What Is Your Stride

What is the distance between your feet as you walk? Do you take generously long strides or tentative short ones?

What do you think it says about you?

What messages are you sending to yourself?

It strikes me that there is something quite valuable to learn from spending some time observing this simple physical phenomenon.

I find that I take very long strides. I can gobble up distances quickly, especially if my pace is intentionally fast. The other day I wondered why this was. It seems to be my default. But why? And what, if anything, does it mean to me?

I had to sit with these questions.

As you probably already know, sitting with questions can be somewhat uncomfortable. I find I want to know the answers and am not always patient enough to wait. I’m inclined to want to move on to something I can solve.

Well, there’s a pretty big clue for me!

Perhaps one of the reasons I take long strides is because I am impatient. That feels very familiar to me. I think I’ve told myself this before. And this answer seems to link automatically to another insight. It’s the one about ‘running out of time’.

There is an internal time clock running in the background somewhere inside my head. It prompts me to move and suggests I need to move NOW, or risk running out of time to get done what I say I want.

And the clock is connected to a list, identifying all the tasks and accomplishments I seek to complete. Tick tock, time to move and take some more long strides.

It’s interesting to me, that when I take long strides, I find I often lose my balance. Could it get any more metaphorically obvious?

The sheer act of walking too quickly affects my balance.

Hmmm.

When I’m conscious of this, I try to slow down and shorten my stride and give myself an opportunity to consider the path I’m taking. Would it enhance my life to be more careful and more patient?

I wonder too, where am I going in such a hurry anyway?

I’m not sure exactly. And this observation feels important too.

I encourage myself to stop and sit for a while and consider. Where am I going and how do I want to get there? And how do I want to feel once I arrive? Each of these questions seems worthy of answering.

So, here’s a question for you.

What is the length of your stride?

Is it slow and thoughtful? Is it just the right amount of slow, or is it so tentative that you risk never arriving anywhere?

Does it vary? Does it change whether you’re going uphill (facing hardships or challenges) or downhill (when everything seems easy, and nothing is out of place)?

I wonder whether, like me, you’ve rarely thought about this. I wonder too, whether now that a seed has been planted, what will happen next for you?

For me, I believe it’s time for some changes.

I’m going to try to shorten my gait and stay in balance more often. I’m going to give myself a break by releasing the inner need to beat the clock ticking away inside my head. I plan on hitting the pause button, so that I can find a new sense of balance, without the misplaced belief that I will run out of time. And I’m going to pay attention to the length of my stride and listen to see if it wants to share a message with me.

Learning Gratitude

Is it possible to learn gratitude or does it come naturally?

Maybe, it’s both.

If I asked you, what do you think you’re likely to answer?

More and more I hear about gratitude as a practice, something you incorporate into your life, so when I read a book recently that focused some attention on this, I decided it was time to see what it meant to me.

While in Maine this past summer on vacation I came across an intriguing book. It’s written by Chris Gentry and is titled, The Little Book of Prosperity. It’s divided into twelve chapters, which I discovered were organized in a very thoughtful progression. It starts with goals and dreams, then taking action and growth. These chapters are followed by self-confidence, gratitude, and positive self-talk. The book escalates into a chapter on master mind (groups) and concludes with positivity, decision, perseverance and giving back. I dutifully read and did the encouraged exercises in order with one exception. I waited until the end to complete my dream collage.

I found each chapter provided a great deal of inspiration and support for my earth adventure. When I arrived at the section about gratitude I decided to proceed slowly.

At the end of the chapter, Chris recommended that readers commit to a daily practice of gratitude for ninety days. He suggested that each morning a journal be kept where you would record at least five things you were grateful for. The items could be anything, big or small, quick or long lasting, it didn’t matter as long as they were true for you.

I decided to embrace this practice and see what sort of change(s) it made in my life. I confess it was difficult to do every day because sometimes I got distracted or felt too busy. I had to remind myself of my commitment and that I would never know the worth of this if I didn’t give it my best shot.

So, in late September 2021 I began keeping track. I noticed that the ‘quality’ of the items I chose varied substantially and their range was extremely wide. As a sometimes overachiever I added some items in the evening and occasionally noted more than the suggested five items. Since I was doing this for me and not as an assignment to be handed in, I felt fine with setting up my own rules.

