Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ask and You Shall Receive

I'm sitting in a hotel lobby as I write this. My friend is still asleep in our room. I decided to let her have her rest, packed up my computer and headed to the lobby to write some articles and have my morning coffee.

Suddenly I realized that I didn't know what time check out was. I barely had time to think the thought, "I wonder what time we need to check out" when the front desk phone rang. The receptionist answered the phone, paused as her caller spoke and she said, 'Check out time is 11am.'

Now, while its true that many, if not most, hotel check out times are 11am, I was most amazed that at the moment I asked the question, the answer came! Indirectly, of course, as I did not speak the question out loud. To me, this is a sign that what we need is often available to us right in front of our nose!

I appreciate it when I can live in that flow of believing and knowing that what I need is there for me when I need it. It is a beautiful way to live to trust that what we need for the living of our lives is right there - waiting for us!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trying to Absorb the Unabsorbable

I often have unrealistic expectations of myself. It's something I've worked on for a long time, but still find challenging. One way this pattern shows up for me is that I take on unusual tasks and expect myself to simply 'handle them' in my life without skipping a beat. I make no exceptions for the fact that the new task might require a big 'resource hit' in time, energy and sometimes even money!

I went on a hike last Friday. It wasn't a huge hike, but it is not something that I do every day. I did the hike in the afternoon, and the weather was quite hot. Usually when I hike, i go in the morning when its cooler. I drank a lot more water than I usually do, which was very necessary. In that way, I did alter my normal agenda to accommodate a different reality.

After the hike I was really wiped out. I had dinner and showered, but for the rest of the evening I struggled to complete the tasks I wanted and needed to do. I was a bit confused about how such a 'small thing' could sap my energy so completely.

The truth is, it was a hot, strenuous hike for me. I don't do that every day. I had already worked out at the gym that morning, and done many other activities before I decided to hike in the afternoon heat.

My fatigued state was actually a normal response to the day I'd had. I might not have liked it, but it did make sense, given all that I had done that day, or that week for that matter.

When we take on something, anything new, or different, we need to cut ourselves some slack in other areas. We can't expect ourselves to take on new endeavors with zero impact to our life. That is a sure set up for frustration!

Make sure you allow the extra time, energy and resources that are required by a new experience. It makes the entire endeavor more successful and ultimately more satisfying!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

When Rain Makes the Day

I have an out of town guest visiting me from the east coast for a week. This is typically the time of year when we have our best weather. As the date of her arrival has approached, I've eagerly checked the weather report... and the extended forcast. For the past couple weeks I've been delighted to see nothing but sunshine on the horizon. Suddenly, a few days ago, the forcast started to change, and rain drops started appearing in the line up. I was really bummed. How often does this friend come to the west coast? I had so many good weather dependent activities that I wanted to take her to experience. Now, rain!!!!

Today we arrived in Port Angeles, Washington. Gateway to the Olympic mountain range. Today, my only plan was for us to get the ferry from Seattle, and get to Port Angeles before dinner time. I was planning for us to drive up to "Hurricane Ridge" tomorrow morning and possibly do some hiking. The forcast is calling for rain showers tomorrow. Hurricane Ridge in the rain would not be great. If the clouds are low, you really can't see the stunning vistas!

We arrived in Port Angeles around 4pm. that was actually ahead of my planned schedule. I checked with my guest to see if she was up for the 2 hour round trip drive, plus whatever time we spent at the top. The weather today was really nice, and I knew we would get the views I wanted her to experience. So, although we wouldn't get to hike, the most important part of the experience would be available to her. She was all for it.

We started up into the mountains. Another guest at our hotel had mentioned to us that they were doing repairs on the road going up to Hurricane Ridge, and that we might encounter long delays. Another setback in my mind. As we made the drive, we were delighted to find that because of the late hour, most of the construction activities had been halted for the day, and there were also not too many cars traveling up the mountain, or down! By driving up at the end of this day, we were most likely avoiding lengthy delays sitting in traffic back ups!

