Friday, February 27, 2009

Scary Storms can Come Suddenly

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day in Jerusalem. Although a little on the chilly side, being outside was pure pleasure. The air was crisp and fresh, the sky was bright and blue. It was inspiring.

What a difference a day makes.

This morning I awakened to a dark and foreboding sky. Moments ago the thunder and lightening started. The rain is coming down fast and furious. The wind is blowing. It is an all out storm. It seems not only unfriendly outside, it feels down right scary.

It reminds me how fast the tides of change can come in any life. Things can seem fine one day and suddenly catastrophe strikes. Life can be cruising along normally and an unexpected crisis appears. The welcoming beautiful environment can become hostile without warning.

A relationship can end against our will. We can be fired or laid off, losing our livelihood. We can lose someone close to us to death or disease. Our children can experience difficulties that cause us worry and anguish. Storms can and do blow into our lives - we don't have any control over that. Storms will come.

Our only choice is how we deal with the storms that we encounter. We can rage against the storm, resent and hate the storm, and pout about the unfairness of the disappearance of the friendly sky. Or... we can take a deep breath, say, "OK" and surrender to the fact that the storm is here, must be endured, and will eventually pass.

Today, I'm staying inside, where it's warm and safe. I'm going to do some writing and make some phone calls. I'm forgoing the outing I had planned. I'll wait for a clearer day - if possible, before I undertake my outdoor activities. I'm going to make a big pot of spaghetti sauce to have for dinner. Something warm and soothing is delightful on a dark, stormy day. I'm pulling inward a bit - to marshal my strength, focus my energies on what can be done - even with the storm happening - and make the most of the situation.

That's all we can ever do in a stormy life situation. We have to do what needs to be done, while adjusting to the reality of the situation. Pretending their isn't a storm will not help us. Working with, through and/or around the storm is our only option. Well, at least it's the only option if we want to keep progressing in life. We can certainly choose to stay stuck and buried in the events that storm into our lives.

There is nothing wrong with taking shelter from a storm. It is important to nurture and protect ourselves during challenging life events. in fact, it is really important to do so. It is not a cop-out to stay inside during a storm. eventually we will have to venture out, and sometimes we do have to go out into the thunder, lightening and rain. We don't however, have to expect ourselves to run head long into the storm without thought and preparation. We can take the time to evaluate the situation, make a plan and move forward with it.

Do you have a storm raging in your life? Are there dark clouds looming on your horizon? Lay in some supplies, make a plan to weather the storm and surrender to the process. This too... shall pass.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Drinking Tea on a Path to Change

It's amazing what can be accomplished over a cup of tea. We, in the west, could learn a lot from the art of sitting and talking about things over a cup of tea.

I think many people are obsessed with 'fast solutions' in our day and age. We want things to be fixed... fast. There is an impatience about things that I don't think has always existed. When did we lose that ability to wait and work for things and allow them to happen, rather than forcing an instant result.

Whenever I'm here in the Middle East, I'm reminded that there are other ways of doing things besides the ones I've always known. Things move slower here. People have an unbelievable capacity to wait. There is a willingness to just 'allow' things that is rather foreign to those of a western orientation of thinking.

I have been party to many 'meetings' over tea. Sometimes the discussions are serious and focused, but often it seems that nothing is really happening. The talk might be trivial, not seemingly related to the expected reason for meeting at all. Yet, if you are around this sort of activity long enough, you see that very important subtexts are occurring. Relationships are being forged. Trust is being established. Rapport is being built. It is all going on below the surface, in a way that might appear trivial to the casual observer, but the significance is apparent to those familiar with this process.

Conversation and sitting together are a prelude to any sort of resolution of conflict here. The same is true for making business deals or handling issues within a friendship. There is a sort of unspoken protocol about being willing to sit with someone, drink tea and create the 'base' for doing what needs to be done.

It's really an interesting concept. It cannot be rushed. it takes a lot longer than many of us 'efficiency nuts' might be comfortable with. The results, however, are deeply satisfying. There is a by-product to all these encounters, which is a weaving together of people into a community. The relationships that develop are just as important as whatever issue is being addressed.

I remember, prior to my first trip to Bali, I was being instructed on important cultural practices that I would encounter. The person described the 'bartering system' that we would encounter in the markets. We were told that the important thing to understand is that you must ALWAYS negotiate. Always. It isn't optional. The Balinese people would think us very strange if we did not barter. The bartering in Bali is not meant to be adversarial, nor is it really about getting the 'best' deal. It's about creating a relationship. That is one of the ways that people in that culture create and cultivate relationships. The Balinese people enjoyed the back and forth interactions of reaching a price that is 'good for you/good for me!'

