Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's MY Toe!

My mom told me a story the other day about something she experienced in a beauty salon.

She was in getting her hair done, and another regular client came up to talk to mom's hair dresser.

This particular client is known for her persistently negative and complaining attitude about life.

The woman started telling my mom (and her hairdresser) her daily tail of woe. She was complaining about her job, and how hard it was to work a couple hours at a time, serving lunch or dinner to senior citizens in a retirement home. Then she went on to complaining about one of her big toes and how much it hurt. She went on and on about her toe and told mom and the other lady that it was broken.

"It's not ever going to heal!" exclaimed the woman. "The doctor told me it will NEVER heal!"

My mom had sat silently through her monologue until that moment. Then she said, "Pardon me?"

The woman repeated it again, "My toe is never going to heal."

My mom said, "I've never heard of such a thing before? How can it not heal?"

"It's MY TOE!" snapped the woman. "It's not going to heal!"

My mom dropped it at that point.

How sad. This woman has accepted (or decided) that her broken bone is never going to heal. Whether the doctor told her that or not isn't really important. She is declaring at every possible opportunity that it is NOT GOING TO HEAL. She considers it a 'done deal.'

It doesn't surprise me that this woman's general outlook on life is dismal and dreary, or that she views herself as a victim of circumstance.

Her 'toe comment' would have given me a clue about her mindset, even without the complaining that she does on a regular basis.

She simply doesn't believe healing is available to her. Life is hard and she's destined to live with pain and suffering. That... is her belief system.

I'm reminded of that old song, 'It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To.'

We all have a choice of what to make of our party! We all have the opportunity to decide how we are going to handle our life. Will we suffer through it? Will we enjoy it? The choice is entirely up to us.

It is, indeed, 'her toe.' It's also her party! If she continues to think and speak about it in her current form, she's in for a long, dismal trip.

How are you handling you party? Do you have any 'toes' that you are declaring will never heal?

Remember that the choice of how you engage with your party... or your toe is entirely up to you! There is great power in your perspective, the beliefs you hold and the words you speak!

It's as true for you and I, as it is for the woman with 'her toe!'

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Selective Hearing

I was hiking the other day, listening to tunes on my Zune (Music Player). A song I have heard many times, and love, came on. "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," by Jet.

It's a catchy, upbeat song, great for motivating me when I'm hiking up a hill!

I was singing along with the song, as these lines came on:

Big black boots
Long blonde hair...
She's so sweet with her 'get back' stare!

I had a little 'twinge' internally and thought to myself, "Why do they always sing about blonde haired girls?"

I, of course, am a brunette. I felt a bit 'slighted' at that moment. My thought process went a bit like this:

How come it's always the blondes that are considered cute?
What's wrong with brown haired girls?
Why aren't we thought of as being cute too?
etc. etc. etc.

I played the song over a few times more. I still liked it, even if I felt my 'brunette-ness' was being dissed!

Suddenly, that line came up again... and I heard it:

Big black boots
Long BROWN hair
She's so sweet with her 'get back' stare!

I was stunned. Literally stunned. I have listened to that song hundreds of times, and I have always heard him sing BLONDE! Yet, every single time he was singing "BROWN."

It was a profound reminder to me that our hearing, seeing (and other senses) are quite selective.

When we have a deeply held belief, we scan our world CONSTANTLY for confirmation that we are right. It matters not whether the belief is negative or positive. My teacher, Chuck Bruni, used to always say, "The Universe is neutral!"

I have an internal belief that blondes are cuter than brunettes, and somehow I'm inferior because I'm brunette! I actually heard the lyrics INCORRECTLY to validate my theory! Amazing!

We have to really watch ourselves for this sort of internal distortion! We are well served when we do our best to become aware of what we think and believe about ourselves and this world of ours!

We will usually get to be right. Even if we have to distort the facts to do so!

Link to "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Memory of My Daddy

Me with my Dad

Today marks the 12th year since the passing of my father, Michael Drazdoff.

I'm taking some time to remember him today, and all the gifts he gave me by being my daddy.

Thanks Daddy! Your life mattered! You live on through all of those you touched.