The view from the top was indeed spectacular! The drive up was stunning as always. My friend was able to experience the best that this region has to offer, without the frustrating time delays of road construction. Why? Because tomorrow's forcast called for rain.

What I originally considered a negative, turned out to be highly beneficial! We were able to do exactly what I'd hoped we could. Tomorrow, even if the weather had been great, we wouldn't have had as nice of a trip up into the mountains!

Guess what? The clouds have rolled in now, and it looks like it will rain any time. I'm already busy planning some weather independent activities for tomorrow to take advantage of the 'new' time we have available to us.

Sometimes a little rain... is a great thing!

Monday, July 28, 2008

When the Universe Comes Through

I was feeling a bit frustrated yesterday. I had several tasks to accomplish, and it seemed that I was missing one component needed to complete each one. I needed a routing number for a new checking account in order to complete paperwork for setting up my automatic monthly mortgage payment, and I was waiting on paperwork for a condo rental that I'm in the process of completing. I was also lamenting the fact that an order I had placed for some books and DVDs had not arrived by the deadline I needed them by. It was just one of those moments in time where I couldn't seem to get anything finished!

I then realized that I hadn't picked up Saturday's mail from my box. I went outside to pick up the mail, never expecting that any of my problems were about to be resolved.

Yet, when I opened the mailbox, there were the 'missing elements' for each of these three tasks! A box of checks had arrived for my new account. The numbers I needed would, of course, be on the checks! My DVD and book order was also there! I honestly didn't expect them to arrive until late next week! Finally, the condo rental confirmation packet was there as well. All the information I was lacking was suddenly in my hands!

What a lift that was to my spirits! I had been in a rather frustrated state. I was stuck in my ability to move any of those projects forward. Then, with one small act - going to the mailbox - all of those stalled projects leaped forward!

We never know when things are going to break loose or when we are going to take a leap forward. Our job is to keep moving along as best we can and know that the breakthrough can come at any moment!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pay Attention to Warning Signs

Why is it that we can sometimes ignore obvious warning signs and get ourselves into trouble?

Recently, I have been very focused on getting my garden 'whipped into shape.' I've been weeding and pruning like crazy. I had a deadline set for myself to reach a certain milestone by July 18th. I put in a lot of extra hours in the two weeks prior to my 'drop dead' date.

My right forearm and elbow started to hurt a lot about one week into my intense work period. I was so determined to meet my milestone, I kept working despite increasing pain. At one point, I was using clippers, braced against the ground because the pain was so intense when I would squeeze the clipper handles. I had to use the ground to get enough leverage to make the cut!

For the past week, I've been in pain, pretty much all the time. It gets much worse when I try to lift any weight with my right arm. After seeing my physical therapist today, turns out I injured a pretty important tendon. I have 'tennis elbow' or in other words, a type of tendonitis, caused by overuse. This particular injury takes a lot of time to heal because this area of the arm is used so heavily in ordinary activities. Giving it a complete rest is actually quite difficult.

Several people told me to take it easy when I was working so hard in the garden (and was also complaining about my elbow and arm pain). Yet, I continued to push through the intensifying pain and work.

My body was sending me clear messages that I was exceeding my limitations, yet I chose to ignore those messages.

When we ignore warning signs, we often have a price to pay. Let's call it tuition in the school of life. I'm paying my tuition now through the inconvenience of having a persistent, nagging injury. I'll recover, but I'm hopeful that next time my body is screaming at me, I'll listen!

Warning signs are there for a reason. Paying attention to the signs can save us a lot of trouble!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Get Moving to Gain Momentum

Sometimes I don't feel like doing something I need to do. It happens to all of us. Some have more of a problem with procrastination than others, but we all 'stall' out from time to time.

I've found that when I'm putting something off, or feeling generally unmotivated, that it can often be helpful to just take a step, any step, on ANY project to 'get moving.'

When I'm feeling stuck and uninterested in taking action, I'll often pick an 'easy' task to get myself moving. I might empty the dishwasher, fold some laundry or make a quick phone call to take care of some minor issue on my to do list. It amazes me, because it usually kick starts me somehow and I am able to get busy on the project that I really need to do.

