Friday, May 29, 2009

Balancing the New and the Old

Coming home to a familiar place and familiar people is one of life's great pleasures. I arrived in Jerusalem last night and am, as always, very happy to be back! Something about 'coming home' is a universally compelling experience.

To be known and expected is a wonderful feeling. As appealing as new adventures are, there is something soothing about the familiar. Knowing what to expect and where you will find things is comforting at times.

Life is meant to be a blending of both. In this current trip, I am going to have small doses of the familiar of being here, and a lot of new experiences as I meet new people and try some new things. I love the balance!

I think one of the keys to living a happy life is striking a good balance between new adventures and the comforting routines of familiar experience. Each person has a different 'mix' that will work for them. Finding out what that is for ourselves is a mystery that is well worth diving in to. When we get the balance right, we feel a solid sense of 'home base' and feel like we have the foundation to launch our new adventures from!

Babies and toddlers go through a period of development when they start to move further into their world to explore. As their sphere of exploration increases, they often return to mom (or their caretaker) to make sure they are 'safe' before they go back to exploring. It's a process of 'touching base' with the familiar, known and safe place near their caregiver and then propelling themselves ever further into the larger world. There's a reason for this. The security they feel in the 'touching base' gives them the courage to go just a little further with each successive exploration. We do our own version of that as adults.

Give some thought to where that balance lies for you. How much familiar do you need in order to feel comfortable exploring the new? How much adventure do you need to feel alive? Where is that 'balance point' for you?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Roll With the Changes that Come Our Way

It often seems that when we make a plan, things have a way of getting changed out from under us.

I'm writing from the airport in Newark New Jersey. I'm in the midst of a 7 hour layover en route from Seattle to the middle east. If the trip had gone according to plan, I'd be in the air right now with 7 hours left to fly. As it stands, I have almost 4 hours before I fly, then another 10.5 hours in the air. My flight last night was cancelled (while I was driving to the airport).

In all my years of flying, I've never had a flight cancelled, so, this was a 'new' experience for me.

What was interesting about this to me was that I had originally wanted the schedule I'm currently flying. It wasn't available when I booked my trip. Aside from the inconvenience of heading out to the airport and having to turn around, the change was one that I had yearned for anyway! I did get an inferior seat on one of the flights I'm taking, but overall the schedule change allowed me to get an extra 5 hours of sleep in my own bed. To me, as much as I travel, that's never a bad thing!

Part of me felt like I *should* be upset. It was a disruption to the plan and it did cause inconvenience for a couple people, myself included. I chose instead to focus on the fact that I was happier with the schedule AND I was all packed, ready to go, and so there was nothing for me to do but go back home and enjoy some sleep that I would have otherwise missed. I guess that's a bit of looking at the 'glass half full' in the situation.

At any rate, we can enjoy life more if we decide to look for the good in the changes that come our way, instead of focusing on what we are losing, or what isn't happening the way we wanted it to. Perspective, perspective, perspective.

Soon I will be on the other side of the world! I'll get a dose of completely different perspective! For now, I have to just change the perspective inside my own head. We can all do that no matter where we are sitting!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recognizing our Choices

This trip snuck up on me fast! As this is being posted, I'm winging my way across the US, en route to the middle east... again. I have some interesting projects to work on this time. As always it will be good to see all my friends.

Getting ready to leave home is exciting, but it can be a chore. Deciding what to take with you, and preparing the place you are leaving for your absence can be challenging! I always find myself feeling a bit pressured in the final hours before I head to the airport. This time was no exception.

I really worked diligently this time to prepare with an air of peace around me. I wanted the process to be enjoyable and calm, rather than harried and crazy. I was fairly successful in this endeavor, but it's never easy for me!

I'm at a point in my life where I want the things I choose to do to be done in peace. Ultimately, just about everything I do is done by choice. If you think about it, this is true for most of us. Often times we convince ourselves that we don't have choices, but if we look at our situations very honestly, there is almost always a choice. We might have to work for a living, but what we do, which place we work, and the attitude with which we do it are all choices that we get to make.

Sometimes just reminding ourselves that we do, in fact, have choices, can shift our relationship to a particular experience or task. That is what I was working with as I prepared for this trip. It is also the approach I'm attempting to bring to the new endeavors I'm taking on in my life. It really improves the enjoyment that I get from the every day tasks I engage in!

Remember... you have many choices in your life. If you are feeling trapped, stuck or helpless, try looking for all the choices that you CAN make. It will help you shift an attitude of 'have to' to an attitude of 'choose to.' Choosing feels a whole lot better!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

God's Love We Deliver

Last week I was in NYC. I took a cab from the Newark airport to my friend's place in Chelsea. As I was cruising along, I saw a big sign on a mission that said, "God's Love We Deliver."

I started thinking about this sign and what it meant. A lot of people in this world give 'lip service' to being 'religious' or 'spiritual.' This sign made me think about the old saying, "The proof is in the pudding." People saying they are 'religious' or 'spiritual' means nothing to me. This sign helped me remember that what we say about our faith or our 'religion' doesn't matter nearly as much as what we actually do and how we treat other people.

I've had personal encounters with people who claim to be 'religious' and turn around and treat people dishonestly and abusively. Likewise, people who claim to be devout Christians, and yet lash out to deliberately hurt other people when they themselves feel pain. This, of course, violates the most basic teachings of Christ.