The Greener Grass

This past weekend, I was driving through the Oregon country side to visit my mom. It was a bright sunny day. For me, the perfect day for driving through those rolling green hills.

As I whizzed along, I noticed a pasture to my left. In this lush green field was a herd of grazing cattle. I didn't think too much about it, until I noticed two cows up very close to the road I was driving on.

They had their heads stuck THROUGH the barbed wire fence, so they could eat the grass on the other side. OUCH!

I'm not even sure how they got their heads through, but the barbed wire was definitely pressing against their necks on the top and bottom. OUCH! I wondered if they could extract themselves from their predicament, or if they would require assistance from their owner to free themselves. The situation they got themselves into, very well could be something they couldn't get themselves out of!

All this, and they were eating grass that looked remarkably similar to what was within their grazing pasture.

How often do we do put ourselves in harm's way in order to try to acquire something 'better' than what we already have, only to find it is no better (or no worse)?

Cows aren't very conscious. We have an advantage in this area. We can look carefully at the grass inside the pasture and on 'the other side' and make a conscious decision about whether to stick our head through a razor sharp fence to try and get to it!

Most often, of course, this will get us nowhere 'better' - it will only end up slicing our neck open! Then was will be spending time tending to those cuts and healing from our misadventure.

If something really looks 'better' let's try and be a little smarter than the cows with their heads stuck int he barbed wire fence!

Don't be deceived by the 'illusion.'

Think. Discern. Remain conscious. Move with awareness.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Doing it Yourself

I saw a commercial the other day. I think it was for a hardware store.

The main tag line was,

"Do it yourself, doesn't mean you have to do it alone."

I love this! As an independent person, sometimes I get very caught up in the notion that I should know how to do everything on my own. Sometimes it is hard to ask for help.

I personally believe in order to live life fully, we have to learn how to let other people in. We have to learn how to meet our own needs, and we have to learn how to allow others to meet our needs as well.

Who knew such a powerful reminder could come from a hardware store commercial!?!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Fueled Up Tank

You'd think I'd know better. My personal trainer has drilled it into my head that eating a good breakfast is extremely important to my well being. It's valuable every day, but particularly necessary on days when I'm working out or otherwise exercising.

I've been doing a lot of hiking this summer. One of the hikes that I routinely do was tough when I started this season. Now it is fairly easy for me. I hike it a couple times a week and barely feel that I've exerted myself! That's what happens when you condition yourself properly for something.

Yesterday, however, I forgot to eat anything before I set out on the hike. Boy, did I pay for that mistake in judgement!

I struggled a lot more than usual. I felt extremely low energy. The hike was not nearly as enjoyable as it usually is. Every step was an effort. This is not my usual experience on this hike.

I had already come to believe the wisdom of eating breakfast every day. When I got into that routine, I lost some weight and my workouts certainly went better. I believed that it was true, after a life time of doubting that old adage.

But yesterday, when I found myself struggling with what is normally an easy hike, it was crystal clear to me how important it is to have my fuel at the proper level before I exert myself. Essential even!

It translates to other areas of life as well. It is important to have the proper supplies for any endeavor that we undertake. If you try to do something without having the resources that you need, you are unlikely to succeed. It is very important to honor this as a law of the universe and act accordingly.

Make sure you prepare for your endeavors, whatever they may be. Pack the proper provisions. Fill the needed fuel tanks. Don't go on an empty tank. Fill it up and head out!

Proper preparation is essential to success!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Staying Out of the Storm

I had an interesting experience yesterday as I was meditating on my patio. It was a very hot day here in Seattle. I was sitting in the sun to get my much needed daily dose of Vitamin D.

I live in a wooded area, with many tall trees on all sides of my house.

As I sat there meditating with my eyes closed, I became aware that there was quite a wind blowing in the tree tops, high over my head. I was intrigued, because where I was sitting, there was only an occasional gentle breeze brushing against my skin.

How could the wind be blowing so hard above my head, but not be moving through the area I was sitting in. So close... and yet so far.

It made me think about how it is actually possible to be close to drama and yet not get sucked in. We can be close to a bad situation and yet remain calm. We can have chaos going on above us, below us and all around us, and refuse to lose our peace of mind.

Just because something is happening near us or around us, doesn't mean it has to be our direct experience or reality.

