Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Following Through on a Spasm of Enthusiasm

We humans get excited about things. We can get very enthusiastic and motivated about something and experience what I call a "spasm of enthusiasm." Talk is cheap, as they say, and its easy to fantasize about how great it would be to do or have something and talk big about making it come to pass. Putting feet under that talk is an entirely different story.

I'm a big believer in letting your 'yes' be 'yes' and letting your 'no' be 'no.' We need to get good at carefully making committments and then following through on them.

All too often, the spasm of enthusiasm lasts until we come face to face with the reality of what it would actually take to follow through on our idea. As soon as we start dealing with the real consequences of the committment, we often find the enthusiasm fades and we let it fade and die.

I think it is far more important to set, work for and achieve one goal or aspiration, rather than to 'talk big' about more desirable undertakings and follow through on none of them.

It's easy to talk. It takes much more to really walk the talk and follow through.

In Bali, a person's promise is a solemn and sacred vow. You don't go back on your promises if you want to retain your reputation and good name. I once promised to give someone there one of my old computers. I did so with all the best intentions. I thought it would be easy to bring one of my old computers with me on a future trip. Little did I know, when I made the promise, that there were laws in place that restrict such imports and to fulfil my promise might mean bribing officials and breaking laws! I wasn't willing to do those things, but I knew that I needed to fulfil my promise! I ended up buying a new computer for my friend, in Bali (at a cost about 3 times what I would have paid in the states). There was no other way to fulfil my promise, and I knew that it was critically important that I do so.

When I take people on trips around the world, I caution them about making promises to people they meet along the way. I ask them to be very deliberate with their words. People in other parts of the world often really depend on what people say they will do. I would rather travelers make ONE committment and keep it (even if it is just to send copies of photographs they took with a local person) than to get caught up in causes where they visit, talk big and then go home and forget about it. The people we encounter on those trips don't forget about it... and we give ourselves and the country we represent a bad name when we go back on our word.

We must contain our 'spasms of enthusiasm' and learn to evaluate them appropriately to pick and choose what we really want to devote our time to. When we let our word really mean something - say what we mean and mean what we say - we live life at an entirely new level.

Spasms of enthusiasm can be marvelous starting points for launching big dreams and amazing projects. Let's learn to identify the ones that deserve our attention and give ourselves wholey to those pursuits, and let the other 'spasms' go without putting out empty talk that we don't back up with action.

We will transform the world!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Your Only Job is to Be the Best You!

I came across a quote by Douglas Mallock today:

"If you can't be a highway, just be a trail;
If you can't be the sun, be a star;
For it isn't by size that you win or you fail -
Be the best of whatever you are."

How often, in life, do we compare ourselves to others and wish we were something other than who and what we are? I'd venture to say that each of us does this far more than we realize.

I think it is one of the saddest and most destructive of our common mental gyrations.

YOU are like no one else... by design. We are each brought into this life with a special constellation of qualities, gifts, talents and potential. Our job is to develop our unique potential to the fullest. End of story. To compare ourselves to others is not only a waste of time... it distracts us from our true purpose. Our true purpose is to fulfil our divine destiny.

Each of us was created for a reason. Some of us get to know the exact nature of that reason. Others of us may never know. So... what to do?

We do the best we can. We follow our passions. We pursue our dreams. We face ourselves and work to eliminate those aspects of our selves that get in the way of being all we were created to be. We do the hard work of becoming the person that we were created to be. We learn to not compare ourselves to others! This is the key. No one else is like us. We are not like anyone else.

My friend and speaking coach, Gail Larsen uses a wonderful Oscar Wilde quote to get the point across, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."

Indeed. Celebrate who YOU are. Express your real, authentic self. That's what the world needs and that's what other people will respond to.

Try to be like others and you are, at best, a cheap copy.

Be yourself and you can affect the world as you were intended to. No one can say what that is supposed to be. No one knows the significance that can come from simply living out one's own, unique destiny. However grand or simple it may seem to you... who you are is important and how you live your life matters to us all.

BE YOU! The world will be better off for it!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring is in the Air

This week was quite inspiring for me. When spring begins to emerge in all its glorious forms, it cannot help but cause our spirits to lift a little. New life, rebirth, fresh tender growth all appear to remind us of the cycle of life that is unstoppable and never ending.