I think its partly an issue of momentum. Just to get going - moving in ANY direction, can help us move in the ways that we need to move.

Give it a try!! Next time you are feeling stuck or unmotivated, pick off some 'low hanging fruit' - activity wise, and get your blood pumping. When you have a success or two under your belt, you'll find yourself inspired to keep moving!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yoda on Letting Go

I study and work with the truths of all spiritual masters, including master... YODA! Truly, some of the gems that came from this little creature (of Star Wars fame) are guiding principles in my life.

I think a lot about the concept of "letting go." I do this mainly because I often have struggles with the need to let go of things, as most humans do!

Master YODA has a great teaching to offer us in this arena:

Train yourself to let go... of everything you fear to lose.

This teaching implores us to examine ourselves to identify our own attachments, and then work deliberately to let them go... proactively. This is a POWERFUL and very DIFFICULT spiritual practice.

It's easiest to think about this in terms of material possessions. That also happens to be an arena where we can cultivate and strengthen our ability to maintain a healthy detachment to the aspects of life that we cannot control.

If, for example, we are very attached to clothing, and have difficulty releasing that type of item, even things we no longer need or wear, we can start a practice of cleaning out closets or drawers to proactively 'let go' of some of those items. We can start to weaken our attachment by leaning in to the area we struggle with, and directly challenging our need to 'hold on.'

Spiritually speaking, part of our growth and maturation is to learn to be in healthy, right relationship with work, posessions, relationships, and all aspects of human experience. A lot of time our attachments feel so 'justified' and 'reasonable.' The Buddhist philosophy tells us that our attachments cause all the pain and suffering in life. I agree with the Buddhists.

Learning to enjoy and fully experience all of the aspects of human life, without becoming attached or dependent upon them for our happiness, is one of the most significant components of the spiritual journey that each of us is invited into.

Sometimes our attachments are obvious. Sometimes they are more subtle. It is a powerful spiritual practice to look inward to identify our attachments, and then work to loosen their mental and emotional grip on us.

We can start with tangible, material possessions. They are easy to work with. It is obvious when you give something away and let it go. Then we can progress into patterns of thinking and belief and things that are less tangible and less obvious.

This is life changing work! Give it a try and see your life transform.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Continuing to Walk With The Pebble in Your Shoe

Why do we do it? We have a problem. It is some minor irritation that causes us inconvenience or pain, and we just limp along with it, sometimes day after day, instead of taking the time to stop and address it?

It is like knowing we have a pebble in our shoe, but continuing to walk anyway. We might experience discomfort or even pain, but still we press on. Instead of taking a pause to remove the pebble, we simply live with the irritation and proceed.

I had yet another encounter with this phenomenon this past weekend. I've been living with a software problem since I upgraded my computer at the beginning of the year. One of my programs was not retaining all the 'preferences' that I set when I first installed and initialized it. What this meant, was that each time I started this particular application, it would act like I was using it for the very first time. The 'set up' process took about an extra 2 minutes. This doesn't sound like much, but I use this program multiple times a day, seven days a week. Those minutes add up.

It's true that I didn't know what was causing the problem, nor did I know how much time it would take to resolve it. What I do know is that I was losing approximately 5 minutes a day, 7 days a week to this repeating task that should not have needed to be done! That adds up to 35 minutes a week of lost productivity. That's over 2 hours a month! I've been doing this for almost 7 months! That's 14 hours of time that I've basically wasted on this pebble in my shoe.

This past weekend, I finally went to the website for the company that makes this software product and searched their knowledgebase to find information on the problem I was having. Lo and behold, there was a known issue with the software, and a hot fix had been issued to address it! All I needed to do was download the patch and install it. The whole process took me about 30 minutes, as I needed to do this on two machines). PROBLEM SOLVED!

In addition to the 14 hours of wasted time I spent on re-setting up the software each time I used it, there was an untold and incalculable amount of frustration involved in that! That, in and of itself, increases the 'toll' that situations like this can take on us.

The buggy software was the pebble in my shoe. I walked with it in there for almost 7 full months!

