Friday, November 28, 2008

Winging My Way to My Second Home

As you read this... I'm in the air! I'm on my way to Jerusalem, my second home. I'll be there for two weeks, visiting friends and soaking up the energy of this spiritual power place.

I'll be blogging as usual while I'm there. Sometimes the nature of my blog changes a bit when I'm there. We'll see what happens on this particular trip.

I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving, filled with blessings and gratitude... and turkey! I had a delightful feast with my dear friends in New York City on a brief layover en route from Seattle to Jerusalem.

Next transmission will be from Jerusalem!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving 2008

On this Thanksgiving Holiday, I wish you all a day of warmth, joy and deep gratitude. In the spirit of the day, may we all focus on the bountiful gifts we have received. Whatever state of lack we may be struggling with, may we choose to focus on all that we do have... the true gifts of life and give thanks.

What we focus on expands and grows. Being grateful for all that we haves, draws more of the same to our lives.

If we focus on what we lack, we draw more lack into our lives.

Make a list today of 20 things that you are grateful for. Train your mind to see the glass half full... instead of half empty!

Here's my list:

Nola's Gratitude List... for this moment:

1. Loving family and friends
2. A healthy body
3. The beautiful sunshine in the midst of winter
4. Snow on the mountain tops
5. A fireplace to sit in front of on a cold day
6. My warm, comfortable bed
7. Food to eat
8. Iced tea!!!!!
9. The ability to travel and fly to see people I love
10. Having people to call when I feel low/down
11. My car runs well and gets me where I need to go
12. The ability to help people face their problems
13. The time to hike
14. Clean water to drink
15. Cooking barefoot in my kitchen
16. The crashing waves at the ocean
17. Fresh air to breath
18. The pain in my back is almost gone!
19. Getting a phone call from an old friend unexpectedly
20. Memories of giggling with my niece and mom late one night in the airport


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Compassionate Failure

I wonder why we are all so hard on ourselves all the time!? I've been reflecting on my recent challenges and it's clear to me that I judge myself harshly at times on how I've responded. I demand a lot from myself. I want to handle all things easily and with grace. The fact that I'm human... and imperfect... frustrates the heck out of me at times.

I've felt like I haven't handled some of my challenges very gracefully of late. I've felt bad about that. I am getting back on track now, but as I look back on my behavior and my reactions, I cringe a bit.

A good friend of mine told me a story yesterday about how he had become very angry in a situation where, well, let's just say that it was a bit of a 'spiritual embarrassment' to have a public angry reaction! As he told me the story, and we both chuckled at the 'perfect storm' of circumstances that 'set him up' for an angry reaction, I felt nothing but compassion for him, and wanted to give him a big hug. His 'failure' was nothing in the grand scheme of things. If anything, it was just a grand opportunity to learn some important things about himself, laugh a bit, and try again next time. That's what life is really all about anyway.

Listening to his story, and witnessing my own loving, compassionate embrace of him... AND... what he did, I saw a stark contrast to the way I've been treating myself the past few months. I, at times, have been relentless and unforgiving in my own 'assessment' of how I handled all my challenges of late. i haven't been giving myself 1/2 of the compassion and understanding that I offered my friend yesterday.

I once heard someone say that we should treat ourselves as we would treat a dear friend. What a beautiful model for how we should look at and react to ourselves! The world would be a better place if we all did this!

What is 'failure' anyway? Maybe we define it as not living up to our potential, or to some ideal of how we should be or what we should achieve. Many of us live in constant fear of failure, and sometimes we perceive failure when there isn't one.

One of my favorite quotes is from Rudyard Kipling's poem, "IF." In one stanza he says,

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

I believe this is one of the great challenges of life. There is value in triumph... and in disaster. Many of us really have a hard time with the disaster part! Yet... disaster and failure are part of life. They are vital pieces of the tapestry that makes a complete experience and crafts our character.

As I work to have more compassion for myself in the midst of my disasters... and my failures... I am reminded once again that being human means that I won't always do it right... and that will provide some of my greatest opportunities for growth and learning!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Comfort in Diverse Experiences

I wanted to expand a little on what I wrote yesterday. When I actually selected the topic yesterday, I had a specific discussion in mind. It shifted on me mid stream so I followed that track. Today, I want to look at what I originally intended to write about.

I wrote about the fact that within the next week I would move from hiking in the mountains near Seattle to having Thanksgiving in New York City and then move on to a couple of weeks in the middle east. Three completely different worlds in less than a week. Three completely different worlds, and yet, I feel 100% at home in each of them. Each one gives me different gifts and feeds me in a unique way. All are important to me.

I wanted to talk a little bit about what allows a person to be at home in such different circumstances. I touched on one of the main points yesterday, which is having a core self - very stable and solid as a base from which to move through life.

I think there is also a piece of it that has to do with appreciating each experience for what is has to offer... and not what it is lacking. For example, for the most part, I really enjoy a quiet, peaceful environment. When I hike in the woods, it feeds the depths of my soul that loves silence and stillness. Being in New York City obviously does not provide a lot of quiet! In fact, it provides a sometimes overwhelming symphony of constant sound. When I'm in the woods, I revel in the quiet and the peaceful nature of my surroundings. When I'm in New York City, I focus on the diversity of sights and sounds around me. I love to see how many different languages I can hear just walking down a single street. I study the people on their cell phones or engaged in various conversations with their companions as they move along the crowded sidewalks. There, I revel in humanity!

When I'm in the woods alone, I enjoy the fact that no one is talking to me, except for the occaisional greeting in passing. I enjoy my solitude. In New York City, I stand in awe of the fact that I can be in solitude in the midst of a huge group of people. I'm not really speaking to anyone there as I move along the street, but I can enjoy a completely different version of solitude than I get in the woods. When I'm in the middle east, because I am the foreigner... the novelty... everyone wants to speak with me, wherever I go. I enjoy the feeling of connection and oneness.

The key, I believe, is in being able to focus in any given situation, on what's there to experience, enjoy and learn from and learn to roll with what's not there. I don't get upset about the noise in the city. I don't focus on it bugging me. I try to enjoy it as part and parcel of the New York City experience. When in the woods, I don't feel lonely. I revel in the chance for quiet and alone time. When in the middle east, surrounded by people who want to visit with me, I enjoy that feeling of community and connection... and I don't dwell so much on my lack of privacy or alone time.

Learning to focus on what's available to enjoy... and letting the rest go, is a great recipe for adjusting to new circumstances quickly and seamlessly.