We can learn a lot about human relationships from these cultures where more importance is placed on creating and maintaining connections. It is harder to mistreat people that you have a connection with.

Now... if people from 'different groups' could just sit down together over tea... and allow that process to work it's magic. What a different world it could be.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Day in Jerusalem - The Gift of Exploration

Greetings from Jerusalem,

I'm very happy to be here, once again, in my second home! I've been intrigued by and drawn to this area for the past 11 years now. The energy and spirit of this place is simply captivating to me!

I arrived less than 24 hours ago, and am settling in to my home base for the next 3 weeks.

One of the things I'm most pleased about, in my life, is that I seem to be able to 'make myself at home' wherever I am. I'm comfortable in a wide variety of settings and cultures. I love to experience new and different things!

In the diversity of all the places and peoples that I visit, I learn new things and expand my horizons continuously. I find that very exciting! At the same time, however, it all seems somehow familiar to me. The human family, however diverse on the surface, is deeply connected by the common elements that make us all the same. The deepest desires of the heart are the same... no matter who we are or from what tribe or group we hail from. That 'sameness' is comforting to me, and enables me to connect to anyone, regardless of how different we may appear on the surface.

Traveling for me, has been a great teacher. Learning about the diversity and the common threads simultaneously is a fascinating and enriching endeavor.

As I journey here with my Jewish and Arab (Muslim and Christian) friends... and meet up with other peoples who are here in the holy land for various reasons... I feed some of the deepest parts of my soul.

Reaching out to learn about 'other' people is always something that will broaden and enrich our life experiences. It is fairly easy to do, no matter where you live. Trying new types of food, attending cultural shows, visiting other places of worship (different from our own), reading books, watching documentaries... all of these endeavors can widen our perspectives, increase our wisdom and heal our world.

I'll be sharing some of my experiences as I journey here... and hope that you will embrace the spirit of exploration... where ever you currently find yourself!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Place In Between

I'm sitting on a plane, flying from Seattle to Newark as I write this. I love flying. For me, my time in the sky is ‘my time.’ I’m not where I was. I’m not yet where I’m going. I simply ‘am.’ I try to not work too much when I fly. I reserve the time for relaxation, reflection and pleasurable pursuits. No one can reach me. In flight I’m free in a way that I simply don’t experience at any other time.

It has something to do with being ‘in between’ places. I’m changing locations. I’m changing environments, surroundings and often my focus. It’s a transition process.

All transitions involve this place ‘in between.’ When a ship sails across the ocean, it leaves one shore and it is quite some time before land is within view once again. When we leave a relationship, it may be that we experience a time of being alone before we enter into a new relationship. The same is true for leaving jobs, or making any other major life transition.

Sometimes that place ‘in between’ can be uncomfortable. The ‘not knowing’ what is coming next, or IF something is coming can be stressful. The time in between is a valuable and worthwhile part of the process. It requires courage and patience. It requires faith and a willingness to ‘not know.’

One thing that makes my airplane trips so enjoyable is that I give myself the space to just ‘be’ there. I don’t allow myself to worry about (or miss) what I’m leaving behind. Nor do I allow myself to get too focused on where I’m heading. I just hang out in the transition. It’s like being in limbo or suspended animation. Time is passing, but I’m not in my normal ‘mode of operation.’ It’s like taking a break from the old routine and preparing for something new.

I think this is great way to approach transitions of any sort. During the ‘in between’ phase, we need to be patient and compassionate with ourselves. It is important to give ourselves the time and space we need to let go of what was… and make space for what is yet to be. Sometimes we can rest in this space. Other times it requires a lot from us to simply be there.

Learning to embrace the ‘no man’s land’ of transition is one of life’s greatest challenges… and greatest opportunities. It is a time of great possibility and power – if we can greet it with consciousness and acceptance.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Preparing for the Journey

As you read this, I'm winging my way towards the Middle East. I'm off for almost 3 weeks to Israel and Palestine to visit friends.

The act of preparing for a journey is an interesting one. To determine what you need to take with you is an important aspect of the preparation. Planning for all the various experiences you may have can be a challenging task. Then... there is preparing the people and place you are leaving behind for your absence. Sometimes that is the greater task!

Tying up loose ends and feeling free to leave something behind is important to the process of moving forward. If we have unfinished business behind us, it is difficult to give ourselves over completely to the future as it unfolds.

I've been busy for the past few days, tying up loose ends and preparing for my departure. I'm leaving my home and family in good shape. I'm taking with me only what I must. My commitment is to be fully present with my friends in the holy land.

It is well worth considering as we move into new experiences, or into any new sort of endeavor or journey, how to best take care of what we are saying goodbye to.

The better we can finish things up, the easier it is to embrace what's coming next!

I'll be in touch as I take my journey the next 3 weeks...