Too many people in this world use their religious affiliation as a 'cloak' to hide behind. They claim some religious 'status' simply because they they go to church or worship every week, but don't actually practice the deeper, authentic aspects of their faith. In fact, often times, their behavior is in direct contradiction to the faith they presume to have. Words are empty. Faith without works is dead. This type of hypocrisy permeates our modern world. It hurts us all.

I'd rather see someone claim no religion and treat other people with respect, kindness and compassion. A Muslim friend of mine once said, "Look at how someone treats people... THAT is the true religion." I couldn't agree more.

Going through the motions, praying a certain way, attending worship services regularly means nothing if you don't treat other people with respect and compassion.

Let's actually put whatever our faith is into loving, compassionate service. Our lives will be much more fulfilling and our world will be a better place! Do we deliver God's love as we move through our lives? What a world we would have if we all did actually 'deliver!'

Monday, May 25, 2009

Family, Fun and Freedom

Today is memorial day. A day when we are invited to remember all those who have passed away. I have some family rituals around this day, that involve visiting cemeteries where family and friends are buried. I enjoy this holiday, because I get to remember all those who have shaped me as a person, and who's lives on this earth plane are over.

This past weekend, I attended the 25th wedding anniversary for a cousin of mine. It was a lot of fun! I got to reconnect with a couple people from my youth whom I haven't seen in 20 years or more. It was a hoot!

The daughters of my cousin put together a slideshow of their lives/relationship. It was really wonderful!

My cousin's dad, Jack, passed away many years ago, at the way-too-young age of 49. Seeing him in this video brought tears to my eyes. Uncle Jack was (and still is) one of my all time favorite people on the planet. He always treated me with such kindness and sweetness. He had a deep, wonderful voice and a deep, booming laugh. I still miss him!

I visited my dad's grave this weekend, and of course that is always a bitter-sweet moment for me. My dad's been gone sine 1997, and I miss him too.

I visited my grandparents (on both sides) graves, and the graves of my great grandparents on my dad's side. Lots of other people too.

I'm always a little sad when I realize how many people from my life have already made their transition to the next dimension/experience. I also love to remember all these people and the impact that they have had on the person that I am, and who I am becoming. I value the contribution that each and every one of them has made to who I am. Without any one of them... I wouldn't be the same!

On this memorial day, celebrate all those people in your life who have passed on, but who have 'made their mark' on you. We are who we are because of all those who came before us, blazed trails for us, and passed on their genes to us! Celebrate the contributions!

Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 22, 2009

One Good Decision Can Lead to Another

I saw a commercial on TV this week for Nutrigrain bars. It showed a representation of poor eating habits through the passage of a couple days time. Then, the person eating eats a Nutrigrain bar. The announcer says, "One good decision can lead to another." It then shows the person eating making healthy food choices: drinking water, eating salad, etc.

I LOVED this commercial!! That tag line is so true!

Long ago I realized that when I'm exercising regularly, I seem to naturally gravitate towards healthier eating. If I fall away from my exercise routine, it is easier for me to eat things that aren't normally in my spectrum of dietary choices!

Healthy decisions lead to other healthy decisions. When we feel the benefits of a healthy decision, it often propels us towards other healthy choices so we can see even bigger results.

It the book "French Women Don't Get Fat," Mireille Guilliano advocates making one small dietary change at a time. You select one change to incorporate into your life. An example might be that if you usually drink a large latte every day, you would switch to a small latte each day. Once that felt normal and natural to you, then you choose another change to make. You can improve your eating habits (and lose weight) one small change at a time.

I love this model for change! Selecting one item to address, incorporating it fully and then moving on to another. We can change our lives this way. We can also change the world this way!

What one good choice can you make today to start the ball rolling?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Getting the Roots

I'm spending time in my garden every day at this point. Spring time is in full swing here in Seattle. Lots and lots and lots of weeds!

I used to have lots of different people help me with the weeding of my garden. I have a large yard, and it takes a lot of time to keep it up.

Many of the people that I hired to help me seemed to be content with making the garden 'look good' temporarily, by simply removing the visible parts of the weeds, without digging out the roots. This actually made my problems worse, not better.

When the roots are not removed, the weeds grow back. Furthermore, the root system often expands in that situation, which makes removal even more difficult.

As I have taken over the weeding myself, I apply a more stringent approach to the weeding process. I always try to remove the root system. Although I'm not always successful, it happens most of the time, because I make it a serious priority.

As a result, over the past few years, my weed problems have gotten increasingly less severe. I'm removing the root systems, therefore, I have fewer weeds with each passing year. If I miss the root system on a particular pass, I'm likely to get it the next time. Once the root system is gone, that particular weed never returns again.

It is the same with the root causes of our problems in life. If we simply struggle to remove the visible problem, without consider the root cause, we are doomed to see that same problem again and again. It literally 'grows back' from the root. Just because the weed is no longer on the surface, doesn't mean it's permanently gone. The root must be removed in order to know for sure that it is gone for good.

Our culture is one that focuses on the suppression of symptoms and wrestling with the symptom itself, rather than to seek an understanding of what is 'causing' our problem. It is often a more time consuming and complex process to dig out the 'root cause' of a problem, rather than to simply try to get rid of the symptom. We tend to be an impatient culture. We want it solved yesterday! But it is truly an illusion to believe that we can simply chop the weed off at the ground, and expect it to be gone for good.

If, for example, we wrestle an addiction to the ground, without addressing what purpose the addiction served, and where the addiction came from, we will either 'relapse' into that same addiction, or another addiction will emerge to take it's place. The 'cause' is still there. It WILL manifest somewhere.