Whether something is good... or not-so-good... it will always pass. Why not enjoy each and every opportunity that comes along! It's ALL... LIFE!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Which Part of Me is Showing Up?

I went on a hike this weekend to the top of a small mountain near my home. It was a beautiful, crisp morning. We don’t see too many of those at this time of year around Seattle! I woke up and knew that I needed to take advantage of the gift of a glorious sunny day. I headed out on my hike. What a treat!

As I made my way up the trail, enjoying the snow tinged mountains, emerald green trees, bright sunshine and fragrant smells of the woods, I marveled at the fact that in a few days time I’ll be enjoying the sights and buzz of New York City, and a day after that I’ll be embraced by the ancient and compelling energy of Jerusalem and the desert hills that surround it.

I consider myself to be a creature of habit. I am comforted by routine and predictability. My love of travel, and the thrill I get in moving rapidly from one world to the next seems a bit at odds with my ‘usual’ personality. I’m not quite sure how all this got packaged together in one person!

I do know, however, that there is great value in being able to be ‘fully present’ to whatever circumstance in which we find ourselves. To be able to move from situation to situation, location to location or even from emotion to emotion is one of the key skills to living one’s life well.

Using my example of the three diverse experiences of hiking up a mountain, hanging out in New York City and visiting friends in Israel, it is clear that each situation requires different things from me. The clothing I need for each of these locations is different. The people I encounter in each place will be different and will require a different set of social skills in order to interact with them. My goals in each place will be different. My challenges… and joys will be varied. Yet, through each one of these three distinct experiences, I will be the common denominator. The essential ‘me’ will be present in, and hopefully to, each scenario completely.

All of us can benefit from thinking a bit about how we move through our lives. What part of us is always there? What part of us do we move from no matter where we are or who we are with? What pieces of us express in different situations? Are those parts that only emerge sometimes consistent with the ‘essential core’ of who we are? Are we one way with one group of people and another way with a different group? That can be perfectly fine, for example the way I speak to native English speakers is different from how I speak to native Hebrew or Arabic speakers. I change my way of communicating to be most effective… but the inner essence remains the guide through all those experiences.

We can sometimes check our ‘true self’ at the door in certain relationships or life circumstances… to fit in better… to keep the peace… to make things easier. I have a goal in my life to try to be the ‘authentic me’ as much as I can in ALL of my life circumstances. The difference is between being someone we’re not (which is soul killing) and always coming from our ‘essential self’ and making minor adjustments as necessary to be fully present to each and every unique experience.

Knowing what pieces of ourselves to shift… and which part needs to remain permanently in place is part of the lesson that we all have the opportunity to learn in this life.

I actually have a goal on my goal list every year… to have the ‘me’ that shows up be more and more consistent throughout all my experiences. I spent a lot of my younger life trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. That can be exhausting! I still have to work at it, but it does get easier as time goes by.

Granted, with my extremely diverse life, I get a lot of practice with this. I don’t really have a choice about it. No matter what your life looks like, however, you can still work on this practice. Cultivate and nurture the ‘essential core’ of who you are… and make the little adjustments needed along the way to fully participate in each and every life experience!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Surrender to the Void

The Bucket List is one of my new favorite movies. That movie is packed full of powerful teachings and messages for us all.

As Edward and Carter, the two men who are facing terminal cancers, are in the midst of a sky dive, Edward yells out “Surrender to the Void…”

How often are we called upon in life to do just that… surrender to the void. We don’t know how it’s all going to turn out, yet we are in the midst of the leap. We have two choices: flail and struggle… or surrender… relax and let go.

I’ve been using that word… surrender… a lot lately. I feel like that is part of my training at the moment. It is something I believe we are all required to do repeatedly in life.

I too have jumped out of an airplane. A good friend of mine and I were each at ‘big birthdays + 1). She was turning 41. I was turning 36. We decided that for our birthday event, we would go sky diving.

It was on my life goal’s list to do this, so I was all for it. Our day arrived and we drove to the airfield. I had that sort of sick feeling in my stomach. You know the one. You want or need to do something, but you really really really don’t want to do it. I was excited, but scared to death.

Long ago, I made a commitment to myself that if I’m ever afraid of something and I WANT to do that thing… I MUST do that thing. I vowed to never let fear stop me from doing anything in life that I want to do. If I’m afraid of something, but don’t want to do it, I don’t have to do that thing. For example, I’m really afraid of rock climbing, but I have absolutely no interest or desire to do that. Therefore, I don’t have to go rock climbing.

Bungee jumping is something I’m afraid to do, but I actually want to do that, so it is on my life goal’s list! See how it works?

At any rate, sky diving was a life goal. My friend and I decided to do it, and there we were that fateful day, getting put into jump suits and strapped up with harnesses.

We were doing tandem jumps with our instructors, which meant we were actually strapped to their chests. It’s as though they are hugging you from behind.

When we arrived, we were assigned our personal instructors. My friend got a very responsible, competent looking/acting young man. I got his alter ego. Another young man… very young, who was a smart-ass, hot dog, hot shot. You could tell by his mannerisms and his attitude that he played fast and free with life and limb! It was very disconcerting.

My friend’s instructor was carefully suiting her up and explaining things to her. My guy was running around telling stories of near disasters, tossing me equipment and sort of half paying attention to how things were attached to my body!

I was somewhat nervous about it, and my friend was REALLY nervous about my guy. She actually suggested I might want to question whether I HAD to go with him! It was that freaky!

I kept remembering a story a minister friend of mine told about a bungee jump that she once did. She was having a similar feeling about her ‘jumping coach’ and reminded herself, “I’m in God’s hands, not this kid’s hands.” I decided to adopt that coping strategy for the anxiety in my mind.

As we got ready to leave the building to walk towards the plane, by instructor said, “Do you want to see the plane?”

I thought it was an odd question, I mean, we were about to walk to the plane and get in it! I just mumbled… “Sure” as we headed out the door. He certainly wasn’t inspiring confidence.

I think the hardest moment in the entire experience was putting my foot out of the plane and onto the strut. It was really happening at that moment.. All my instructor had to do was lean on me a little and we’d be on our way. I had to take a deliberate step to put myself in that position. That was the hardest moment of all.

As I stood there on the strut, my instructor indicated that it was time to go… and away we went! We began our free fall, and he was whooping and hollering in delight. It was pretty awesome!! Then suddenly he whipped his body around and we were facing upwards looking at the plane! That’s what he meant! We slowly turned back around to face the ground, and he whipped us back around again to look at the plane as it left us behind. I think he did that 3 times! I had no idea that was what he was asking me about as we had walked out of the building before the jump!