I'm thankful that the wind over my head came to remind me of this today. As it blew and swayed the trees back and forth above me, I sat in stillness - inside and out.

May we all cultivate the ability to be close to upheaval and yet remain at peace!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Carry the Trash Down The Mountain

I live in an immensely beautiful place. The Pacific Northwest is simply breathtaking. The natural beauty that surrounds us here is like nowhere else on earth.

I'm blessed to live in such a gorgeous place, and to be healthy enough to get out and enjoy it.

Yesterday, I took a hike, late in the afternoon, up a little mountain near my home. I hike this trail often.

I try to be a conscientious hiker. I yield to uphill hikers when I am heading down the mountain.

One of my most closely held beliefs about hiking is that we should keep the trails pristine and clean. I always pick up litter that I find along the path.

Generally, hikers in the pacific northwest are careful and concerned about the state of the trails. There usually isn't much trash along the way.

Yesterday, I hiked late in the day. As I got close to the top, a man passed me on his way down. He said, "It's just going to be you and one other at the top." I said, "Yeah... it's the end of the day."

I was happy about the news. I like to be at the top of the mountain alone. It's peaceful and restorative.

When I neared the top, the 'one other' person was heading down. I knew I'd be alone at the top. I was even more pleased!

As I climbed the last rocky section to the summit, I saw it. There, at the top of the rock formation at the top of the hike, was a plastic grocery sack of trash! It was tied neatly, although it was clear that birds had tried to pull the bag apart.

I looked around. Sure enough... I was alone. Someone from earlier in the day had had a little picnic at the summit and LEFT THEIR TRASH THERE. I was stunned and a little irritated.

Then, I realized that because it is my practice to pick up the trash - I was going to have to carry it down the mountain!

I had an instant reaction of, "This isn't fair!!! Come on God... why do I have to carry someone else's mess off the mountain??"

I knew I was going to do it, but that didn't stop the ensuing conversation in my head.

My commitment is to clean up any trails that I hike on - to the best of my ability. Usually this involves picking up small pieces of trash, dropped by accident. This, however, was a deliberate act of carelessness and disregard for the environment, and for other hikers.

I wondered about the 'burden' of cleaning up other people's messes and why I seem to be expected to do it - repeatedly!

In some ways, it isn't fair. To me, however, keeping our natural areas clean for all of us to enjoy, is something I will always be committed to. Sometimes, that means I have to do things that aren't fair and clean up the messes that others leave.

I was a bit surprised that none of the other hikers who were on their way down as I was going up had brought down this bag of trash. Most hikers are pretty aware of that 'law of the trail.'

None of it really mattered. I knew I needed to bring the trash down. I knew I would bring the trash down. It didn't matter if it was fair... it was simply the right thing to do.

I wanted the next hikers to experience the top in its pristine and natural state. I wanted to 'handle it' so that no one else had to.

Sometimes in life, we are asked to do things that are 'the right thing' even though it really isn't our job. Sometimes it isn't fair. Often it is frustrating, because we only are called to do it because someone else won't take responsibility for themselves and their actions.

Do the right thing... anyway.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Celebrate ~ by David Viscott

Today I just wanted to share a reading from a book of meditations for difficult times by David Viscott. This really spoke to me. Enjoy...


That you are alive.
That you won.
That although you were beaten, you are still here.
That you feel.
That a hummingbird visited you.
That the breeze carried the perfume of spring.
That the car started and the brakes held.
That the sunset was mauve and golden umber.
That the rose broke through at last and bloomed.
That you cried.
That you were remembered.
That you remember.
That the wind carried a message of hope.
That you love.
That you once loved.
That all music and art were intended just for you.
That you were right.
That you forgave.
That it rained and the rain forgave all of us.
That you are human, after all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Being Nice at my Own Expense

I've had some 'appliance angst' this past couple weeks. All of a sudden I had a problem with my refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher and garbage disposal. All at the same time!

On Thursday, I called an appliance repair service and set up an appointment for the following Monday. At first I thought they could repair all the appliances. It turns out they didn't work on the type of refrigerator that I have. I had to call a different repair service for the refrigerator. Ironically, the refrigerator repair people were able to come the very day I called. I was happy to get it taken care of immediately.

