Friday, January 30, 2009

Bianca is in Town For a Reason

I watched a very touching movie called, "Lars and the Real Girl" a while back. A friend had brought it to my house insisting that we watch it. It was an odd little story, but it was full of messages that I find particularly useful and powerful.

Lars is an odd young man who was raised in an emotionally deprived environment. His mother died when he was young, and he was left with his depressed and grief stricken father. Lars' older brother was off to his own life and wasn't there to help Lars in any way.

After the father's death, Lars is living in a garage apartment while his older brother and his wife live in the family home. The brother and his wife constantly try to draw Lars out from his life of isolation and integrate him into their family. Lars resists all these attempts.

One day, Lars witnesses a co-worker ordering a life sized 'doll' from the Internet. These dolls are intended for men to use as, shall we say, physical companions. Lars decides to order one of these dolls for himself. When she arrives, she is dressed in 'call girl' type clothing. Her name is Bianca.

He tells his brother that he'd like to bring his new girlfriend to dinner. The brother is elated and excited. He is thrilled to think that maybe his strange, lonely brother is coming around to a more normal way of life.

The brother and his wife are shocked and horrified when Lars shows up with Bianca, and treats her as though she were a real person. They haul him off to see a psychiatrist.

After interviewing Lars the doctor speaks privately to the brother and his wife. She explains that Lars is firmly convinced that Bianca is real, and that there is a reason why he has come to this belief. Her advice is to 'go along with Lars.' The doctor says, "Bianca... is in town for a reason." She goes on to explain that there is a purpose for her presence in Lars' life, and that when she's no longer needed she will no longer be there.

Though the story, the entire small town rallies around Lars and Bianca. They all treat her as though she is completely real. As time goes by, Lars learns how to interact with people, and join the 'land of the living' with the help of Bianca's presence and his friends and family's embracing of 'the couple.' Just as the doctor said, when Lars no longer needs Bianca, she fades from the scene (I won't tell you how -you should watch the movie!)

My friend and I talked about the movie after we watched it. "Bianca is in town for a reason" has become a sort of mantra for us. EVERYONE that appears in our life, no matter what the context, is 'in town for a reason.' There is a purpose for their presence in our lives. If we didn't "need" them in some way... they wouldn't be there. Even people who aren't treating us well, who annoy us, or create unpleasantness are there, at some level, by invitation. We need them in order to learn our lessons and grow into the people we are meant to be. If we embrace their presence and engage in our learning and growth processes, even the 'unpleasant' people will give us the gift they have for us, and they will either change or leave our lives.

Got any Biancas hanging out in your life? Maybe its time to take a closer look at what they might be trying to help you learn.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Holes in My Pockets

I've been on a mission lately to fix all the things that are broken in my material world. There are many little things that have been driving me crazy - some for months, some for years! The time has come to fix them or release them.

One thing that had been a problem for a couple years is the integrity of the pockets in several of my favorite jackets.

One jacket, in particular, had such bad holes in the pockets that almost anything I put into my pockets ended up inside the lining of the jacket. Keys, lip balm, coins, you name it - I'd end up with it deep inside the back of my coat. Often I ended up sitting on these things.

I asked a lot of people if it was possible to fix such a problem. The lining of the pockets was disintegrating. It was a leather coat, so I wasn't sure if anything could be done. No one really knew for sure, but most people I asked thought it should be possible. No one really had any idea where I could go to get it done.

Finally, a couple weeks ago, I took the coats into my dry cleaner. They said, "Of course we can fix this!" They had to send the jackets out because they were leather, but there was no hesitation. It was totally possible to fix the problem pockets!

As I sit here today, I'm nestled in one of my jackets. It is the one that had the worst of all the ripped pocket problems. My keys are safely contained in my pocket as we speak. Each time I put something in my pocket, I'm reminded of the dozens of times over the past couple years when I wrestled with my keys or items to keep them from going into the inner recesses of the jacket. Getting things out was also a problem, because the items would catch on the ripped lining and tear it more. I struggled many many times with this issue!

Now... it's DONE. Finished. Resolved. All it took was $10 (for this particular jacket) and a willingness to believe it could be done.

Sometimes small problems can eat up a lot of life force and energy. If you add up all the time it takes to consistently wrestle with one of these issues, it makes a lot of sense to just take a little time and SOLVE it. I certainly learned that with my ripped pockets!

So here's to unholy pockets! What a gift! Sew up yours today!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remembering the Past

For any of you who haven't joined Facebook, I have to put in a little plug. I've been having such a fantastic time on this 'social networking' site! I resisted for a long, long time. It seemed silly and like a waste of time to me. Yet, once I joined and started 'friending' people... and being 'friended' I came to see the beauty of it.

I was convinced to join by a young friend of mine. YOU know who you are! At first I was skeptical, but I'm now a believer.

People have found me that I never thought I would hear from again! I have found people that I've wondered about, but had no idea how to contact before.

I've been relieving memories and laughing more than I thought was possible.

I've always taken a lot of pictures, and armed with a scanner, I've been able to post some old, old pictures from Junior High, High School and college. It's been so funny to get people's comments and reactions to these pictures. We've been discussing our fashion choices, our hairstyles and our wild times. It has been so enjoyable!

Sometimes when we get busy with the responsibilities and burdens of life, we forget that we had more carefree times. We can get disconnected from the joy of innocence, optimism and youthful enthusiasm. I think revisiting these things can infuse a new energy into our current life experience.

