say, there are those who want my words and my heart.

They have no choice but to serve me. Everything does, even them. Given no food or energy, they are starved for my attention and willingly lay down and go to sleep at my feet.

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Ballast

Ballast seems like a funny word to me. One day it just popped into my head out of nowhere, so I decided to look it up. I thought I knew what it meant already, but as is so often the case, I was mistaken.

The first usage given, for both the noun and the verb, refers to ships. Ballast is some kind of heavy material, like sand, gravel, iron or lead, which is placed low in a ship in order to improve its stability or refers to the stabilizing force offered by these materials.

Interesting.

I wondered how that might apply of our human lives. What sort of things stabilize our existence and give us ballast?

No doubt the answer is different from person to person, but I thought it might be useful to consider if there were some beneficial principles involved.

So, suppose one day you’re walking down the street and a strong wind starts to blow, what gives you ballast? I guess you could fill your pockets with sand or gravel or, if you could even find them, iron or lead. Sure, you could, but not very practical, huh?

You could just move indoors until the strong wind goes by. That would solve your problem. But what about those problems in life that you can’t get away from by hiding inside? What gives you ballast for them?

I know that one of my solutions was to try to block difficult problems as soon as they appeared. I told myself, nope not going to affect me!

But the truth was they did affect me and by spending my energy trying to block or deflect them, it caused a great deal of inner tension and made it even more difficult to deal with the other things going on in my life.

It wasn’t until I started attending Unity Church, that I began to realize, that I had to give myself the chance to feel my feelings. Without taking this scary step, I was never able to move beyond the fear and the subsequent tension it created.

I confess it is challenging to make this shift and, as much as I’d like to say I’m beyond it, that probably isn’t the case. I still have to remind myself to go inside and be honest. And, I still need to feel whatever I’m feeling, before I can move on.

Letting my heart sit with my fears, deep inside me, now feels like ballast to me. They can be very heavy at times, but they draw me in and by allowing them to speak to me, I can create the space for their release.

As it turns out, one ballast for me is the strength of knowing I am safe in this world, which is another Unity idea. When I am challenged, I can remind myself that there are those who want me to succeed. And, there are those who love me and will help me. They are in my corner and it gives me peace knowing that no matter what, they are ready to steady me when life becomes rocky.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking, well, good for you that you have a support group, but I don’t, so who is going to assist me, especially when I experience tough times?

I know there are lots of different groups that seek to provide the help that each of us needs, but if you can’t find them or they don’t find you, I have one place you can still go for stability and support.

I’ve spoken of it before and will again. It is the divine, the sacred spirit that lives inside of you. All it takes is to speak out and ask, then listen with your whole being. I believe that the divine stands waiting at all times for our approach and all it takes is an open heart, ready to believe, ready to be loved.

For me, I know this to be my truth. I hope it becomes yours as well.

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SPECIAL NOTE

If you want to know more about having a relationship with the divine (god), please see the Books page on this website, where there is a description of my book, talking with (god). If you can’t afford it, please let me know  (use the Contact page) and I’ll send you a free copy.

Who Are Your Life Teachers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what about your experiences?

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

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

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

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

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Feelings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One thing, one feeling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SPECIAL NOTE:

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

Expectations

I still find it upsetting when my expectations are not met. It doesn’t seem to matter what size they are, the unsatisfied feelings I get are pretty much the same. Some part of me knows there is a wealth of value in every experience of my life, but, when I’m in the moment, I often can’t see that.

Here’s a real-life example.

Despite all of my best efforts, my first website post wasn’t visible on Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 7:30am as I’d promised and I’d expected.

I confess, I panicked. I sat in front of my computer, frustrated, unhappy and frankly more than a little angry. And, I had no idea how to fix the problem. I believe I might even have said a bad word or two. Okay, I did say a bad word of two.

Even though I eventually found a work-around, I realized I had many more changes that needed to be made so that you could navigate more easily. And, so that you can share your comments and read those which others have written. I’m still working on these.

Looking back, I understand that I reacted very emotionally. Nothing specifically wrong with that, after all, I am human. But, were my reactions helpful and what might have served be better?

Well for one thing, I could have stopped and allowed myself to sit in stillness. I could have breathed in and out slowly until my emotions came to a halt. And, I could have allowed a part of me to stand at a distance and observe what was going on inside of me. From this place I could have acknowledged my feelings, encouraged them to speak to me and embraced them. If I had, I might have understood what was beneath the surface. I might have realized that each feeling came to serve me and offer me a message.

Many years ago, my wonderful friend and Unity minister, Jim Fuller, shared in one of his sermons that it is very important to ‘feel your feelings’. This idea was a foreign concept to me and had not been a part of my cultural training. And yet, I sensed how significant and necessary it could be for me.

So, I began expressing my feelings in a daily journal. It’s been almost six years and I’m still writing every day and discovering truths hidden beneath the surface.

And now, back to my opening paragraph about my unmet expectations. When I stood still and gently breathed in and out and let my intense emotions drain away, I found that my fear of failure sat directly on top of me. Fear that I could not manage the technology necessary to communicate with you. Fear, that despite my deep desire, I could not keep my promises to you and share my thoughts based on when I said I would.

So, I turned to Lia, one of my names for (god), which stands for ‘love in action’, and asked for her wisdom.

She reminded me of a simple, yet powerful message she’s offered me in the past, “just show love”. These words sunk into me and allowed the power of my expectations, and the fears underneath them, to fade away, replaced by a marvelous sense of love.

I hope to remember this wisdom sooner next time.