My robins have begun their process of nesting under my back deck. Each year they pick a different cubby hole and create the home for their new family. I look forward to it each year. I try to be a little quieter when I'm working in that area of the yard, or hanging laundry to dry on the deck. I don't like to disturb them. I still get scolded by the parents when I am in close proximity to the nest. I try to reassure them that I am safe and harmless, but they would rather I just steer clear! I look forward to the babies arrival each year, and the choreographed dance of the parents collecting food and feeding the fledglings. I love seeing the babies gain their bird-like appearance and am always sad, but a little proud, on the day I discover that the nest is empty!

Other birds are also making their rounds in my yard, collecting grass, moss and twigs for their nest. Each year when I cut the perenial grasses down, I make sure and leave lots of grass strands around the beds so I can 'assist' the parents in creating their dream home for raising their families! It's amazing to watch a teeny tiny bird pick up piece after piece of grass, making quite a thick bundle, without dropping anything! Then, at last, when they have a 'full load' they lift off and fly to the building site. Their tenacity, certainty and the ease of their efforts inspire me!

The people who own the gym I work out in raise sheep. There are several new babies in the field this past week. One was so tiny - brand spanking new. How precious they are as they huddle together for warmth... fuzzy and sweet. Who can resist the site of a new baby of any species??

Finally, I had my first mother duck and duckling siting last week. The mother had a dozen little fuzzy ducklings waddling after her. Ducks are one of my very favorite creatures! Seeing the new life in all of its adorable appeal sends my heart leaping.

After the dark night comes dawn. After the deep freeze comes the thaw. After winter comes spring. It's the natural order of things. It never fails us.

I believe that we are given the seasons as a reminder of the order of the universe and the cycle of life. The spring, in particular, is a reminder that there is always a new beginning - in its right time and place. We can depend on that.

Look around you today and see the signs of the new beginnings that are available to us with the spring time. Let it be a reminder to you that the light always follows the darkness and that the new comes after the old lets go!

Happy Spring!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Utilize Your Family Foundation

I was talking to a friend today about the importance of family. Some people are closely connected to their families, others are estranged. We were discussing the situation where people basically disconnect with their families, and how although sometimes necessary, this act is often damaging.

It's true that sometimes our families of origin have caused us deep pain. There are wounds of childhood that are extremely difficult to overcome. And yet, that is the work of our lifetimes - to identify and heal from the things that we have experienced that somehow hurt or damaged us.

It is often difficult (although not impossible) to heal when we detach from the family system that caused those wounds. I want to reiterate that in some situations, a person is well justified and completely right to walk out of a family situation and not return. There are some situations that are so toxic that continued exposure is not only unhelpful, it can be lethal.

In most situations, however, there is always something to be learned from repeated 'exposure' to the system. Here's what I suggest to my counseling clients: If you are going in to your family of origin and you know you will encounter unhealthy and destructive dynamics, attempt to do so from a detached, observer position. My teacher and mentor, Dr. Chuck Bruni used to say that we want to walk into those situations as though we were a 'cultural anthropologist' and just notice what is going on without reacting. Observing something disturbing and saying, "isn't that interesting - look at how X just treated Y and how Y responded. I've seen that pattern a lot in my life with this family." We can observe and learn a lot about the positive and negative aspects of our family dynamic without 'taking it on' or 'dissolving into it.'

By looking at what is going on, we can learn to identify and unravel patterns that have affected us both at the conscious level and in our unconscious. This is extremely valuable!

It is important to protect ourselves when going in to potentially damaging situations. Learning to set and maintain good boundaries is essential. With boundaries in tact, we can walk in to the situations of our lives and pasts with the observer's eye and learn about the mysteries of how we came to be the people we are. There is power in that.

Our early family life created the foundation upon which we each stand today. There are positive aspects of that... and there are negative aspects of that. Every person's balance between positive/negative aspects is unique to their particular situation. Celebrating the positive and unraveling/disarming the negative is what life is all about.

Next time you have to walk in to your family, or into any situation in your life that holds potential mine fields, detach and observe. Cease to react and just learn from what is unfolding around you. It is one of the most powerful ways we can reclaim our power in situations that previously stripped us of our strength. We can emerge healed, healthy and whole - just by observing, learning and adjusting based on what we see.

Enjoy the process. It's a bit like hunting for buried treasure!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sometimes You Just Need Chicken Noodle Soup

Last night, I had a very simple, old fashioned comfort dinner. I opened a can of chicken noodle soup. OK, so it wasn't the Campbell's of my childhood... it was an updated, organic version with thick, wide egg noodles, but it was still a soothing, familiar dinner.