Several times through the first ninety days I lost steam and considered abandoning the challenge. That only lasted a day or two and I ended up sticking with the program and being very grateful that I did.

When the ninety days was up, it wasn’t even a consideration as to whether to continue or not. I found the practice to be so valuable that I incorporated it in my daily routine. When I’m too rushed, I give myself permission to record my five (or more) items when I get to it, as long as it’s the same day. It’s now been 146 days and I can foresee this continuing far into the future.

Why? And what could be in it for you, if you decide to embrace this as one of your practices?

My simple answer is…A LOT.

The most striking impact this had on me is the change it brought about in the way my day began. It helped set an extremely positive tone. It raised my conscious awareness of how many wonderful things I experience in my life. And although this was a morning practice, my attitudinal shift stayed with me throughout the day. I found myself feeling thankful for so many things I’d previously taken for granted, which added remarkably to my positive outlook on life. It also broadened what I considered valuable and worthwhile and helped make me more aware of expressing gratitude to others.

And I discovered that the changes in me were reflected in who and what I encountered during the day, which was a huge bonus.

If you decide to give this a try, I’d love to know what your experience is like. And if you know or ever stumble across Chris Gentry, please be sure to tell him how grateful I am for his contribution to me and the world.

PS- I did try to reach out to him but wasn’t successful.

Giving In

What if we gave in?

I want to be clear here.

I am not talking about giving up or resigning from life. What I am talking about is a kind of letting go and not holding on so tightly to specific results.

When there is only one outcome that we find acceptable, we are limiting life and all the other wonderful opportunities that could happen. It’s as if we are creating roadblocks that prevent us from seeing and experiencing a larger world.

I’ve done this so many times in my life.

It’s hard not to. We are often programmed to want what we want. To set goals and achieve them. To create wish lists. To ask for very specific things; a certain car or watch or book…you name it. And sometimes we can even become obsessed by what we hope to possess.

We tend to think that we need to visualize or manifest only one thing or one outcome or we risk feeling like a failure.

So, what I’m really asking is whether we are capable of giving up this kind of thinking, this kind of asking, and this kind of expecting?

What if we gave in and it expanded our world?

Think of it as opening to a full allowance for everything to be possible, not just the one result our conscious mind can dream up. Our lives are so much bigger than that.

When I consider this, I wonder, what would that look like? How would that feel? What could happen if I could shift my attitude and mind-set?

My immediate answer is…anything could happen!

At first this sounds a bit scarry. ‘Anything’ is pretty wide open and could include things I’m not ready for. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we tend to want specific outcomes, so that we both get what we want and don’t get surprised by other things.

But how do we really know that what we think we want is what is best for us? I think the answer to that is, we don’t.

How could we?

And this begs another question, a far deeper one.

Will life, the universe, god, or whatever concept that feels right to you, provide whatever is best for us, if we give it a chance, and don’t shut the door and focus on only one thing?

Can we find a way to trust that?

That is a very tough question and one I’ve struggled with over the years.

What form of proof would you require before you could accept that what you experience in life is exactly right for you?

On my best days I am patient and open. I encourage myself to pay attention and carefully watch what happens. I counsel myself to accept what appears in my life, believing it is meant for me. I let go of what I’ve established as my goals, aims or desires and allow what comes to fill, feed and nourish me. When this happens, I recognize a greater truth, that I am cared for and all things in my life serve me. It may take a bit of time before I see how they do, but if I let go of my expectations, I come to see this clearly.

There is an awesome grace in giving in and letting go of whatever creates disharmony in our world and I am grateful each time I allow this to happen.

Words Matter

Words matter, the ones you speak out loud, the ones you keep inside and especially the words you tell yourself.

Just the other day I was writing in my journal, and it struck me how differently the words expressed would be if I truly looked at each one.

Here’s a sentence I wrote.

Perhaps there would be some benefit to me if I acknowledged all of my concerns and accepted their potential outcomes, in advance.

There is a lot of meat in this sentence for me, but before I say anything about the content, I want to share that upon rereading it, I felt several changes needed to be made.

Here’s what the sentence looks like when rewritten.