Likewise with some of our physical problems. I'm always perplexed by the volume of antacid commercials, where they show someone eating a chili dog, feeling ill effects, and popping a magic pill to take away the discomfort. Sometimes, they show the person proactively taking the pill to allow consumption of the chili dog without consequence. I get so irritated when I see that. Maybe we should consider that eating a chili dog MIGHT NOT BE GOOD FOR US? What is the cause of the discomfort? If we simply look for a way to avoid the discomfort, are we really taking good care of ourselves? I submit that we often suppress symptoms at the expense of our greater good.

Just as we need to dig out the roots of the weeds in our garden, we need to dig out the root causes of the problems in our lives. Only in addressing the root causes will we find long term, sustainable solutions!

Happy root digging!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Complaining About the Best Seat in the House

I spent last weekend in New York city. On my flight from Seattle to Newark, NJ, I was in the second row of the coach section of the plane. The people in front of me were at the bulkhead. The bulkhead rows have double the leg room of the other rows in coach! These are coveted seats. I usually try to score one of these seats, but was unsuccessful on this particular flight.

As the plane was just about to close the doors for take off, a man hurried on and took the aisle seat in the row in front of me. The plane was completely full as were all the overhead bins. We were literally moments from take off. This guy got on at the last possible second. The overhead bins were full, of course, and being at the bulkhead meant there was no room for his bag (since there was no seat in front of him). He was... NOT happy! The flight attendant said they had to check his bag, and he pitched a big fit.

Then, he got on his cell phone and proceeded to yell loudly (so that at least 5 rows of us fellow passengers could hear him) at someone in his office. I will leave out the profanity he used.

"Who's (blankety blank) idea was it to put me in the front row of the plane so I had to check my bag? I'm going to be late now because I have to go to the (blankety blank) baggage claim! Who did this? I'm telling you... I'm going to have this travel agent fired! This is the third time I've been in the front row of the plane so there is no room for my bags!"

He went on... and on... and on.

Many people around me were snickering. This guy was making a fool out of himself.

I know that I was tempted to say... "Hey... I'll trade you seats!" There are very few people who would give up a chance to have all that extra leg room.

I was struck by several aspects of this happening.

The main arrived late. Very late. Had he arrived earlier, his bag would have easily fit in the overhead bin. He showed up at the last second, expecting to be accommodated as though he had arrived on time.

He was complaining about getting a seat that most people would have LOVED to have. He had no appreciation for the comfort he had been provided with.

There was once a person in my life who complained about EVERYTHING that happened in their life. Everything. I used to say about this person, "If opportunity was knocking for her... she'd complain about the noise." This guy reminded me of my former acquaintance.

The man seemed to NEED for all of us around him to know about his discontent. He wanted us to 'sense' his importance (he should be entitled to special treatment, he had the power to get someone fired, etc.)

He seemed oblivious to the fact that, not only were we not impressed, we all thought he was a horses behind, or pitied him. He was embarrassing himself and didn't even know it.

I realized there were a lot of lessons in this man's sad state.

1. Our attitude is all important. Our perspective is all important. This man had a great seat and he saw it as completely inferior. The seat was great. His viewpoint was totally out of whack! He wasn't seeing clearly!

2. When we get ourselves into a 'state' where we think life owes us special treatment... we are begging for frustration and disappointment. Believing we are 'above' the human condition is a recipe for pain and suffering!

3. Other people don't need to know about our internal struggles. This man made himself look like a complete ass to those of us who witnessed his tantrum. His desire to come across as powerful and important was futile. He looked like a two year old child hurling himself on the floor to make his point. Other people view our tantrums, complaining and sense of self importance as immature and ridiculous. It wins no friends and never advances us (at least not in the long term).

Finally, what I also know is that this man is not a happy camper. It would not be easy to live inside his skin. He's deeply unhappy and troubled. I did find some compassion for whatever he's been through to land him in this particular state. Ultimately, he's responsible for his current state, but I still found some compassion for what he's been through to have him end up with that dour and nasty attitude towards life.

We are responsible for our attitude and the way we react to our life circumstances. We can learn just as much, if not more, from those around us who react in self defeating ways as we can from those who model excellence and health.

I bless this man on his journey... and I scour my own life and attitude for areas where I view things through negative, distorted lenses. Do we have a sense of entitlement? Do we try to bellow our way into control and power? Do we have a need for other people to acknowledge our power and importance? Do we complain... even when we've been given a great gift?

We might annoy others around us with this sort of behavior, but ultimately we are the ones who suffer the most.

The man on the airplane complaining about the bulkhead aisle seat. Threatening to get the travel agent fired. Getting on at the last second. Loudly complaining. Using profanity. People were laughing at him. He thought he was all important.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dredging Up the Dark Side

The beliefs we have and the thoughts we think have a profound impact on what happens in our lives. We can radically alter our internal dialogs as a mechanism for transforming our outer worlds. One challenge in this endeavor, however, is that we often are not aware of our thoughts and beliefs. Many of these are ingrained in us far below the level of consciousness. Although we are not consciously aware of these beliefs and thoughts, they are constantly exerting their influence in our psyches and in our outer lives.

When I first started therapy for my eating disorder back in 1984, my therapist had me start a practice that I continue to this day. That practice is to work with positive self talk statements, or affirmations. Working with these statements (writing them down, recording and listening to them, and saying them out loud) has changed, if not saved, my life. I’m a big believer in the power of minds, and the absolute capability that we have to change what goes on inside our own minds. I’ve even created an ever expanding product line called, PathPositives, to provide access to sets of positive self talk statement to address a variety of challenges.