Comfort is an important aspect of life. Sometimes we just need to be soothed and comforted in the midst of our busy, modern hectic lives.

I was in that sort of mood yesterday. I just needed to relax and return to things familiar. So, I opened a can of soup, heated it up and let myself sink into some nostalgia and days gone by.

It's amazing how powerful something so simple can be. When you've had a hard day or a particularly challenging event occur, find a way to be kind to yourself and sink into something soothing. Whether its a meal, a bath, a supportive call with a friend... find whatever it is that helps you regain your balance!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Letting Go of Urgency...

Today I want to share one of my favorite readings from the book, "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie. This is a reading that I've worked with for several years and it's helped me a lot.

Letting Go of Urgency
One thing at a time.
That’s all we have to do.
Not two things at once.
But one thing done in peace.
One task at a time.
One feeling at a time.
One day at a time.
One problem at a time.
One step at a time.
One pleasure at a time.
Relax. Let go of the urgency.
Begin calmly now.
Take one thing at a time.
See how everything works out?

Today, I will peacefully approach
one thing at a time. When in doubt
I will take first things first.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Finish Your Feelings

Abby Rohr created a wonderful program for people who suffer from the psychological problem known as Trichotillomania, which is compulsive hair pulling. I highly recommend her program, which is called "Pull Free At Last." This is a serious problem that afflicts many people world wide. It, like all addictions, can be overcome with conscious effort, diligence and determination! Check out the website:

She has a concept in her work that she refers to as 'finishing your feelings.' This is a critically important piece of recovery work - no matter what the problem or addiction.

Most of us, through the course of our lives and to varying degrees, have been taught to stifle and suppress our feelings. Some of us weren't allowed to have ideas,opinions or feelings of our own because there was no room in our environments for our experience. In some cases when we expressed our true feelings we were met with negative consequences, and through the process of conditioning, we learned what was and wasn't safe or acceptable. We learned to 'turn off' our feelings and send them underground because they caused us less trouble and discomfort that way. At least, that is what we thought. The reality is, that our feelings are always present, whether we acknowledge them or not, whether we express them or not, or whether we are even aware of them... or not.

Our feelings live in us until they are felt, expressed and released. That is just the way the universe operates. If we don't express them or acknowledge them, they lurk underground and exert influences on us that cause us problems - even though we consciously can't understand the connection.

Abby talks about learning to allow our feelings to express completely and 'finish them' as a way to liberate ourselves from our addictions, compulsions and difficulties in life. She likens our emotions to waves on the ocean. Try to stop a wave from going through it's cycle... it's impossible. She encourages us to ride our emotions like a wave and to allow them to build, crest, break and subside. They eventually lose their energy, and their damaging hold on us. It's a natural process if we simply allow it.

Most of us have learned to abort our emotions at some point as they rise up in us. We just stop them and the unexpended energy is stored up in us - to wreak havoc in other ways. That energy doesn't just go away. It is in us and exerts an influence all the time.

When a feeling comes, we must learn to ride it like a wave. To ride the fear of where it will take us, all those sensations that build and crescendo, climax and then dissipate. It can be scary at first, and it requires patience and practice. It also requires courage.

Watch waves on the ocean sometime. Use it as a model in your mind for how you want to 'handle' all your feelings. Know that 'this too shall pass.' No feeling lasts forever. Feelings can only harm us if we stuff them inside and allow them to fester.

This does not mean we have to act on all our feelings. In fact, the process is more about just 'allowing' the feeling to rise up and fully express WITHOUT acting. Our goal should always be to act from a place of calm and not in the midst of big emotion. That's a rule for life really!

Just watch the emotion come... build... break... and dissolve. Do nothing except feel. Allow the feeling to finish and it's gone forever. That particular expression of that particular feeling is gone... forever. Abort it and it will live to fight another day!!!

What we resist, persists. What we fight against grows stronger. Ride the wave. Let it wash over you... and pass.

Learn to finish your feelings! It is a key to freedom!

We either were not allowed to have our feelings and express them (without negative consequences)

Monday, April 21, 2008

J. D. Martin

I want to share someone very special with you today. J. D. Martin is an amazingly talented musician. I met him several years ago at the Center for Spiritual Living (CSL)in Seattle. He was performing there. The first song I heard him sing was "World of Peace." I was hooked! I have heard him perform several times at CSL since that day.

JD and his partner Jan Garrett have many wonderful CDs, but I'm particularly attached to his "One Heart" CD. It is filled with amazing songs that speak directly to the heart about our human family and how we are all connected.