As we fell, I was aware of only two things at first. The stinging sensation on my face as we fell through a cloud was somewhat painful. It was like little ice crystals hitting me in the face. Suddenly I became aware that my mouth was wide open! I mean wide open! No sounds were coming out… I have no idea what that was about. Later, when my friend and I compared notes, it was revealed that she had the same experience. Why our mouths were hanging open initially, with no sounds coming out, remains a mystery! We both caught ourselves with this rather silly expression and closed our mouths.

The free fall was a really powerful experience. I was no longer scared. There was no time to be scared. All there was time for was SENSATION. I was fully in that moment, experiencing everything as it happened.

When the parachute finally opened, it was unlike anything I could have imagined. First, it was totally silent. When I was free falling, there was of course the yelling of my instructor, but what I was most aware of was the sound of the air whistling in my ears as we fell. It was loud! Once the parachute was open, it was quiet, peaceful…calm. We simply floated gently towards the earth. I was able to look all around, and see the world from an entirely new perspective.

It was an amazing gift. It was a gift I never could have received if I hadn’t “Surrendered to the void.”

I’ve drawn upon my sky diving experience many times in the years since it happened. It is a great metaphor for the leap of faith and the risks we sometimes have to take in life to move ourselves along.

I wouldn’t say it ever gets ‘easy’ to surrender to the void, but I do think it gets EASIER as time goes by. We have to cultivate that as a skill… surrendering. If we cultivate it deliberately along the way, we are more able to do it in times of difficulty when it is harder than normal.

How can you practice surrendering to the void? The possibilities are endless! Just pick one and go to it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Importance of Relaxation

When I was a child, my mom signed me up for summer classes through an organization known as the Valley Arts Association. They had pottery classes and all sort of programs for kids. I know I took several of these classes, as did my two brothers. My only memories, however, are of the strange pottery faces that my brothers made in their class, and one specific class on relaxation that I took.

As I think back on it, I marvel that they had such a class for little kids. I was very young. I’m not sure what the class actually was, but I know that they taught us a progressive muscle relaxation technique, where you lie on the floor, close your eyes, and work your way through your body tensing and releasing groups of muscles.

I remember loving this exercise. It really worked for me.

Even as a small child I struggled with depression, anxiety and emotional sensitivity. I’ve just always had this ‘dark side’ that required me to engage with it. It’s not a lot of fun, but it’s been my reality from a young age.

That fateful day when they taught me progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) was one of the most important days of my life. I was probably six years old, and to this day, PMR is still a tool that I rely on when I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed or if I’m having trouble getting to sleep.

I used it throughout my entire childhood. Then, when I went into therapy for my eating disorder at age 19, one of the first things my counselor, Dr. Chuck Bruni, did was to give me a ‘relaxation tape’ that was a guided PMR exercise! I took that as a serious sign that I was in the right place, since I already knew the value of that particular technique in my life.

I still have that PMR tape, burned onto a CD and propagated to my IPOD in this day and age. Although I don’t use the entire tape often, I still will use PMR at times when I know I need to relax and calm down.

This past week, I had a couple of nights where I was emotionally upset and very angry. I was almost sure I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep. I brought out my IPOD with my 20 year old PMR program on it, and went through the process. Within 20 minutes I was relaxed, my mind was calm, and I was ready to sleep. I drifted off both nights without any trouble.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is super simple, and super powerful. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to do so.

Here are some resources that I found that describe the technique well:

Wikipedia's Article on Progressive Muscle Relaxation

About.Com's Article on PMR's Article on PMR

I’m a believer! I hope that you will find Progressive Muscle Relaxation as much of a gift as I have!

Here is a writing by my late counselor/teacher/mentor, Dr. Chuck Bruni, on the importance of relaxation:


Relaxation Training – why it’s important
Learning how to deeply relax and center your body-mind is an important life skill. Knowing how to relax at this level is very important to your physical and emotional health. Relaxing deeply makes the process of growing and changing easier and less stressful.

While you were in the womb, and during the first months of your life, you knew perfectly well how to relax deeply. As you grew up in a less than perfect culture and family, you learned to continuously tighten, flex, and tense various muscle groups in your body. You learned to store a number of emotions and memories in your tissue that are still there today on an unconscious level. This tension, fear, and emotional baggage in your body needs to be released for you to heal physically and emotionally. It is possible for you to learn to let your body again experience its natural state of relaxation. Or, stated more accurately, you need to UNLEARN how to stress and strain your body. You can relearn to give your body permission to go back to the state of affairs it has always known and wanted to reach.

Deep Relaxation

The state of relaxation I am talking about is not the same as the relaxed feeling one experiences while sewing, playing golf, going to a ballgame, or fishing, etc. Sometimes, clients state they do not need to learn how to relax because they have hobbies, sports or arts/crafts activities that help them to unwind. Those types of relaxing activities are important and needed. What I am talking about though is relaxation at a deeper level. Through deep muscle relaxation, the body is allowed to return to its natural equilibrium or "centered" state.

I reccomend Progressive Muscle Relaxation as a technique to learn what must be learned and unlearn what must be unlearned.

Why is Relaxation so Important?
Connecting With Your Energetic-Spiritual Essence
For millions of years, humans all over the earth have realized there is a force in the universe that is larger than themselves. Most people when they really think about it, believe there is an energy, presence, power, or intelligence that has created them and the entire universe. Some would call this phenomenon God, Christ consciousness, or Shiva. Others would say it is the Great Spirit. Still others might call it their "basic nature," Higher Self, Higher Power, Force, Infinite intelligence, God within, or Unified Field. No matter how a person might conceptualize it, most of us sense a deeper force or US within.

Whatever it is called, we each have a place of peace, wisdom, intuition, love, power and oneness inside that can be a great resource in living our life. One key to getting in touch with this state of being is relaxing and centering. You need to let your body and mind become "like a duck on a lake at sunset" to tap into that place. This is a resource that many of us do not ‘tap in’ to very often, yet it is always available to us. Learning to tap in to this resource can greatly enrich our lives and empower us to live more and more fully.

The energy of the universe expresses the qualities of love, joy, peace, wisdom, creativity, power, and unity. Being in touch with this energy is the single most important resource we have for living. When we are able to live through our deep energetic-spiritual essence we experience more love, joy, peace, and power in our life. When we are cut off from it, we develop ways of living that create hurt, pain, fear, anger, and separation in our life.