Although I worried that facebook would be a 'waste' of time, I'm finding it to be something that reminds me that I've lived a full, rich life. I've made many friends and had amazing experiences. It is helping me remember the value of each and every day, and each person who is part of my life in any way.

We all touch each other in ways that can last a lifetime. Cherish your memories and relationships of the past, and cherish those of today. Make every moment count!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Intuitive Flashes

I'm on a 'car wash' kick this week. I have another car wash story to tell. My intuition has been really 'on' lately. I've had several situations where it has proven to be very reliable. You'd think this would make me more likely to listen to it... and obey it. For the most part, that is true!

Last weekend, however, when I went through the car wash I was given an opportunity to use my intuition, and made another choice!

My car sits very low to the ground. I've had problems before with my rear license plate coming loose in car washes. On this particular day, when I drove out of the car wash, I had a strong feeling that I should stop and make sure it was still on and attached securely.

It was a very busy day at the car wash. We don't get many sunny days in winter here in Seattle. EVERYONE was getting their car washed on this particular day. As I pulled out of the car wash I planned to stop and use one of their high powered vacuum cleaners, but all the bays were full. I felt like I should check my license plate, but decided it was just too busy in the parking lot, and I'd do it when i got home.

When I got home I planned to vacuum out the car and complete it's little winter 'spruce up.' I remembered the 'license plate issue' and went to check. IT WAS GONE! My plate was completely gone!

I wasn't sure if it had come off in the actual car wash, or if it had become loose and fallen off somewhere on the 15 minute drive home.

My intuition had tried to warn me. I felt very strongly I needed to check it when I came out of the car wash, but I blew it off.

I spent the next couple hours calling the car wash to see if it was there. They were reluctant to stop the car wash, because it was a busy, busy day! I didn't want to go look for the license plate on the road if it was in the car wash! Finally, after about 3 hours, they called me to tell me they had it! I was about to get into the car when they called, to go look for it on the road before it got dark! I was grateful that they finally stopped the car wash and found it inside.

Our intuition can really serve us! If I had listened to that prompting, I would have discovered the plate missing immediately, they would have stopped the car wash, and I would have left with it in my hands. Instead, I spent a couple stressful hours, wondering where it was, thinking about the process of getting my plate replaced through the department of motor vehicles, and stressing about getting pulled over if I had to drive around for a few days without a plate. All of that could have been avoided if I had simply listened to my intuition.

The good news is... that this experience has strengthened my belief in my intuition. My goal is to trust it more and more as I go along.

Listen to your intuitive flashes. Pay attention. It could really be a gift that is available to you to make your life flow more smoothly!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Lingering Fear Put to Rest

I used to be very afraid of going through automated car washes. When I first started driving, it was a super scary undertaking for me. I've never been the best at 'spacial relationships' and so I was always nervous about getting my wheels properly aligned with the tracks that move you through the wash.

Over the years, I've gotten less nervous about that aspect of going through car washes. I'm generally pretty confident about getting onto the tracks!

There has been one fear, however, that lingered all these years. I get very nervous when they pack the cars in super close together to go through the car wash. I have always worried that someone might stop at the end of the car wash when they are supposed to drive out. If they stopped and I was behind them, what would happen? I worried that I would be thrust into the back of their car by the automatic rollers - and not be able to do a darn thing about it! It's not like I'd be able to put on the brakes or anything. I'm on a conveyor belt - being moved, whether I want to move or not!

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that each and every time I've gone through a car wash over the years, I have worried about this. Every single time. I have always been relieved when no one is in front of me. My anxiety level always increased whenever I had to go through right behind someone else.

So last weekend, I got my answer to the question, "What happens if someone stops at the end of the car wash and doesn't drive away when they are supposed to?" Big mystery resolved: THE CAR WASH STOPS! There is some sort of safety mechanism that stops the car wash so the cars don't bang into each other. DUH!!!!!

I felt a little silly as I observed this and had my revelation. All these years. I wonder how much anxiety that adds up to! If worry, anxiety and stress are bad for you (and they are) how much of a toll did all those car washes take on me?

I had never allowed myself to believe that someone else had thought of this, and made sure it wouldn't happen. I simply worried and spent energy on something that was entirely unnecessary!

In our lives, we worry about all sorts of things that will never happen, or are unlikely to happen. We put ourselves through all sorts of needless anxiety and anguish. Simply because we choose to or we don't look at things realistically or with our 'right mind.'

I don't ever need to be worried about going through a car wash again! At least not about what happens if the car in front of me doesn't GO! Think about all that energy that is now available to me for other things.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Counting the Sighs

Whenever I’m at the beach, I enjoy the process of watching and feeling the tension leave my body and mind. Something about the sound and sight of the crashing waves, the smell of the salty air and the sand beneath my feet melts way all the cares and burdens of life.

I noticed on one such trip that, as I walked along the beach, I was sighing deeply over and over again. I don’t usually do this so it caught my attention. The sighs were not the defeated, depleted kind. These sighs were the type that gently expels all that needs to be released – leaving one with a feeling of relief and deep peace. Ahhhhhhhh….

My friend Bill was with me, and we started talking a little bit about the ‘sighs.’ He was doing it too!

We noticed that we were breathing more deeply, walking more slowly than we usually do, and of course… we were letting off these deep sighs.

