Friday, July 31, 2009


Change is challenging. Whether we go through 'good' change or 'bad' change it takes energy and resources to move through it.

I had a powerful physical therapy appointment today. I'm in the midst of a series of 'structural integration' treatments. Today's session was on my 'trouble spot' which is my low back. My therapist worked her way through the area, releasing all the muscles and muscle groups at a very deep level. It was fairly painful and when she was through I felt very relaxed and somehow different. Things felt as though they'd been 'rearranged.' I'm not sure how else to put it. It felt good, but somehow fragile. It was as though the changes needed to integrate into my body completely.

I decided to take the evening and rest. I wanted to give some time and space to my body to allow it to settle into its new 'state.'

It's important to recognize the toll that change can take on us. We need extra time, resources and energy to move through change and allow it to become the 'new normal.'

No matter what the change is that you are facing or going through - be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time you need to integrate the change. If we push too hard through a change, we just make it more difficult on ourselves. We can disrupt the change process, or even undo it if we don't give ourselves the appropriate time and space to pass through it.

Integration is an important part of the change process. It is the completion of a transition of some sort. I'm reflecting on it as I rest this evening - and allow my muscles, tendons and fascia to accept their new configuration.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Keeping Cool

There's a reason why our language has the phrase, "keep your cool" in it.

We're having a heat wave here in Seattle. It is HOT!

I'm noticing that people's tempers are a bit short. People are irritable. It is hard to find relief from the heat. As we've 'lost the cool' in our outer environment, many people are losing their cool temperamentally.

It's important to 'keep cool.' Getting overheated physically can be dangerous. In hot weather like this we need to make sure we stay well hydrated, and not allow our bodies to succumb to the heat. We can do ourselves great harm if we don't take good care of ourselves in extreme heat.

Emotionally speaking, it is just as damaging to have melt downs and explosions. When we slide off the edge of the cliff and lose our ability to handle our emotions responsibly we often make situations worse for ourselves. When we have 'lost our cool' emotionally, we don't make good decisions. We often lash out at others or further complicate our challenges with irrational actions that we later regret.

Just as it takes thought and careful action to keep our bodies cool in a heat wave, it takes cultivated skills to keep ourselves calm when we are being irritated.

Watching our reactions to life and other people, and taking responsibility for our feelings is the first step towards being able to keep our cool in times of stress and crisis.

Observation, deep breathing, and thinking through our actions is what's called for. We don't want to ignore our intense emotions, but we do want to balance them with our thinking mind before we take action.

Stay cool out there! Stay cool inside yourself too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Get on the Registry

I'm using today's blog to encourage people to get on the bone marrow registry. I've been associated with two remarkable young women, aged 22 and 29 who died in the past year because they could not find a solid bone marrow match for donation.

It was an honor to support Erica and her family through her transition last year. I feel very blessed to have known her.

It is so sad. So many people are not on the registry, and pretty much everyone could be! It's easy to get a test online and be entered into the registry. Please watch this short video about my friend's sister, Erica and follow your heart!

Watch Erica's Short Video

Bone Marrow Registry website -

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Clear the Mechanism

Last night I watched an older movie called, "For Love of the Game" with Kevin Costner. It's essentially a love story about a professional baseball player and a woman he meets while she's stranded on the freeway with a broken down car. I really like this movie for a lot of different reasons.

One of the most interesting aspects of this movie to me is related to how Billy Chapel (Costner's character) plays the game of baseball.

He's a very successful major league pitcher in the movie. Whenever he takes the mound to pitch, he has an internal 'ritual' where he says to himself, "Clear the mechanism." When he does this, the roar of the crowd is silenced and all distraction is eliminated. He is then able to 100% focus on his pitching.

It is a graphic example of the importance of being able to harness and direct the power of one's own mind. When we are distracted and defocused we don't do our best work. When we have the capacity to direct our energy and attention to a specific task or goal we are far more effective!

Cultivating the ability to eliminate distractions and deliberately focus takes time and directed effort! It doesn't just happen.

The character in the movie cultivated this ability. Then, when he wanted to 'call on' this ability it was available to him.

Focus is critical to being effective in our endeavors. When we are feeling pulled in 100 different directions we are not focused.

Learn how to 'clear the mechanism' and focus on what is in front of you and important to you. Your life will be greatly enriched!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Gift of True Presence

Yesterday when I was hiking I saw something that always makes me a little sad. A father was hiking with his 10 or 11 year old daughter. She was out in front of him, excitedly using her hiking poles as she walked along the trail. He was lagging behind her, which seemed odd, since he was obviously a fit guy. I was approaching them from behind, and as I got close to them the little girl said, "Daddy! PLEASE get off that phone! You've been on it forever!!"