Got any pebbles poking at you? Maybe it's time to stop, take off that shoe, and remove the irritant!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Season for Polishing

I had dinner with a dear friend last night whom I hadn't seen in a long while. WHen she arrived to the restaurant, she was carrying a bag with items she had purchased on a little shopping trip. The bag contained leather cleaner, silver cleaner (for jewelry) and shoe polish. "Time to take care of some things that have been neglected for awhile," she said with a smile.

Her life has been busy and rich for the past many months, and as a result, certain things fell off her plate. It happens to all of us in the dance of life. We must sometimes make trade offs and postpone activities that aren't essential. We prioritize our tasks, and tend to the things that absolutely must be handled.

Then, comes the season where things finally slow down a bit, and we can turn our attention towards the tasks that slipped off of our radar screen.

It feels wonderful to get caught up on those types of tasks. Life feels more 'in order' when we finally bring everything up to where it should be.

It's also important to allow ourselves those seasons of tending what we've ignored or neglected for a while. This is how we restore balance. We can seek to be in balance each and every day, but for most of us, that is not realistic. The most important thing is to monitor ourselves, see where we are out of balance and seek to correct it over time.

I once heard a speaker talking about this in relationship to eating. She was advocating that we try to look at a group of 2 or 3 days, and shoot for eating a healthy, diverse and balanced diet over the course of a few days. Although it is good to eat that way every day, for some of us, it just isn't possible. We only get into trouble when the imbalances persist, and we neglect the same area (or food group/nutrient in this case) over the long haul.

I loved the image of my friend conditioning her leather, polishing up her jewelry and shining up her shoes. It was a great message to me that some things get a little dull and 'used' in their appearance when we are fully utilizing them in the living of our life. Then comes the season for polishing... and we spruce them up and restore them to their full glory.

Have any imbalances to correct in your life? Got any dull shoes or jewelry? Maybe its time to declare a season for polishing!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cherishing What We Have

Years ago, I learned an important 'prosperity' concept that had a huge impact on my life. It relates to the idea that it is important to appreciate what we have in the moment, while we move toward and hope for something better.

The easiest example of this is to think of something like our car. Let's say we have an older car that isn't exactly 'the ride' we'd like to be in. Some people might be inclined to neglect the car and think something along the lines of, "This old beater isn't worth the effort, but when I have a better car... I'll take good care of it."

The principle I was taught, was that if we want something better, we should treat the thing we have with respect and care. It's almost as if we are demonstrating our willingness to 'have' something worth taking care of. If we neglect our old, beat up car... why would the universe expect us to take better care of another car - no matter what type of vehicle it is?

A minister I like to listen to is fond of saying, "When we are faithful over little things, God trusts us with bigger things."

I believe this to be true of everything in our lives. If we only have a little bit of money, but we respect it, take care of it, learn about how to use it and invest it responsibly... we'll be given more. If, however, we don't take our responsibility seriously, if we think, "well, when I have more money... THEN I'll learn about investing and how to use it properly," we are unlikely to ever be trusted with more.

It is easy to practice this principle. Our clothes, furniture, cars, money, tools... whatever possessions we have can become precious, appreciated belongings. Give it a try and see what happens.

This all came back to me today when I was cleaning my car. I love to take good care of my things. IT is my way of showing God and the universe that I am grateful... it lets it be known that I can be trusted to take good care of my things... and special bonus... when you take good care of your things, it is more enjoyable to use them! A clean car (no matter how old) is much nicer to ride around in than a dirty, cluttered messy one!

What can you take out and polish up today?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Turning the Corner

There often comes a point in massive, time consuming projects when we turn an important corner. The way becomes a bit easier. The task no longer seems daunting or impossible.

Today in my garden, I turned such a corner. Up to this point, for some reason, this year I have been unable to get caught up with my garden work. I have a large yard, and the weeding and pruning work load is pretty hefty.

Usually by this time of the summer, I have the task well in hand, and only need to put in one hour 3 or 4 days a week. Here we are in mid July, and I've been logging a lot of extra hours (sometimes 3 or 4 hours in a day) trying to get ahead of the weeds!