An important first step in reconnecting with your energetic-spiritual essence is relearning how to operate in a more relaxed state. When you are relaxed and trying to concentrate or make a decision, it is as if you were doing so in a quiet library. When you are not relaxed, and attempt to concentrate or make a decision, it is as if you were doing so in Grand Central Station! Which one sounds like it would produce a better end result? It is much easier and much less stressful to come from a place of quiet, calm and peace. That is because when we are quiet and at peace, we can ‘tap in’ to our inner wisdom… our connection to the source of infinite wisdom and intelligence. The first step to learning to cultivate that quiet mind state is to learn to relax the body mind.

Decreasing/Eliminating Stress Damage to your Body/Mind
All animals, including humans, have an instinctual protective reaction built into their DNA and nervous system called the “flight or fight” response. This autonomic nervous system response physically prepares an animal to flee from danger or fight to the death. When in this response, the heart rate increases, and blood leaves the stomach to enter the extremities. More oxygen goes to the brain, and the glands pump a number of secretions into the blood stream. The animal attains its maximum performance level mentally and physically.

In humans the flight or fight response developed millions of years ago to help protect us against saber-toothed tigers, wooly mammoths, and other life-death situations. It was to be used occasionally when we were in physical danger. Because of the development of written language and the rational logical mind, humans for the first time began to develop psychological fears. They started to experience the flight or fight response when they felt psychologically threatened, rather than just physically threatened. The vast majority of Americans are in a modified flight-fight response twenty-four hours a day! They are always on edge or tense in some part of their body. This creates a state that is commonly called “chronic stress”.

Living in this manner is extremely destructive to the human body-mind. Chronic stress leads to increased metabolic rate, heart rate and circulation, which taxes the heart. It causes an increase in blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, stomach acid, and blood sugar. Immune system function is compromised by stress, making us more vulnerable to sickness and disease. Chronic stress is also a major contributor to depression, sleep problems, and anxiety. It greatly increases free radical production that leads to the destruction of body cells and speeds the development of cancer. Many medical researchers think that chronic stress is one of the primary causes of disease and illness in modern humans.

Increased Self Awareness (Inwardly and Outwardly)
Relearning how to deeply relax is one of the best ways to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and inner consciousness. It also helps you become more aware of what others are thinking and feeling. As you slow down the chatter and static in your body-mind, the signals from within and without are amplified and made clearer. An analogy might be drawn between reading a difficult book in a quiet library versus Times Square during rush hour. Greater awareness is one of the cornerstones of personal growth and change.

When we were growing up we had to shut down parts of our awareness in order to cope with the stresses of childhood and adolescence. The greater the amount of stress in our family, the greater the amount of dissociation, denial, or numbness we had to create to survive emotionally. It is safe now to become fully awake and aware again.

Decreasing/Eliminating Negative Word Chatter
Often people find they are bothered by negative ruminations going through their mind. They cannot get to sleep at night, or do well in certain situations because the voice in their head is constantly going over negative material.

The body and mind are one and the same process. One way to help quiet the mind is to relax your body thoroughly. While relaxed, repeat in your head statements such as "I am quiet and relaxed, my body and mind are calm, relaxed and quiet".

Recharging or Re-Creating your Mind/Body
Relaxation is a true form of recreation for your body and mind. Studies have shown that 10-15 minutes of deep muscle relaxation during the day can have the benefit of up to two hours of nighttime sleep. Rather than having a cup of coffee and some sugary pastry as an energy pick me up, use a 10-minute relaxation break to recharge your batteries and create a sense of peace. This type of break restores your strength and vitality by allowing your body-mind to shift into its rebuilding-healing mode.

Enhancing communication and listening skills
One of the biggest problems in communication is the inability of people to listen to each other. Most individuals, due to anxiety, self-consciousness, or anger cannot hear what another person is saying. Instead, they focus on their inner chatter and what they want to say to the other person. If an individual can learn to mellow out and relax with people, their ability to listen and talk with others will greatly improve.

Decreasing/Eliminating Fear, Anger and Anxiety
A person can't be relaxed and fearful, relaxed and angry or relaxed and anxious! Relaxation is an incompatible feeling state with those three feelings. If you want to reduce the amount of fear, anger or anxiety in your life, learn to relax in situations that bring up those feelings.

Deep muscle relaxation is one of the primary techniques used in overcoming phobias, shyness, anxiety or anger in interpersonal situations. Also, in order to learn how to be assertive in effective ways, it is necessary to know how to fully relax yourself.

Enhancing Problem Solving Skills
Most of us grew up watching our parents and older siblings become upset each time there were life or family stresses. When things did not turn out the way they wanted, family members tried to problem solve through being scared, angry, frustrated, critical, or depressed. Being in such a state closes down left hemisphere functioning, reducing intellectual ability. It shorts circuits right hemisphere functioning, which reduces our intuitive gut intelligence. It also causes a tightening of body muscles, which reduces flexibility and the capacity to move to protect ourselves. Lastly, it causes us to get stuck emotionally.

An upset person is in their worst problem-solving stance! Yet most of us were trained at a young age to get upset when we encounter life problems. You have to retrain yourself to become centered and peaceful in the face of stress or conflict. Once you are totally peaceful, then you can come up with powerful creative solutions to solve the issue at hand. You will relearn how to be proactive rather than reactive when under stress.


Relaxation is an extremely powerful body-mind skill it is important to re-learn. Knowing how to relax deeply produces incredibly important benefits physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hanging Out in the Crucible

Hanging Out in the Crucible

I was talking to a dear friend of mine recently and I told her that I’d had a ‘melt down’ over one of the many challenges I’m facing in my life at the moment. Without going into detail, let’s just say that I’ve been a little overwhelmed lately by a series of emotionally difficult and energetically draining experiences.

My friend said, ‘It’s interesting that you used the term “melt down.” What happens in a crucible?”

We then proceeded to discuss the creative and generative process of melting down metals so that they can be formed into something new and valuable. She assured me, as I have assured so many friends and clients over the years. She said that when this is all over and done with, I will look back on this time with complete understanding for what was going on during this difficult time.

I have said these words to others more times than I can count. I believe them. I have believed them in my own difficult times in the past. I was having a bit more trouble believing that about my current set of challenges, which is normal. When you are being liquefied in the crucible… it isn’t a pleasant experience. Your entire form changes. All that is known to you about yourself disappears. You are reduced to a liquefied form of yourself. That is essential… before you can be reconstituted into a new, more evolved form, you have to be dismantled.