Has I passed him on the trail, I could see that he was actually texting as he walked along the trail!

Here he is, out for a hike with his daughter and he's texting! The little girl was obviously frustrated. I sincerely doubt this is the first time her dad has been 'with her' without really being with her.

It drives me crazy when people ignore their kids like that. It was obviously an activity they were supposed to be doing together, but some other relationship (I'm guessing a girl friend) was more important to him in that moment than spending that precious moment with his child. He was only half present.

I've observed this with people in my own life at various times. They act like their children aren't even there - because of something that they want to give their attention to. Now obviuosly in parenting, one must be a master juggler, and kids can't always have 100% of a parent's attention. I get that.

Far too often, however, kids take the 'back seat' to other relationships and needs of the parent, when it really isn't appropriate... or fair!

Giving true attention and presence to a child (or anyone else in one's life) is a precious gift. Think about how it feels when someone is really 'with' you and you know it. It feels good to be given that attention and that time to connect.

Kids really like me, and I think one of the reasons is that when I'm with kids, I really am WITH them. I get down on their level, (if they are small kids anyway) and I talk to them about life in their world. I'm interested. I care. I work on giving them my presence as well as my attention. If I need to focus on something else, I don't pretend to be with them, I let them know I need to do something else for a period of time, and that I'll be back. It's honest, and it teaches kids about true presence and relationship. Not about 'saying' you have a relationship, but then checking out into other activities when you are claiming to 'spend time' together.

If I had a choice to spend 15 minutes really connected to someone I care about, versus an hour of having them hang out with me but ignore me for 45 minutes, I'd take the 15 minutes any day. We waste each other's time when we commit to spending time together and then distract ourself with other people or tasks.

Especially with kids, we send a message that they just aren't as important as other aspects of our lives when we are constantly distracted in their presence. Life is busy and multitasking is a fact of life. That means it's even more important than ever to set aside quality, undistracted time to be with our kids. They deserve to have that experience and not always be treated as something that can be put on hold when the phone rings or the text message comes in.

Be present. Give true attention to the people you care about. Your relationships will all improve... guaranteed!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Grooves in Thinking

Yesterday I wrote about our propensity to travel the same route over and over again. We get into ruts of how we move and live. We also do this in our thinking.

We get into 'grooves' in our thinking and sometimes it keeps us stuck in patterns of living that no longer serve us.

I once heard our thought processes described this way: If you have a pile of dirt and you pour water down on the top of it, grooves will begin to form down the sides of the hill as the water runs down. The more water you pour, the deeper the grooves become.

Eventually, the water can not run in any other pattern. It always runs down the grooves that already exist. The grooves get deeper and deeper, making a new route less and less possible.

This is so true!

When we try to change our habits or routines, in life or in thinking, it is not an easy undertaking!

In order to change the grooves we have to carve new grooves and divert the water into the new channels. We have to slowly block off the old channels, and allow them to fill in, so that they are no longer viable routes for the water to flow through.

The same is true with our thoughts. When we get into a problematic thought pattern, we have to invest some serious energy into breaking free from it. It doesn't just 'happen.' We have to 'do the work' to retrain our minds out of the problematic/negative pattern of thinking and into a more positive, constructive pattern!

It is totally possible, but it requires some effort!

Re-Thinking is our path to freedom!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Route Reversal

I really enjoy hiking. Some people really don't like "up and back" type hikes, where you have to back track along the same route to get back to your starting point. I've never minded this sort of hike at all. I find that the scenery looks entirely different when you are traveling in the opposite direction. I see very different things on my way 'up' a hike than I do on my way 'down.' It's really pretty amazing.

It's the same for routes that I drive. We are greeted with entirely new vistas when we reverse direction.

I have a pretty healthy awareness about this, and yet I discovered something shocking a few weeks ago on my nightly 'walk' around my house.

I work in my garden almost every day during the spring and summer. I enjoy taking a walk several times around my house every evening to review what projects I've completed and think about what is next to be done. I also just enjoy the beauty, the creatures, the birds and all my gorgeous plants. It's my little reward for the work of the day.

A couple weeks ago, I set out on my walk, and it suddenly dawned on me that I ALWAYS walk the same way. I always exit through the same door and walk counter clockwise around the house. I had NEVER walked in the opposite direction. I've lived here for 9 years!

I couldn't believe it when I made this realization! Of course, I reversed my direction and walked the opposite direction - that very moment!

Of course, I saw my garden from a completely different perspective! I couldn't believe it was the first time I'd ever walked this way. With all my awareness about this phenomenon when I hike and drive, I was completely 'missing it' when I took my daily walks!

I'm always amazed at our ability to get into a groove or a rut and not even think twice about it!