When the repair guy showed up that Thursday, he handed me a business card. I noticed that it said they also repaired washing machines, dishwashers and garbage disposals.

I thought about the fact that I could talk to this guy about all my problems, and possibly have it all taken care of IMMEDIATELY.

Then I felt a bit guilty about the other repair service. I had already set the appointment with them for the following Monday.

I was also the last appointment on the repair schedule for the guy who was fixing my fridge. I felt it would be unfair to 'spring' all the other appliances on him.

I decided to remain silent, and keep the appointment with the other company on Monday.

I was out of town for the weekend. My activities took me longer than I thought they would, and on Sunday, I was really regretting that I had to return home for my 9am appliance repair appointment. I would never have cancelled on such short notice, however, so I made my way home to keep the appointment.

Just before 9am that Monday morning, the second repair company called and CANCELLED my appointment for that day! They had to reschedule!!! I was flabbergasted.

Then I realized, I hadn't done ANYONE any favors with my actions the previous Thursday. I tried to be considerate of everyone else's time and I had basically harmed myself!!

I ended up calling the first repair company back that Monday, and within 2 hours, the same repairman was back at my house to work on all the other appliances.

In my attempt to 'take care of everyone' I had caused myself a huge inconvenience, cost myself some additional money, and made this repair guy make an unnecessary trip to my house.

No one won in this scenario. It all originated because I felt 'overly responsible' for all these people, and I let that direct my actions, instead of what was best for me - they paying customer!

An investing teacher that I've studied with talks about the 'tuition' that we have to pay to learn our lessons. Of course, in investing, sometimes that tuition for learning hard lessons is paid in money. In other life experiences, our 'tuition' can be paid in money, pain, inconvenience and a host of other currencies!

I paid some tuition for this situation. What a lesson!

Sometimes when we put everyone else's needs above our own, we think we're doing a virtuous and generous thing. Often, however, we just end up making more work for ourselves and our efforts don't really help those we are trying to care take!

I'm not encouraging selfish oblivion here, but I am suggesting that it's OK to do what's best for ourselves once in a while.

Jack Boland, a teacher of mine used to say, "There is no private good." He meant that when we do what is truly best for us, it is usually what's best for others as well.

Some of us who try too hard to be self sacrificing need to examine that pattern and correct it.

Everyone in the 'appliance scenario' would have been better off, had I done what was best for me. Often times this is the case!

Any martyrdom or self sacrificing going on in your world? Take a look... and some corrective action!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Year Ago Today

We humans like our anniversaries. We like to celebrate birthdays and other events that come once a year.

Sometimes, we have unpleasant annual anniversaries that we can't escape from.

One year ago today, my house was burglarized. It was a beautiful fall day. Bright sunshine and crisp cool temperatures promised a happy day. That was not to be.

Some tasks are forever tied to the burglary. I went to a furniture store that morning to get some replacement 'feet' for my kitchen chairs. Each time I have to replace those plastic feet, I am reminded of the terrible day of the burglary.

I learned a lot from the experience of having my home violated and my property taken. It took me a while to feel safe in my home again. I had a very 'primitive' reaction to the event and was really scared for about a month. I couldn't leave my house unattended for any length of time. I didn't want to come home after dark. I also had to open all my garage bay doors when I drove in, to make sure that no one was hiding in my garage.

All those fear responses faded relatively quickly.

I learned a lot about the way the insurance industry works, and how to best protect oneself when dealing with them. I also learned how to better protect myself and my property from this sort of event.

I have a also learned about detachment and letting go. Letting go of the the things I lost. Letting go of what they represented to me. Letting go of anger and resentment towards the people who entered my home and took my hard earned possessions.

It hasn't been an easy year. There was a lot of work - inside and out - to come through it all. It took a toll on me emotionally and physically.

Yet, I made it through.

It doesn't seem possible that it was a year ago. So much has gone on through the recovery from the ordeal. I'm a different person. I hope that I'm stronger and a bit wiser. I hope I'm a little less attached to my things, but a little smarter about functioning in this modern world.

Tough experiences mold us and shape us. We can let them crush us, or we can grow stronger as we move through them.

