Love In The Present Moment

I’ve been wondering lately if it might be possible to find love and express love in everything I do.

I ask myself, is this what Yeshiwa (Jesus) and Buddha did? Is it what Mother Teresa, and Gandhi did? Does the Dalai Lama live this way?

When I ask myself this question, my first response is- no way!

No matter how spiritually connected I may feel at a given moment, I don’t think I could remain conscious enough to let love flow through me like this.

There are just too many triggers for me in life. I’m not even sure I could do this for thirty minutes straight. Could you? Could any but the most spiritually gifted among us?

So, I think to myself, maybe it would be a good idea to set my sights lower. Perhaps there might be a way to increase my awareness enough so that I could hold others gently in my heart and offer them some love, realizing that even if I couldn’t do it all the time, this would still be better.

But I suspect, even this would be very challenging, and this starts an inner dialogue. Part of me has already decided it is not possible to find or express love in every moment, so why try? This part of me is ready to let myself off the hook and I haven’t even begun.

Another part of me enters the conversation with this thought. If you only do the things that are easy, what will you ever accomplish in life. Are you not going to try? Are you that afraid of failure?

A third voice requests my attention. It’s quieter, but there is power in it. It asks me a simple question. What would it change for you if you could find and express love in all that you do?

I hear snickers in the background from the first two voices and then silence.

There is a peaceful momentary pause, giving me a chance to respond. Well, I thought, it could change everything for me.

I would be able to lighten up, to release my fears, to draw others into my world, to smile with ease, to open my heart, to give, to graciously receive, to hug with my whole being. A list flows out of me. A truly wonderful list. I can feel its presence and its power.

The first voice returns and speaks loudly, sure, this sounds very nice, but how do we get from (here) where we are to (there) where we want to be? Do we have to put on rose-colored glasses first?

The third voice takes no offense and offers soothing words and a question. Do you like treasure hunts?

We ask the third voice, where did that come from? It waits patiently until we answer.

Well, yes, we do.

Wonderful it responds. I want to share a secret with you. You knew it at one time, but have forgotten, so let me remind you.

One of the most beautiful things about this world is that we’ve hidden treasure everywhere.  Every single experience you will encounter throughout your life has treasure in it. Some lie on the surface and are easy to spot. Others are buried deeply and may require you to dig to find them. But each one of them is worth pursuing. They may at first seem dusty, but each will sparkle and shine once you polish them.

How do we find them we asked?

You find them by opening your heart and expressing love. The more you do this, the greater the love you will experience. It’s up to you and what you choose. Choose wisely, my love.

All the voices quieted but one.

I want to try, it said.

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A Different Kind of Hero

There seem to be all kinds of heroes in the world. Most of them appear to share certain qualities like; bravery, conviction, courage and determination. Others exemplify honesty, strength, moral integrity and protection of the defenseless. And then there are those who offer themselves as a sacrifice for what is often considered, the greater good. Heroes seem to possess a selflessness and inspire others to do the same through their actions.

Several dictionaries believe a hero is a person who is admired or idolized or endowed with divine or mythical characteristics. They may be a warrior or one who has achieved unusual success, far beyond normal people.

I decided to check out the internet and see who is listed as a hero. This is one list I found; Minnie Vautrin, Norman Bethune, Alan Turing, Raoul Wallenberg, Chiune Sugihara, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Oswaldo Payá, Óscar Elías Biscet, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

I was surprised to discover I only knew four of the eleven names on the list. Why was that? Am I that out of touch with the idea of a hero?

And where were Mahatma Gandhi, Jonas Salk, Winston Churchill, to say nothing of all of the divine spiritual teachers who have lived and walked the earth?

I wondered what would happen if I went to a crowded place and asked people, as they passed by, who they considered to be a hero? A famous sports figure, a nurse or doctor, a musician, a super wealthy person, perhaps especially if they donated large sums to charities?

My heroes are closer to home. They are simple people who decide that it’s important to form deep relationships with others. They understand that listening is the key. They suspend their own opinions and beliefs, in order to understand another person’s point of view.