I have purchased dozens of copies of this particular CD and have gifted them to many people here in the US and in the middle east. People always respond positively to JD's music... whether they can understand the words or not! I swear, something in JD's presence and energy comes through the music directly to the heart.

I once was sitting with an Arab family in a village called Dir Hanna and we were listening to JD's CD. The father in the family started tapping his toes and moving to the music when the song, "Love is Waiting" came on. He gave me a beaming smile and said in his limited broken English, "This man... he has good heart. I can feel!" Indeed.

If you don't own "One Heart" you should! If you ever have the opportunity to hear JD and Jan sing... you MUST.

I hope to see them both again soon... they are true gifts to our planet. They are participating in the healing of the world... with every note they sing! :)

Check out JD's website:

Check out JD & Jan's webiste:

JD, Nola and Jan at Center for Spiritual Living

Friday, April 18, 2008

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

I believe that we are given messages from the universe to let us know when we are where we are supposed to be or when we are following the right track. How this happens is different for everyone. Some people are keyed in to their 'way' of receiving these messages, others are not.

For me, I have a variety of methods for receiving 'universal confirmation' of my path. Within the past couple days, for example, I've had two occasions where I knew who someone was talking about, long before the person I was speaking with identified them in conversation.

I was speaking with my friend in Jerusalem, and he started talking about an interview he was going to conduct with the head of "Women in Black" which is a group that protests against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. I had no rational knowledge of who heads up Women in Black, but a woman's name popped into my head. I met this particular woman about 8 years ago, when on a trip to the Middle East. She was a peace activist, and part of an organization, but I know it wasn't Women in Black! Her name stayed there in my mind and I finally asked my friend for the name of the person he was telling me about. It was the same woman!

It always sends a little shiver up my back when that happens. There's no way I *should* have known who he was talking about and yet, I did!

Yesterday, I was working out at the gym with my trainer, and she started talking about scrap booking using the Creative Memories product line. I have used Creative Memories "photo slips" for various projects that I do (although I'm not a scrap booker). I asked my trainer if she sold Creative Memories stuff and she said no, but that she had a couple of clients who do. She mentioned the first name of a woman who sells the product line and comes to the gym and said she'd have to introduce us. I knew who she was talking about. She was talking about the only person I had ever purchased Creative Memories products from! I confirmed that with her and I got another shiver. There are a lot of people who sell Creative Memories products, and the one she wanted to introduce me to is the one I'd already been dealing with!

Those types of things may seem small, but to me, they reveal a deeper set of operating wisdom at work in my life and in the universe. There is some level of orchestration going on all the time of where I go, who I meet and what I do. These sorts of synchronistic happenings really strengthen my faith that all is well and I'm right where I need to be.

We become more aware of these sorts of messages when we look for them and acknowledge them when they do occur. The more we train ourselves to receive... the more will come our way.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

We All Need a Little Push Now & Then

I received a lovely gift today from a dear friend of mine. It's a little pillow for my counseling area that says, "We all need a little push now & then." How true it is.

Going back to the experience of birth... where would be if our mothers had refused to push at the critical moment! our very beginnings begin with a push into the physical realm of life! I believe that sets the precedent for how many 'new beginnings' will occur throughout our lifetime.

Some baby birds will not willingly take flight from the nest on their own volition. Sometimes they have to be nudged out by a parent. They simply wouldn't be willing to take that first flight on their own. Once they are nudged, instinct takes over and they take flight and soar into a glorious new freedom.

We humans can be the same in our earthly endeavors. We might prepare and prepare again for some new task or experience, but hesitate to dive fully into it. Often we get caught in the 'paralysis of analysis' and simply stop ourselves cold.

Fear, anxiety, uncertainty, bad experiences of the past and many other internal states of mind and emotion can render us unwilling or incapable of doing what we want to do, or know we need to do.

Sometimes God, or the universe, has to give us a gentle (and sometimes a not-so-gentle) shove into the unknown. Basically, we get the spiritual 2x4 upside the head, or, in other words, something happens in our life where we can no longer avoid the issue and we are forced to face it and deal with it.