No matter what you are going through, or what 'tough anniversaries' you are facing today - persevere and reflect. Know that it can be just another stepping stone on the pathway of your life. Allow it to become part of the larger picture of your life, without defining you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hidden Treasures Revealed

I'm in the middle of a really exciting project! I am going through old family photo albums and scanning all the pictures. Getting all the photos into the computer is a great way to preserve and share them. It is a time consuming and laborious task. I know at the end of the road I will have a treasure, but it is a rather tedious task on a moment by moment basis.

There is something, however, that keeps it interesting as I scan photo after photo. Many of the pictures that I'm scanning are really small. Sometimes it is tough to even see who is in the picture.

Each time I scan in a photo, I am able to see it greatly enlarged on my computer screen. On many occasions I have been delighted to see that the subject of the photograph is my father as a young boy! What was basically not visible in the original photograph becomes crystal clear when it is scanned and enlarged by the computer!

The entire family is going to be excited when they see the scanned photos, because so many of the small photos were 'mysteries.' You couldn't really tell who was in them. We have a lot of wonderful photographs, that basically didn't exist to us before I undertook this project. What a gift!

I had no idea that I would have this result. I didn't realize how much I would discover in this process!

The photos were right there in front of me. Looking at them from my ordinary, normal perspective, however, did not reveal the true content within them! I had to enlarge them and look at them up close.

This is a concept that can really help us in life. Sometimes when we look at a situation from our normal, every day perspective, we miss the 'meat' and the 'message.' At a normal 'view' we can't always see what's right in front of us.

If we are having trouble determining the meaning of something that is happening in our life, it is a good idea to look at it from a variety of perspectives. It is also a good idea to look very, very closely to see the details that otherwise might be lost.

Just like enlarging a photograph can reveal previously unseen details, we can look more closely at our life experiences, and change our vantage point in order to see them more clearly.

You might discover the hidden treasure in the midst of a difficult situation! Or you could suddenly gain insight into something that was previously murky and unclear.

Give yourself a new perspective and see what happens!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Source of the Smell

Have you ever had something rotting in your refrigerator? You open the door and... "WHOA!" You are almost knocked over by a foul odor. It happens to all of us.

Sometimes the cause of the smell is quite apparent. Other times, it requires a bit of sleuthing to uncover the offending item.

This past week, I had a horrible smell coming from my refrigerator, and I couldn't readily identify what was causing it. There was nothing 'obvious' that would create such a strong and offensive smell!

One thing was for sure. Until I got to the root cause of the odor, it wasn't going away. I could have sprayed room deodorizer for the rest of my life! But if I didn't remove the source of the smell, it would not go away.

I have 2 open boxes of baking soda in my fridge. That helps to 'absorb' odors on the fridge. It wasn't TOUCHING this bad boy!

Sometimes we have thing in our lives that are as smelly as the things that rot in our refrigerators. Relationships that are toxic, jobs that we allow to destroy our health, habits that are destructive and behavior patterns that hurt us. We can self medicate until the cows come home, but as long as we refuse to deal with the SOURCE of our pain, and just focus on trying to 'cover' or 'mask' the symptoms (the bad smell) we will not find a solution.

I had to take a bunch of things out of my refrigerator. It took a while before I found the offending item, which interestingly enough was a 'past it's prime' avocado. I was kind of shocked that something that looked so good on the outside could be creating such an unpleasant and powerful stench!

Lots of times, in our lives, we *think* something is good for us in our lives, when it is actually creating pain and hardship. It's kind of amazing how we can convince ourselves that something is harmless, or even good for us, when it's actually destructive!

Bottom line, if something is 'off' in your life, it is important to look for the root cause or causes and address them directly. My fridge (and kitchen) would still stink if I hadn't removed and tossed the rotting avocado. No amount of room deodorizer or baking soda would have made it stop rotting and stinking up the place.

Got any good looking, but inwardly rotting avocados in your life? Open that fridge up and clean house! Fix the real problem, and stop wrestling with the symptom!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9-11

It's hard to believe that 8 years have passed since that fateful day in 2001 when the skies of NYC were darkened with fear and horror.