Today I finished weeding the last area of the garden (now its time to start another pass, however, the weeds are few and far between and this pass will go much faster!) I also completed some of the most pressing pruning. The garden actually looks like it's well tended!

From here on out, I'll be able to put in my 3 - 4 hours a week and not only stay up on the 'maintenance' but do some of the 'fine tuning' type of gardening that I find most enjoyable. Shaping shrubs, planting new plants, clipping out dead wood from large trees and shrubs and other little miscellaneous 'fun' tasks.

What a joy! To be able to reach the point in a project, where the 'heavy lifting' is over, one can enjoy the 'fruits of' the hard labor, and spend time actually enjoying the task in it's kinder, more gentle incarnation.

This achievement comes as a result of hard work and dedication. It doesn't just land in our laps. The important thing is to stay the course, even during the frustrating times when the task seems endless and insurmountable! Then, all of a sudden, one bright day, we turn that corner and experience a new reality!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's All Relative

On a recent drive, I was amused by an experience I had. I was cruising down the freeway at about 65 miles an hour, feeling frustrated by the drivers in front of me who were preventing me from driving 70+ MPH (speed limit was 70, by the way). I felt like I was crawling.

A while later, off the freeway, I was on a country road and found myself behind a guy in an old pick up truck. When we had to climb hills, our speed slowed to around 20 MPH. It was excruciatingly slooooooow. I'm not the most patient of people, so this was actually painful for me.

When the driver finally turned his old clunker off the road and I was able to speed up to 50 MPH, I felt like I was flying! I felt like I was driving incredibly fast. My frustration was gone!

That's when I started chuckling. Only a short time before, 65 MPH had seemed excruciatingly slow. Now 50 felt like nirvana to me!

How often do we get frustrated by circumstances, that in another situation would be considered a blessing? I think we'd be well served to remember this the next time we get bent out of shape about something in our lives. There is always a way it could be worse. There is always someone who is worse off than we are. I guess this falls under the 'count your blessings' line of thinking.

It's all relative. How we feel about something is all rooted deeply in our perspective and our 'reaction' to the situation. We can't control what happens to us, but we can control our perception and our reaction to it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Gift of a Fresh Approach

I watch a lot of movies. If you've read my blog for any length of time you know that is true! Over this past weekend, I watched "50 First Dates." While some of the elements of this movie are particularly tacky, the overall story and message is entertaining and positive.

In the story one of the main characters, Lucy, has a memory loss issue. Each night when she goes to sleep, her memory takes her back to a day in her past. On that particular day, Lucy was in a severe car accident and sustained a head injury. As a result of this injury, she wakes up every morning, believing it to be the start of that specific day. She is unaware that she is living the same day over and over again.

Her father and brother, and all her local community, conspire to keep Lucy from finding out about her memory limitation. Her father had hundreds of newspapers printed up from the day of Lucy's accident, so that each morning she reads the paper and it is just as Lucy expects it to be. Lucy continues living her life/day blissfully unaware that she is aging and time is marching on.

Her family and friends are well intentioned. On the 'bad' days when Lucy's carefully crafted universe gets disturbed and she discovers the truth about her accident and memory loss it is very upsetting to her. It's as though she's hearing the news for the first time. Her community has bonded together to try to spare her the pain of 're-hearing' about her trauma every day. Their intentions are good.

Then, Lucy meets a guy named Henry. They hit it off very well, and Henry goes through the process of learning about Lucy's problem. He is in love with Lucy and wants to find a way to be in a relationship with her, despite her problem.

Henry tries some creative approaches to helping Lucy cope with reality. At first Lucy's father and brother are extremely resistant to changing anything about Lucy's universe. As Henry persists with helping Lucy live a more authentic, reality based life her world blossoms and opens up. Her father and brother also find new freedom, as they are released from the time consuming task of trying to 'keep Lucy safe' from the truth.

As I watched the unfolding of this story I was reminded of how common it is for people to try to 'protect' others from the truth. Usually it is done with the best of intentions. A person believes another person can't handle knowing about something and conceals it 'for their own good.' I marvel at how much 'energy' is expended to protect people from reality, truth and sometimes even their own feelings about life.