On a trip to Reno a few years ago, I was on my way into Harrah's Casino. They have a large revolving door. It has a motion detector that initiates the revolution process when you get close to entering one of the segments of the door. In past trips, I had noticed that once inside the door compartment, a message would repeat over and over again. "Please move forward." The message was intended to keep the door moving. Because it senses motion, if you stop moving, the door stops moving and you would be stuck inside (well, at least until you start moving again!) On this one particular day, I was a good 30 feet away from the door, which was still at the moment, and the recording was blaring, really loud, "PLEASE.... MOVE FORWARD. PLEASE MOVE FORWARD. PLEASE MOVE FORWARD," over and over and over again. I started chuckling, because I believe it was the universe telling me "GIRL... you are STUCK! Get your rear in gear and MOVE FORWARD!" I did my best to heed the advice and move myself forward in a number of areas of my life.

As a counselor, it is often my job to nudge people into new territory, both within their lives and within themselves. It's a sacred job to help another person move into those new experiences and states of being.

Most often, we don't like it much when we are 'pushed' into dealing with or facing a situation in our lives that we are doing our best to avoid. In the long run, however, we are best served by taking a deep breath and moving FORWARD!

Got an area where you need a little push? Can you administer the push yourself? If not... be ready, because the universe is probably going to do it for you eventually. It might be more gentle if you find a way to motivate yourself first!

My new little pillow will greet my clients from now on. Hopefully it will be a reminder to them (and me) to embrace the push! :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Honoring the Sacredness of Animals

I have a good friend who blew me away recently, when she explained a practice that she has been doing for some time.

My friend is an advocate for animals. She loves animals, is a vegetarian, and will not wear leather. She truly believes animals are beings that deserve the same respect that humans do. Unlike some who profess these beliefs, she lives them day in and day out.

One thing that really troubles her is to see animals who have been killed by automobiles on the road. To her, it seems like a disrespectful, unacknowledged death. She decided to do something about this.

She keeps in the trunk of her car, a shovel and a number of small stones (like grave markers). Whenever she encounters a dead animal on the road, she stops, removes the body from the road, puts it to the side, and sets a stone by the animal, to acknowledge it's existence and its value. Beautiful.

We had a long discussion about this. She is deeply grieved and affected to see animals dead on the road like that. Yet, she feels compelled to do something. She can't just drive by and leave the animal to meet its end there. She stops. She takes a moment. She perplexes passers by. She acknowledges the sanctity of life. She grieves the loss. It's powerful.

She has had people stop to see if she needs assistance. She has had people honk at her rudely, as if to say she's inconveniencing them, and she's had no apparent response at all. I really believe her practice is a ministry. She is helping people be 'aware' that something has happened that is worthy of note. When an animal, or any being loses its life, something has happened. We are so numb to so many aspects of our lives! She is giving a moment of awareness to an event that matters.

Who knows what impact she might have in this practice. Maybe someone will slow down a bit and avoid hitting an animal they might otherwise have killed. Maybe someone will reflect a bit on the sacredness and importance of life itself. She may never know, but that doesn't diminish by one bit the importance of the act itself.

My friends, Fred and Mary Ann Brusset of Spirituality and Practice ( put forth a very similar practice in their e-course on 'Practicing Spirituality with Animals.' Here is a link to the on-demand e-course if you'd like to take read more about it: Practicing Spirituality with Animals

While not everyone is called to do this particular practice... some most definitely are. It is a powerful ministry!

Life is sacred. All life. It deserves respect and reverence!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Going With The Flow

The past couple weeks, I have been experiencing the age old sentiment, "When we plan, God laughs!"

I had my summer all planned out. I thought I knew how I would spend my time and what goals I would strive to achieve.

Suddenly, an opportunity appeared to take a part time job that would satisfy a number of internal goals that I had for myself. Although I didn't relish the thought of working Friday, Saturday and Sunday for 4.5 straight months, I decided to take on the challenge. The money would come in handy, and in truth, I had some deeper reasons for thinking it would be a good endeavor for me.

Then, another opportunity suddenly appeared. To lead some tours for a tour company, here in the US. This is more in line with what I want to do in the long term, which is to return to leading spiritual pilgrimage tours to spiritually powerful places on the planet, especially the middle east.

THe last two weeks has been full of upheaval. Evaluating my options, making decisions, changing my mind, getting new information and changing it back. I've felt like I was on a bit of a roller coaster! Just when I thought I'd figured it out something would radically change and the landscape of my reality shifted completely. This happened about 4 times in the course of a week.

It was rather exhausting to have my plans batted back and forth like a ping pong ball. :)

In the end, it all worked out exactly as it should. In the grand scheme of things, I don't believe the universe wanted me to have the original job this summer. It is too far from what my purpose is. I still believe my reasons for taking the job were valid, but now, in hindsight, I believe my *willingness* to do it was most important. In my willingness I learned some important things about myself, and some people around me. I got what I needed from the process of agreeing to the job and then having everything change. Now, I'm free to go on with new and more relevant work!