Once we gain awareness, it's easy to challenge this pattern in ourselves. It's as simple as reversing the route that we usually take! I even had one teacher I heard speak once encourage us to change which leg we put into our underwear or pants first, just to break the 'normal' pattern!

It's powerful to break through 'crystallized thinking.' Give it a try. Reverse a route that you walk or run. Drive a different route to work. Change around your morning routine once in a while. Shake things up and see how different the world appears!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Thought on Walter Cronkite

I didn't really complete the thought I had about the passing of Walter Cronkite. His excellence can and should inspire us, no matter what field we are in, to be the best we can possibly be.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, if we are a street sweeper, we should endeavor to be the best street sweeper EVER! No matter what our calling, we should strive to be the best we can possibly be.

When shining stars arrive on the scene - people who do their jobs in an exemplary manner, we can let them inspire us to be the best we can possibly be!

If everyone did their job to their best possible ability, what a world we would live in!

As Walter leaves us, lets all take a look at how we spend our days, and put an effort into being our very best.

The legacy of peak performers should be that we all reach a little bit higher!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another Trail Blazer Leaves Us

Walter Cronkite passed away this past weekend. Wow. A lot of people who were influential have 'left us' recently. Their contributions were diverse, but they all touched us in distinct and important ways.

Walter Cronkite was a journalist, the likes of which we don't see much of these days. He had integrity. He tried to present clear, unbiased information. He was a human being who cared deeply about informing the public. He was dubbed the most 'trusted man in America.

I have deep respect for this man. I remember his news casts. He's an icon and a cultural treasure.

The story that has come out that I loved the most about Walter Conkrite is that he actually got in trouble when he initially used his unique tag line of, "And that's the way it is" to end his newscasts.

I love a rebel. The fact that he wanted to use that line and he had to battle to do it, gives me even more respect for him!

Mr. Cronkite is traveling with Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, Billy Mays (The Oxyclean pitchman), a good friend's father and another friend's 22 year old niece. Interesting traveling companions.

Rest in Peace Walter Cronkite. Thank you for all you gave us. You set a high bar for journalists. I hope that more will attempt to live up to your standards.

Monday, July 20, 2009

French Fry Intervention

Do you ever stop to think about how many of your actions are motivated by feelings of 'obligation' rather than conscious choice?

I tend to have an over exaggerated sense of responsibility. I'm all about trying to 'do the right thing' and that is perfectly fine. There is, however, a way that this can get very out of balance. I can flip into a mode where my own wants and needs absolutely vanish as I try to make sure that everyone else around me is comfortable and feeling good about everything. Often times I can be more concerned about the other people around me than they are about themselves. This can lead to some very poor decision making!

I was on a 4 hour drive this past weekend. I need to stop for a 'bio break' and use the restroom at a fast food restaurant. I'm a big time iced tea drinker, so this particular stop was, well - let's just say it was much needed!

I always feel bad about going in to a restaurant, even a fast food restaurant, to use their restroom without buying anything. Even if its a place I've eat at many time before, I still feel guilty. I usually try to at least buy a drink. This particular day, however, I'd had more than my allocated amount of iced tea. Any more and I risked being up all night from the caffeine.

After I used the restroom, all I really wanted to do was get back in my car and continue my drive. The guilt got the better of me and I got in line to buy something. I didn't want tea, so I decided that I would get a small order of french fries. Now, I needed french fries like I need a hole in the head. I didn't even really want them. I just wanted to buy something since I used their restroom! I planned to eat the french fries, of course. I wouldn't want to waste food!

As I stood in line, I kept thinking about walking out. Why was I waiting in line for french fries I didn't want or need? I'd stopped at this place dozens of times in the past and bought food or beverages. Surely it was acceptable to use their restroom once in a while!

The line dwindled down to one elderly couple in front of me. They ordered and paid their bill. The counter person handed them one small cup. The woman said, "Where's our other cup?" What ensued was a discussion about what they had actually ordered, as opposed to what the counter person charged them for. A manager was called. At that moment, I turned and quietly walked out of the restaurant. I got in my car and drove away. I was relieved that I hadn't ended up with the french fries that I didn't really want.

As I drove along and thought about it I got a little frustrated with myself about my willingness to buy and eat french fries out of guilt and a sense of obligation to 'earn my right' to use the restroom at this restaurant. As someone who has struggled with food and weight issues my entire life, it is really quite unhealthy for me to eat something out of obligation or guilt!

I really feel that the 'confusion' between the little old couple and the counter person was a type of universal 'intervention' to save me from myself. If that issue hadn't been made, I would have eaten fries that I didn't want. It would have lessened my enjoyment of the dinner I had an hour later. And for what? Because I felt guilty using the bathroom? That's pretty crazy. I needed to be stopped and shown that this was really not necessary. The pause created by the couple's errant order, allowed me to rethink my decision and make a new choice.