And, after listening carefully, they ask lots of questions. Ones aimed at revealing what is important and meaningful. They express empathy, so that they feel what it must be like to live in another’s world.

They consciously choose to explore. To move outside their own world and imagine a different kind of life. And yes, they choose to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’.

To me, that’s a great image because it prompts a person to realize what it is like physically, to either squeeze into smaller shoes or slid around in larger ones, while still trying to walk. Neither is comfortable and both present their own complications.

Sometimes I can do this, but most of the time, I can only take a few steps before I fall out of the shoes or kick them off.

In my world, I see and have seen heroes, who brave others worlds. They move into and beyond the struggle of truly knowing the challenges others face and they stay with them until they understand. They stay and help figure out the best way forward.

Somehow, they make their feet fit into others shoes. They are splendid people who show a kind of daily courage I find extraordinary.

For thirteen years I worked in the field of assisting and supporting those with physical and developmental disabilities. There were incredible heroes I came into contact with every day. Those who received services and those who provided them, both walking a mile in each other’s shoes. It was truly an amazing experience and one I carry with me wherever I go. I salute them all.

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Default Settings

I used to think that I reacted to situations one by one, and responded depending on a variety of factors. But, the more I’ve paid attention, the more I see how untrue this is.

What I actually have is a series of default settings, sort of automatic presets that kick in before I consciously think about them. It’s not that I want it this way and it often creates problems for me, prompting me to ask, “how did it get this way?”

For years, I would try to answer this and other questions aimed at explaining ‘why’? Most of these explorations failed and I found myself spending excessive amounts of time analyzing things, only to realize I couldn’t move forward, if I remained stuck in the past.

To me, it’s another version of the same dilemma, when applied to the future. I can plan and speculate all day long, but the truth is I can’t predict or experience the future before it arrives, so why try?

Okay, so what’s left?

How about accepting that my default settings exist, then see if they serve me somehow. Do they make it easier for me to cope with my life, without creating unnecessary problems? If so, perhaps I’m better off because of them, so why not keep them.

But if they don’t serve me in some way, maybe it’s time to consciously choose to either release them or to substitute new defaults for them, ones that improve my life.

But I wonder, how is this to be done?

One way comes to mind. It requires a little bit of work, but I suspect it’s well worth the time.

It involves an imaginary bell that you set to ‘ding’ every time one of your default settings gets triggered. Images often help, so imagine one of those small bells that dings when you enter a store. Pushing the door open makes it swing forward and back and ring, alerting the staff to your presence. Using this imagery and connecting it with your awareness provides an alert to you.

Here’s how it works for me.

One of my defaults is impatience. It shows up a lot, way more than I would like. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you already know one thing that sets it off, slow drivers. But, rest assured, there are many others; toasters that take forever to toast (only to burn it when I’m not watching), playing the game UNO, waiting for the shower to get hot enough to step under and long customer lines, to name a few.

So, let’s take long customer lines as an example.

Awareness is the key and the sooner I realize I’ve been triggered, the quicker I can adjust. And, the faster I can pull out my prepared speech. What speech, you might ask?

It’s really more a set of questions and it goes something like this (with my likely answers in parentheses).

“You see what’s happening, right? (yes) You know this situation always creates upsetting feelings for you, correct? (yes) Do you really want or need to continue experiencing this? (no) So, what other response could you choose? (ummm) Okay, I’ll help you. You could release it, telling yourself it’s not worth getting upset about. (I’ve tried that without success) Or, you could choose a new reaction (like?). You could look around your environment for something interesting, you could talk to someone, you could sing to yourself, you could close your eyes and breathe or any of a hundred other choices (do you think that would work, really?). There is one way to find out- give it a try the next time the bell dings. You can’t know if it’s worth it until you try. So, next time, listen for the ding and make a wiser choice.

Seems like a good idea to me, and maybe my impatience will get a chance to rest, opening me to new possibilities. That’s the plan.