I was supposed to be in NYC that day. I had planned a trip to visit NYC from Sept 9 - 12, 2001. My plan was to depart NYC on September 12th for the Middle East.

I tried and tried to make that NYC trip work, but I just couldn't fit it in. I've often wondered about it. I could very well have been in NYC on that day. Something kept me from being there. At times I'm grateful, and other times I feel like maybe I was supposed to be there.

Because I couldn't get my schedule to accommodate being in NYC from Sept 9 - 12th, my plan ended up being to fly on September 12, 2001 from Seattle to NYC, then on to the Middle East. That didn't happen.

I woke up on September 11th, 2001 and checked my phone messages. Often I received calls from people in the Middle East over night (because of the time difference). I wasn't surprised that on the day before my trip there, I would have a message waiting for me.

The message that waited for me, however, was not from the middle east. It was from my aunt in Oregon, who was terrified that I was flying THAT DAY, Sept 11, 2001. She said, "We hope to GOD that you are home... and that you stay that way!"

We all know what happened that day. Something horrible. Something shocking. Something unthinkable. Terror reached the unreachable shores of America. Suddenly, the world became a lot smaller.

The horror of that day was something that we will never forget. To the people in NYC, my heart goes out to you all. It was such a disturbing and wounding experience.

We all remember that day, and my hope continues to be that we all realize the world is one family. Though this was our first true experience with terrorism in this country, the rest of the world has been experiencing such violence for a long time. We are part of the human family. We are not immune to the horrors of this world.

My hope and prayer continues to be that we, as Americans become as proud of being part of the human family, as we are of being part of the American family.

Say a prayer for all those who lost loved ones in 9-11 today. Also say a prayer for everyone in this world who is touched by violence, oppression and injustice. It's all related.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Unexpected Expenses

In life, we can't predict everything that will happen to us. That is an impossible task.

Today, I had a repairman come to look at my refrigerator. I thought I had a minor problem. $400 later, my 'coolant' is recharged and I'm good to go. I never expected to have to pay $400 to keep my refrigerator running. It's only 9 years old.

Yet, unexpected repairs and expenses are part of life.

I have appointments scheduled for a broken washing machine, and a flaky dishwasher and malfunctioning garbage disposal. It's all part of owning a house and keeping things running smoothly. It is still surprising, and at times, annoying to have unexpected expenses creep into your budget!

My investing teacher talks about 'paying tuition' in order to learn life lessons. Sometimes we learn things in life and it costs us money (or time, energy, pride, etc.)

It's a part of the journey to have things happen in life that are difficult, sometimes painful, and yet always... there is the potential for learning.

That's how I like to look at it. When it doesn't seem to make any sense at all, I just trust that there is a lesson coming to me via the current experience.

Sometimes life gives us feedback on how we are conducting our affairs. Sometimes that 'feedback' costs us in some form or fashion. We can rail against the reality, or we can process our feelings about it, harvest the lesson and move on to be wiser and more educated.

Is life extracting any tuition from you at this time? Have you had any 'unexpected expenses' arise in your life.

Realize it's all part of the process. Take what is yours to learn/take and move forward. It can be something that stops you in your tracks OR... it can be a stepping stone to your greater future! The choice is yours!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Resistance is Futile

I spent some time at the coast last week. I was showing a friend from Palm Springs one of my favorite places in the world: Cannon Beach Oregon. It is a beautiful and special place.

One of the special features are the tide pools at the base of a big rock formation there. The rock formation is called, "Haystack Rock" because, well, it resembles a haystack!

Tide pools contain all sorts of wonderful sea creatures. I took a lot of photos of the amazing variety of colors and critters in the tide pool.

One starfish really caught my attention. He stood out from all the other dozens of starfish that I saw that day.

Here he is:

Does this look comfortable to you?

He's hanging on, contorting himself to do so. It's clear that he needs to just 'let go' but for some reason, he is resisting. It looks painful!

It looks like he's being bent and twisted into terrible discomfort, all because he will not let go of the rock he's attached to, reposition himself somewhere else and just get on with it!

I have been that starfish, in my life, more times than I care to admit: attached, scared to let go, putting myself in terrible pain and discomfort because of my unwillingness to accept the fact that the time has come to




When the time comes to let go, resistance is futile! We can rail against the tide and forces that are making it clear, but that doesn't change the fact that eventually we will LET GO. Whether we want to or not.