I thought I knew what was best and I worked toward that. WHen the universe offered some divinely guided redirection, I willingly surrendered into that as well. It's the only way to fly, as they say. It doesn't mean we will always be comfortable, but it is the best way to assure that we will be following our true path and fulfilling our destiny!

Make your plan, do your best to implement it, and always be open to redirection!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Help Comes

I was talking to my brother yesterday and he told me a sweet story the illuminates the concept of allowing help to present itself in times of need.

My brother was on his way to work when his car broke down unexpectedly on the freeway. He explained to me that in recent years he has learned to get less upset and stressed out about things that happen to him. Keeping in that vein, he decided to have his car towed to his place of employment and do the work he needed to get done. Once his work was finished, he planned to have the car towed to an auto shop, rent a car and go from there.

As he waited on the side of the road for the tow truck to arrive he was amazed at the number of people who stopped to offer assistance. It touched him deeply. Just him telling me about it helped restore a little of my faith in humanity. :)

When he got to work he proceeded with his duties. He works in a commercial vehicle sales facility. Some of the mechanics he works with heard about his problem, and offered to stay after work to take a look at his car and see if they could fix it. My brother was amazed at their generosity. These aren't fellows he knows very well. They are but casual aquaintances of his.

The guys looked at his car and diagnosed the problem as a bad fuel pump. They said if he bought a fuel pump right then they'd put it in for him. He was blown away! He got the pump, they installed it, and his vehicle was immediately restored to working order. These guys saved him hundreds of dollars in towing and repair fees!

My brother was really encouraged by their willingness to help him out. As we discussed the story, we reflected on the benefits of not freaking out and turning a small problem into a giant crisis. He remained calm and kept his work committments, even though it would have been easy to bail on his job so he could handle the unexpected problem with is car. By doing so, he was in a position where help was offered to him by the guys he works with. If he had towed his car directly to a shop, he would have spent a lot more money! He would have made it impossible for the 'help' to arrive in the way it did.

Of course, he didn't do all this deliberatly. There were greater forces at work, but he did 'his' part, which was to keep his committments (at work), remain calm, know that a solution would present itself and that he would be able to work it out.

Sometimes in my life, I handle things so fast, or so independently, that others don't have an opportunity to help me. Sometimes I feel very alone in my challenges. My brother's story helped me to see this pattern of jumping on it so fast that I eliminate the chance that someone might actually step in to offer me assistance. I'm quick to help others, but I usually don't expect others to help me.

My brother was deeply grateful to the people who stopped on the freeway... and to the guys who fixed his car. I bet it made all those people feel pretty darn good to help him out!

Believing that help is available is a challenge for many of us. We think we have to do everything ourselves. I invite all of us 'independent' types to open our minds to the possibility that help is always available if we open ourselves up to it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

And Some People Say Animals Don't Think...

A friend of mine sent me a link to this marvelous youtube video that involves an elephant, a paintbrush, an eisal and some paper. You have to see it to believe it.

To me, this video reminds us of the immense possibility that exists in the universe. Many people, perhaps even most people, would find this impossible to believe. Yet... it is possible!

Let this video inspire you to believe that many 'impossible' things just might be possible! :)

Watch the Youtube video here:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Walk Your Talk

I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of being true to your word. It is so important in life, and in the development of character, to say what you mean and mean what you say.

Many times in working with someone as a counselor, I encourage my clients to approach various aspects of their life with consistency. When setting boundaries it is important to do so with consistency. Set boundaries inconsistently, and people don't take you seriously.

In so many areas of life, it is better to choose one's words carefully, and then live up to them. Backtracking... on boundary setting or on commitments will not serve us well.

I think it is an actual spiritual practice to make and keep promises, to set and maintain healthy boundaries, and to consciously make and honor our commitments. Our character and strength is forged in these practices.

Walking our talk is both a practice and an approach to living. Talk is cheap as they say. I believe that living up to our word is one of the greatest challenges in living. Carefully choosing our words and our commitments is a powerful part of this practice. It gives us less to follow through on. By more carefully choosing our words and commitments we have a much better chance of being true to them.

Make it a goal... to walk your talk... each and every day! Your life will never be the same!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

An Answer Comes

Today, the man who mows and edges my lawn answered my prayers.