Obligation and guilt are lousy reasons for action. It's never in anyone's best interest. I personally am committed to ferreting out the situations in my life that trigger my sense of obligation or guilt and bring conscious awareness to my choices.

Making a decision for the right reasons is just as important as the decision itself.

Take some time to think about the motivations behind the choices you are making. If guilt or a sense of obligation are lurking there, bring it into the light and reconsider.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"To Do Listing" My Way Through It

Whenever I'm coping with a difficult reality in my life I have many different tactics I use to get through it. One of my favorites is to plan some effective passage of time.

If I've experienced a major life setback, someone has hurt me, or if I've experienced a big disappointment, I first and foremost allow myself time to feel my feelings. The psychologist in me knows that repressing feelings is never the best course of action! Beyond that, however, I know that the passage of time is one of my best friends! In order to not fritter away the time feeling sorry for myself, I always come up with a project list to get me through a specific period of time. Sometimes it's a month, sometimes 3. I've even had some 6 month lists before. It all depends on what I'm 'dealing' with.

I mentioned this in an article earlier this week: the time is going to pass anyway. How do I want to feel at the end of this period of time? Do I want to feel bad about the time I've wasted? Or do I want to look back and say, "Wow... even with what I was going through - I lived my life and accomplished a lot." I vote for the second choice.

I feel good about accomplishing things, whether it's household projects or helping other people. All sorts of things go on my lists. Sometimes it's cleaning out closets or drawers. Other times its catching up on tasks that have been neglected for far too long. Often it has to do with reconnecting with people and strengthening relationships. Whatever works... that's what I say!

This current economic downturn/recession is a great example. Many people are strapped for money. Many of us are staying closer to home, forgoing vacations, and not eating out as much. Financial reality has altered the landscape. For many of us, there are financial worries and stresses that we didn't have a few years ago.

When we are doing all that we can do to address the situation in front of us, it's time to simply let time pass, enjoy what we can enjoy and let time move us through the difficulty.

It doesn't cost money to clean out your closets, drawers or garage. In fact, you might find some things to sell at a garage sale or on ebay! It doesn't take money to volunteer some time to help other people! It doesn't cost money to get into better shape by taking walks/runs, doing some exercises and stretching. Public libraries are free. It costs nothing to get a card and start learning about something of interest to you! Many things cost nothing. Some things cost a little. In the midst of the recession, however, it is totally possible to plot a course that moves us through a stressful, difficult time and gives us something amazing to show for it when we're through!

Try making a list for a specific period of time and start whittling away at it. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish, even when things are tough.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Adjusting to the New Landscape

Life is change. Nothing stays the same. All is impermanent.

Many of us resist these universal truths. We seek security in stability. When we look for our security in outer circumstances, we are pretty much doomed to learn some really tough lessons. We can't ever count on anything in the outer world to remain the way we want it to be. We simply don't have that sort of control.

I'm someone who adapts rather slowly to change. i work on this constantly, in an attempt to be able to 'go with the flow' of life a bit more easily. It still doesn't come naturally to me. I am comforted by routine. I like tradition and I'm a creature of habit. Unfortunately, the world doesn't conform to my particular personality!

I believe that the universe is always teaching us - individually and collectively. One of my big lessons in this life is how to adjust to new situations quickly and without tantrums!

This past weekend, I had an appointment with someone to do some work at my home. I spent two days preparing for their work. I set aside many other tasks and actually put my body under a lot of stress to do the preparation for the work they were going to do to clean and seal all my cement walkways, patios, etc.

They didn't show up.

I was really annoyed. I finally figured it out by 11am. They weren't coming. Although I had spoken to them at 9:15, and they said they were 'on their way.'

All my plans for the day needed to be changed. I had planned my time for that day (and the few days before and after) based on the fact that this work was going to be happening.

I resisted changing my plans for a good 2 hours. I complained to a few people about how this guy had 'wrecked my day.' I didn't 'feel like' doing other things that day. I wanted to get this project done!!

Finally, I started to 'snap out of it.' I grabbed my brain and took hold of my thoughts! Who's fault was it that I was having a bad day and not getting anything accomplished? Was it the concrete guy who didn't show? Or was it me from behind a wall of resistance to 'what is.'

He didn't show up. Not a thing I could do about that. But what happened after that was all on me! I didn't have to let the disappointment of that moment poison my whole day. Yet, that's exactly what I was doing... until I caught myself!

It wasn't the end of the world. It was simply a change in plans. Albeit, it was caused by some one's inconsiderate behavior. That was one moment in time. I was allowing it to become moment after moment after moment. That was my responsibility. I was only hurting myself.