We started to count the sighs, and to even occasionally take a deliberate deep breath and let out even louder sighs as we exhaled. It felt marvelous. We were amazed at the effect of this simple body process.

Something about the beach naturally calls us to relax, to breathe deeply and to let go of inner tension. The good news is we don’t have to be at the beach to experience this! We can do this anytime, anywhere!

I’ve been trying to remember the lessons of my beach trip, and take deep breaths more often. I even try to take in deep breaths and exhale audibly in impressive sighs – to conjure that experience of deep calmness and relief. It works!

Give sighing (the positive kind) a try! And… next time you’re at the beach, or somewhere naturally relaxing, see if your body doesn’t start doing that automatically. It’s really quite fascinating – and informative! We can learn a lot from what our bodies do naturally when given the opportunity!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spell Checker as Teacher

As much as I enjoy writing, I have never been good at spelling. I’m actually a pretty poor speller, truth be told. When I was a kid, I was an extremely good reader. I was always advanced beyond my grade level. I could read pretty much anything. I could sound out words on the fly, and seemed to have an intuitive ability to figure out how to pronounce words I’d never seen before. It was a gift.

Many times, my teachers would have me give the spelling tests to the other kids. I would get an “A” for my spelling test, and all I had to do was read the words to the other kids so that they could spell them. I guess I was also really good at pronunciation or something. I’ve always blamed this, in part, for why my spelling is somewhat stunted!

At any rate, it occurred to me a while ago, that I had an awesome opportunity to improve my spelling, as part of all the writing that I do. In this day of automated spell checking programs, we have a teacher sitting right there with us… all the time!

In the past, I would let the spell checker correct my spelling, and I’d barely glance at the ‘correction’ it was offering. I looked at it long enough to know it was the correct spelling of the word I actually needed, but that was the extent of my attention. At some point, I realized I was missing a great opportunity to learn something!

Now, I try to actually study the ‘corrected’ words that my spell checker is providing for my misspelled words. It’s been really cool to see that words I’ve always had trouble spelling are now becoming words that I KNOW how to spell.

We are provided with opportunities to learn every minute of every day. Many times the CHOICE to learn is left entirely up to us. We can use something like a spell checker as a crutch, or we can use it as a professor! There is power in harnessing our ability and opportunity to learn!

Have any unlikely teachers hanging around in your life experience? Use them wisely!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Days Like This

Remember the old song, “Mama said there’d be days like this?” I had one of those days this past week.

I created two new scripts for my PathPositives affirmation series. Weight Loss and Exercise Motivation are the two new products. I was very excited to get them recorded, packaged and added to my online store.

Each and every time I work on this project, I learn new things about how to do the process a little more efficiently and with higher quality.

It is important for me to write down my learning because if I don’t… well, I have to ‘relearn’ things over and over again.

I had forgotten that I need to feed jewel case (CD) insert cards into my color laser printer one at a time in order for them to print properly. If I put a stack of these cards into the paper feed, for some reason they get pulled through a little ‘off’ and the printing is crooked or otherwise misaligned. It is extremely frustrating, as it makes the printing process much more labor intensive.

I had printed around 30 jewel case cards and was ready to start constructing the CD cases, when I realized that I had an alignment problem. The titles of the product on the spine of the CD cases were crooked and in some cases chopped off completely! I was so disappointed.

As I examined the 30 cards to see if any of them were usable, I was horrified to discover that PathPositives was spelled incorrectly on the spine of the card I was looking at! I checked the other spine (on the other side of the CD) and found it was wrong too! My heart skipped a beat. I went on to discover that this error existed in every single one of my 17 products! Every product I’ve ever packaged had this error in the packaging!

The text on the spine of the CDs is tiny and very hard to see and read. The error is not that noticeable. It’s taken me all this time to find it!!

I have a large inventory of CDs all packaged and shrink wrapped. To ‘redo’ all of that work would be expensive and extremely time consuming. The perfectionist in me was really freaking out, but I decided that I would not reprint and repackage my entire inventory.

I did reprint the 30 cards I had just created, and fixed the error in all my other files. From now on all new printings will be correct.

Although I was frustrated by this entire experience and more than a little embarrassed that I could have looked at these things for months on end and never caught the error, I must say that overall I’m pleased with my reaction. There was a time in my past, not so long ago, where such an error would have sent me into a definite fit!

I remember a time working for a large software company when I realized that we were about to send out a beta (test) version of our product to about 10,000 people, and my piece of the product had a giant bug in it. I literally had a small panic attack and had to leave work. I was devastated that I could make such a mistake. It cut me to the core of my being. My identity was very wrapped up in my job performance, and this was a direct threat to my sense of self. All of that is very very unhealthy, by the way!

This latest discovery helped me see how far I’ve actually come. Instead of spending a lot of energy being upset, beating myself up and lamenting my fate… I simply recognized the error, made a decision about how to best address it, and quickly implemented my fix. Wow. How much better does that feel?

I think that’s what life is all about: learning to handle our life experiences with more peace and greater composure. Life happens. We don’t always have control of what comes our way. Our only choice is in how we respond to it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Dawn

As I sit here watching Barack Obama - about to be sworn in as President of the United States, I'm filled with overwhelming feelings of optimism and pride. This day means so much to so many. It represents the shattering of barriers and the re ignition of hope in our future as individuals, as a nation, and as a global community.