Friday, February 20, 2009

An Easy Fix

Have you ever found yourself procrastinating and avoiding something in your life that you thought was going to be a really big problem to address? Or, maybe it didn't even seem like a big problem, but rather just an issue you didn't know how to resolve? It could even be something you knew you couldn't handle yourself, but weren't even sure who to call to help you. I'm sure we've all been there.

I had a broken toilet seat in my house for over two years. It was one of those situations where it moved when you sat on it. Well, truth be told, it sort of shifted back and forth. It was very unsettling to sit down and slide to one side and then the other! Not exactly what you would expect when sitting down on the toilet!

I was sure the seat was broken and needed to be replaced. It is important to understand that I am the least 'handy' person on the planet. I'm completely incompetent when it comes to things of a mechanical nature. I just don't have any skill or ability in that area what-so-ever.

My plan was to purchase a new toilet seat and have it available for a handy man that I was hiring to do a bunch of little things around my house. I looked at the seat one day, to try to determine what I needed to buy. I wasn't sure how many types/styles of toilet seats were avail ale and wanted to make sure I purchased the right thing.

As I looked at the toilet seat, I wondered how it was attached to the toilet. Honestly, I had no idea before this moment. I determined that there were little covers over the two points where the seat seemed to attach to the porcelain. I figured out how to open the caps, and saw that there were large plastic screws under those caps. "Hmmmmm," I wondered, "Maybe I should get a screw driver and see if I can tighten these up?"

I'm sure you can guess what happened next. I got a screw driver and went back to the toilet. I tightened the screws and suddenly, my 2 year long sliding toilet seat problem was FIXED! It was that simple! I suffered with that dratted, annoying toilet seat for over 2 years, and all that it needed was a screw driver and a 5 second long adjustment to the screws!

I feel silly telling you this story. However, it illustrates a point that many of us can benefit from. Sometimes the answer is really easy. We don't see it, because we BELIEVE the answer must be difficult and elusive. I've convinced myself that I'm incapable of fixing things around my house. To me, all such problems seem way beyond my comprehension! Now, while it's true that I am not particularly skilled in this area, I have more capability than I give myself credit for. My blanket statements of incompetence, keep me from being open minded about easy solutions!

I'm working on changing that attitude! I want to be open to the idea that I can actually solve more of my problems than I believe I can! This way, I can avoid situations like suffering for more than 2 years with a slippery, sliding toilet seat! wouldn't that be nice!

It pays to take a look at our beliefs about ourselves. Sometimes we are creating our problems, or turning molehills into mountains, simply with our thinking. Changing that... is a simple fix, but maybe not as easy as tightening a toilet screw! Still, it's well worth the effort!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Letting it be Easy

I believe in the power of writing down your goals. I've been setting goals on paper for over 20 years now. I do it at the beginning of every year. My goal setting system is pretty comprehensive. I have life goals, yearly goals, monthly goals and even weekly/daily goals. I take this business seriously!

When you write something on paper, I believe you are committing to it in a deeper way than merely saying it out loud (or in your head). I believe that the universe goes into action in a more powerful way when you commit your goals to paper.

Many times in my life, I've written a goal and actually forgotten that I wrote it down... until it came to pass! It's amazing (and fun) when that happens.

I've had a goal for a couple years now to create a wardrobe of appropriate clothing for platform speaking. I've done a bit of speaking, really enjoy it, and hope to do more. My life and work allow me to dress pretty casually for the most part, so my wardrobe isn't exactly created for this eventuality. I have a couple of outfits that are appropriate for the platforms I seek to speak on, but that's it. I'm not a corporate speaker, so i don't really want to wear business suits. I do have a couple and they are very nice, but they don't really express my authentic self to the world! I prefer something a bit more exotic, but classy and stylish at the same time.

Up until recently, I haven't found items for speaking that really worked for me. There was always something that just wasn't quite right.

My brother gave me a gift card to "Chicos" this Christmas. I used to shop there years ago, but haven't stepped foot in a store for many years. The gift card lured me in, and I stepped in to a world I could not have imagined.

There are so many things in that store that fit my personality and my evolving sense of style. I found oodles of loose, flowy jackets that go over comfortable pants and tops. I was embraced by colors that work well my complexion, hair and eye color. They have jewelry that I love and that complements their outfits perfectly, of course. I spend several hours trying things on, and ended up with several outfits, complete with accessories that will be PERFECT for speaking. It was easy, effortless and fun! Many of the items were also on an incredible sale! How much better can it get?

I had already started stressing about the next time I was asked to speak at a particular church where I've been a couple times before. I was 'out of options' for what to wear! Now, I'll have trouble deciding what to wear because I have so many options! What a difference!