I’m always amazed at how many people tell me they don’t have self esteem problems and they like themselves, yet they struggle with all sorts of problems: addictions, excess weight, bad/self destructive habits, dysfunctional/unhealthy relationships and other issues. When we have healthy self esteem and really like ourselves, we don’t tend to have severe disturbances in our lives. The proof is in the outer circumstances of our lives. If things are ‘messed up’ we have some ‘messed up’ thinking go on in our consciousness.

One of the first things my counselor/teacher had me do when I began this practice was to ‘ferret out’ the negative self talk that I had going on inside. I was shocked and amazed at all the negativity that came out of me when I did this! I had no idea that I had all that crap in there!

The way he had me work on this was to take two sheets of paper and lay them side by side. He gave me a list of affirmations (mostly to do with self esteem) and asked me to write them over and over again on the first piece of paper. If any negative ‘stuff’ came into my mind while I was writing, I was to change to the other piece of paper and write down the negative thoughts and feelings that were emerging. For example, If I was writing, “I, Nola, am a good person” as my affirmation, and suddenly, “You’re stupid!” came in to my mind, I was to write that down. It was amazing the volume, variety and viciousness of what came out of me as I did this. I had an eating disorder, and severe body image distortion, so some of my affirmations were about being healthy and fit. I won’t repeat some of the horrible things that would pop out of my mind when I wrote affirmations that were in any way positive about my body. I shudder to think about how mean I used to be to myself!

This process is called ‘dredging.’ It allows us to dig up and fully face what’s REALLY going on in the background process occurring running in our subconscious mind. We can’t deal with what we are not aware of. We must become aware of our true thoughts and feelings about ourselves in order to be able to restructure and reprogram our internal belief and thought structures.

The purged material is for our information only. We are to use it to become aware of the truth of our feelings about ourselves, then destroy those pages. The goal is to purge for as long as the negative ‘crap’ is coming up, then just continue the process of working with the positive self statements to flood the mind with new programming. In this way, we are not ‘denying what is there’ we are simply exposing the problematic content of our minds/sub conscious and replacing it with more accurate, healthier self perception.

Lots of people who advocate doing affirmations, neglect the all important step of facing the truth of what is in our current consciousness and working to release it gracefully and lovingly while we embrace a new, more accurate and healthy sense of ourselves.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Getting It Done Without Self Consciousness

I'm finishing up a trip to NYC at the moment. I've had a wonderful few days visiting friends and enjoying this bustling city.

I took a train up to Connecticut on Sunday to spend the day with a good friend. I returned late Sunday evening to NYC. When I got on the train in Westport Connecticut, I found that the car I entered was already pretty full of passengers. I was planning to have a personal phone call on my ride back to the city, and wanted to have a double seat to myself. That was not possible in the car I had entered. All the rows had at least one person sitting in them already.

The train left the station, and I was standing there wondering where I would sit!

I am not a commuter train expert. I've only taken trains out of NYC about a half dozen times in my life. I wondered if I could safely move between the cars while the train was moving.

In my life, I have always had discomfort 'appearing foolish' or 'ignorant.' I don't like to 'not know' things, or to have to ask people for help. This is not a healthy trait. I often will suffer in silence, or experience great anxiety before I simply ask a stranger to help me. I feel very self conscious about asking for help, especially from people I don't know.

Tonight, I noticed a shift in my feelings about this. I had absolutely no apprehension about walking up to a woman on the train and asking, "Is it safe to go from car to car when the train is moving?" She smiled at my 'newbie-ness' and said, "Of course it is!" I thanked her, flung open the door, and walked to the next car. I had to go 5 cars towards the back of the train before I found an open seat. I got exactly what I wanted: a row with two seats to myself, and I was facing the direction the train was moving. (I get a little motion sick if I'm facing away from the direction we're moving, and some seats are oriented that way).

It seems like such a simple thing, but there is a time in my life when I would not have been able to ask that question. I would have sat down beside someone else and ridden the entire journey in less comfort. I would not have been able to make my phone call. I would have not had the experience that I wanted to have. All because of being too embarrassed to ask a simple, possibly silly question.

I realized in this experience, that I've come a long way in overcoming some of my self consciousness. I'm getting more comfortable with 'not knowing' and with asking for help. I consider these to both be positive and healthy changes.

Are there things that you hesitate to do in front of other people because you're too embarrassed or self conscious? Are you uncomfortable asking for help? Will you not dance in front of other people? Do you have trouble asking people on airplanes to get up so that you can go to the restroom? Do you hesitate to ask sales clerks for help? If you have any of these hang ups, I encourage you to gently lean into them. Start with the things that least bother you and start doing them repeatedly. You'll work your way up to larger and more important tasks.

It is quite liberating to no longer allow embarrassment or discomfort to alter the way that we live our lives!

Let's stop worrying about embarrassing ourselves and start living fully!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Sparrow and the Hawk

As I was driving along the highway yesterday, I saw a tiny little sparrow chasing a giant hawk. I've seen this many times before, a small bird chasing another much larger bird, many times. It never ceases to intrigue me.

The small bird is defending it's nest and it's eggs or young from the larger predator. The larger bird would usually be the one hunting the smaller bird. In this case, however, the little bird has found a reason to rise up and express it's inner power. Protecting one's young is a valid reason for claiming one's strength!