Much is expected of President Obama. He, and we as a nation, face unprecedented problems. This nation has gotten so very off track. Few people would deny that at this moment.

Today, there is a feeling of belief that we can turn this around, get back on track and head in a new direction.

We can all be proud of the fact that our nation is changing course in such a powerful and profound way.

We have elected our first African American President. This, in and of itself, is a testament to the greatness of this nation. We have also elected a man who is a great leader. He is brilliant, inspired and articulate.

I hope that this feeling that we all have today, carries us through the hard work that lies ahead. ALL of us have work to do to change this nation's course and our individual and collective destinies.

We must be patient. Barack Obama is not going to be able to walk in there and totally change our course singled handed. We, as a people, must exert enormous influence on ALL our elected officials, as only 'the people' can to make sure that President Obama is not thwarted in his attempts to bring us together and move us forward.

Some will want to see him fail. Some will want to impose their own agenda, and thwart a larger vision. We must not let them succeed. As a people, we must DEMAND that our elected officials put aside the bickering and self interest driven policies of the past, and do what's best for the people of this nation and the people of this world!

Good Luck to you President Obama! I hope and pray that you will be successful in your attempts to change the course of this nation, and restore America's standing in the world of nations.

Beauty of Gracious Old Age

A 94 year old friend shared this poem with me. I LOVE it. What a celebration of life - especially the process of aging, and saging, well. Enjoy it!


Beautiful are the youth
Whose rich emotions flash and burn,
Whose lithe bodies filled with energy and grace
Sway in their happy dance of life;

And beautiful likewise are the mature
Who have learned compassion and patience,
Charity and wisdom,
Though they be rarer far than beautiful youth.

But most beautiful and most rare is a gracious old age
Which has drawn from life
The skill to take its varied strands:
The harsh advance of age, the pang of grief,
The passing of dear friends, the loss of strength,
And with fresh insight
Weave them into a rich and gracious pattern
All its own.

This is the greatest skill of all,
To take the bitter with the sweet and make it beautiful,
To take the whole of life in all its moods,
Its strengths and weaknesses,
And of the whole make one great and celestial harmony.

Robert Terry Weston

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Shoebox Full of Love

My dad passed away back in 1997. It seems unreal to me that so much time has passed since he made his transition.

January 15th is his birthday. He would have been 79 years old this past January 15th. In honor of his birthday, I wanted to share something special about my ‘daddy.’

When I was in college, and even for several years afterwards, I was very strapped for cash. I had scholarships, grants and financial aid/loans to get through school, but I had to work a lot in order to make it through. I chose to go to a small, private university and that was not cheap. I worked really hard and have always been proud that I did it on my own.

Although my dad couldn’t help me much financially with school, he did something that was even more precious to me. He had a special and sweet way of supporting me through the ‘lean years.’

Pretty much every week, without fail, I would receive a note in the mail from my dad. There was frequently a comic strip included. He would clip out funny things that he thought I would enjoy. Often he would add his own ‘enhancements’ to the article or comic strip. Dad had a great sense of humor, and his little items always brought a smile to my face.

There was always a little note from him inside. “Have a good day Kid!” “Give ‘em hell kid!” Something that let me know he was thinking of me and that he believed in me.

Then there was always the ‘diet coke’ money. I was big into diet coke back then. (To be clear I’ve been off the stuff for years and years now – having found it to be the source of my migraine headaches and countless other health challenges). Diet coke, at that time, was one of my ‘pleasures.’ He would always include a couple bucks, or a $5 bill and put a sticky note on it that said, “Have one on me Kid!” or something cute like that.

It didn’t take my dad long to do this, and yet it touched me deeply each and every time I received a letter with all those little goodies inside.

I still have a shoe box in my closet, with almost everything he ever sent me in those letters. Well, of course, everything but the money – which is in the coffers of the Coca Cola Company!

I treasure those memories of my dad… and I treasure the feelings I had when I received his little communiqués. It was a simple act, by a gentle man, that let me know he loved me, cared about me, believed in me and supported me in what I was doing. Priceless!

If you have kids… don’t ever underestimate the impact of little acts of caring. I’m a big believer in putting notes in your kid’s lunch bags, or tucking notes into their coat pockets, or leaving them on the bathroom mirror. It doesn’t need to take long or be elaborate to build a bond and a memory that will live in them forever.

I love this company, Compendium. It’s a local company here in my neck of the woods. They sell many inspirational products. One of my favorite items that they sell is sets of little pop open quote cards that contain inspirational quotes. They have a neat set for kids that are intended to be tucked into lunch boxes. If you need a little inspiration for this sort of endeavor, check it out:

Compendium Lunch Mail Cards

Otherwise, get out a pad of Post-it notes, or a simple piece of paper… and write your “Kid” a little note of praise, encouragement and love. No matter how they react (or don’t) in the moment… you are making a long lasting impact!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Women and Money

Time to put in a plug to all my women friends out there for something that will rock your world! I'm a big fan of Suze Orman - the current financial guru who is all over the TV universe.

She has a show on cable TV that is really interesting, but the product I want to plug for my women friends is her book, "Women and Money." I absolutely love this book, and think every woman, no matter how financially savvy she considers herself to be, should read and implement the plan presented there!