I believe that writing that goal paved the way for me to have this experience. It wasn't a struggle. It wasn't time pressured (to prepare for a speaking engagement). I didn't even go looking for it, consciously anyway! My brother gave me the card... how did he know? I have never mentioned that store to him before and like I said, I hadn't been in there in years! Yet, his gift card led me to the exact place I needed to be in order to fulfil my long held goal. Universal wisdom and divine destiny at work!

Stepping in to this flow of life is as easy as believing it's possible and writing down your goals, dreams and aspirations! Give it a try and prepare to be amazed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Custom Fitted Life

I had a thrill this past week! I recently cleaned out my closet and released a huge amount of clothing that no longer fit me - literally and figuratively. It was a powerful process of letting go of the old and embracing the present and the new me that continues to emerge every day that I live!

I had 8 items in my closet that I dearly love, didn't want to part with, but that were all a little too large for me. Most of them were items that I purchased on my travels to the middle east. Not only are they unique and beautiful, but they hold sentimental value for me. Each of them was just a little baggy and sloppy looking. I've been trying to move away from wearing over sized clothing. Wearing baggy clothing is a hold over from my past. I struggled with body image issues and an eating disorder in my teens and twenties and continue to heal and improve in this area. Wearing more fitted clothing is something I've been working on for many years.

These 8 items were a true test for me. I love these items, but they are now outside the realm of what I like to wear on my body. I decided to try and find someone to make alterations to them. I realized that because they were ornately embroidered and made of special fabrics (like velvet), they might be ruined in the process. That was a big risk for me. I didn't want to lose these items, yet I knew I should stop wearing them as they were.

I took the risk.

I went in to a local tailor shop, selected from the online yellow pages, with all my my treasures. I nervously tried each item on and allowed the seamstress to put pins into the garments to show me the changes she would make to fit the garments to my body. It was tough to tell how this was all going to turn out, but I took the leap of faith.

I waited anxiously for the week to pass and then the day came for me to pick up my items. I picked up all my garments, took them home and went to try them on before my full length mirror.

I actually got teary as I tried on one top after another and found them to be PERFECT for my body! The sloppiness was gone. Each item fit me as it should, accentuated the positive about my figure and showed off the beauty of each piece, in a way that was never possible when they were too large! It was such a revelation!

It's true, I could have ended up with a mess. The garments could have been destroyed in the process of trying to make them truly my own. Instead, I was rewarded for the chance I took, with 8 items that now are truly mine and reflect a more accurate picture of who I am, and who I am becoming!

What a metaphor! We can 'make due' with things that don't fit us in our lives. We can stay rooted in the past and refuse to progress and move forward. We can also keep things that really don't serve us, because we are afraid to allow them to change... or in some cases to let them go! OR.... we can declare that we want things in our life that fit us, reflect our best essence and serve us in being the best we can possibly be! I vote for that approach to life.

The things, people, relationships and situations in our lives should fit us well and bring out the best in us. We shouldn't settle for less than our potential. We deserve more than that!

In the end, my choice was to limp along with clothes that didn't fit me, give them away, or allow them to be tailored to suit me. We all have that choice with many aspects of our life experience. We are best served when we either release or alter those things in our life that hold us back, or don't bring out our best selves. Limping along is no way to live!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Where's the Key?

A friend of mine recently told me a funny story that, of course, contained a profound message about life!

She had gone out to dinner with some friends and was returning to her house. She opened her purse to take out her keys and couldn't find them. She looked and looked, but the keys were nowhere to be found.

She thought about the key she had hidden outside her house, but realized she had moved it when she had some people doing some work for her. She didn't want them to stumble upon the key and know where she kept her spare, emergency key. That key was not an option.

She went to her neighbor's to get an extra key that she keeps there, also... for emergencies. Her neighbor gave her a key, but it didn't work in either of her locks! It was the wrong key!

My friend was getting very frustrated, and she and her companions were starting to think about the easiest and least destructive way to break in to her own home. She was starting to feel frustrated and upset, when she reached into her coat pocket and guess what she found there? Her keys!

All that time and anguish... and the key was in her pocket the entire time! It really couldn't have been any closer! Yet to her, because it wasn't in 'the usual place' it didn't exist. She was about to break a window to gain access to something that she had the key for!

How often to we do destructive, expensive or unnecessary things to try and gain something we already have... or have access to? We are strange creatures. We often don't know what we have. We are either blinded to it, or we think we need some other form of it, in order to be happy. Often, what we need and want is right in front of us.

Next time you are looking for the key to unlock your happiness, satisfaction, or your front door... don't forget to check your own coat pockets! The answer could be closer than you think!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Turning the Tables

As someone who recently experienced a burglary in my home, I found this story somehow satisfying and amusing all at the same time. This article, Bellevue Burglary Victim Outwits Thieves published on King 5's website, tells the story of a man who 'turned the table' on the burglars who attempted to rob him. (Full text is also below).