It is a scary process, but one that, in many ways, we will each go through many times in our lifetimes. It is part of the process of being a human being. It is an essential part of our spiritual growth process.

So, I’ve decided to ask those around me, but most especially I’ve decided to ask myself, for patience and understanding as I melt down and allow myself to be molded into my next form. I don’t know how long it will take. I’m not sure what parts of me will move forward and what parts of me will be left behind… no longer fitting into the new me that is emerging. We will all just need to wait and see.

If you find yourself in the crucible today… be patient with yourself. Try to grasp it as a creative process. Even though it can feel like a process of destruction, that is only a part (albeit a painful, important part) of the journey.

The dawn always follows the night. Those of us in the crucible at this moment will find our new form… eventually. More likely, our new form will find us. We need to simply allow the process. Patience and compassion is what is required for ‘crucible time.’ I wish that for myself and for any of you who are also in this place.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Change The Template

I had another aha moment yesterday! As I was opening Microsoft Word 2007 for the 1000th time, I had that old frustrated feeling. When Microsoft went from Word 2003 to Word 2007 they made a change to the normal template format that dictates the default format for any new document. They changed the font itself from Times New Roman to Calibri and they changed the point size from 12pt to 11pt. They also changed the line spacing and paragraph formatting. I disliked all the changes from day 1.

My approach to resolving this has been to change these settings in each new document that I create. I’m always annoyed and irritated when I have to do this. Just to get to my preferred starting point I have about 6 steps to perform each and every time.

I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person. Yet, I’ve been using this product for at least a year, and it was only yesterday that I realized I could CHANGE these default setting so that each new document would be created EXACTLY the way I wanted it to be.

What’s up with that? Why do we sometimes blind ourselves to the answers that we seek?

I think we often have a world view and supporting beliefs that ‘life is hard’ and that we have to struggle to survive and accomplish what we need to accomplish. We look around and find all sorts of evidence to support our theory. We will always find proof of our most deeply held beliefs when we look around us in the world. That is the way the universe works. Have you ever heard that saying, “You’ll see it… when you believe it?” Usually this is used in reference to positive ideas, but it works just as powerfully in the negative. We pretty much get what we expect to get.

I also think that we often believe that problems are difficult to solve. We expect that it will be tough, if not impossible to deal with the challenge that confronts us.

This latest ‘reminder’ in my life shows me that I need to be really careful about simply ‘living with the problem’ because I believe it’s ‘just the way it is.’ I need to get more committed to challenging my belief in ‘unsolvable problems.’ Part of me is completely aware that there is ALWAYS a solution, but a very vocal, powerful part inside me argues for limitation… over and over and over again.

Just as I needed to ‘change my template’ in Microsoft Word 2007 to better serve my needs, I need to ‘change my template’ for how I regularly engage with my life’s challenges. The old template causes me problems and does not support me in living fully.

Have any templates that you need to change? It might be worth a look!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Aborted Blogs!

I just wanted to post a quick apology/note about the strange aborted blogs today. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the problems have been corrected now!

Sorry about that! :)


I am facing several major life decisions at this point in time. That’s never an easy place to find oneself in. Even when the choices are ‘good’ it is still stressful and often difficult to determine the best course of action.

I’ve always been a goal and achievement oriented person. I like to make my plan and work my plan. Even as a little girl I was big into writing ‘to do’ lists and organizing my activities. It’s always come quite naturally to me.

This is a mixed blessing. Being organized, efficient and focused can be a huge benefit in the living of one’s life. I’ve achieved a lot of success due to these traits and abilities.

Yet, there is a downside to this skill set. Sometimes I have a tendency to make things happen by sheer force of will and determination. Once in a while I make something happen that might be better left un-done.

A few days ago, I was contemplating one of my many decisions. I had already started down a course of action to begin addressing one of my life dilemmas. As usual, I dove into my ‘solution’ deeply, and suddenly realized that my approach might not be the best option. The particular solution seemed like the right path, but it involved lots of time and some money. Both are in short supply at the time. As it appeared to be an incorrect choice, I was considering backing out of the strategy and cutting my losses. Of course, I never like to backtrack. I don’t like to be wrong. In my enthusiasm for ‘solving’ my problem, I might have rushed a bit to execute a concrete strategy. This is a familiar dance to me.

This thought process was taking place in my car, as I drove to an appointment. As I went along, I came to a red light and slowed to a stop. I was behind a double dump truck. As I pulled in behind the truck I noticed in large, capital, red letters the following words on the back of the truck:


I started to laugh. We have a lot of dump trucks in our area, all the time. NEVER, have I seen one with the words “DO NOT PUSH” on the back of it.

I immediately flashed on the scene from one of my favorite movies, “Bruce Almighty” where Bruce, in his despair and frustration is ranting at God and asking for a ‘sign’ about what he should do in his challenge. He’s driving along in his car, yelling at God to give him a sign. As he’s doing this, we as the spectators, are amused to see him ignoring a series of ‘danger’ and ‘warning’ signs to try to turn him from the path he’s on… including a slow moving truck FULL of street signs that is slowing him down as he drives erratically towards his doom. He is begging God for signs and then ignores each and every one of them!

As a recovering ‘overachiever’ I looked at the DO NOT PUSH sign and realized that my old tendency to ‘push the river’ was back in full force to visit me. When I get scared I seek certainty. I look for absolute, concrete answers. Sometimes those are possible, but often they are not readily apparent when we set out to solve a problem. Sometimes we have to take steps, but allow the solution to present itself, rather than create an instant solution that makes us feel better for a moment, but might cause more problems than it solves!

I’m going to do my best to actually observe and respect the ‘sign’ I was given. I’m going to work on ‘allowing’ rather than ‘pushing’ for a while. I suspect it will be a more pleasant journey.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What Would Jesus Say About Brawling Monks?

I just had to say something about this article. It never ceases to amaze me how decidedly 'un-Christian' many Christians can be. I find it particularly sad and hypocritical when this sort of behavior comes from people who find themselves called to a life of serving God.

This recently published article, describes a brawl by monks of different Christian Sects at one of Christianity's holiest of sites in Jerusalem.

The pettiness, immaturity and possessiveness shown by these monks is as far from my understanding of what Jesus Christ taught as you could possibly get.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the site where this occurred. I'd like to point out that a Muslim family in Jerusalem actually holds the keys to this building because the two Christian sects cannot agree on which of them should have it, nor evidently do they feel they can share responsibility for keeping the keys.