When we find a good enough reason, we can unearth strength and courage that we didn't know we had! We can 'take on' challenges that normally would seem frightening and impossible.

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana (Harrison Ford) is put into a terrible position. His father is critically wounded, and Indiana's only chance to save him involves facing incredible life threatening obstacles. These challenges are something he otherwise would probably not be willing to face. For the love of his father, however, he is willing to face them all.

The really powerful challenge that he faces is the invisible bridge across a giant chasm. Falling into it would mean certain death. Indiana becomes aware that he must take a step into the void of the chasm before the bridge will appear. He has to have the faith to take that step, with no visible bride in sight, in order to have a chance to get across the giant chasm. With no assurances, he has to take the risk and face his fear that he might die.

Often in life, we are the sparrow that has to take on a hawk. Other times we are Indiana Jones and we need to take a leap of faith in the service of a larger goal.

When we did deep inside ourselves, we can find the faith and the courage to meet any of life's challenges. Often we do this on behalf of others. My hope for us all is that we find a way to locate these qualities for ourselves as well!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Finding the Needle in the Haystack

I proved this past weekend that it really is possible to find the needle in the haystack!

I have one of those giant shop-vac vacuum cleaners in my garage. About 5 years ago, the wheel assembly that the vacuum cleaner rested on fell apart. Someone who was working for me told me it had broken, but they couldn't get it back together. There was a particular screw missing that was needed to put the wheel assembly back together.

Over the past 5 years I've used the vacuum cleaner from time to time and I'm always frustrated to have to lift and carry it in order to move it around.

I'd thought about junking it and replacing it, but that seemed extremely wasteful! I didn't want to get rid of a perfectly good machine because of a simple screw. I didn't use it often enough to be too bothered.

As my garage cleaning efforts have progressed, I have taken careful note of any screws that I've found in the process. This weekend, it finally happened. I found the missing screw buried in a pile of empty boxes! This was about 12 hours into my cleaning project I at last found the coveted 'missing link!'

It seemed impossible. I have a large garage. It has been a mess and totally disorganized since I moved in 9 years ago. This screw had been 'missing' for 5 long years.

I honestly thought I'd need to locate a new screw. This may not seem like a challenge, but it really, truly proved to be. Turns out this was a bit of an odd screw. I had looked several times and always turned up empty!

This experience really reminded me that anything can happen! It also reminded me that nothing is ever really 'lost.' Just because I couldn't find it didn't mean it wasn't there. It was there, all along, waiting to be discovered.

If you feel like you've lost something... keep looking for it! Don't give up hope that you might just find it. Roll up your sleeves, apply a little elbow grease and keep the faith!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Old Butter Dish

I learned something about myself this past week.

I have a butter dish in my kitchen that I've had for almost 20 years. I really dislike it.

It has a modern and 'artsy' type look to it. It looks like a child drew pictures of a coffee cup, a house, and other simple things on the butter dish.

My taste is more earthy and natural. I like clean lines and soothing, straight forward design. This butter dish was 'goofy' and silly-looking to me.

The other day, I was getting a stick of butter out of the freezer and started to put it in my butter dish. I stopped in my tracks.

I asked myself, "WHY are you using this butter dish after all these years? You really really dislike it?"

I had to stop and ponder that question. Why did I buy it in the first place? Why was I still using it?

I started to remember 'way back when' I bought this butter dish.

The truth is, I actually remember the experience of buying the butter dish. Twenty years ago I was 25 years old. I didn't really know who I was, or what my 'style' was. I remember buying the butter dish because I thought it looked 'hip' and 'trendy.' I thought I "should" like it. I "wanted" to like it. So, I bought it.

I've known for many years that I didn't like this butter dish. Yet... it remained in use in my kitchen. What's up with that?

I realized this past week that I had just used this butter dish because I'd always used it. I bought it using immature and flawed logic. I was trying to be someone I wasn't. I bought it trying to impress other people with my 'hipness.' Even though I've come to know myself and my tastes over all these years, I never thought to let go of this butter dish. Until this week.

The butter dish is on it's way to the Goodwill with a lot of other things from my past. I'm letting it go! This butter dish represents a 'false self' to me. It represents all the parts of my that I have 'put on' to try to impress others or to prove to myself that I'm cool or hip. I want to be done with all that!

The butter dish is going. So too, I hope, are the parts of me that I've adopted to try to impress others or convince myself that I'm OK.

I'm me. Plain and simple. That is true for all of us. I hope for all of us that we can embrace who we are and let go of all the false selves we've adopted for various reasons.

Let go of the butter dishes you hate in your life. Just... let them go!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Releasing the Dead Weight

My garage cleaning crusade continues! I have put in a large number of hours in the past few weeks cleaning out my junk and spider filled garage. I'm coming close to the end of this time consuming and dirty project. I've found all sorts of scary spiders, and 'evidence' of mice living in and amongst my things! Not pleasant.

I wrote last week about the danger of letting our junk pile up around us... to the point of creating a habitat for undesirable 'stuff.'

What a metaphor this process has been. I've taken two carloads of stuff to the goodwill. The last load consisted of a lot of planters - mostly terra cotta and ceramic. They were all VERY VERY heavy! I used to have a container herb garden (at my old house 9 YEARS AGO) and have never set one up where I live now. I'm not likely to do so, and I decided to let go of all of these planters. I'm sure someone will really appreciate them.

The ceramic planters that I had were all of a style that is no longer mine! I couldn't believe how long I've held on to them... when I don't even like them anymore!! They too were released.