There is benefit for me in acknowledging all of my concerns and accepting their potential outcomes in advance.

Can you sense the difference?

I certainly can. To me the shift is in its definitiveness. There is no ‘perhaps’ about it and rather than there being any question about the benefit of acknowledging my concerns, there is a sense of assurance about doing so. That is a big difference and it made me wonder how often my words reflect my true desires and intentions.

In this case, the content also changed. It shifted from being a question to being a statement that there is great value to me in allowing my concerns to surface, knowing that when I accept them in advance, I can discover their worth. There is power and strength where there had been concern and worry.

Words matter.

They each have their own energy and we are susceptible to it. If you are paying attention to them, you recognize their impact. You can feel them and some of them can elate you while others cause suffering and damage.

When you send your words into the world, they create waves. They ripple and ricochet because what you say to others can move far beyond them. And when combined with strong emotions, their expression and power are heightened.

Words when used with ill intentions cut and destroy and neither the receiver nor the giver are sparred.

Care with using words is a wonderful gift. Kind and generous words build and strengthen. Loving words add to the world. They bring joy and blessings. They open hearts and make the world a wider and more beautiful place.

The direction words travel, whether aimed toward our inner world or sent into the outside world, is important to consider.

What kind of life do you want?

It’s often reflected by the words you choose.

It feels to me that words have an inherent strength, and you can feel this while using them. Surely it depends on the circumstance and the manner in which they are used, but here are a few examples of what I mean.

Wishing feels weak because there is so much room for failure.

Hoping, wanting and desiring are stronger, but lack a sense of conviction. They hint at not being in possession of what you seek.

Intending and aiming are stronger still and more directional and will probably bring about greater results, if there is action taken.

Knowing, claiming and choosing strike me as more complete words. They are active, aware and directive. When used, they call into existence and create and become real in the world. They are the end result of conceiving, believing and taking action.

All words matter.

What we say to others and what we tell ourselves matters. Words create much of what we experience in our life and when chosen wisely bring joy and love into the world.

I am so grateful for words.

The Anatomy of Success

What was the first thing that came to your mind when you read this post title? Did you actively wonder whether you are a success in the world? Perhaps you began at once to measure and compare yourself to others who you believe are successful.

It can be quite a losing game, if you are not careful.

Maybe it would be good to back-up a bit. After all, what really is success? Do we get to choose our own definition, or do we feel obligated to use those others have created?

I’ve struggled with this concept during my life.

In my early years the expectations which defined success seemed to be easy to grasp. During my school years, it was primarily my test scores and grades and where I stacked up to the others in my classes. Sure, there were other measures, like how skilled you were in sports or music or extracurricular activities.

As time went on there was more friction involved and success became more difficult to achieve. Folks wanted to know what college you got into, what your major was, what your job prospects were, did you have a girlfriend, was it serious?

The focus seemed to be on bigger and better regardless of whether you could classify your actual anticipated outcomes.

That’s part of the problem with success. It slips away as soon as you start to accomplish it. It moves a little further from your grasp and keeps you reaching.

You think to yourself, I’m almost there and then another step appears, another task to check off.

If you are fortunate enough, you move into the business world and search for a job you hope will offer you a decent income, growth potential and a good retirement. You might get married and have children, a house, a car and go on nice vacations.

For some, these are the measures of success that matter most, and by and large, they are the ones society treats with respect.

I wanted all of these, and I am fortunate because they all came into my life. I am deeply grateful for this, for each one of these.

But do they define my success in the world? Can they? Am I not more than these?

What about our other dreams? The ones that live deep inside of us? The ones no one else can see? What about the success of these?

I care about these too.

Do you have some dreams that you want to live outside of yourself? Dreams that you want to shine?

If you do, I encourage you to breathe life into them. I also encourage you to relax all of your ideas about success.

Maybe, if you need to, write down what success would look like if you accomplished them, but then purposely set the list aside. Put it in a safe place and forget about it.

You see, dreams are different. They came with you when you arrived here on earth. They live in you but want to live outside of you. That is their great measure of success. They blossom and bear fruit and share themselves with others, perhaps far beyond your wildest imagination.

This post comes from inside of me in some previously hidden place that I wasn’t aware of until right now. It’s the same place my first book came from when it was born.