I recently had to replace my mailbox. I was informed by my mail man that I had to get a larger locking mail box. It's complicated, but my mailbox was not adequate, and the postal service was no longer willing to deliver oversized packages to my door BECAUSE I had a locking mailbox. He claimed that if I got a larger mailbox, with a capacity to handle bigger packages, I would be shown leniency.

I get a lot of packages. Going to the post office to pick them up is not convenient. So, for the 4th time since moving into this house I got a new mailbox. (Just trust me when I say it's been a saga.)

At any rate, I purchased the new mailbox, and I hired my mowing/edging man to remove my old mailbox, and install my new one.

This was accomplished. My mailman is deliriously happy, and my mail woes are resolved.

I have had the old mailbox, attached to a post (with a huge chunk of concrete around the post) sitting in my flower bed for the past few weeks. I have been wondering what I would do with this perfectly good mailbox, that was burdened with the concrete-laden post.

Today, my doorbell rang, and the guy who mows and edges my lawn, asked if one of his employees could have this used mailbox!

I was elated! I didn't want to throw it away. I hate to waste things! And yet, I didn't know where to go to provide a useful home for this mailbox!

Now, the mailboxd has a home. I don't have to throw it away or try to find someone to take it off my hands. Sometimes things just work out! :) This was one of those wonderful events!

I had the intention of finding a good home for the mailbox... and the good home... came to me! :)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Slow It Down!

I read my horoscope the other day, and was reminded to consider the following thought:

"It would be a good idea to remember you are only human after all, and not an action figure."

I loved this. Sometimes I expect so much of myself it isn't at all realistic. I actually do think that I expect myself to be like an action figure or a super hero sometimes. I expect myself to absorb endless extra burdens and responsibilities and never skip a beat. This simply isn't realistic.

Human life is complicated and requires energy. To live it in a way that is satisfying and fulfiling, we need balance. We can't go go go continuously and experience joy and satisfaction. Sometimes we need to pause and just enjoy the ride.

Especially when we are going through challenges, or incorporating new experiences into our life. Those things require extra energy, and it isn't realistic to expect ourselves to just absorb the additional energy expenditure and not ease up on anything else. Something's gotta give!

My horoscope was a good reminder that I am, in fact, a human being. We all are. We are not meant to go like the energizer bunny without ever resting or incorporating fun and balance into our days.

So, today, I have adoped the new mantra... "I'm a HUMAN... not an action figure" to help remind me that sometimes I need to cut myself some slack.

Monday, April 07, 2008

An Easy Practice for Better Sleep

Several years ago, I made a discovery. I realized that when I was sleeping, I was doing so with my hands closed in fists. I can't even remember how I made this discovery, but I remember when I first started to open my hands when I slept.

When you get ready to go to sleep, simply try opening your hands and resting them on a pillow or blanket. See if it has the same effect on you as it did on me. Whenever I do this, to this very day, I feel an instant sense of relaxation and letting go. It's as though the closed fist is a sign of the tension that I'm carrying to bed with me. By simply opening my hands, I'm literally letting it go. A sense of relaxation and release comes over me and I swear that it actually helps me go to sleep!

Simple rituals like this can really help us in training ourselves to release and let go of our tension and our stress. I like to take a few deep breaths when I open my hands at night to enhance the effect.

It is interesting that sometimes I have to open my hands more than one time. They creep back into the closed state. It is a habit. As I've practiced this over the last many years I have noticed that I have improved and usually only need to do it once per night. If I'm especially stressed about something, it might be necessary to unclench my fists more than once. It is a process, so don't be surprised that if when you first begin the practice you must do it multiple times per night. As you train your mind and body to relax in preparation for sleeping, this will become more automatic, and your body will only need an occasional reminder.

Learning to handle and release our stress and tension is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. It improves not only our mental and emotional well being, but our physical health as well!

Relax those hands!!

Friday, April 04, 2008

In Memory of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King

Today, April 4th is the anniversary of the assassination of an amazing contributor to the evolution of human consciousness, Dr. Martin Luther King.

I have immense respect for the fundamental societal changes the resulted from the courage and inspiration of this one man.

With all the current 'controversy' around Barack Obama and his minister, Rev. Wright, I realize that we are not nearly as 'evolved' as I would like for us to be. With regards to race and with regards to violence as a means to resolve problems.

