Monday, May 28, 2018

My Seven Days of Silence

I’ve signed up for meditation classes where I spent significant time in silence. I’ve attended retreats where silence was a part of the program. I planned for these times, understood the purpose and made sure my family knew the schedule. I made sure everything was neat, tidy and effective.

I’m finishing up a seven day period that has been anything but planned, neat or tidy. Has it been effective? 

Try mind blowing. Life changing. I’ve experienced pain, healing and an honest to God epiphany. Yeah, I’d say it’s been effective.

Early last week I returned from a trip to Toronto with what I thought was severe laryngitis and flu like symptoms. I was diagnosed with a particularly nasty “bug” that sometimes effects travelers and was given heavy duty antibiotics with steroids. And ordered to be on “total voice rest” for seven days. SEVEN DAYS WITHOUT TALKING. This seemed impossible but since I could barely speak anyway and was in such pain, I agreed. I had to teach in 12 days and couldn’t have my voice compromised long term.

I believe physical symptoms are a result of internal issues and I tried to go to work figuring out my psyche. I was too ill. I decided to surrender to the experience and asked for guidance. I got it.

The first few days I was weak and stayed mostly in bed or on the couch. I began to notice a few things. Because I couldn’t speak, people stopped talking to me. I could text and had a small wipe off board to communicate with my husband, but he even stopped talking to me besides an occasional, “How do you feel? Need anything?” By the afternoon of day three, he took me for a ride to get out of the house and we went to a couple stores and to dinner. I had a note from my doctor that stated “total voice rest” that I’d show to store clerks or people we saw. To a person, when they realized I couldn’t speak they stopped talking to me. They’d gesture the way I had to or simply nod. What was THAT about?

My daughter tried a video chat with my beloved 15-month-old grandson but he was confused and uninterested when his GiGi couldn’t speak. He’s used to my voice and didn’t seem to connect to my image on the screen without sound. I missed talking with my kids and my cat was downright traumatized. Evidently, I usually talk A LOT.

My dear sister did her best to cheer me up with a visit on day four. We’d both been on trips and as she did her best to talk to me, it was obvious our normal communication style was severely altered. Bless her heart, she stayed for several hours as she told me about her trip and tried to interpret my gestures and the short hand notes I wrote on my board. We laughed, and I felt better.

The magic of the experience came as a result of looking at the events that had transpired in Toronto and keeping a small journal of my thoughts and feelings during the seven days. I did understand the emotional reason for my illness but didn’t yet realize the gifts that were in store.

As a result of not speaking, I felt terribly isolated and alone. I felt like no one understood or was “listening” to me. I felt like a burden to my husband, although he never did anything to insinuate that. It was all in my head.

I realized something. While this experience was only seven days for me, millions of people live with the feelings of isolation and loneliness every day, sometimes their entire lives. 

That realization was a physical blow to my heart. I felt it. Who could live this way? I saw the image of someone I know who recently took their own life. For a split second, I felt the agonizing pain of this person before the final event. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye I saw a cascade of pictures…elderly, refugees, prisoners, struggling parents, children in abusive situations, addicts, the terminally ill. The images went on and on. I couldn’t get them out of my head. 

I realized each of these haunted images were children of God, just like me and those I love. Suddenly they seemed more real. A part of me. Since I believe that we are all part of the energy of an intelligent Universe, of course they are each part of me. And part of you.

So what do we do? I asked that question and heard the answer very plainly, “Be love.” 

How does that work? Be the love you are. Live from your divine core. Start by being more kind and loving to yourself, your family and everyone and everything you encounter. Open your heart to hear divine guidance and you’ll always know what to do. Read about divine love, study it and talk to others about how to implement this in your own life. The divine intelligence within you knows exactly what to do. I was shown that by creating these “ripples of love” we can absolutely change our world.

Can these individual actions ease the pain of the people I saw? It’s a start.

I’m amazed by the changes and insights this quiet week has “gifted” to me. I know this level of understanding couldn’t have come about without the silence that allowed me to learn these vital “heart lessons.”

On day six of my seven days, this passage began my daily reading from Eileen Caddy’s “Opening Doors Within:”

“Every soul needs to withdraw from the world from time to time 
to find the peace which passes understanding.”

Perfect. Now to do my best to “be love.” Join me.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Three Reasons to Be Optimistic Right NOW

I’m always surprised when a quick note on Facebook gets more attention than I expected. Maybe it’s because often my “well thought out” topics are more ego driven than I’d like to admit and the “quick posts” often come from a deeper part of me. The part that really knows what’s going on. The same divine part that’s in you.

One of those posts came through a few weeks ago. I remember that morning being aware I “needed” to post on my business page when this popped into my head and I quickly typed:

Three reasons to be optimistic:

  1. You're alive.
  2. You're responsible for the life you create.
  3. The tools/resources/opportunities you need are within your reach NOW.

Go inside and ask the divine intelligence within you for guidance. Keep asking, be open to answers and ALLOW the divine to work through you.

Yes, it can be that simple! I've found that when my life was the hardest, my thinking greatly contributed to my difficult experience.

There's always another way. Your ego loves the drama, your divine self loves to see you happy and peaceful. Which inner voice will you listen to?

So why did people respond to this? Maybe it resonated with a current personal issue or maybe it reinforced their own beliefs. Here’s a few more thoughts on each point:

1) You’re alive. 
No matter the physical or emotional condition, humans on some level know where there’s life, there’s hope. There’s a chance to change something of consequence even when the only thing that can be changed are your thoughts about the situation. THAT changes everything. When your perspective changes, your experience changes.