I’ve come to realize that I am a channel, a way for my inner dreams to reach the outside world. And I’ve come to realize that I profit by shifting my definition and measures of success. I try to release what the world believes and embrace what feels true to me.

When my dreams take flight, I soar with them, and they are my best version of success.

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Reframing Your Life

Here is a question for you. What if there is only love and fear and nothing else? What if you decided to dive headlong into this question, would you discover that the greater truth is that there is only love?

Maybe you need a moment to think about it. Maybe the presence of fear is so strong that the answer is obvious, that of course there is fear, and so much more. Perhaps you are in the middle of a place of strife, whether that’s inside or outside of you.

It’s possible that fear is the only thing that seems real in this moment. I hope that is not the case for you, but if it is, I hope I have something to say worth your considering.

Recently fear had crept inside of me and was burrowing around, looking for a home. I felt it in the tightness of my chest, and it would not move.

I called out to Lia (one of the names I have for god) and asked for some guidance.

She came and rested inside of me and told me that both love and fear lead in the same direction. She said that love leads directly, while fears takes an indirect path.

I asked what else she could tell me about the path of fear. I wanted the heaviness in my chest to go away. I was worried that things would not turn out the way I wanted them to. I dislike this feeling and wondered how it could be released.

Lia said to me, “Part of the answer lies in trusting. Trusting that ALL paths lead to me. Right now, your sense of discomfort is because you doubt this outcome. You believe that your fears are going to take you down some other path and that you will become lost. You believe your fears will lead you into a world of suffering, pain and sorrow and you want to avoid this.”

She continued, “The truth for you in this moment is that fear feels unavoidable, but you can reframe your life.”

Lia asked me to imagine an ugly frame with a beautiful picture inside. She asked me to imagine that the beautiful picture is not only my life, but the picture of love. The ugly frame surrounding it is fear because that is how I see certain aspects of my life. She told me that the truth is that I can transform fear into love and that the deeper truth is that even fear is beautiful.

I confessed to being mystified.

Lia said, “Part of the truth lies in the mission of fear, its purpose.”

She went on to clarify, “It exists to aid you in your life. It directs you and points the way toward love, as a sure guidepost.”

I wanted to know so much more.

Lia told me that we had taken the first step, which was my willingness to ask and to listen. I’d opened myself up.

I wanted more peace than that and to release the lingering heaviness in my chest.

Lia encouraged me to sit back, close my eyes and to force a few quick breaths from my lungs, then rest.

I did as she requested and there was peace and a new freedom of breathing. And it gave me a chance to consider her words to me.

Am I capable of trusting that any fear that comes to visit me is here to serve me as a guidepost and help direct me back to love? Can I reframe my world, releasing fear and embracing love?

These are important questions to me and they have the ability to shape my whole world. It is up to me where I place my trust and what path I choose to travel. I want the path of love.

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What Other People See

Do you ever wonder what the view is like through someone else’s eyes? It’s likely to be very different, but in what ways? What might we learn about them if we asked, and for that matter, based on the questions we ask, what might we learn about ourselves?

When I was in Junior High School, I discovered that I couldn’t see the blackboard at the front of the room well enough to read it. Clearly this was a problem since the homework assignments for the next day were written there.

Perhaps I need to pause here for a moment. Yes, I am dating myself. Now of course, it’s called Middle School and probably all the assignments are on a Chromebook or other laptop. Although there are always changes, not being able to see well enough remains the same.

At first, I tried to sit closer, but that wasn’t good enough. Even squinting didn’t help. So, I broke down and told my parents and they took me to get my first pair of glasses. I hated wearing them. Still do actually. And yet I need them for seeing anything in the distance.

I am often asked why I don’t wear them all the time. And some folks in my life want to know how I manage to get along not being able to make things out.

I guess that over time I’ve learned ways to adjust. I can usually determine who is in the distance by their gait or mannerisms, but not always. Sometimes I am at a complete loss to identify something or someone.

When this happens, it occurs to me that perhaps everyone has their own version of this.

It seems to me that it’s pretty easy to take things for granted. We only see certain things and miss others. We have blind spots and could use more acute vision. Maybe it would be handy to have an optometrist for our life, who could help us see what others see.