I have an elderly friend who's son needed to have a minor surgery. He didn't tell his mom about it because he 'didn't want to worry her.' When she found out, not only was she worried, but she was 'furious' that her son didn't think she could handle knowing about it. She recounted to me all of the hardships she has endured and pressed through in her life and said, 'And he doesn't think I can handle his little surgery?'

So often we use our energy to spin webs of protection around people when, not only do they not need them, they don't want them! My elderly friend was insulted by her son's actions.

When we conceal truth and reality from people, not only do we waste our precious energy, but we don't do the 'object' of our actions any favors either.

Just like in the movie I was watching, when we find ways to help people deal with reality (rather than conceal it from them) everyone's life enlarges and enriches. It's the way our universe is designed!

Next time you're tempted to 'protect' someone from some truth... I ask you to reconsider and carefully think through ways that you might encourage them to stretch to face the truth. You might be surprised at the results!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I often marvel at the creativity that emerges in the face of great need. We humans are often at our best when we are facing our toughest challenges.

Years ago, when I traveled to India, I had an interesting and unusual challenge arise. This was way before 9/11/01, so I was using combination locks on my suitcase as I traveled through India.

After one of my flights inside India, I went to open my suitcase in my hotel room. I was saddened and dismayed to find that the security personnel at one of the airport, obviously irritated by my locked luggage, had wrapped security stickers around my combination lock! The lock could not be opened. They had gummed up the rollers so that they wouldn't move. The adhesive on the stickers had melted into the actual rollers and they were stuck.

I went through some emotions of frustration and anger at the security people, and then realized that I needed to find a way to get into my luggage. I thought about how I could clean the adhesive from the lock. I remembered that I carried individually wrapped 'handiwipes' whenever I traveled. These handiwipes are alcohol based. I wondered if the alcohol in the wipes might dissolve the adhesive.

I opened several handiwipes and wrapped them around the lock. I put a baggie over the whole blob to keep it from drying out. Then I went to eat dinner, hoping that the alcohol wipes would 'melt' the glue in the adhesive.

When I came back from dinner - lo and behold... my scheme had worked and the lock rollers moved easily and I was able to get into my luggage.

It was a victory of ingenuity and creativity over a 'sticky' problem.

We all have the ability to resolve the challenges in our lives. We need to invite and nurture our 'out of the box' thinking in order to have the best shot at solving those problems that initially perplex us.

Happy problem solving!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Two Important Questions

I just watched the Bucket List again. OK, truth be told, this is probably the fifth time I've seen it! :)

There is a scene where Carter and Edward are sitting on top of a pyramid in Egypt talking about life. Carter asks Edward to answer two important questions:

1. Have you found joy in your life?

2. Have you brought joy to the lives of others?

I think these are two extremely important questions that each of us should spend time with on a regular basis.

As someone who has been extremely serious, goal oriented (one might even say 'driven') I have often taken life too seriously and not experienced a lot of joy. This has been a goal of mine the past couple of years: to increase the joy that I experience on a daily basis. It has been a wonderful endeavor!!

I think both questions are equally important in the scheme of life. If they are out of balance in either direction, or if, God forbid, the answer to both is 'no,' we are missing out on one of the most important gifts this life has to offer.

Spend some time with those two questions. If you aren't happy with the answers you find, make some adjustments!

JOY to the world!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Devil is in the Details

Ever heard that saying, "The devil is in the details?" I'm a big believer in dotting my I's and crossing my T's. I think that it says a lot about a person when they handle the details of their business or their life with skill and competance.

I've had some recent dealings with professionals who have messed up things - really basic things in their work. It does not inspire confidence when someone lets things slide, or doesn't give proper attention to the finer points of their work.

If you want someone to trust you, it is important to handle yourself with consistency and competance. Little mistakes or oversights can cause big damage to the competance level you display to others.

I once heard a spiritual teacher say that "God will trust you with big things when you prove that you can handle the little things in life." I believe this to be totally true.