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Climbing

I offer some prose for you, to take you away from where you are right now. Imagine for a moment that you are here, inside this short poem. The “I” the poem begins with is…you. Imagine you are young enough to easily climb. Strong, supple, fearless. Ready to discover and explore. To see something new. To feel something new. Let go, if only for a moment…

I am climbing higher

up into the tallest branches

beyond all those

that walk the flat land

higher and higher

until I no longer hear them

until their words

fade into the wind

I am

above

almost a part of the clouds

I feel

alone

and yet

a part of everything

how can that be

where would I be

if

there is no higher to climb

perhaps

in heaven

I wrote most of this on the spot, in response to knowing it needed a place to live. So, I’m giving it to you. You get to decide what it means, if anything.

It makes me wonder about gifts and giving. Where do gifts come from? Are they given from the heart or from somewhere else? Which ones mean the most or are they all the same?

A smile, a hug, a new Mercedes Benz. What gives them value?

Is it more fun to be the giver or the receiver? Does the cost matter?

I ask myself lots of questions. I don’t always have the answers, but it certainly opens me up to ponder them.

What questions do you ask yourself? Do they open you up? Do they bring you closer to heaven?

I am often told that I ask good questions. By that, I believe folks mean that what they hear opens a part of them that had previously been closed off. Unavailable for them to access, preventing them from recognizing a part of their truth. Something they needed to grow, expand or to brighten their world.

What would brighten your world?

Is there a tree you would like to climb? One that would take you higher and higher, to a quiet place? If you find this tree, remember, you are strong enough, supple enough and fearless enough to climb and see above, perhaps even to a part of heaven.

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Asking

One of the most consistent things I’ve heard about me in my life is that I ask good questions. It is a skill I spent a lot of time developing and has almost always proven to be beneficial, mostly for others, but also for myself.

It is a curious thing, this idea of asking. It is both encouraged and discouraged, depending on the circumstances. Parents often invite children to try new things and ask questions while they are learning. This is also true in school, but mostly applies to learning facts not questioning the teacher or the school’s policies.

Asking questions may also result in a lot of frowning when the subject of the asking broaches taboo topics, like politics, religion, a person’s weight or orientation. Actually, the list can be rather long.

Recently, I was thinking about the value of asking, mostly because I often refrain from asking for things for myself. I wonder why I do that? Perhaps I’m not alone. Maybe you do it too.

So, I spent some time and came up with several reasons why asking is such a good idea and why it is important for me to shift my perspective and find the value in asking.

Here’s what I want to share with you.

Asking prompts action. To me, it is not a step by step process, but rather an opportunity to purposeful choose the experience one wishes to claim as their own. Each question aids in exploring options and taking action.

Asking also creates an opening. It has the power to dislodge ‘stuck stuff’ and open some space so that one can choose whatever option seems wisest to them.

Asking generates excitement. It ignites sparks and wonderful ideas can spring forth and catch fire.

Asking initiates dialogues and connects people. It brings folks closer and clears the way forward in relationships. I’ve seen it happen so often that folks have conversations to try to resolve issues and get just so far then stall, when asking one more question might open the right door for them.

Asking sharpens our focus and provides opportunities to deepen thinking and create clarity. It forces folks to define situations, encouraging both analysis and insight, so that the direction forward is easier.

Asking can help us to let go of whatever we are asking was about. What I mean is, there is power behind every question in our lives and sometimes the power overwhelms us. By asking questions, we can unlock some of the power, releasing us and giving us some distance and peace.

Asking provides clarity, perhaps not immediately, but as a result of thinking about the issues and giving ourselves time to gain insights.

And, asking helps us to put out into the world what we hope to experience. Defining our questions shapes our view of the world. And once the questions exist and are real, we have the opportunity to form answers and create what we desire.

I find that it is always helpful for me to know what I am asking for and to have a sense of the actions I need to consider or perform in order to arrive where I want to be in my life.

I find it valuable and necessary to give myself permission to ask for what my heart desires. I haven’t been very good at this, but I’m interested in changing.

So, I’d like to ask you for something. If you find some merit in these posts, would you please tell a friend and invite them to join us here at my website: https://messagesforinspiration.com/

Or, if you’re open to it, invite more than one friend, because I would love to connect with as many people as I can. Thank you.

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Stories We Tell Ourselves

Three different thoughts occurred to me recently. Interestingly, they seemed connected, so I’m going to string them together in a series of posts for you.