As I helped the man at goodwill unload my car, I allowed myself to feel lighter and lighter as these old, heavy items were released from my life. I no longer needed or wanted them anymore. They no longer fit me or my life. It was time to be free from them. I felt twinges of sadness. I once loved these things. They were once 'my style.' Now they are free to be useful to others, since they are no longer needed in my life.

I did, in fact, feel lighter and more free when I drove away from that place! With each item I release, I feel a sense of increasing freedom and ability to move. I no longer need these parts of my past. They no longer serve me. I bless them, thank them for what they gave me... and I let them go.

This is what I try to do with my life. Once something has outlived its 'season' in my life, it is time to let go. Sometimes it is painful and sad. That doesn't make it any less necessary. Trying to 'go back' or 'stay in the past' doesn't work. We must stay focused in the present, and step in to our future. That is mighty hard to do if we drag along all of our past with us.

With each item (especially the HEAVY ones) that I release from my garage, I visualize that I'm letting go of parts of my past. Experiences, people, pain, disappointment, let downs, ideas, beliefs... whatever it is that no longer fits in my world... I release them as I release these items from my life.

I encourage you to consider cleaning out some corner of your physical world, and let it be a metaphor for your willingness to release ALL that is no longer welcome or needed in your present... or your future. It is really powerful to do a physical process while you declare an intention for your inner life!

Happy releasing!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Yesterday was mother's day - the day we celebrate the women in our lives who gave us biological birth. The gift of life is a precious gift that we owe to the women who carried us in their own bodies for 9 months. They lived through the discomfort and the inconvenience in order to bring us in to this world. We owe them a debt of gratitude. We simply wouldn't exist without them!

"Mothering" goes way beyond giving physical birth, however. Some women who give birth to children are wonderful, loving and caring mothers. Others aren't necessarily nurturing and caring. Just giving birth does not, in and of itself, make someone a good mother. There is still value in the act (in terms of giving life), but it doesn't mean the person is a great mother in every sense of the word.

Likewise, many women (and men) who never give physical birth to another human being, can be extremely loving, caring and nurturing to others. This too, in my opinion, is a form of mothering. There are many people in my own life, for example, who have supported, encourage and nurtured me in motherly ways. I honor them on this day as well.

Today is a day to celebrate the spirit of mothering. The energy of supporting and nurturing others. Mothers, at their essence, give of themselves to propel others forward. They seek the success of those they love and care about. They sacrifice their own needs at times in order to help and support those they love.

Celebrate the mother who gave you birth, and also celebrate anyone who has given you love, support and nurturing along life's path!

Happy Mother's Day!!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Allowing the Crud to Creep

Right now I am in the midst of a most unpleasant project in my home. I'm cleaning out my garage for the first time since I moved into this house almost 9 years ago!

To let you know just how bad it is in there, I just came across a bag of cleaning supplies from my previous house! I set it in the garage when I moved in, and never saw it again until this past week! Let's just say there is a lot of junk in this garage!

One of the things that makes this task so unpleasant is that all these bags, boxes and piles of junk have created the perfect habitat for some very undesirable critters. Spiders are one of my least favorite things in the world, and my garage is FULL of them! I have had more unpleasant encounters with spiders since I started this task than I care to remember! I've also found signs of mice - which is also not particularly pleasant!

I only work on my garage cleaning task for 30 minutes a day. It's so nasty and unpleasant that I find limiting the time helps me in my 'willingness' to engage in the task! Slowly, I am seeing big progress and feeling better about my efforts.

A lesson that I'm learning as I continue the process, is that all the junk I've allowed to accumulate has created the nasty, spider infestations that I'm so unhappy about. If my garage was cleaner and more clutter free, I would not have all these spiders hanging out in there. I'm sure I'd have a few, but it is obvious to me that by keeping lots of junk and allowing all this clutter, I have made it a place that is attractive to these undesirable pests!

I think there is a good metaphor for life in this situation. When we ignore the dark corners of our lives and allow unneeded junk to accumulate there, we invite other, potentially dangerous elements to hang out there as well. When we don't 'clean house' and eliminate the old and unnecessary junk in our minds and lives we attract all kinds of things that we actually don't want!

Cleaning up those junk piles, tossing out what needs to be tossed, sweeping up all the dirt and grime, makes an environment that is more pleasant for us, and isn't as appealing for unwanted visitors.

It's spring time... and the perfect time for a little spring cleaning! Pick a corner... and get to work! It might be dirty work, but the rewards are worth it!

Dirty, dark places are the breeding ground for spiders and other nasty creatures.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Breaking Out of the Rut

Years ago, I attended a seminar on how to cultivate and encourage my intuition. It was a great class and all these years later, there are a couple of key points that I still remember from it.

The one I'm thinking about today has to do with breaking out of the ruts and routines that we sometimes settle down into. When we let things get stagnant and stale in our lives we close off our minds (and our eyes) to new possibilities. It's so easy to just let things stay the same and get into habits that become our only way of doing things.

The instructor of this class encouraged us to change things around in our lives. Even just little things! I remember him suggesting that we change which leg we put into our pants first, or change the route that we drove to work. Even getting up on the other side of the bed! Any little change that just 'jogs your brain' a bit can really open you up to new ideas and experiences!

I've recently begun 'gently nudging' myself to order different things off of the menus at the places I eat frequently. I have my favorites, but the truth is... I do get a little bored from time to time. Ordering something new (and dealing with the twinge of anxiety I get about whether I'll like it or not) is good therapy for me! Each time I do it, I set the intention that this action will help me see life with new eyes!