As he heard the burglars in his home starting to make off with his possessions, he called 9-1-1 and then went outside, got into the thieves' van and drove it to a friend's house! He stole the burglar's van!! As a result, when they came out and saw that they didn't have a get-a-way car, they abandoned their stolen loot and fled the site on foot. Isn't that great?

What I think is best about this story, is that it illustrates a principle of the universe. What goes around... comes around, is one way to say it. What you sow, so shall you reap, is another. Bottom line, we will generally be treated the way we treat other people. We will always experience the consequences of our actions... some time, some way. There is no escaping this law of the universe.

Now, stealing from others is an extreme behavior. Most of us don't do that! We do, however, sometimes not treat people as we would want to be treated. We might lose our tempers too easily, or not tell the complete truth. We might be a little selfish or self absorbed at times and not pay attention to the needs and feelings of others around us as much as we should. Or, we might simply not be conscious of how what we are doing affects other people.

Life has a way of showing us things about ourselves so that we can learn and grow. We can find these messages all around us. It's up to us to look for them, and make use of them when they appear.

In some cases, like the burglars who got burglarized, it gives us a little satisfaction when people 'get what's coming to them.' The greater lesson, however, is that we can all learn from the feedback we get from life. It's part of the reason (well, I think it's the MAIN reason) we are here!

Bellevue burglary victim outwits thieves
February 14, 2009
By Associated Press

BELLEVUE, Wash. - Patrick Rosario had a clever way of making sure a pair of burglars didn't get away with his three flat-screen TVs: He stole their van.

The 32-year-old, laid-off Washington Mutual manager was in the basement of his Bellevue home Tuesday afternoon when he heard the thieves upstairs. He called 911 as he snuck out of the house and, against the advice of the operator, hopped into the getaway car -- a white Ford van that was running with the keys in the ignition -- and drove to a friend's house.

The burglars took off on foot, leaving a pile of televisions, a laptop and a jewelry box by the door. Rosario told The Seattle Times he only wishes he could have seen the look on their faces when they realized their van was gone.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love is in the Air

Here we are at another Valentine's Day. The day to celebrate love in all it's various forms. Most people think of it as a day for lovers and romantic love. That is true. For those who find themselves in love relationships with someone special, it is a marvelous opportunity to profess and demonstrate that love.

It is also a time to celebrate love in the purest of forms. The love that we feel for our parents, kids, siblings, relatives and friends is just as beautiful as romantic love, maybe more beautiful. The love we feel for humanity is also a gift that we share with those around us.

To me, Valentine's Day is a marvelous opportunity to reflect on how we put our personal version of 'love' out there for all the people in our lives and those that cross our paths.

Taking time to do something sweet and special for those we care about, is a great way to spend Valentine's Day. It would also be a lovely endeavor to do a few random acts of kindness for total strangers on this day. I received a number of small boxes of chocolates for Christmas this year. I've enjoyed some of them myself, but plan to give out a couple to complete strangers on Valentine's Day. Why not? Life is about giving and sharing what we have. On this particular day, I'll share some really good chocolate with some total strangers.. in the name of... LOVE.

Show your love to those you care about intimately in your life, and to those who happen across your path on this particular holiday!

Spread the love that is uniquely yours to give!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who Said Life Would Be Easy?

Sometimes, when I'm feeling sorry for myself, I ask myself the question, "Who said life would be easy?"

There seems to be a common belief that things should be easy or smooth if life is going as it should. It just seems to make sense.

Life, however, is a complicated endeavor. We don't necessarily know or understand all that comes our way. If our life experiences are meant for our learning, as I believe they are, then smooth sailing would not necessarily be a given!

Life is filled with all sorts of ups and downs. Life throws us curves we could have never expected. I think THAT is what life is about.

It isn't meant to be smooth sailing and easy. It's meant to be a series of adventures and challenges. Some are pleasant, and some are really difficult. It's all part of our life journey.

Maybe when we stop expecting everything to be smooth and easy... we can get to the business of living life to it's fullest.

Life is... what it is! Embrace the journey. All of it! When we surrender the belief that something is wrong when it's hard - it will all make more sense!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Simple Act of Breathing

It's really very simple. In any stressful or difficult situation, you always have available to you a easy and effective tool to move you through the experience.

All you need to do is take a long, slow, deep breath. It is an amazing technique for releasing tension, stress and emotion.

I am constantly amazed at how simple this is, and yet, how well it works to shift any experience into a more peaceful one.