Life is change. Nothing stays the same. Sometimes changes come quite rapidly. The sooner we adjust to what is in front of us, needing our attention, the happier and more productive we will be!

Got any changes staring you down right now? If they aren't going away... you'd best get on with it! You... and me both!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reigning in the Monkey Mind

Our minds are incredibly powerful and complicated instruments. The way the human mind works is indeed a mystery.

Our thoughts are capable of creating amazing and wonderful masterpieces. They are also capable of making our lives into a living hell.

Have you ever had trouble shutting off your mind at night? Sleep eludes because too many thoughts are spinning through your head. It's frustrating when this happens and it negatively impairs our lives by damaging the quality and amount of sleep that we get.

If you've ever had a conflict with someone and found yourself replaying it over and over in your head - usually with 'better performance' on your part, you are certainly not unique! Most of us, at times, get stuck in instant (and sometimes long past) replays of events in our lives. We go over and over the incident, as though it will change something!

Many of us struggle at various times with thoughts that just will not let us go. We can't stop 'running the tape' of those thoughts through our brains. It is a waste of time, energy and potential. Yet, it doesn't seem to be something we can control.

The only way I know of to address this phenomenon is to 'train' the mind to get quiet. The most powerful way to do this is by meditation practice. It's like anything else. You most likely cannot do something unless you practice it regularly.

Why would we expect to be able to 'turn off' our minds when we are stressed out if we've never even learned to do it when we're not stressed out? That doesn't make much sense.

My teacher, Dr. Chuck Bruni used to ask me this question: "Would you rather make an important decision while sitting in a quiet library or in the midst of Grand Central Station at rush hour?" The meaning being that if we are peace we will most likely make a better decision than if we are in the midst of internal chaos!

Daily practice in quieting our minds will help us at times when we are under great pressure.

I once heard someone say, "The time to start weaving your parachute is NOT when you ready to jump out of the plane!" We can't wait until the moment we absolutely need the ability to quiet our mind to begin to cultivate that ability. We can start NOW... and perhaps the parachute will be ready when we need it!

If you've never meditated before, you need to start small. Even 1 minute of taking deep breaths saying 'relax' inside your head is better than nothing. Using a mantra (words that you repeat either silently or out loud) and watching your breath are excellent ways to begin. Numerous books and workshops are available to teach meditation. It's not complicated... it just requires practice!

Quiet your mind, every day... and soon you'll find that your whole life runs more smoothly!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do it Again and Again and Again

Sometimes when we are working towards a goal, it seems as though we might never 'get there.' I think we've lost some ability to have patience and wait for things in this culture of ours.

It's true, however, that sometimes we work really hard for something and it truly seems like we should have made more progress than we have. This can be frustrating.

I once heard a teacher of mine talk about working on oneself spiritually and how you have to keep doing what you know is right over and over and over and over and over and over again... regardless of the immediate results you are getting (or not getting).

What other choice do we have? The time is going to pass anyway. We might as well keep doing what we know to do and be patient.

I am someone who has struggled with depression and various mood issues for my entire life. Sometimes, even when I'm doing everything I know how to do, life is just plain hard. I don't feel like I'm where I want to be and I get frustrated with how much effort I'm putting in to feeling better when I don't seem to be getting what I'm hoping for.

I guess I could give up, but that just isn't my personality. Not that I don't feel like it sometimes! My choice, however, is to just keep trucking along. One never knows when things will change or turn around. We simply NEVER know!

It's the same with any long term endeavor. Sometimes you practice a skill over and over for years at a time before you really achieve any kind of success of true ability.

You can't rush things. No matter how much we might wish something went faster - it takes what it takes. When you put a seed in the ground, it takes what it takes to germinate, grow and produce fruit. Is it worth the wait? Absolutely!

Never give up is one of my personal mottos. I mean really... the time is going to pass anyway, so why not do what we believe is going to improve things (whatever it is) and watch things change down the road. The results might not be instant... but we WILL eventually see positive results!

Get up and do it again!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trail Encounters

I was hiking one of my favorite trails last week on a bright, beautiful day. As I was coming back down the trail, after making it to the summit and soaking in the view, I was struck by the verbal encounters I had along the way.

"Is it worth it?" one woman asked me as her party passed me on their way up. "ABSOLUTELY!" I responded. My response to that particular question is always the same. While it is true that the view at the top is very nice, and a great reward for the trek up the trail, it is also worth it for the health benefits and the mental/emotional benefits of exercising and being out in nature!

"Are there many bees along the way?" one nervous woman asked me. "A saw a few... but it's not too bad," I replied. Is she allergic? Has she had bad 'bee encounters' on this trail before? I wondered how much anxiety she was feeling about bees and how much that might detract from her hiking pleasure.