This is the sort of drivel that gives Christianity a bad name. All religions have their version of this.

Jesus would be sorely disappointed in this sort of behavior. I'm fairly certain of that!

Here's a link to the published article: Monks Brawl at Christian Holy Site

Text of this article is included here:

Monks brawl at Christian holy site in JerusalemBy MATTI FRIEDMAN
Sun Nov 9, 2008

JERUSALEM – Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb.

The clash between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks broke out in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

The brawling began during a procession of Armenian clergymen commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus.

The Greeks objected to the march without one of their monks present, fearing that otherwise, the procession would subvert their own claim to the Edicule — the ancient structure built on what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus — and give the Armenians a claim to the site.

The Armenians refused, and when they tried to march the Greek Orthodox monks blocked their way, sparking the brawl.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police were forced to intervene after fighting was reported. They arrested two monks, one from each side, he said.

A bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead were both taken away in handcuffs after scuffling with dozens of riot police.

Six Christian sects divide control of the ancient church. They regularly fight over turf and influence, and Israeli police are occasionally forced to intervene.

"We were keeping resistance so that the procession could not pass through ... and establish a right that they don't have," said a young Greek Orthodox monk with a cut next to his left eye.

The monk, who gave his name as Serafim, said he sustained the wound when an Armenian punched him from behind and broke his glasses.

Father Pakrat of the Armenian Patriarchate said the Greek demand was "against the status quo arrangement and against the internal arrangement of the Holy Sepulcher." He said the Greeks attacked first.

Archbishop Aristarchos, the chief secretary of the Greek Orthodox patriarchate, denied his monks initiated the violence.

After the brawl, the church was crowded with Israeli riot police holding assault rifles, standing beside Golgotha, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, and the long smooth stone marking the place where tradition holds his body was laid out.

The feud is only one of a bewildering array of rivalries among churchmen in the Holy Sepulcher.

The Israeli government has long wanted to build a fire exit in the church, which regularly fills with thousands of pilgrims and has only one main door, but the sects cannot agree where the exit will be built.

A ladder placed on a ledge over the entrance sometime in the 19th century has remained there ever since because of a dispute over who has the authority to take it down.

More recently, a spat between Ethiopian and Coptic Christians is delaying badly needed renovations to a rooftop monastery that engineers say could collapse.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Putting Off the Big Task

I marvel at my ability to make mountains out of mole hills! This past weekend, I decided to finally catch up on my filing. I have two big wire baskets in my office. One collects personal papers and one collects business papers. My goal is to perform my filing task once a month. That turns out to be more like 'wishful thinking' than anything resembling reality.

When I finally got around to my filing the other day, I was sure that the 6 months of paperwork was going to take me hours and hours to put away.

As I sat down on the floor and started going through my baskets, I was amazed at how fast it went. Within 35 minutes - I was done! COMPLETELY DONE!

I can't begin to tell you the number of times that I looked at those baskets over the past 6 months with growing angst and dread. I felt guilty for putting it off. I felt frustrated that it seemed like such a big big deal!!

In the end, something I dreaded and feared was easy, fast and somewhat FUN! It felt SO GOOD to watch those piles dissapear into my filing cabinets. I felt more organized and more 'in control' of my physical space. It was a win-win all the way around.

I wonder how many other tasks I blow out of proportion like my filing. What else do I put off and dread, when it could be over quickly and easily?

Got something you are putting off and turning into a mountain? Go tackle it... and feel the immense satisfaction that comes with knocking it off your list!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Letting Go of the Small Stuff

I call myself a recovering perfectionist. I have an immense capacity to tend to detail. Sometimes that tendency is problematic.

When I balance my checkbook, it needs to be accurate down to the penny! I spend a lot of time sometimes on things that have very little return for me. I like for everything to be 'just so.'

As I worked my way through the insurance claim resulting from my burglary, I found myself with the opportunity to face this 'need' for accuracy in a very magnified way.

Often, the insurance company did strange little things that made their numbers come out a few dollars less than mine. In a few instances, it was a few dollars more. Their numbers often did not match my numbers. That bugged me. I like precision.

In the end, there was one thing I discovered about their 'process' that had not been disclosed to me - and if I wanted to, I could have amended my claim to get another $100. It would have been a lot of work for me to do this, and I decided to let it go. Even though I was entitled to the money, the hassle at that point, was just not going to be worth it to me.

Their little rounding errors and number discrepancies cost me about another $75 beyond that $100. I decided to let that go as well, because the effort to figure out exactly how all their little errors added up to that $75 would have taken me hours of time.

I'm satisfied with the settlement. I worked hard to make sure that I was fair to them and that they were fair to me.

The $100 error was as a result of the company not fully explaining how limited categories affect/relate to my deductible. They didn't explain that to me, and that was to their advantage. I don't appreciate that, but I had worked so hard on everything else to make sure I was treated fairly, that it wasn't worth my time to fight that battle.

The other $75 were truly little mathematical errors or discrepancies. I found that a little easier to let go of.

Sometimes, we need to just weigh the cost against the benefit that we will gain from any action and make a decision based on that analysis. I generally will pay any cost for accuracy. This time, I used this experience as an opportunity to practice letting go of that sometimes obsessive need! It felt GOOD!

It's important to observe ourselves for those traits and tendencies that hold us back from achieving our true potential. I know that my perfectionism and 'addiction to precision' has caused me problems in my past. It has sapped my energy and time and prevented me from doing things that would have been more beneficial to me.

This insurance claim situation provided me with an opportunity to face and practice a new, more healthy behavior. We can all find opportunities, all around us, to challenge those things in ourselves that we want to address and heal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's Lost is Found

It was a really good week for me this past week. In addition to settling my insurance claim, I also found two items that I thought I had lost.

For quite some time, I have been unable to find one of my favorite pairs of earrings. They aren't super expensive, but I purchased them in my friend's store in Israel, and they are very special to me. I wear them all the time.

The last time I looked for them, was the morning of my burglary. I wanted to wear them that day, but couldn't find them. That made me fairly confident that they weren't stolen, but because so many things were taken from my dresser, I couldn't be sure. It was very unsettling to not know if they were just misplaced in the house, or if they had walked out the door with the burglars.

I went out of town last weekend for the first time since early September. I opened my glasses case to a wonderful surprise! There were my lovely earrings - nestled in with my glasses. Sometimes when I travel, I will store earrings in that case temporarily. I was elated! Such a simple discovery... so much joy! I had obviously left them in there on my last trip, and hadn't opened that case since then. What a gift!