Taking a deep breath is easy to do, and yet we often forget to do it. When we experience stress or tension, our breathing gets shallow. Consciously choosing to breathe deeply reverses our course. We can release all that needs to be released, and free ourselves from tense and pressured states of being.

Becoming more aware of your breath is a great way to start utilizing it as a tool to emotional and physical release and freedom. Try this experiment: pick something that routinely occurs in your life to serve as a cue. It might be a phone ringing, or stopping at a red light. Select something that happens regularly during the course of your day. Every time it happens, take a slow, long, deep breath. Take it in slowly and let it out slowly. Give this a try! You will be amazed at the impact it has on your sense of well being.

Soon, you will realize the power of taking a deep breath, and you'll be able to do so in difficult and challenging moments in your life.

See what happens when you bring breathing front and center in your daily life! It is simple... yet profound!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Purse Full of Intuition

I have another intuition story to share. Yesterday, I was driving home from a weekend visit to my mother's house. The drive is about 4 hours total. I needed to get gas along the way and I also wanted to get some lunch. I decided to stop at a fast food place I like and grab a turkey burger and some iced tea.

It's important to understand, that I am a creature of habit. I like routine. I've done this particular drive a thousand times. I have regular stops for gas and food along the way. Rarely do I deviate from my normal stops.

As I approached the restaurant, I noticed a gas station right next door. It's not one of 'my' stations, but I had the conscious thought, "I should go there for gas after I get my lunch."

I went in to the restaurant and ordered a turkey burger and iced tea. I sat down in a chair next to a table to wait for my order. I had my purse in my lap and started to set it on the table, which would be a normal thing for me to do. I rarely put my purse on the floor. But, for some reason, I stopped myself from putting it on the table, and I put it on the floor. NOT normal. When my burger arrived, I stood up to put ketchup on it, packed it back up and headed to my car. I was planning on eating as I drove.

As I drove out of the parking lot, I thought about the gas station next door and I procrastinated. I figured I would just get gas later on. I still had half a tank, and several hours left to drive.

About 40 minutes later, I reached over the passenger seat of my car to get my lip balm out of my purse. My purse wasn't there! I panicked a little and looked around the car. When I didn't find it I took the next exit and pulled over. I looked in the back seat and when it wasn't there, I realized I had left it on the floor in the fast food restaurant.

I was immediately worried! I called a friend to get the phone number for that restaurant and placed a hasty call to ask if my purse was there. They did, in fact, have the purse and were 'fairly sure' that everything was still inside.

I back tracked to the restaurant and claimed my purse, sighing a deep sigh of relief!

It was so interesting, however, that I had such a conscious interaction with placing my purse on the floor. There was some sort of hesitation, but I did it anyway. I had thought a couple times about going to that gas station next door. If I had, in fact, gone to the gas station next door, I would have realized that my purse was gone 3 minutes after leaving it, instead of 40 minutes later!

I thought this was very interesting. It was almost like I was being guided to get gas at this 'abnormal' station for me, so that I would discover my purse error sooner, rather than later, and save myself some hassle. In the moment, procrastinating didn't seem like a big deal, but that decision, and ignoring my nudge to get gas at that particular place, cost me almost an hour and a half in additional driving time! Interesting!

Intuition is a powerful tool that can really help us along our life path. I'm amazed at the reminders that the universe give me! Yesterday was a great reminder to PAY ATTENTION to my inner prompts. They are real and they are valid!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Small World

I had one of those 'weird' experiences yesterday that proves that there is something greater at work in the world than our human understanding can comprehend.

My mom and I were shopping at a mall two days ago in Beaverton Oregon. She needed some cosmetics, so we went to the Lancomb counter at Macy's. A young man waited on us and got the items we needed. He was quite unique looking and very sweet.

I spent the next day with a friend in Portland. We ended up going out to a funky little Cuban restaurant in east Portland to have dinner. This place was probably about a 20 - 30 minute drive way from the mall where I had shopped with my mom the previous day. Imagine my surprise, when my waiter approached the table, and it was the SAME young man who had helped my mom with her makeup purchase at Macy's! I confirmed it was him, and my friend and I marveled at the 'odds' of being waited on by this guy twice, in two completely different situations, in different towns! I'm from Seattle, and this is the first time I've been in Oregon since September, so it's even weirder!

What are the odds? Indeed.

When things like this happen to me, it reminds me clearly that something greater than myself is conducting this orchestra called life. My every move is choreographed. My every encounter is divinely ordained. It is the same for everyone.

I don't believe in accidents, or coincidence. We are always right where we are meant to be, at any given place in time. Imagine if we really believed that!

I'm always grateful when I get these little 'reminders' from the universe!

All is well.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Release the Past

I've been working on a major project in my house for the past 2 weeks. I've been cleaning out my closet!