If a friend stopped you the next time they saw you and asked what your life is like, would you be able to help them see it through your eyes? Could you explain why you feel the way you do?

If you asked them to tell you how they see you, what do you suppose they would share? Is it likely that it would match what you see yourself?

Earlier in my life I wrote out a list of adjectives and asked several of my friends to circle the ones they thoughts best described me. It was a bit of a risk because the list included some unfavorable adjectives, ones I hoped they didn’t choose. When I got the completed lists back, I eagerly poured over them. This was a chance to see through someone else’s eyes and to satisfy my own curiosity.

I was surprised by many of their choices. In some cases, it tipped me off balance. I had to stop and think about how I related to each person in order to make sense of their answers.

For me, it was a grand opportunity. I had a choice to make. I could discount their answers and go on thinking that I knew best, or I could yield and accept that their perspectives had merit. That they knew things and saw things about me that I didn’t. I could shift beliefs about myself. And I could change whatever didn’t fit with who I wanted to be in the world.

I think we all have this same chance, if we pay attention. If we listen with an open heart. If we acknowledge that we have vested interests in maintaining our personal story, and yet if we listen carefully when others speak, we might be able to grow wiser.

If we loosen our grip on the image we project into the world, we can evolve and expand. If our eyes are fully open, we can flourish and see with clear vision this beautiful world of ours.

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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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Broken Hearts

A broken heart can seem like the end of the world. But, if you give yourself a chance, it can also be the beginning of a new world.

Sometimes we don’t feel we have the ability to defend ourselves from a broken heart. Things just happen to us. They come and overwhelm us, sometimes making it hard to breathe. And it can seem too challenging to believe there is any way to reassemble our lives and reclaim our heart.

I have a story to tell you about this.

My sister, Alison, and I like to try out various art classes. We decided it would be fun to do some stained-glass work, so signed up and when the time came, showed up at the studio. As is often the case, I was the only man present. I’ve grown accustomed to this and the mothering I usually receive from the women taking the class.

There were seven or eight of us present. The instructor was very pleasant and helpful and guided us through the process and various techniques we would be using. When she was done with her introductory comments, she asked us to wander around and choose the glass pieces that appealed to us.

It was a lot of fun seeing all the various sizes, colors, and textures of the glass pieces. I gathered what I thought would be enough to complete my project and sat down next to my sister.

At first, I began randomly placing pieces in my frame. I really didn’t have any preconceived idea how my project would turn out. I was just ‘winging it’. At some point I realized I didn’t like how it looked, so I tipped out all the pieces onto the table.

There were a host of shrieks and everyone in the class turned toward me. They simply could not believe I’d done that and were upset on my behalf. Some thought it must have been an accident. Others were convinced I was upset or crazy. Once they knew it was an intentional act on my part, they all wanted to know WHY?

I told them I’d changed my mind. I looked at the assembled stained-glass pieces and I didn’t like what I saw. I told them I needed to start over and that it would be okay. They didn’t seem at all reassured and went back to their own projects, shaking their heads.

I began again. This time though the pieces fell easily into place. I noticed a surprising calmness inside of me. I’d followed my own inner guidance and as I looked down, an incredible thing happened. A beautiful image appeared. It was Mary, the mother of Jesus, dressed in a blue swirling shroud. I looked more carefully and noticed she was holding a broken heart in her hands. I knew she was mending it. I sat there in complete awe.

Of all the artwork I have created, it is by far my most favorite.

It speaks to me. I hear gently words she shared about how to mend a broken heart.

She told me that it is only when we choose to feel what we are feeling that we can begin. We know it’s going to be painful and yet, I feel there is a promise in this for us, that once we allow the pain in and recognize its presence, it becomes ready to leave us. We can let it go, making space for something new to take its place. And we can start over. We can be patient and watchful, looking for a new life to emerge. We can open our hearts, so we can experience new dreams. And, although it seems impossible to us, we can be grateful. Grateful that life does not end with a broken heart. If we allow it, our life can begin again. Our hearts can be mended.

I think about this every time I look at my beautiful stained-glass artwork hanging in my office window. Sometimes first thing in the morning the rising sun lights it up and I sense the truth that no heart is ever beyond mending.

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