If you want to be successful and go far in your endeavors, pay attention to the details. Others notice those details - and it can make or break you!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What's Up with the Landscaping Truck?

It's gotten to be almost funny at this point. If it weren't so annoying, I could say it's completely funny!

Three mornings a week, I drive to a gym a few miles from my house to workout. My appointment time is 8:30am. I usually leave between 8:20 and 8:25am. I have "just enough" time to get there and be ready to workout by 8:30.

A new business opened at the end of my street last year. It is a nursery/landscaping business. Their location is at the end of my street, where it meets the main highway I drive to get to the gym.

Guess what? They roll their landscape truck and trailer out every single day... between 8:20am and 8:25am. Every... single... day!

Getting behind them is not pleasant. The vehicle is slow and emits stinky exhaust. If the truck pulls out in front of me, it creates a delay that can actually make me late to the gym.

I say, "IF" it pulls out in front of me... as though it only happens occasionally. I'd say it happens 9 days out of 10!

Each and every time it happens, I feel exasperated. I am 'astounded' that I can have 'such bad luck.' And yet... I continue to leave my house at the exact same time each morning, even though I KNOW the truck leaves in that window.

What's up with that? Why don't I 'adjust' my departure time? It's almost as though I expect the truck to be there, I expect to be irritated by it pulling out in front of me... and I create that reality for myself each time... just to prove myself right.

All I need to do is modify my behavior, just a bit, and I can free myself of the tyranny of the landscaping truck and trailer. Such an easy act.

Jack Boland, a spiritual teacher of mine, used to say, "The last thing we will let go of is our suffering." I believe that this can be totally true. Some part of me feels 'righteous' when I am victimized by the landscaping truck. Being victimized (in this case) is completely within my realm of control, and yet I let it happen again... and again... and again.

Where is the problem? Is it with the landscaping truck? I don't think so!!!!

The truck is going to do what the truck is going to do. I can either utilize that knowledge and alter my routine... or I can continue to feel put upon.

So often... the choice is ours!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Power of One

I came across this delightful poem in a magazine called, "Iskra: Voice of the Doukhobors." The author was not given, and my internet searching did not yield the name of the person who wrote it. I also found it with several different titles.

I loved the sentiment expressed in this sweet poem. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The Power of One

One song can spark a moment,
One flower can wake the dream.
One tree can start a forest,
One bird can herald spring.

One smile begins a friendship,
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One word can frame the goal.

One vote can change a nation,
One sunbeam lights a room.
One candle wipes out darkness,
One laugh will conquer gloom.

One step must start each journey,
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care.

One voice can speak with wisdom,
One heart can know what's true,
One life can make the difference,
You see it's up to you!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Something Tiny Can Cause Much Pain

I've had a microscopically small blackberry thorn embedded in my thumb for a week now. I'm an avid gardener and I hate wearing gloves. I can't 'feel' the weeds when I wear gloves. I feel encumbered and clumsy. So, I garden with my hands, 'in the buff' so to speak. With that practice, come some penalties. My fingernails generally look pretty grim during gardening season. Sometimes my hands just will not come completely clean. I'm willing to live with those consequences for the sake of gardening in a way that feels best to me.

This blackberry thorn is a different story. I felt the thorn go in. I was attempting to extract a young blackberry vine. Often when I grab the very base of the roots, just below the surface of the ground, I can be successful without injury. This particular vine, however, had some very small barbs on it and one of them embedded itself deeply into my thumb.

I couldn't even see the dang thing for 2 days it was so deep in my thumb. The amazing thing to me is that it hurts SO MUCH! Even when I couldn't see it, this little tiny irritant caused me jolts of pain! After a few days, I could see it, but I still couldn't get a hold of it with my tweezers. Pain, pain, pain. Every time I put pressure on my thumb directly, I get a powerful jolt of pain.

I've tried to dig the thing out on 3 different occasions. It's just not accessible. My understanding is that the area will callus up a bit, and push the thorn to the surface. I'm waiting patiently. OK... not so patiently.