Dr. King spoke out, shortly before his assassination, against the Vietnam war. He was labeled 'unpatriotic' and a 'traitor' by some. Reverend Wright, although some of his rhetoric (particularly when taken out of context, as it is mostly being shown on Youtube and in the media) has been labeled the same.

What people like Dr. King, Gandhi and other great spiritual and social reformers understand, is that the truth, although unpopular, must be spoken. Until and unless that happens, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past and continue to operate at less enlightened stages of consciousness.

It is considered unpatriotic for Rev. Right to speak about American foreign policy with regards to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, or for Dr. King to speak out against the Vietnam war. I find it simply astounding that it could be considered 'unpatriotic' to merely analyze the country's foreign policy and criticize it.

The delusion that we can all get in to, in our own lives, and collectively in groups, is to believe that ANY reflection on the validity of our actions or opinions is an act of betrayal.

Think about how children learn right from wrong. They make mistakes, and they are corrected and often encouraged to gain understanding about their actions and the subsequent consequences.

Yet, when leaders like King spoke out about injustices, in our own society, or in our world, they are deemed traitors and threats if that truth reveals something that needs attention and correction.

Dr. King was an amazing change agent. He was not perfect, and he certainly had his human frailties and faults. He was, however, an amazing orator and leader and he changed the fabric of American culture. The struggle he fought so ardently for... continues to this day.

I had the great privilege, upon my graduation from One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City, as one of our elected class speakers, to speak (very briefly) at the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York City. Dr. King had spoken from that pulpit (as well as some of my other heroes). It gave me chills to speak from the very spot that Dr. King himself had spoken. WOW!

Today, on this solemn day, let us reflect on the legacy on Dr. King. He gave his life in a struggle to champion human rights for ALL people... ALL over the world. That deserves our deep gratitude and our greatest respect.

Link to

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Gone Fishin'

We are all familiar with the image of the sign hanging on the door of some one's business establishment that says, "Gone Fishin'" right?

Today I have a sign hanging on my door that says, "Gone Gamblin'" :)

I'm off on a little mini vacation... gambling in Reno. It is a tradition for me. I used to bring my father every father's day. Now I sometimes come with friends, and much more rarely, I come alone.

So, I'm here reliving some good memories of times with my father... lots of fun and too many laughs to count.

Video poker is my game... and I'm in search of that royal flush!

I'm a conservative and disciplined gambler... so no need for worries of me not having the cash to return home!

Sometimes you just need to cut loose a little... and that's what I'm doing today!

Happy trails!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

They Aren't Actually Out to Get You!

I returned tonight from a trip to Galiano Island in British Columbia aboard the Victoria Clipper. The Clipper is a high speed boat that travels between Seattle and Victoria. It takes a little under 3 hours to make the journey. It's an awesome way to get up to Victoria and the surrounding area.

On my way back tonight I was sitting near the front of the ship. There was a couple sitting behind me who were exhibiting some strange behaviors. Well, the man of the couple was, anyway.

The boat was fairly empty for our voyage. This man walked a few rows forward of our seats to the very front of the boat and put some things on a seat in the second row. I watched him continually walk to that forward seat, retrieve things from his bag and then return to his seat behind me. He did this over and over again throughout the entire cruise.

As we got closer to Seattle, a crew member came and pulled some curtains that covered the windows that spanned the front of the ship. I wondered why they were doing it, and then noticed a sign that said the curtains had to be pulled upon a night time arrival in Seattle to provide optimum visability for the Captain in the wheelhouse (which was above these windows). That solved the mystery for me. We were pulling directly in to Seattle, and they needed to do this to make it safe for us to dock.

The man literally flipped out after they did this. He was so angry! "Why would they close the curtains right as we are pulling in to the city? I mean we pay for this view... and they close the curtains? That is just stupid!! I don't understand why they did that!" He went on and on. He took it so personally, and he just assumed it was done to irritate him.

He actually had been sitting in the forward seat a few times during the cruise. From that seat, the sign describing what would happen with the curtains was 4 feet in front of his face, and yet... he never saw it.

He was distressed and upset about the curtains being closed, and assumed it was done for no good reason.

I felt it was a great reminder about how we can sometimes make assumptions that do nothing but increase our unhappiness.

The curtains were not drawn to upset and irritate this man. They were drawn to protect his safety upons docking in Seattle.

The man made an assumption, and missed the 'facts' that were right in front of his face!!!!

We all do this at times. Tonight, I was reminded of the importance of looking for the 'reason' behind things and not simply assume that something is happening to deliberately make me unhappy.

The curtains might be closed for a good reason!