The other item I misplaced was a receipt for a text book that I purchased at a local community college that I'm attending. I'm taking classes there and had purchased my books in advance. When I showed up at one of my classes this past week, I found that they were giving us one of the books that I'd already purchased. This book was $45 and now I had two of them! I asked the book store employee about their retun policy and was relieved to learn that I could bring back my second copy for a refund - as long as I had the receipt!

I assumed the receipt would be where all my receipts are - either in my wallet, or in my shoe box of credit card receipts (that I keep for tax purposes).

After searching high and low, I could not locate this receipt. I was frustrated, because I have a pretty consistent routine with my purchase receipts, and somehow this one had slipped through the cracks. Of course, this was THE ONE that I needed.

I worried that because of the frenzy of purchasing and receipt volume that I've had as a result of the burglary that this particular receipt might have ended up in my insurance paperwork or something. Again - an 'out of the ordinary' experience introduced a variable into my normal process of locating a misplaced item.

I was about to give up the search, but decided to check one last briefcase/bag that I had used in the past few weeks. I checked the bag, but there was nothing there. All of a sudden, I glanced down next to this briefcase to see a new canvas bag from the college bookstore! My mind flashed on the day I bought my text books when the store worker informed me that I got a free canvas bag for spending more than $25! I opened the bag... and there was the missing receipt. Another one of those wonderful moments in life when you just know that everything is OK!

In both of these circumstances, I applied a lot of energy and effort to finding the lost item. I've learned that when I lose something it is best to try to locate it as soon as possible - since my memory is fresher as to when and where I had it last.

Both of these situations were complicated by the burglary, and all that it disrupted and made 'unknown' in my life.

Yet, I found each item, right where I had left it. It was strangely reassuring to me that I could feel that hopeless at times in 'the search' and yet it all turned out ok.

For some reason this really gave my faith a boost. I would have survived if I hadn't found my earrings, or this receipt. I knew that and reminded myself of it often. I did believe it was possible to find the receipt. I was pretty sure I could the earrings eventually. Now, with both items recovered, I feel strengthened in the knowledge that often, we can recover what is lost... somehow... sometime.

I think a big key is to be OK with not finding the item, and then give the search all you've got!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Surprise Resolution

Have you ever worked really hard on something for a long time and seemed to find resistence and experience slow progress at every turn? I'm sure you have, but if not, try filing a complicated and lengthy insurance claim sometime!

After the recent burglary of my home, I was forced into undertaking this major project to file the insurance claim. A lot of items were stolen in the burglary, some rare and 'exotic' as the insurance company put it.

The burden, of course, was on me to document everything taken, prove that I'd actually owned it and come up with purchase costs, dates, etc. It was a huge project.

I'm an extremely organized and detail oriented person. I'm also a compulsive record keeper! I actually pulled together most everything the insurance company needed within a week of the burglary. The exception was around my rare, antique items. Those took more time to research.

I move quickly on any project I undertake. I tend to get, shall we say 'frustrated' when others don't move as quickly as I do! I worked hard internally to remember that I was not the only person filing a claim with this insurance company at the time and that I needed to be patient. Patience is a virtue, but it is not something I have an abundance of!

As the process unfolded, I learned many things I didn't know about exclusions, limits and procedures that I had no idea were a part of my policy. A word of advice: Sit down with your insurance agent and get a full understanding of your insurance policies! It can save you a large, protracted headache should you ever need to file a claim!

Each new learning that I experienced produced more work for me to do. Each time I provided updated information to the insurance company I had to wait for them to enter the information into their system and get me an updated status on the claim. Turn around times were often quite slow.

At 6 weeks into the process I was informed that in order to actually get the 'replacement value' in my policy, I needed to actually replace the items and provide a receipt to prove that I had done so. By 6 weeks in, I had replaced many of the stolen items, but had no idea that I needed to provide the receipts to the insurance company. I had already proved I owned the items, and given them the current replacement cost for each item. This revelation created a mountain of work for me, which I plowed into with my usual abandon.

Time can seem to stand still when you really want something to be accomplished. We've all heard the saying about the watched pot never boiling.

I was a bit like this with my insurance claim. I did everything I could, as quickly as I could, but kept meeting obstacles, new requirements, delays that were outside of my control and the occaisional mistake or misunderstanding.

A good sized sum of money hung in the balance, and as I was spending fast and furious to replace stolen items, fix my car that was stolen, repair the door that was kicked in, etc. money was a bit scarce. I needed and wanted to settle this claim and get paid!

It seemed like it woudl go on forever. Last week I had submitted quite a lot of paperwork to the adjuster, and felt that at that point we were very close to being 90% settled on the claim. Once he got that information input, all we needed were the antiques and rare items to be resolved and I was close to having all the information needed for that.

I was expecting it to take another couple weeks. I was a bit disheartened.

Then something happened. Everything seemed to break loose and start to move. WIth one call and a couple faxes from the insurance adjuster, and a few return calls and emails from me... suddenly... we were DONE!

It was like a lightning strike! All that work. All that frustration. All that waiting. All that EFFORT. It seemed like the road still stretched out before me and that I had a long way to go. Suddenly I was there!

It was a little shocking actually! It happened so quickly at the end.

I was reminded of how often this is true, that an endeavor takes so much effort to get it moving and underway and then requires less energy to keep it in the air. A jet airliner uses a large % of it's fuel at take off, but keeping it in flight requires less comparitively speaking.

So many times during this process, I was afraid I wasn't going to get what I wanted or needed from the insurance company. There were scary moments when I didn't think i had what I needed to satisfy their requirements. There were other moments where I doubted their sincerity or their willingness to be fair.

Then, in that gloriously blazing moment at the end - everything came together and I got exactly what I wanted and needed. I got what was fair.

It was a great reminder once again, that when slogging through a difficult or long endeavor, it is important to have faith that it will come to completion and it can turn out ok!

I'm relieved and feel liberated in a way. Liberated both from the cumbersome process I've been involved in, and liberated from some of my tyrannical thinking that can keep me feeling frustrated and stuck, when in actuality progress is being made!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Is the Door Really Locked?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had the following experience.

I arrived at my hair salon for my appointment a bit early. I needed to use the restroom and made my way to the back of the shop. In this particular salon, the door to the restroom is always left open when it is vacant. I was feeling a bit of urgency, but saw that the door was closed and sat down in a chair to wait my turn.

I sat there for three or four minutes and wondered what was taking the occupant so long! It then occurred to me to ask myself, "Do you really KNOW that it is occupied Nola?"