I suggest we learn to let go. When the tide is pounding us into submission. When life is giving us the spiritual 2X4 upside the head... it is time to LET GO.

The sooner we learn to let go, the easier and more peaceful our life will be!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Open the Shades & Let in the World

Today I had a special treat. I was trying on clothes in my bedroom in an effort to put together some new outfits. I wanted to have as much light on the subject as possible, so I did something out of the ordinary: I opened the shades in my room. The light made the room much brighter!

As I was trying on clothes in front of the mirror, I noticed something moving in the yard, out of the corner of my eye... it was a black bear!

I've lived here for 9 years. I've never seen a bear in my yard!

I stopped my process, grabbed my camera and started snapping photos. It was really really exciting!

If I hadn't opened the shades, I would have never seen the bear! What a gift I received by opening the shades and letting in the world!

Sometimes we shut ourselves away from the world and don't look at all that is available to us. We may feel like we're doing the right thing... but there is always an alternative!

I believe we are meant to open ourselves fully to life! It takes courage and willingness to step into that experience!

Open your shades today and maybe you'll see something amazing in your life!

Here's my bear!!

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Unusual Bloom

It's September in Seattle. The temperature is getting colder and the days are growing shorter. There is a crispness in the air that lets us all know that fall is just around the corner.

The plants are preparing to drop their leaves or otherwise settle into 'cold weather mode.'

This morning, I was doing my 30 minutes of cardio on the treadmill as I looked out the window into my back yard. Something caught my eye. It was a single bloom on a small plant that usually blooms early in the spring. A bright red blossom stood out boldly against the green leaves of this little shrub.

"How brave." I thought to myself. I wondered at my reaction. Why would I think this about the lone little blossom?

Sometimes that's how my thoughts come to me. Something just 'pops out' and then I'm left to figure out what it means!

I realized that this little bloom seemed courageous to me because it was all alone in expressing itself at that moment. No other blossoms were coming out at this time of year! Something in it said "BLOOM" and it did.

In the human realm, if we do something that others around us aren't doing, we might be met with ridicule, criticism or even jealousy. If we outshine those around us, or achieve something that others haven't achieved it can sometimes be a lonely road!

In one of my favorite movies, "Rudy" there is a scene that speaks to this phenomenon. Rudy is a short, relatively unathletically talented young man who dreams of playing football for the University of Notre Dam. He hasn't got a chance of being on their team, but he's determined to try. Most of his family and friends ridicule him and make fun of his dream, AND of his efforts to pursue it. He persists... anyway.

Finally, after overcoming obstacle after obstacle, he is accepted as a member of the 'prep team' that helps the 'real team' get ready for it's games. One day, after practice, one of his 'prep team' teammates comes to him and says, "You need to dial it down out there. You are making us all look bad."

Rudy is giving 100% effort in pursuit of his dream. Those around him who don't give 100% don't like to be compared to him and his efforts. They try to squelch the drive and commitment that he displays. Fortunately, they fail to deter him from his course of action.

This is all too often the case, however. Others can sometimes be frightened and angered by those who simply give their best, shine or bloom... even when it might cast light on those who are not doing so.

Yesterday, I had lunch in one of my favorite Fast Food restaurant chains, Taco Time. The one I went to yesterday is not one that I go to very often, because of its location. I'm used to a certain level of service in restaurants of this type. It's usually not horrible, but certainly not the best. On this particular day, however, I had a guy wait on me who was just exceptional. Friendly, efficient, accurate, enthusiastic, helpful... all could describe this guy. He moved quickly. He helped his coworkers. He smiled at everyone he encountered. Customers obviously appreciated him the same way I did. He certainly doesn't need to perform at the level, but I'm sure inspired that he did!

Just like the plant in my yard, I believe we are meant to give our best to this life, no matter what others around us are doing, what they think of us or how they treat us.

The little plant in my yard reminds me of people like "Rudy" or the Taco Time guy. It inspires me! I want to be like them!!

So, no matter what others around you may do or say when you persist, excel, and give your best:


Bloom... anyway.