I have a lot of clothes. I have a lot of difficulty letting go of things - especially clothes.

My closet has not been cleaned out for over 6 years! I've added a lot and released... nothing.

One of the reasons why the 'dead sea' in Israel is 'dead' (meaning nothing grows or lives in it) is because it has 'inflows' but no 'outflows.' The water only leaves through evaporation. If we only take in, but never release, we die.

Think about what would happen if we ate and drank but never eliminate anything. ICKY! We are built, and the universe is built on a system of give and take, receive and release. A proper balance is important for health.

So, my closet was bursting at the seams, I couldn't find anything and was always feeling that I had 'nothing to wear.' Let the purging begin!

I've lost weight in the last 6 years. Some of my clothes are really too large for me now. As I try them on I find myself thinking, "What if I gain weight again? Maybe I should hold on to these?" The curious thing about this is that I've been at my current weight for 4 or 5 years. Sure, it's possible I could gain weight, but it is more likely that I won't.

Also, I've learned a lot about how to dress my body with more figure flattering styles in the last 6 years. Thanks mostly to Nicole Mertes and her Dress Your Essence Workshop. (Sorry, I don't think she does this anymore, but she still has a fabulous website you can look at). Nicole Mertes - Women's Image Institute

As I try on some of my old clothes, they clearly don't 'measure up' in terms of how they look on me. Still, it's hard to let those go too. I can remember where I bought them, and why. They fit the old me, and I'm nostalgic about that.

What it really boils down to, however, is that these things represent an 'old image' I have of myself. I haven't completely let go of the the 'old me' that I've outgrown. It's time to move on, and embrace the amazing me that has been emerging. These old clothes, are like a boat anchor, keeping me from going where I want to go!

I decided that I would use this purging process as a great symbol to myself of my willingness to move forward and embrace the real me that is emerging with all the inner work I have done on myself over the years. It's time to step fully into 'her' and let the old, not-so-constructive parts of myself go - with love, thanks and compassion.

My closet is looking much leaner now. I still have a long way to go! I have unearthed an entirely new wardrobe at this point, which is very exciting.

Exciting too is that all these really nice clothes I'm releasing will find new homes with people who want them and can use them. That feels good.

When we cling to the past, we can't move forward. Releasing old 'stuff' can help us release old 'mental stuff' as well.

Give it a try! Clean out a closet, drawer, cabinet or your car. Release what you no longer use. Let someone have it who wants and needs it. Make room in your life for what is trying to come to you and through you.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Take Responsibility for Yourself

OK. It's time to share a pet peeve with you. I eat in restaurants a lot. First off, I enjoy it. Secondly, I spend a lot of time alone, so getting out among people is sometimes very desirable for me.

It really bothers me when people bring their infants and children to restaurants, allow them to make a huge mess, and leave it for the restaurant staff to clean up. What is up with that?

If they were in their own home, or in a friend's home, they would never behave that way. If their kids made a mess, they would clean it up.

Why is it suddenly OK to allow children to throw food all over the floor - and just walk away from it?

This is also true of people who stay in hotels. I've noticed that people will often make incredible messes in hotel rooms, and leave it for the maids. "It's their job!" is the rationale.

I find all of this behavior offensive and troubling about what it conveys about our culture.

What happened to the idea that you should treat other people's things as you would your own? What has happened to respecting other people's property, and not messing it up, simply because you can.

OK, if your kid spills a glass of milk in a restaurant, there is no issue with asking for help to clean it up. That could happen to anyone, and that is part of the deal in a restaurant. That, however, is a far cry from letting your kids throw food and crayons all over the floor, grind it into the carpet and walking away, because you can.

Just because we CAN do something, doesn't mean we should do it.

People have a responsibility for themselves, and their children in public places. I was taught that when you make a mess, you clean it up. I think that rule is part of good sense and self discipline.

Whenever I see parents allowing children to behave that way (especially kids old enough to know better) I wonder what kind of adults they will grow up to be? What types of entitlements will they expect to have?

It's a simple thing that we can all do - clean up our own messes - that will go a long way to improving our world.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A New Kind of Shifting Gears

I had my car in the shop for service this week and was given a loaner car. All my cars have been manual transmissions, since my very first 1975 Datsun B-210. I prefer standard transmissions, and the ability to shift when and how I want to.

This loaner car was an automatic transmission. I almost always get automatics when I rent cars, so I've driven many over the years. This one, however, was... different.

I didn't pay much attention when I got in the car. I just gave it a passing notice that it was an automatic. I adjusted my seat, and all the mirrors and took off.

I only had to drive a block before the freeway on ramp was in front of me. As I started to accelerate up the ramp, the engine began to really crank up. "This thing needs to be shifted!" I thought to myself.