For some reason, many women struggle to find their footing when it comes to being competent and skilled when it comes to managing their money and planning for their own financial futures. I think we are still playing 'catch up' in this area. I know that although I've been studying money management and investing for a long time, I still doubt myself and my abilities in this area at times. It's actually maddening!

In this book, Suze Orman addresses a lot of the underlying reasons why women struggle in this area. Without applying any shame or guilt, she really busts open the myths around women and money and gives all the tools and information that every woman needs in order to take control of her financial destiny. It's powerful stuff.

She gives a 5 month plan to get you on your financial feet, and to get your life in order!

I must admit, I haven't implemented everything in the book yet, but I'm well on my way!

If you don't already have this book ladies - run... don't walk... to your nearest bookstore (or keyboard) and buy it. If you have it and have not yet read it - grab it today. If you have read it, but haven't started the plan - do it today!

Tomorrow will come, no matter what. Let's be ready, prepared and confident about our ability to meet the future!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Warning Stripes Before the Bump

I was recently in Palm Springs and noticed an interesting phenomenon on their streets.

Driving along, suddenly you would see a series of increasingly long lines painted horizontally across the pavement. As you approached it looked something like this:


As you drive along, you encounter the shortest line, then a slightly longer line, then an even longer line, etc. Finally, you encounter a GIANT SPEED BUMP!

The lines painted on the pavement warn you to slow down in preparation for the giant speed bump.

If you ignore the innocuous lines on the pavement, you'll get a good jarring jolt as you bounce across the bump.

It made me think about how often in life we are presented with increasingly noticeable warnings about something before we are finally smacked upside the head with the spiritual two-by-fours of life.

Often the warning messages about a situation, a relationship, a habit, a problem start very subtly and build in intensity as life tries to get our attention.

The lines on the pavement were really hard to miss, but the consequences of not slowing down for them really weren't, well, of consequence. Barreling over the speed bump, however, wouldn't feel good. It wouldn't be very 'healthy' for the car either!

I believe that life often tries to show us when we are heading for a major speed bump. Sometimes we see and heed the warning and slow down or change course. Other times we don't. Life would be a smoother ride if we became more observant of those warning signs and took action when we encountered them.

Got any lines across the pavement of your life? Are they getting longer... and louder? Do yourself a favor: Pause, take a good hard look, and slow down or change course. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Called to Silence

Do you ever find yourself being given the same message over and over again via different channels?

I believe that when we encounter something again and again, it is time to pay attention. An important message is trying to come in to our consciousness when that happens.

Recently, for me, I've been getting the message over and over again that I need to meditate! I need to get quiet, reflect and give my mind a rest. I need to cultivate the ability to be still and quiet - no matter what is happening around me.

I used to be a regular meditator. I sat for 20 minutes a day... every single day.

When my beloved kitty, McKenzie died, it was really painful for me to sit and meditate. McKenzie always sat on my lap when I meditated. She was with me for 17 years, and she was an integral part of the meditation process for me. Her absence was bitterly painful for me, for a long time after she died. Every time I sat down to meditate I would bust into tears. So, I stopped meditating.

I've dabbled with it since then, and it is no longer painful for me to sit and meditate. Once I get out of a habit, however, it is tough to get back into it!

Meditation has always been useful to me. During a meditation I feel a deep sense of peace and contentment. Beyond that immediate benefit, however, I find that my overall sense of well being increases and improves. I feel more calm as I move through my days. I am able to roll with the punches more, and allow life to just be, instead of trying to control everything all the time. Meditation has a cumulative, calming and strengthening affect on me. I feel more stable, in general, when I meditate regularly.

Dealing with many challenges recently, I shouldn't be surprised that something has been calling me to meditate! Whether it's my soul, God, the universe, my higher self, my intuition... I don't know. The messages have been coming from all directions - horoscopes, books I'm reading, magazine articles, friends, and even a psychic! Time to stop ignoring the "call to silence!" Something in me desperately needs this practice!

And so... I have recently returned to my meditation practice - and of course the results have been profound and immediate! I'm already feeling more solid, content and relaxed about things. I've let go of some things I was trying to force and control. I feel more at peace.

Is there something calling to you? Do you keep seeing, hearing or feeling the same message over and over again? Pay attention and do yourself a favor... listen!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Friendship Without Borders

My friend Deb Reich, a very special woman, was recently interviewed on "The Story" with Dick Gordon.

She, as an Israeli Jew, was interviewed with her friend Maha, a Palestinian from Gaza about their friendship. Check out the story and tune in to the interview at:

Here is a blurb from the website:

Tuesday, January 13
Friendship without Borders

Maha Mehanna

Deb Reich

Maha Mehanna lives in Gaza, and her friend Deb Reich lives in Israel. Despite the conflict, the two friends have managed to stay in touch, and even support one another.

Like most Gazans, Maha is staying inside with her family, huddling around candles while the bombardment continues. Maha yearns to get out of Gaza, but not just to escape the fighting. Her 14-year-old nephew Mohammed is ill and can only receive the medical treatments he needs across the border in Israel.

Deb and Maha talk with Dick Gordon about how they met, and how both women worry about the fate of Mohammed. Deb says she calls Maha nearly every day, as much as she can, to check in on the family and distract Maha from her fears.

**More photos, and a link to a powerful story by Deb Reich are included in the article at The Story. **

Terrorizing the Terrorist

A good friend of mine said something quite profound about what is going on in Gaza at the moment:

"terrorizing terrorists to teach that terror is wrong only traumatizes the traumatized, and trauma doesn't teach right."