"Beautiful day isn't it?" one man remarked as we brushed past each other. "Sure is!" I answered. Something about natural beauty (and good weather here in Seattle) makes us want to share it and revel in it with those around us.

I overheard one small boy, who was hiking with his mom and a couple other kids say, "I'm not even tired yet!!" I thought that was very cute, and I am inspired by the endless energy that children seem to have. I could borrow a little of that unbridled energy and enthusiasm!

I was very impressed with a family from Australia. A mom, dad and their two boys all had pretty large packs on their backs. Even though the boys were probably slightly pre-teen they were totally into the hiking experience. They all had tree and bird identification books and were excitedly trying to ID as many species as possible. They seemed truly intrigued and motivated to know the flora and fauna of the area in which they were hiking. I appreciate that level of 'engagement' with life!

You never know who you'll meet on the hiking trail, or in life. Each person I pass on the trail, whether they talk to me or not, is a possible 'example' of either what I want to do and be... or what I do not want to do and be. I look at each person as a potential teacher or role model - be it positive or negative.

Every encounter we have with other people can be useful to us on our journey of conscious evolution! As we endeavor to become more conscious, happier, better adjusted, more fulfilled and more at peace, those around us can be our greatest inspiration!

Who will you meet on the trail today? What impact will you invite them to have in how you live your life?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Accidental Solution

Have you ever gotten a note from your mailman? I've received many! One of my last ones asked me to fix a pothole in the shoulder near my mailbox. The mailman told me that if I didn't fix it they could stop delivering my mail. Who knew.

It was a frustrating and perpetual problem. I would take a metal rake out and fill the hole with gravel from my driveway. Within a few weeks, the gravel was pushed out and the pothole was back in all it's glory.

A few weeks ago one of the utility companies started laying a new pipe along the side of the road in front of my house. It was a mess. They dug a deep ditch and tore up everything to accomplish their goal. I found myself feeling irritated at the intrusion. I wondered what state they would leave the area in front of my driveway.

Just the other day, I made an interesting discovery. My pothole is GONE! It has been repaired by this most recent 'project' on the road! I was elated.

After a year of filling my pothole with gravel, it is now a non-issue. The problem was solved... by accident!

Sometimes I think I expect things to be harder than they have to be. This problem solved itself! I didn't have to do anything.

I wonder how often things might be solved if I believed it were possible to have an easy solution!

I'm opening my mind up to the possibility that things can come easily. What a concept!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Waxwing Tree

I love the reminders that we are given about the seasonal patterning of life.

I have a tree outside my workout room window that produces small red berries every mid-late June. The berries last about 2 weeks. Birds seem to love these berries. Robins get a few of them, as do a handful of smaller birds. The bulk of these berries, however, go to a particular type of bird called Cedar Waxwings.

The stunning Cedar Waxwing

I don't see many Waxwings in my yard. Maybe I'll spot one or two throughout the summer. The exception is when this tree is producing it's berry crop. Then I have a steady stream of Waxwings!

Waxwings have a very particular call. It's a little wheeze-like... very subtle.

I start looking for them every year when the berries start to ripen, and like the rising of the sun, they appear exactly when they are supposed to. I always say, "It's Waxwings time!" It's comforting to me.

I think it's important to remember that life has seasons and certain things are predictable. Daybreak follows the night. Birds migrate. The tide rises and it falls. Crops are planted and are later harvested. It all makes sense at a larger, cosmic level.

Sometimes when we are mired in the day to day challenges and minutia of life, we forget that there are larger patterns at play. We can get lost in the 'stuff' of our days and forget the bigger picture.

Things like my 'Waxwing tree' remind me that seasons come... and go. Things are 'as they should be.' It might not seem that way when I'm dealing with the current challenge in front of me, but it's true.

Life goes on. The sun will rise. Let the Waxwing Trees of life remind you that it's all unfolding according to a greater wisdom.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Making the Extra Effort

I read an interesting article this past weekend about how President Obama puts a lot of effort into pronouncing people's names (and countries) correctly.

Article on President Obama and Pronunciation

He considers it a sign of respect. President Obama is right. When we make the extra effort to 'speak someone else's language' we indicate a level of concern and respect that is subtle, but powerful.

When we take the time to know someone else, even something as simple as how to pronounce their name, we communicate to them that we care. They matter. They are important. If we carelessly refer to them, we indicate that they aren't worth our time.

Simple... yet so powerful!

I saw a commercial on CNN one time, where one of my heroes, Christiane Amanpour was talking about one of her 'bugaboos' which is how people refer to Iran and Iraq.

We, in the states, tent to say Eye-Rak and Eye-ran. This is not correct.