The first one is about the ‘Stories We Tell Ourselves’ and how they impact our lives. The second post I’m calling, ‘Cease Fire’, and it is an opportunity for us to call a truce with ourselves. The third is an extension of the first two and is titled, ‘Claiming Your Best Life’ and may provide you a new perspective about the way you live.

I’d like to ask you a question first. Take whatever time you need to consider your answer.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the main story be?

Of course, there are tons of sub-stories, each with their own plot lines and twists and surprising endings. But, what is your main story about?

I’ll assume you’ve come up with something, even if it’s a quick answer. Now, give it a moment to sit with you, then ask yourself if it is YOUR story or the story others have told you about yourself.

When I’m in a reflective mood, I often conclude that I’m really repeating old stories I’ve been told by others or ones where I’m responding to what I think I want my story to be, but not what it is. It can be pretty confusing.

Here’s another couple of questions. Is your story mostly good or mostly bad? Has it taken the turns you want or fallen short of your expectations? And, how susceptible are you to complying with what others want your story to be?

These can be very difficult questions to sort out and work through.

The first story that came to me was, The White Knight. The protector, the fixer, the shiny one. I don’t think anyone told me this was MY story. Rather, I believe the image of the white knight and the values surrounding the image were appealing to me. I have little doubt that I built this image to make myself feel stronger and to give myself a sense of worthiness. I liked the idea of riding in and rescuing someone in distress.

I believe what happened over the course of my life was that I took bits and pieces of others stories and added them to my own. And, I listened to what others said when they talked about me and accepted what I felt fit and rejected whatever didn’t.

Although your story may be completely different, does any of that apply to your story? Do you feel that you created your story and modified it to suit a view you liked?

Or perhaps, if you are dissatisfied with your story the question becomes, did you accept too much of what others told you? Have you allowed their story of you, to become your story of you?

I know it can work this way. I’ve seen it happen in my own life, after all, White Knights do fall off their horses. And, there are also more powerful knights in the kingdom who gain favor by knocking white knights off their horses.

To me the biggest question comes when you arrive at the place where you no longer like YOUR story.

That’s where the next post continues, so please come along for the ride.

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More Heaven

Imagine that you are a being of light. You have form, but no tangible substance. And as light, you flow.

Imagine that you know everything there is to be known. For you, there are no unanswerable questions. You are pure awareness, pure consciousness.

You are part of the ocean of bliss. It is your home and you call it, heaven.

I was a part of this bliss. I am still a part of this.

This matters to me because the awareness of this represents an unbreakable promise, that I will return home, after my earth life is complete. There is immense freedom in this assurance.

There was a moment in time where I chose to shift my awareness and decided to live a life of a spiritual being, as a human being.

There was a ceremony for me in heaven. A passage. A losing and a gaining.

I chose to experience the ‘great forgetting’, where I released my awareness of all things, so that I could live without knowing the answers to all of my questions. I chose to shift my perspective so that I could create and experience every part of my human life with newness. And I accepted the gift of free will, the most precious of all gifts.

With free will, there are no requirements or obligations upon me. This is an incredibly beautiful thing, when I wholly accept and embrace it.

This matters to me because I am able to choose my own direction without restrictions, regardless of what my culture teaches. I can consciously choose to correct whatever I see or feel are my mistakes, not because I have to, but because I want to. Everything is open to me.

With the gaining, there was also a giving, because in this transition I chose to believe in separation. I chose to leave behind the truth, that I am part of the one, the whole, the holy.

I chose to accept what my culture taught me, that I have missing pieces and that I should live my life searching for them.

I accepted that (god) was not personally knowable or touchable and that my only way to the truth was through someone else’s voice.

And I did not see that fear was my beautiful messenger.

I did not realize that all of what happened to me was a part of my plan, so that I could create and experience anything I desired.

Understanding this, matters to me because I can wake up and abandon this illusion if I choose. I can give up my search for any missing pieces, in favor of accepting the truth. The truth that I am already whole. And I can live this human life, knowing that (god) lives within me, in each and every moment, and that when my human life is complete, I will be reunited with bliss and admitted to heaven.

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