How incredibly true. Even if only 'terrorists' were being hurt by what is going on in Gaza, it still would not solve the problem that it is intended to solve. Indeed... it only fans the flames and makes matters worse.

Of course, many innocent souls are being harmed as the assault on Gaza continues, which exponentially increases the chances for more violence in the future, as more people are wounded (physically and psychologically) and the quest for 'justice' and 'revenge' grows stronger.

If your child kicks another child on the playground, do you go and kick your child to teach them that kicking is wrong and innefective as a means of solving disputes? If your friend drives drunk and gets in an accident, do you drive drunk so you can show them how ignorant that is? If a friend gets involved with drugs and becomes irresponsible, do you do the same, to show them how upsetting it is to see someone go down that road?

Why is waging a violent and bloody assault on a group of people supposed to demonstrate that violence is futile? Seems like it demonstrates that the stronger and more violent you are, the more you can 'get your way' in this world. Is that really the world we want to live in?

War brings war. Violence brings violence. No matter who does it, or how 'right' they feel they are in doing it.

Let's stop being violent in our own hearts and minds, and lets stop supporting violence IN ANY FORM for any reason. Our world can do better than this.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Postponing Payment

A year ago, when I decided to make a large purchase with a 0% loan, I thought I was being so smart. I mean, why pay now, when I could have a 12 month, 0% interest loan? I actually thought, "How much worse could my financial situation be a year from now?" Famous last words.

It was one of those deals where as long as you paid off the purchase by the deadline, you would pay no interest. If, on the other hand, you couldn't pay it off, you paid some exorbitant amount of interest - like 20% or something.

Now, who could know that the US (and global economy) would collapse in the mean time? Free money seemed like a good idea. Keep my money invested for another year... pay for the purchase later. Sounded great.

So, when the 1/2/09 deadline came around, I was indeed able to pay off the purchase as planned. It was more painful that it would have been a year ago, however, and I learned a valuable lesson.

What is it in us that seeks to postpone paying the cost for our decisions? Why is credit so very appealing? What is it about getting something NOW without cost that beckons to us? Why is it that we assume it will be easier to deal with it later on?

In my line of work as a psychologist and spiritual seeker, I see people every day who will not face their problems or issues. I watch those issues grow, deepen their hold on the psyche and become increasingly difficult to handle. When we don't deal with things, they grow and fester. If we refuse to 'do the work' and 'pay the cost' now... the cost and pain to handle things increases exponentially with time.

Whether it is a big purchase (like my zero gravity recliners... I know you were dying to know what I bought!) or a tenacious addiction, bad habit or problematic thinking pattern, we are so much better off taking care of it IMMEDIATELY rather than postponing our encounter.

The longer we wait to pay for something, or to deal with a problem, the more energy, time, possibly money and sweat it is going to take!

Do it now... and save!

Friday, January 09, 2009

What Qualities Do You Need?

I watched Oprah Winfrey's show a couple nights ago, and Rev. Michael Beckwith was one of the guests. I have a lot of respect for the message that Rev. Beckwith delivers.

This instance was no exception. I was inspired by what he said.

He was giving spiritual advice to a woman who was facing the loss of her family business. She felt like her entire life was falling apart. She was depressed and defeated.

I think many people can identify with this woman at this moment in time.

Rev. Beckwith invited the woman to ask herself the following question (I'm paraphrasing):

"If this situation were to continue for an extended period of time, what 'qualities' would you need to birth inside yourself in order to have peace of mind?"

WOW! What a powerful concept!! What if that is the primary purpose of our hard times? What it it's God's way (or the universe's way) of 'growing' us and causing us to cultivate and birth inner strength and qualities that we need to have in order to live our lives to the fullest?

I know Rev. Beckwith's question hit me right where I live these days. With all kinds of challenges staring me down - I have been feeling a little sorry for myself. This question caused me to pause and reflect with a new perspective!

If it were true that my challenges were calling me to 'birth' new qualities in myself, what would that look like? What would it look like in your world?

I love the idea that we should seek peace of mind, no matter what is happening in our lives.

If the economy stays in its funk for several years, are we all willing to be bummed out for that entire time? We should really rethink that, if it is our position. What a waste of life!

I personally am going to take Rev. Beckwith's question to heart, and work on developing the qualities I need in order to have peace of mind WITHIN THE MIDST of my difficulties!

I hope you'll join me! :)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

It Can Make You or Break You

I had a very interesting conversation recently about the process of breaking up from relationship. The person I was speaking to had obviously been through some really difficult and horrible breakups. In fact, she had been through 3 relationships that fell apart.

Her comment was, "In each breakup, I lost a part of myself. You are NEVER the same. Every breakup takes something from you that can never be restored."

She was obviously bitter and resentful about all she'd been through.

I realized that, although sincere, this woman had created a self fulfilling prophecy for herself. She believed that each ending needed to destroy part of her. She didn't feel she had a choice.

I looked at her and felt sad. I have a really different perspective! What if every breakup, or ending, created an opportunity to discover a part of ourselves that we didn't know before? What if each ending allowed us to expand rather than contract? What if each such ending allowed us to move into more of who we really are?

Although every ending is a type of death, I do not believe it has to be a negative experience. Every ending can be a transition and mark a new beginning. Even in the ending, there can be a powerful experience of discovery and expansion.

