Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are You Going To Be When You Grow Up

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

Do you remember ever being asked this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Another Look

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People in my life.

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

Folks in the news.

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

Events that happen to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenging Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will The Light Be On (my title)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you enjoy the story too.

A Visit From Sadness

How often would you say you feel sad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sadness, like every other feeling, comes and goes.

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

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

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

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

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

Celebration

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

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

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

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

This day feels different to me from other days.

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

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

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

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

Yes, I mean right now in this moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazardous Waste Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Hazardous Waste List

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

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

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

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

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

Do they come from love or fear?

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

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

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

(OR) Everything Serves You Indirectly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything Serves You Directly (OR)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could sense Lia smiling at me.

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

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

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

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