I've also ordered a couple DVDs recently to start learning country line dancing and belly dancing! Trying new things is good for the brain!

I encourage you to try some new things and change the way you do a few things. Eat with your non-dominant hand for a meal, try a different type of salad dressing, brush your teeth in the opposite direction from what you normally do. Just do SOMETHING DIFFERENT! See what happens in your world!!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Glass is Overflowing

I've had allergies for most of my life. Spring and summer were always a challenge for me growing up. I would have itchy, watery eyes as well as nasal congestion and even asthma! I had allergy shots and took lots of medicines. I also had to use asthma inhalers! Not a lot of fun, as any allergy sufferer will tell you.

This past few days here in the Seattle area, I have been really miserable with my allergies. This is the worst its been in many years for me.

I have had to ponder why it is that I'm having worse allergies this year. I have a theory.

Many years ago, I started working with a doctor who helped me identify a number of foods that I'm sensitive to. Wheat is one of those foods. I gave up wheat entirely for about 2 years. When I did that an interesting thing happened. First off, I felt 100% better! The constant low grade fatigue that I had almost entirely disappeared! My migraine headaches went away. Finally, my 'seasonal' allergies in the spring and summer pretty much vanished! I just didn't have them anymore!

I explain it this way: If you have a full glass of water sitting in front of you, and you try to pour more water in to the glass, it overflows. There is no 'capacity' to hold the additional water. Likewise, if your body is the glass, and the water in it represents it's current 'load' dealing with irritants or toxins, if the glass is filled to capacity, then any additional load is going to cause the glass to overflow.

In my way of looking at it, 'symptoms' are the same as the glass overflowing.

When I 'cleaned up' my diet and stopped eating wheat (something that is an irritant/toxin to my body), I took a lot of water out of my glass. Then, when seasonal allergens came along (which was like pouring more water into my glass), ,my body could handle it without producing symptoms - the glass did not overflow!

In the past couple years, I've gotten increasingly 'lax' about my diet. I eat a lot more bread and pasta now than I did a couple years ago, or even last year. Now, "suddenly" I'm having really bad allergies. Hmmmm.... perhaps there is a connection?

I think this analogy is really effective in helping us to understand ourselves and our reactions (physical, mental and emotional) to life. If our glass (whatever that glass represents) is already full, we don't have any capacity to 'hold' more.

A simple example would be our stress level. Normally, maybe an extra assignment at work might not cause us to worry or freak out, but if we've just had a major life change, or a loss, for example, our 'glass' might already be filled to capacity. The new requirement at work might cause the glass to overflow - and we have an emotional response that isn't the norm for us. The glass has overflowed.

I personally am embarking on a month of 'no wheat' in my diet... to attempt to empty some of the water out of my glass, and calm down these 'seasonal allergies' of mine. It's a great reminder that it is up to each of us to monitor the level of the water in our glass, whatever that glass may be, and keep it at a sustainable level, where we can handle the extra water that life sometimes pours into it!

If you have any area of your life that is out of balance, or where you are consistently struggling with, I encourage you to take a look at your glass. See what's in there and determine if there is anything that you can or should dump out of it to make room for what life might be sending your way!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The New Jawbone Prime Rocks!

I just love to solve problems. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to have something resolved in a positive and constructive manner!

I talk a lot on the phone, and I often talk when I'm driving. Long before Washington state passed their law requiring drivers to use hands free devices (which I whole heartedly support), I was using headsets with my cell phone while on the road. I learned early in my car phone days that holding a phone while driving was not a good combination. As a master multitasker, I'll happily debate those who say that talking on the phone while driving is dangerous under any circumstances. I believe it's the same as anything else. Some people can do it and other people can't. It depends on the person. Some people can't safely talk to a passenger in the car while they are driving. Others can. At any rate, I have realized for a long time that it is a lot safer for me to not hold a phone to my ear while I drive, and hence have been a hands free practitioner!

Initially, I used the corded earbuds. I still prefer 'physical wires' for my electronic devices. I have not yet adopted wireless mice or keyboards. I prefer a cable for my home Internet connection, even though I have a wireless network in my home as well. I'm a 'slow adopter' of technology sometimes!

I was forced to make the jump to a 'bluetooth' wireless headset by one of my Windows based smartphones (that synchronizes with Microsoft Outlook) that made it very difficult to use a corded earbud. I reluctantly made the switch. I tried several bluetooth headsets and hated them all. I couldn't hear my callers and they couldn't hear me!

Then I found the Jawbone headset. It's original release was a couple years ago, and I simply LOVED IT! It had sophisticated noise cancelling technology, so that my callers could hear me clearly, even if I was in a noisy environment. All they could hear was me!

The ear loop was a little awkward on the first generation Jawbones, but I got used to it. The noise cancelling technology requires that the headset make contact with your jaw (hence the name) so the positioning of the device is critically important. The odd ear loop helped with that.

When Jawbone II came out last spring, I was really excited. It had a smaller profile, a newly designed ear loop and was supposed to improve upon the noise cancelling technology. I immediately went and bought the Jawbone II, with a plan of giving a friend my original Jawbones (I had two).

All I can say is that Jawbone II was a huge disappointment to me. The incoming sound was far inferior to that of the original Jawbone. I could barely hear the incoming callers, even with my volume set to the highest level. The incoming sound was also not totally clear. The voices of my callers were sort of 'raspy.'