We can all learn to embrace life's transitions with a sense of wonder and excitement. Even the pain can be purifying. There are gifts to be gained from each difficult experience as it unfolds, and as it ends.

Embrace the endings. They can be one of our most powerful life experiences!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Gaza Suffers

My heart is breaking for the horrors being visited on the people in Gaza. Sometimes I get so frustrated at what most people understand about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There is so much more to the story than what we see in our media.

One small example, is that foreign journalists are prevented from being in Gaza (by the Israeli government) at present. Why do you suppose that might be? Doesn't it bother anyone when only one side controls the information feed from a conflict? If it doesn't bother us, it should. It should at least cause us to question the information we are receiving.

Until today, Israel denied any humanitarian crisis in Gaza. People there are starving. People there are dying. People there can't get the medical help they need. The "borders" are sealed. People cannot get out. They are surrounded by barbed wire and the sea. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. THESE ARE PEOPLE!

I'm sickened by what is happening there. The state of Israel is perpetrating horrible crimes. If your kid threw a rock at another kid, would his parents have the right to machine gun your child to death? The level of force being used by Israel to shut down Hamas... is out of proportion beyond all belief.

What Israel is doing, in my opinion, is terror at its worst. What Hamas was/is doing shooting rockets into Israel is wrong. The blockade of Gaza (by Israel, supported by the US) that is causing economic collapse, extreme hardship, starvation and inhumane treatment of an entire population is reprehensible (and led to the rocket attacks). No one seems to want to trace the origins of conflict back to the original causation. When you abuse and hurt people (under military occupation and attempts to appropriate their land), they will fight back. Unfortunately this can be violent (which I DO NOT CONDONE).

If we never work on looking at the underlying causes of 'terrorism' we are doomed to the kind of carnage and horror we are seeing in Gaza.

We need to look deeper. The stronger/more powerful force has the larger responsibility to examine its roll. It's really so simple. It makes me incredibly sad that we can't seem to figure this out.

Imagine if you were trapped in a barbed wire lined prison and were attacked by one of the most powerful militaries on earth. How would you feel. What if your child's school was hit by a missile? What if you couldn't get your mother to the doctor as she was having a heart attack? What if you couldn't feed your children? What if your electricity was turned off? What if you had no gasoline for your car? That's what life in Gaza has been like for a long, long time. Those people are simply trying to exist and feed their families. They don't deserve what is happening to them.

Pray for peace, and speak out about injustice. It's the only hope we have for peace.

I apologize for the the photos below. I know they are not my norm. As someone with many Palestinian friends, however, I feel a moral obligation to help expose the reality of what is happening in Gaza. This is not a 'war' between two armies.


This is not what the human race should be about!

Why is this necessary?

Or this?

I have friends who have been taken from their homes and put in
this same situation. For no other reason than they are Palestinian.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Creeping Discrimination

I'm usually not a fan of lawsuits, but I was delighted to read this article and see that this man was awarded a big sum of money for being forced to cover his T-shirt before getting on an airplane. The T-shirt had Arabic script on it, and other passengers 'felt uncomfortable.' The man was forced to cover his T-shirt and he was moved from his assigned seat to the back of the plane.

This could easily happen to me sometime. I often have traveled with books and materials that have Arabic script on them.

He was told other passengers felt uncomfortable because an Arabic-inscribed T-shirt in an airport was like "wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, I am a robber."

This is ignorance at it's best.

There is nothing wrong with being an Arab. There is nothing wrong with being a Muslim. Being Arab or Muslim does not make one a terrorist, anymore than being a Christian does (remember Timothy McVeigh?).

I'm reminded of a Walton's episode where some of the townies decide to burn 'bad' books in the town square. John Boy Walton comes upon the scene and is outraged. He realizes that someone in the God fearing Christian community has thrown a Holy Bible into the fire, because it was printed in German. (Of course this was at the beginning of world war two). Everyone is horrified when they realize that they didn't know what they were burning, because it was in a 'foreign' language, and they had allowed their fear, stereotyping and ignorance direct their actions.

When you don't understand something, it is unfortunately natural to have some fear about it. The worst part of human nature turns that fear into hysteria and commits all sorts of horrible acts to try to 'eliminate' the thing which is feared.

I hope that all the people involved in this little T-shirt incident have learned something. I hope that we all wake up to the way in which our ignorance and fear can hurt others... and the world as a whole. Inshallah. (Arabic for God Willing).

240,000 dollars awarded to man forced to cover Arab T-shirt

An airline passenger forced to cover his T-shirt because it displayed Arabic script has been awarded 240,000 dollars in compensation, campaigners said Monday.

Raed Jarrar received the pay out on Friday from two US Transportation Security Authority officials and from JetBlue Airways following the August 2006 incident at New York's JFK Airport, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced.

"The outcome of this case is a victory for free speech and a blow to the discriminatory practice of racial profiling," said Aden Fine, a lawyer with ACLU.

Jarrar, a US resident, was apprehended as he waited to board a JetBlue flight from New York to Oakland, California, and told to remove his shirt, which had written on it in Arabic: "We will not be silent."

He was told other passengers felt uncomfortable because an Arabic-inscribed T-shirt in an airport was like "wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, I am a robber,'" the ACLU said.

Jarrar eventually agreed to cover his shirt with another provided by JetBlue. He was allowed aboard but his seat was changed from the front to the back of the aircraft.