The way to correctly prounounce these countries has two components. On the first syllable it is correct to say "EEEEE" (as in bee, or see).

On the second syllable, we the 'a' in Iraq or Iran is pronounced like the o in 'rock' or 'Ron'

So, the lesson for today is, to pronounce:

Iraq = EE-rock

Iran = EE-ron

When we make a little extra effort, we show people that we respect them and care about them. Simple things like pronouncing people's name's (or country's) correctly... shows them that they are relevant and that they matter!

Go the extra mile!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Someone Else Will Take Care of It

A friend of mine told me a fascinating and somewhat disturbing story the other day. She was traveling through the Denver airport recently when I fire alarm went off in her concourse.

The noise was deafening. The strobe lights going off were very disorienting. No one seemed to 'respond' to the alarm in any way, other than covering their ears to try to shield themselves from the noise.

My friend found a security guard and asked what was happening. He said it was a false alarm and someone was coming to turn it off. Eventually, the alarm was shut off.

Then it went off again. As was the case before, no one seemed to respond to the alarm. People went about their business. Kids started to cry. The noise was really horrible. It went on... and on... and on.

Finally, my friend was so disturbed by the noise/strobe lights that she left the concourse to get some relief. When she got outside of the concourse, she saw the same security guard whom she had spoken to earlier. She asked him how long it would be before someone turned off the alarm. He said, "Is it on again?"

No one had reported the second alarm. All those hundreds of people were suffering with damaging noise... and no one had alerted anyone in authority. No employees, no passengers... no one. Everyone thought that surely someone was 'doing something' about the problem. Wow.

How often does this happen in life and society. We see a problem and are certain that someone ELSE is going to take care of it. It troubles me how often this is the case. Even in my friend's situation, where the 'problem' was extremely disturbing and potentially destructive noise! No one took action to stop it or handle it.

What if it had been a real emergency? That is even more disturbing. People were ignoring the warning sign, because the warning sign didn't seem to mean anything.

Warning signs are meant to tell us something. If the warning sign is going off in error, that is telling us something else. If no one does anything about 'dealing with' the warning sign - whatever the reason it is occurring, there is information there for us as well.

Assuming that 'other people' will take care of a problem we encounter is a helpless, victim-like stance to take. We aren't taking control of our own destiny!

Assuming someone else will handle something that is negatively affecting us is not an effective way living life!

Someone in a relationship is doing something we don't like and we just wait for them to change it. That isn't going to work very well either.

Our job is unpleasant and our boss is unhappy with our work. We just keep doing what we are doing and hope it will get better. Oops.

We see signs of distress in some area of our body or our health, but we assume it will just take care of itself. That can be downright dangerous.

We see the suffering of others around us and turn the other way. What if we are the ONE who's supposed to do something about that!?

The list goes on and on.

Our world would benefit greatly from everyone dealing with what is in front of us to be dealt with. Take responsibility for yourself, your life, and the things that you observe need attention. You and I can change the world - one situation at a time!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Traveling Light

I was able to get up hiking this past weekend for the first time in a long while. I enjoy hiking. The physical exercise, being out in nature, a chance to disconnect from my normal world - all of that appeals to me.

I tend to always want to 'be prepared.' I take a backpack with me and have it 'stocked' with items that one might need if they had a mishap in the forest.

One of the trails I hike most often, however, is super heavily traveled. If I had any sort of mishap, literally dozens of people would happen by within a couple hours.

I started asking myself why I always feel the need to carry so much stuff on my back while I'm hiking that trail? It isn't really necessary and on a warm day, it's pretty uncomfortable to have my backpack pressing against my back.

This last hike I decided to go with just a jacket (tied around my waste) to carry id and a few of the items I must have, and carry my water bottle in my hand.

What a liberating feeling to go up the hill will nothing weighing me down!

It is an interesting consideration. Where is the line between always being prepared and traveling with too much on one's back?

I have the same issue when I travel. I always have a big suitcase, stuffed completely full. I like to have what I might need with me... at all times.

Yet, schlepping all that stuff with me is not easy! I pay a cost for being 'super prepared.'

I want to come to a place in my life where I take what's needed and I prepare in a reasonable way for what 'might be.' Striking that balance will ease my 'load' in many circumstances and yet preserve my preparedness in a realistic way.

Is there any way you can lighten your load today? Lay down something you've been carrying that you might not really, truly need?

Look for something you can take off your back... and lay it down!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Declare Your Independence

Freedom is a beautiful thing. There are many ways in this life for us to lose our freedom and independence. Lots of worldly interferences can cause us to not be able to move and live freely. That's part of life on planet earth.

The trick is in knowing what freedom really is and knowing that no one can take away our freedom where it really matters - in the way we choose to look at and conduct our lives.