Also, on Jawbone II, it was almost impossible for me to keep the device in contact with my face - which rendered it useless! My callers would tell me often that I was 'warbling' and they could no longer understand me. If I moved my head at all, people couldn't understand me.

Friends of mine who used the Jawbone II device experienced the same problems. I was so disappointed! I was never able to use my new Jawbone II devices. I stuck with the original Jawbone because it frankly was superior!

Over the past year, I lost one of my original Jawbones, and my remaining device broke so that I had to put it back together every day when I removed it from the charger.

Last week, I was so frustrated that I decided it was time to look for a replacement. From time to time over the past year, I had looked at the Jawbone website, to see if they were issuing any fixes for the problems with Jawbone II, or if they were coming out with a new version. They had designed a new earbud (which I believe did address the 'fit' problem and hence the outgoing 'warping' of the user's voice), but I never tried it because the low sound level of the incoming callers voice was still a big problem for me.

Last week, however, I was stunned to see that Jawbone was coming out with a new device (the Jawbone Prime) on May 2nd! That was less than a week away. They claimed to have improved on a number of issues from Jawbone II, but didn't elaborate on any of the specific problems I had experienced. Still, I was beyond excited! My one remaining original Jawbone was almost unusable at this point, and I needed a new solution.

I preordered a new Jawbone Prime in a snazzy new color - PURPLE (my favorite)! I also planned to head to my local AT&T store on May 2nd and buy a brown or black one so I could start using it immediately!

Well, I am delighted to report that the Jawbone Prime is the solution to ALL my previous complaints about the original Jawbone and the Jawbone II! This device is really really good!

The incoming sound level is more than adequate, and the quality of the incoming sound is just as good (if not better) than the original Jawbone.

The fit is comfortable, and the new earbud shape positions the device securely on the face, so the 'coming loose' issue seems to be a thing of the past.

Evidently, the designers have also put in a fail safe feature so that if the device comes off your face, the callers can still hear you, just without some of the more sophisticated noise cancelling. That was a brilliant idea!

They fixed some other usability problems that were a nuisance in the past devices... and all in all I couldn't be happier!

This is one of those situations where a little patience really paid off. I'm delighted that I happened to check 'one more time' to see if and when Aliph was going to produce a new version of this device. They really nailed it - in terms of focusing on customer needs and complaints. This version 3, the Jawbone Prime is all that us bluetooth headset users could ask for!

I was also grateful that once I made the decision that I HAD TO replace my original Jawbone, I had less than a week to wait before the release of this new version! What a nice reminder that when we need something, the universe can lovingly provide it for us!!

I wanted to share this story for two reasons.

One is that I highly recommend the Jawbone Prime! If you need a wireless headset this is a great solution! If you drive and use a cell phone - please do it with a headset and keep your hands on the wheel!

Jawbone Prime Website

The second reason I share this story is that it really is a reminder about having patience and persevering in working to solve a problem. I was truly amazed that the solution to my problem appeared EXACTLY when I needed it most! I was prepared to do whatever it took to find a new headset, but in the end, I got exactly what I wanted - with no hassles! Life can sometimes be easy!

Don't give up and never lose faith! The answer is out there! Even for a wireless headset solution! :)

My new Purple Jawbone Prime :)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Snowball... for a Belly Laugh

In the interest of experiencing more fun and joy in my life, I have to share this with you! I am not the biggest fan of 'cute pet' videos on Youtube. Once in a while you find a good one, but it's not my habit to go hunting for them. Usually people send them to me. I can appreciate them at a certain level, but they just aren't really 'my thing.' Until this one!

I saw this bird, Snowball, a cockatoo, on my local news the other night. It literally can dance to the beat of music, and seems to really get into it! I found myself laughing harder than I have in a long while!

I went on Youtube to find this bird, and found several videos of Snowball rockin' out to different songs. This was my favorite. It's only a little over a minute long, and well worth the watching. Watch it all the way to the end... there is a spectacular finish!

Let this be a 'light moment' in your day... no matter what else is going on for you. You can take a minute and just laugh. It's good for us all to remember that sometimes. Teaching ourselves to pause and enjoy something, even in the midst of life's chores and struggles, is a great skill to cultivate. It makes life a lot more enjoyable!

I give you.... Snowball... rockin' out to the Back Street Boys:

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Attitude Adjustment Hour

I was driving in my car the other day, listening to the radio, when the DJ reminded us that we were in the 'attitude adjustment hour' portion of their program. The phrase caught my attention: Attitude Adjustment Hour. What a great idea!!

I have been known to say, upon occasion, that I needed an 'attitude adjustment.' Usually I say this when I'm not handling something very well.

What if we could proactively adjust our attitude? What if we set aside a period of time every day to adjust our attitude and 'right our minds?' How cool might that be?

It doesn't need to be an hour... but I think it would serve us all well to set aside a few minutes each morning to 'adjust our attitude' and set ourselves in a positive and constructive direction for that day.

We could set our intentions for the day. What would we like to accomplish? Who would we like to see, influence or help? How would we like to feel throughout the day? How would we like to handle difficulty, obstacles, or unexpected delays? What attitude would we like to hold throughout negative situations? What positive character traits would we like to cultivate and practice that day? Patience? Calmness? Peaceful interactions with other? How would we like to feel about ourselves that day? Could we say some uplifting, confidence boosting things to ourselves about ourselves to feel more optimistic and positive?

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. It can be whatever you want it to be!

Give yourself some period of time each morning for 'attitude adjustment.' I think you'll be surprised at the powerful, positive impact this will have on your life!