I got up and tried the door handle. It easily opened to an empty restroom.

I was conditioned by past history to believe that this door being closed meant that the restroom was occupied, and not open to me. I didn't even question my assumption. I just accepted the closed door as reality.

I've had similar experiences in the past, and waited much longer than 3-4 minutes before challenging my assumption and trying the door. Hey... I'm improving!

It does illustrate an important point, however. We can allow our past to dictate our expectations of the future. We can close ourselves off from experiences, based on our past experiences.

Maybe we've been hurt in relationships, or been turned down for certain types of jobs we've applied for. Maybe we were told once, twice or more that we could never attain a goal or a dream that we had. We can let those past 'closed doors' become our future if we don't challenge those automatic, knee jerk perceptions and reactions.

I once heard a teaching story about how baby elephants are trained. When an elephant is a baby, a rope is attached to their harness and they are tethered to strong posts in the ground. When the baby elephant tries to move further than a few feet from the post they are stopped by the length of the rope they are attached to. Struggle and strain as they might, they are not able to go past the length of their rope. Over time, the elephant learns the futility of this struggle and accepts the length of their rope as their domain. They simply know its impossible to go any further.

Adult elephants never forget that lesson. When there is a rope attached to their harness, it can be simply draped over a railing and the elephant will not try to move beyond the length of rope. They have been trained to KNOW their limitations. They think as soon as they get to the end of the rope, they will be forcibly stopped. They don't even try.

We can be a lot like an elephant in this regard. I had an 'elephant moment' at the bathroom door today. It pays to tug at the rope. It just might be an open door!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Storm Always Passes

When you find yourself in the midst of a storm, it is sometimes difficult to believe that it will eventually end. Storms can be frightening and quite unsettling.

Recently, I've been through 5 or 6 really difficult challenges, all unfolding simultanously in my life. I have, at times, felt as though I were drowning. I have been aware that my attitude was 'not helping me' and yet, it has been incredibly difficult to 'snap out of it.'

In the midst of all these struggles, I have felt, on many occaisions like I was facing unpleasant hardship no matter what direction I turned.

This has gone on for almost 2 solid months, but the dawn is now beginning to break. I've moved into more acceptance with the things beyond my control. I have taken decisive action on the situations where I can affect some change or make a difference. I have made tentative plans for how to address the situations that still loom large on the unknown horizon.

With acceptance around what 'IS' and what I cannot change, with action on the situations I can do something about, and a willingness to lay plans on those issues that I'm still not sure about... I have started to emerge from the midst of the storm.

Yesterday morning, someone close to me said, "You look downright chipper today!" I guess I haven't been looking too 'chipper' lately. I haven't been smiling much, that's for sure. There has been a deep, inner pain and discomfort bubbling away.

Yesterday it started to shift. I'm not going to lie... the election results helped lift my spirits immensely! My inner shift, however, was not merely a reaction to this outer event.

The election symbolized the dawn of a new era to me. It symbolized hope and the possibility of a different future. I think it reminded me that this was possible in my life as well.

Interestingly enough, as I bopped and bounced through my day yesterday, many things that had been 'stuck' started to move forward. Progress was made on several fronts that I have been struggling with and stalled on for weeks. Funny how that 'inner shift' and a bit of optimism worked like grease on a sticky hinge.

The storm always passes. There will always be a brighter day. Sometimes the bright spot is major, sometimes it is just a sliver of light. Light is light. Hope is hope. Grab on to it... and don't let go!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Great Day For America!!

I've spent the night jumping up and down - interspersed with weeping. I was actually glad I was alone in my house when the networks 'called' the presidential election. I was a little embarrassed by my behavior. I was truly overwhelmed.

I wanted Obama to win, for a number of reasons, but beyond my own political reasoning, I'm truly excited that America has broken through some long standing barriers to blaze a new trail in our history.

Tonight, we elected the first president of African American descent in the history of our nation.

I am proud of my country. We will never be the same.

We have broken some incredible barriers this night and we should all be excited and proud.

The challenges before our nation are immense. There is no easy path before us. We have a lot of work to do. Obama inherits a huge mess to sort out. But even with all that...

This night marks a huge transition in the course of our nation. A healing is possible. A transformation is possible. I hope and pray that we will seize this opportunity.

I hope that, as a nation, we can come together to meet the incredible challenges faced by our nation and embrace this time as an opportunity for immense progress.

At this moment, I am fairly focused on the pure triumph of barriers shattering.

We can all celebrate the paradigm shift that has come to us all this day.

God bless America... and God bless all the people of our planet!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day!

Today is election day in the USA. Democracy only works for us if we participate. I hope everyone is registered to vote... and is going to do so today!

People sometimes say they don't believe their vote counts. They don't believe their vote makes a difference. So they don't vote.

If a system is broken, the way to fix it is to participate in it and work to change it. Simply ignoring the system is like ignoring the problem.

Our country has a boat load of problems right now. We all need to focused on addressing and fixing these problems. Participating in our society as informed citizens is the way we do that.

Ignorance is not an excuse. Nor, is laziness. When we don't pay attention... bad things happen!

Get out there and VOTE! Tomorrow, we'll see what the future will bring.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Sense of Humor is What Got Me Through

Sometimes, God finds ways to give us messages from most unexpected sources.

I drove to see my mom this weekend, and stopped for lunch at a fast food place on my way. As I was getting my straw and condiments from the condiment bar, a woman came up beside me to do the same. Her companion was on her way to get them a table.

The woman next to me called out, "Get a window seat!!" She looked at me, smiled and said,"That way, we can look out on lovely South Tacoma!"

Now, it's important to understand that we were in a particularly unattractive area of this town.

I smiled at her and said, "I like your attitude!"

She said, "Hey... my sense of humor is the only thing that's gotten me through in life!"

I said, "Well, that's a great way to handle life!"

As I continued on my drive I thought about what the woman had said. Who knows what her trials and challenges have been. I'm sure she's had many, just like we all have.

As I've been going through several difficult experiences lately, and am witnessing several friends go through the toughest of challenges, this woman's words really struck me.

She relied on her sense of humor and her attitude to carry her through whatever she faced. From looking at her, this practice had served her well.

I've been feeling a little 'picked on' lately, and have lost a bit of my sense of humor. I'm taking some inspiration from the lady at Taco Time... and going to work on pulling myself up by my bootstraps and performing an 'attitude adjustment' on myself!

Thanks Taco Time Lady... and Thanks to God and the Universe for delivering such a friendly reminder!