Here I am on the on ramp to the freeway, in FIRST GEAR, accelerating fast. Uh oh! I tried to look at the gear shifter to figure out exactly what to do. I was worried about throwing the thing into neutral and losing all my speed, which in that circumstance would be bad!

Suddenly, my 'standard transmission' instinct took over, and my left foot went for the non-existent clutch - so I slammed (and I mean SLAMMED) on the brakes! The car jerked violently as I pretty much stopped, and I realized what I'd done. Luckily, no one was right behind me, although the person who was a ways back on the ramp backed way off and I'm certain my erratic driving gave them a moment of extreme discomfort!

I started again and studied the gear shifter as I accelerated, and decided to just tap the nob forward. It shifted to second gear. I then noticed that on the dash board, the 'gear' that you are in is displayed, and it shows you whether you can shift up, down or both up and down, from the current gear. HELLO!

It was really quite simple once I realized how it worked, but I'd never encountered an 'automatic' that you actually had to shift. It was completely unexpected and it took me a while to figure it out and get the hang of it. By the end of the day, when I returned the car, I won't say I was 'seamless' with the new procedure, but I was mostly comfortable and doing it well.

I thought it was an interesting metaphor for how we go through changes in our lives. Sometimes we know how to navigate a change, and 'go through the process of changing gears.' Other times, we are blind sided by a new requirement for 'shifting' that we did not expect, nor do we understand. We have something to learn.

Learning on the freeway on ramp isn't the most comfortable environment, but some of our life changes happen in the fast lane! We don't always have time to comfortably adjust to the new situation or circumstance. Sometimes we are caught totally off guard and we just have to fly by the seat of our pants.

However life is presenting you with changes and challenges these days, cut yourself a little slack as you learn to navigate the new landscape. It doesn't do any good to beat yourself up. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, and allow yourself time to absorb the new information and learn the new ropes.

Happy shifting!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Expand Your Horizons with FOOD

Getting in to a rut is so easy to do. Most people are somewhat comforted by routine, or by a certain amount of predictability. It's normal.

We can greatly limit our experience of life, however, if we allow ourselves to settle in to too much repetition and starve ourselves of adventure and variety.

There are many ways to challenge this tendency. One of the easiest ways is with trying new foods.

we live in a wonderfully diverse world. There are more kinds of cuisine that can even be counted! The variations in colors, flavors, textures and presentation are endless.

How about setting a goal to try some completely new food every month? More often would be even better, but choose an interval that is 'doable' for you.

Go to a restaurant and try an entirely new type of cuisine. Go to a restaurant you've been to before and try something you've never had before. Go to a market that carries a particular type of food and pick something new to try. Go down a the ethnic foods aisle at your local grocery store and see what new things you can find. Try a new fruit... vegetable... fish... whatever you feel like sampling!

It's really great to do this with kids too. The earlier you start introducing kids to new and different foods, the better. You can model a healthy and curiosity driven approach to eating that will set the tone for a lifetime!

It really is a very easy way to 'rock your world' and break down the tendency to 'settle in' to a mundane, boring routine.

BUST LOOSE! Try some new kind of food and expand your horizons!

Monday, February 02, 2009

An Unexpected Result

Last weekend, I was doing my grocery shopping at my local co-op/health food store. As I was at the checkout counter, being 'processed' I heard a terrible noise coming from behind me, inside the store.

A young boy, about 6 years old, was pushing one of those cute little 'kid carts' that some grocery stores have available. He had accidentally bumped it into a display table that had a tall pyramid of metal water bottles on it. They came crashing to the ground, making a terrible racket as all the metal bottles crashed onto the floor and clanked into each other.

Everyone instinctively cringed. I turned to see what happened, and saw the small boy, standing... panic stricken next to his father. He looked up at his dad, like, "Uh-oh. What's going to happen to me?"

Suddenly, someone in the check out line next to me started clapping. A few others joined in, and soon everyone in the immediate vicinity was applauding! The little boy kept looking at his father, who started smiling.

The little boy's fear melted into relief. He knew what happened wasn't "good" but the reaction of all the people around him let him know that it was OK, and that it wasn't "all that bad" either!

I thought this was a beautiful example of how to react to a mistake. The boy didn't mean to make the mess or cause that racket. It was a simple miscalculation. The look on his face said he was sure he was 'in trouble.' The reassuring reaction of his father, and the crowd, helped to transform the moment from a traumatic one, to a healing one.

What if we could show that kind of compassion to each other, and to ourselves? How would it be to applaud your most recent mistake, recognize the learning opportunity, make needed corrections and move on with a smile on your face?

Even if the mess is big, and the racket is loud, there is always a way forward through compassion and forgiveness.

Applaud yourself! Transform the panic stricken sadness into relief and learning.