Give your very best... anyway.

My rogue September Bloomer!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Straight Up

Today I hiked a pretty impressive trail. It's about the 6th or 7th time I have hiked this trail in the past few years. I'm happy to say that all the physical conditioning I've been doing lately has made a huge difference. Today's hike was enjoyable and not at all painful. It felt great!

Mt. Si!

As I started up from the base of the mountain, I looked up into the giant evergreen trees surrounding me. They were very tall. I realized that as I climbed the 4 miles and 3200 feet to the summit, I would be passing the tops of these particular trees, and many trees positioned higher on the mountain. I had along way UP to go!

As I looked at these first trees, I realized that I could never go 'straight up' to my destination. Even if I had the proper tools to climb one of those trees, I wouldn't have the strength and skills to do so. It was not a route that I could take to the top.

Instead, I would spend the next 2 hours on the trail, putting one foot in front of the other. Step, by step by step. One switchback after another. I would still reach the summit, but it wasn't the most direct route.

Often times, in life, we are not able to go directly to a goal or objective. Going straight to ultimate goal is not usually an option. We often have to take a winding, circuitous route to get there.

The point is, we can still get there!

As I looked at those giant trees, I realized that I would soon be high above them. I wouldn't get there instantly, or without effort, but I would get there!

Whatever road you find yourself on today, realize that you can get where you're going. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and never lose sight of your destination!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The First Day of Anything

Today is the first day of school where I live. I'm sure that for many kids it is a day of excitement, enthusiasm and yes... a bit of anxiety.

The first day of anything is always a little bit of a mixed bag. No matter how wonderful the event may be, there is always some anxiety mixed in with the good stuff.

It is perfectly normal. It is very rare that we can begin anything new or venture into any new arena without a little trepidation.

New situations and surroundings must be adjusted to. We have to allow ourselves to flounder around a little bit and move through our clumsy beginnings!

To expect ourselves to feel completely confident when we move into a new situation is not realistic. It's normal to feel nervous. If we accept that as a reasonable reality, we are free to allow ourselves to ease into our new experiences.

I can remember a lot of my 'first' experiences. The mixed bag of emotions and sensations are the one constant element that is woven through them all.

Excitement and fear.
Confidence and insecurity.
Enthusiasm and nervousness.
Energy and fatigue.

It's all part of a new experience. Embrace it all!

Whatever new experience you are heading into in your life - remember to make space for the 'first day' jitters as well as the first day fire! It's all part of the journey!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tough Knocks

It is human nature to want to spare those we love from experiencing pain. We yearn to teach others, especially young people, the lessons we have learned in order to spare them the pain and tough lessons we've had to go through.

It rarely works.

Everyone has their path. All people have to learn the lessons that are theirs to learn. There are no shortcuts. There is no way around it.

I have been spending time with a lot of young people recently.

One young man, a relative of mine, has spent some time staying with me and working for me this summer. This week, as a treat, we took a hike together.

He and I had been arguing, for quite some time, about the proper footwear for hiking. He wanted to wear strap on sandals. I wanted him to wear solid tennis shoes. I, personally, wear hiking boots.

The trails I hike are rocky and steep. It is dangerous to wear open toed shoes. I knew that strap on sandals would be a disaster.

Finally, I gave up. I decided to let him make his own footwear choice. He chose his sandals.

After an hour of hiking, he had scraped skin off of his feet where the straps were rubbing. It was a long hike up and back down with painful open wounds!

He knew that I was right. All my words had meant nothing. Some blisters and open sores got the message across in a way that my lecturing never could.

He was interested in getting some good hiking boots at the end of the day!

There was no way, in words, that I could have taught him what he learned in that one, painful, experience.

Sometimes, we have to let those around us go through incredible pain. It is excruciating to watch. We want to swoop in. We want to rescue them. We want to show them the way out.

If someone doesn't want to listen, or follow our advice, there is nothing we can do to make them. Sometimes the hard knocks in life are the only way we learn.

It is actually a loving act to allow those we love to learn their own lessons, their way, in their own time. Sometimes our attempts at 'helping' actually interfere with the process. We might even make the suffering last longer than it needs to!

Let the learning begin!