Last week, nine Muslims, including three children, were ordered off a domestic US flight after passengers heard what they believed were suspicious remarks about security.

Although the passengers, eight of them US citizens, were cleared by the FBI, they were reportedly still barred from the AirTran flight.

Security has been at a high level in US airports since the September 11, 2001 hijacked airliner attacks against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

However, rights groups and representatives of the Muslim community say the security measures have led to frequent discrimination and harassment.

240,000 dollars awarded to man forced to cover Arab T-shirt - article

Monday, January 05, 2009

Packing What You Need

I spent New Year's week visiting a good friend in Palm Springs California. After the harsh Christmas storms that we had in the Seattle area, I am reveling in the warmth of the glorious sunshine!

We hiked or walked each day that I was there. It felt amazing to experience the blue skies and sunshine while soaking in the beauty of the surrounding snow frosted mountains.

We departed for our longest hike onto a desert mountain trail in sleeveless shirts and lightweight exercise pants. I personally was quite comfortable, even a little on the warm side when we set out. As we climbed in altitude, the air temperature dropped. I got chilly and put on my long sleeved jacket. I was comfortable again. I had anticipated the temperature drop and brought the right piece of clothing to deal with it.

As we climbed higher and higher, however, the wind began to kick up. It got stronger and stronger until we were quite uncomfortable. My ears were freezing! I didn't have a hat, or a headband, or my favorite hiking accessory, ear bags that slip over your ears and keep them toasty warm in frigid temperatures! (I included a link above for the official ear bags website, but you can also find them at

When I had contemplated that hike, I knew that it would be cooler the higher we hiked, but I hadn't thought about the fact that there could also be wind up there! It was perfectly calm where we started. Looking up into the mountains, I couldn't see the wind. Yet... it was there, all the while, blowing quite vigorously.

It reminded me that we can't always see the obstacles or challenges that we will encounter along our path. The best we can do is try to anticipate what we might need, and pack it along with us on our journey. Sometimes we will have what we need, and other times we won't. Sometimes we can pick up the needed items along the way and other times we can't.

In this case, the cold wind turned us around and we didn't do the full distance we intended to hike. It reminded me, once again, that sometimes we don't reach our destination on our first attempt. Sometimes we need to backtrack, regroup, gather more resources and try again.

The important part is the process and what we learn along the way, not the end result.

Happy Hiking

Friday, January 02, 2009

Two Views from the Bridge

Where I live we have two 'floating bridges' that go across a large body of water. The bridges literally sit right on top of the water. It's an interesting sensation to drive across these bridges and be so close to water level.

Sometimes when I drive across these bridges a strange phenomenon occurs. This happened to me the other day.

As I was driving across the lake, the water to the left of me was extremely choppy. In fact there were fairly large waves with white caps. At times water was splashing onto the bridge deck. The water looked stormy and scary.

To the right of the bridge the water was calm and glass like. No disturbances on the water's surface in any way. It looked like a completely different lake.

The water was the same. In fact the water was mingling below me as I drove across the bridge.

To look one way the water looked dangerous and frightening. It was disturbed and unpredictable.

When looking the other way everything looked serene and quiet. The water was comforting and beautiful.

Same lake. Same water. Different view.

It got me to thinking about how our vantage point and perspective make such a difference in the world we not only see, but encounter.

If I was in a boat on the stormy side of the bridge, it would be easy to believe that that is all that existed at that moment. Who would dream that 20 feet away the water was calm and inviting?

When we are tempted to believe we KNOW the truth of a situation, or that the scenario in front of us is 'all that is' it would do us well to remember this encounter on the bridge.

Conditions can be radically different in we but shift our perspective or our vantage point. Sometimes our own lens of perception becomes clouded and we no longer can see clearly or accurately. Cleaning the lens through which we view the world is often the change that is needed most!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Happy New Year! Here we are at the dawning of another brand, spanking new year!

The new year offers us a fantastic opportunity to rekindle our hope and enthusiasm for our lives. It is a new beginning. The turning of the calendar offers us a chance to start again and reach for our dreams... one more time.

Something about a fresh start gives us renewed energy and enthusiasm. The blank slate of a new year is a perfect opportunity to toss out our past mistakes and mis-steps and start again.

One of the best ways to launch a new year is to set some goals for your life. I am a firm believer in the process of setting one's goals on paper. I do a fairly elaborate goal setting process each and every New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

I set goals by category. I use Jack Boland's Master Mind Goal Achiever's Journal for my goal setting process. Although Jack Boland made his transition in 1992, you can still get the journal each year through the church he founded - The Church of Today (now Renaissance Unity) in Warren Michigan: The Store @ Renaissance Unity.

Here are the categories that Jack encourages us to use for goal setting:

Personal Relationships
Things you want to do
Things you want to have
Things you want to be

I have seen miracles happen when people write their goals down on paper. Sometimes things are written and the person has absolutely NO idea how that could ever possibly come to pass. I have had so many people call to tell me how excited they are when something on their goal list has come to pass when they really couldn't believe it was possible when they wrote it down!

I once heard Jack Boland say that if you aren't at least a little embarrassed by your goals that you just weren't thinking big enough!

Start 2009 by mapping out a list of goals for your year. Just set aside an hour or two for this process, write down those goals, and see what happens to you! It will change your life!

Happy New Year!!