We can have our integrity, our principles, and our convictions. No one can take those away from us. Someone might take away our life, but they cannot take away the inner beliefs and perspective that we hold. We are the only ones who can give those precious gifts away.

Knowing what we can and cannot lose is a large part of finding peace and happiness in this life. Believing that others have the power to take away our joy and happiness is throwing away our power. It is completely our responsibility! If we choose to give others that sort of control over us, we are giving away our freedom to choose.

Independence Day is tomorrow. We celebrate the idea of casting off 'false authority' over our destiny and our path. At least that's what Independence Day is for me. We celebrate freedom, and my hope is that we realize what true freedom is, and where true freedom comes from. No one can take away the freedoms that matter most - our internal state of mind and heart.

I long for a world where no one claims and abuses authority over other people. I yearn for all people to be treated with dignity and respect. My hope is that we learn to live on earth together without exploitation, greed and selfishness. A tall order, I know, but I have to believe we'll get there... eventually.

In the mean time, while people are people, and too many give in to greedy, selfish motivations and take advantage of others in the process, let's all remember that while things can be taken away from us on this earthy, WE GET TO CHOOSE our internal state of mind and our approach to what happens to us in life.

This is real freedom. This type of freedom is all we can ever really count on.

Happy Independence Day! Claim your freedom!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

It's Not The Bite It's The Toxins

I am back at work in my garden again. Having been on the road for most of the past 6 weeks I'm finding that my weeds did not take any time off! As always, a continuous stream of work awaits me.

The last time I worked in the garden I got two mosquito bites on my arm. They are only about 3 inches way from each other. One has followed a pretty normal course and is simply a small red bump. The other turned into a giant, painful, red lump. It is hot, itches like the devil and hurts!

The bites are no doubt from different mosquitoes, but it is rather shocking how different the symptoms are.

I've heard that if you are allergic to something that a mosquito bites before you, the reactions can be quite spectacular. That may be what I'm experiencing with the big welt.

This experience got me thinking about the fact that the bite itself isn't what actually matters, it's what comes in with the bite. There is some sort of irritant that comes with the bite that actually causes the pain, itching and swelling. Sometimes it's minor and sometimes it's major.

I think it is the same with difficult experiences in our lives. There is the original event (the bite) and then there is the toxic stuff that comes into our lives with the bite. Those toxins are actually what cause the problem... long after the bite has occurred.

With the bite, I've done all I can to minimize the impact of the poison I took in (antihistamine, caladryl lotion, ice/elevation,etc).

With toxic or traumatic events we have a lot to say about how we deal with them. The bite happened, we can't undo that fact, but we can decide how we will deal with the poisonous toxic stuff that comes into our life with the event.

We have emotions that come up in response to the bite. Some of those can be really destructive - to ourselves and to others. It is our responsibility (and within our control) to deal constructively with those emotions.

Likewise, we have control over our reactions to the bite. We can lash back at the person(s) who bit us, and take actions from a vengeful stance. We can try to make others feel the same pain that we are feeling. None of that helps our bite feel any better, in fact, it only intensifies the 'mess' and pain of the situation.

Sometimes when a 'bite' occurs in our life, we need to 'clean house' and cut loose people or situations that are not good for us. This too, is within our control.

Being angry at the mosquito for biting us doesn't heal the bite any faster.

Being angry at a person or situation for entering our life and causing problems is just as fruitless. We need to face and deal with the aftermath of the bites we receive, take responsibility for the only thing we can control - our self and our own reactions - and move forward.

Got any itchy, swollen bites in your life at the moment? Are you helping them heal, or continuing to perpetuate the pain and suffering related to them?

Release the venomous toxins... and realize that into every life a few bites must come. No one escapes being bitten once in a while. It's part of the human experience. Many have been bitten, and many recover. No sense holding on to what could be a passing pain. Let it go!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Who Travels Together

As I mentioned, we lost several people this past week. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and also Billy Mays (the cleaning product pitch man).

Whenever someone I know passes away, I always pay attention to the other people that go around the same time. I find it interesting.

These four individuals went at the same time. Farrah was only 62, Michael Jackson was 50 and Billy Mays was also only 50 years old. All departed on the young side of things. Ed McMahon was the only one who passed at a 'ripe old age.' He died at 86 years of age.

I'm not sure what any of that means, other than Michael and Billy obviously came in around the same time and exited around the same time. I wonder about things like that.

When my own father passed away, it was round the same time as Princess Diana and mother Teresa. I used to chuckle to myself that he was off somewhere dancing with Princess Di (since he'd been sick for so long and unable to dance) and was also being lectured by Mother Teresa about his 'wilder days.' :)

I wish for all those who have recently departed a peaceful passage. The journey continues...