My main point for writing about this is the fact that something so tiny, in comparison to my overall body size, can cause so much discomfort and pain. The point is... it's not supposed to be there. It's an 'alien body.' That's why it is causing pain.

So often in our lives we include things that just shouldn't be there. A habit, a relationship, a behavior, a choice... and something very small can become something very uncomfortable and even painful.

It's important to look for these things and eliminate them from our lives. Sometimes, just like my thorn, the extraction cannot happen immediately. For a myriad of reasons, it might take some time to 'work the thing' out of our lives. The important thing is to recognize when something is causing us pain... and do what is ours to do to eliminate it from our life.

Got any thorns embedded in your life? I wish you much success in identifying and eliminating the thorns from your metaphorical thumbs! :)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day!

Today is Independence Day in the US. Of course, it is a patriotic holiday, originated to celebrate the birth of our nation and declaration of independence from Great Britian.

I choose to celebrate this day in a slightly different fashion. I choose to focus on achieving independence from all types of tyranny, oppression and bondage. These can be imposed from the outside, or they can be imposed from within us.

The true answer to freedom lies inside us. To refuse to be in bondage to anyone or anything is a decision we must each make. Even when outside conditions are imposed upon us, we can choose our reponse to them.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Even when 'stuff' is flying at us we can choose to be free. No one can ever control our minds or our hearts. That is truly where authentic and genuine independence lives!

Happy Independence Day!!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Save the Last Dance

There is a very sweet movie called, Save the Last Dance (2001) that I have watched several times this past week. It is a touching story of a young woman who gives up her dream of becoming a prima ballerina after her mother is killed in an auto accident. The girl, Sarah, blames herself for her mother's death. Her mother was killed while driving to watch Sarah audition for a place at Julliard, the prestigious high school of the performing arts in New York.

Sarah is forced to move to the inner city with her father, whom she barely knows. She suddenly finds herself in a school where she is in the minority, as one of the very few white students.

As she navigates the changes thrust upon her by life, she deals with issues of racism as she finds friendship, love and the courage to face her fears and go for her dreams!

I LOVE this movie, and highly recommend it as an inspiring, touching and motivating experience.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Second Time is Easier

My garden continues to teach me. Yesterday I weeded a particularly challenging flower bed for the second time this season. The first time I weeded it, it seemed impossible to get through. THe weeds and grasses were thick and stubborn. When I was trying to get through it the first time, I was frustrated and discouraged. It truly seemed I would never finish and that the problem would never be 'solved.'

Yesterday, I went through the planting bed for a second time. It was challenging. There were areas of difficulty. However, it was overall, much much easier than the first time through. Some of the areas that were impossible last time, went much faster and easier this time through. The root systems seemed to have been weakened by my first pass. The grasses and weeds came out easier AND more completely this time. That means that the next time I weed this bed, it will go easier still.

IT is a great metaphor for life experiences. When we engage with something the first time, we cannot expect it to be seemless and easy. There are dues to be paid. There are trails to be blazed. We must work through the process in order for things to become easier and less challenging.

In order to get there, we must be willing to perservere through frustrations and challenges. That is the price to pay for becoming skilled and more successful.

Hang in there in new endeavors. Most things are difficult before they become easy. We must stay the course!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Co-Existence Day

I had a neat synchronicity happen to me yesterday that gave me hope for the future. I was wearing a very neat pair of earrings that I purchased when I was attending One Spirit Interfaith Seminary a few years ago. The earrings are circles that contain 9 symbols of different spiritual paths/religious traditions. I love these earrings. To me, they represent the ideal of coexistence of all peoples and all paths on planet earth.

As I was driving along yesterday, wearing my earrings, I noticed that the car in front of me had a bumper sticker on it that said COEXIST. Each letter of COEXIST was formed by a symbol of a different spiritual path/religious tradition.

I got a little jolt of hope in seeing that bumper sticker while I was wearing my earrings. I do believe that a growing number of people are realizing that we are indeed all one family, and that the diversity of expression in our spiritual/religious questing is an asset to the human race.

I know there are more and more of us out there! It does my heart good to be reminded of that!