2) You’re responsible for the life you create.
Here come those pesky thoughts again! While you may not believe you create issues such as family drama or serious situations like tragic accidents, natural disasters or acts of war, you are totally responsible for how you react to everything in your life. Your thoughts about life situations – big and small – create the quality of your life. Will you grow from challenges or stay a victim of circumstance? Do you want a more peaceful, happy life? Are you willing to stretch out of your “comfort zone” to find new ways to be in the world regardless of the situation? It’s not easy. 

I find encouragement from the words etched on a favorite bracelet: “If you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done.” These words remind me that I must change my thoughts and actions to create anything new in my life.

3) The tools/resources/opportunities you need are within your reach NOW.
When you can relax into this truth, everything changes. EVERYTHING. Just like MacGyver can think his way out of any dangerous situation, so can you. And you don’t need fancy science tricks to do it (but that IS super cool). While your ego thrives on fear, stress and overwhelm the true part of you, call it your soul, divine self, highest self or whatever you believe it to be, knows only peace, love and joy. Even in the most brutal situations, it is possible to tap into your divine core for guidance and to find the peace you crave. 

Remember this: the divine intelligence that is in you knows exactly what to do. Use prayer or meditation to go inside and ask that part of you, the part connected to all there is, for direction. I often ask, “what is my next best step here?” Sometimes I have to ask more than once. Or several times. That ego is strong when I’m fearful. But it’s not stronger than love. Love is the energy that will manifest in new ideas, a call from an old friend with an exciting opportunity or a new workshop on just the topic you need. Whatever you need to go forward will be provided when you allow divine intelligence to direct your actions.

And yes, that divine part of you is present in everyone else on the planet. While it’s tempting, and sometimes feels justified, in pointing out when others are acting from ego, it’s not your job to judge others. You’re responsible for your own thoughts and actions. Period. Trust that everything is happening for your ultimate good and, just maybe, the actions of others are giving you an opportunity to choose a more loving life.

Yeah, I know that doesn’t seem fair, but I didn’t make up this life thing. I just know life is better when I understand, accept and act from these truths:

1) I’m alive.
2) I’m responsible for the life I create.
3) The tools/resources/opportunities I need are within my reach NOW.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Quality of Your Life Depends on THIS...

I’ve noticed that life gets simpler the older I get. Maybe I’m wiser, maybe I’m just done with needless drama…or maybe I’m opening to truths that were always there, waiting for me to be ready to discover them.

I recently found one of those truths.

The quality of your life depends on the quality of the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis.
It’s that simple.

Are you waking up only to have questions running around in your head like:

“Why does life have to be so hard?”
“Why do I always feel so tired?”
“Why is he/she/a group/whatever out to get me?”
“How can they be so stupid?”
“Why can’t I find a great relationship?”

How do these types of questions make you feel? Horrible, right? Not the way you want to start your day. These questions lead to frustration, overwhelm and more stress. Forget that! These questions look outside yourself and can reinforce feelings of being victimized or hopeless.

To help create a better quality of life, start the day asking questions like:

           How can I be healthier/happier/more productive today?”
           “What do I need to do to have more clarity in my life?”
           “How can I serve today?”
           “Who can I surprise today?”
           “What am I grateful for right now?”

How do these types of self-directed questions make you feel? Empowered? YES!

YOU have the power to change the way you experience your life and asking better questions is a great way to start. Ask questions that help trigger ideas on actions you can take. You will certainly have challenges in your life. We all do. The quality of your life can be determined by the questions you ask yourself every day especially in the wake of challenges.

AN EVEN BETTER WAY TO ASK QUESTIONS…is to ask the divine part of you for guidance.

           “What would my best self do in this situation?”
           “How can I take action from my divine self here?”

Get quiet, go inside and ask your questions. Use meditation, concentrate on your heart space or simply declare “I’m asking from my highest self…” It may take some practice, but you get the idea.

Here’s a couple quick ways to remember to ask yourself empowering questions:
  • Put a sticky note by your bed to remind you to ask great questions as soon as you get up.
  • Put a reminder on your phone.
  • Add another note on top of something you use in your evening routine before bed. Questions for the end of the day could be: “What went great today?” “What could have been better?” “What could I do differently tomorrow?”

Ask better questions – from your divine self – to live a happier, healthier more fulfilled life. Monitor your thoughts and reword questions when you catch yourself in an unhealthy pattern.

One last question: how will you use this insight to change the quality of your life for the better?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Staying on Track

Staying on Track

I hate when that happens. You know when you spout some deep wisdom, a brilliant insight, a shining truth to someone…only to have your words come bite you in the you-know-what?

Yeah, that.

Today I was working with a client who is capable, focused and extremely successful. She has a lot going on. Most capable, focused, extremely successful people do. Her challenge was learning to move past tantalizing distractions and plow through necessary mundane tasks.

Oh, I had the answer. It was stunning in it’s simplicity and brilliance. I felt like a real smarty pants. But that feeling didn’t last long.

“When you’re evaluating these opportunities,” I told her, “ask yourself, does this bring me closer to, or further way from my goals?”

“WOW,” she said, “that makes it clear!”

“It really does,” I continued. “Ask yourself that same question when you’re caught up in specific actions and see if that makes a difference in your overall result.”

We included a spiritual perspective as part of our discussion and concluded the call on a definite high note. I felt great about her progress as I finished my notes and went on to my next task. 

A couple hours later, I took a break to have lunch and check the local news. Snow was predicted for the overnight hours and even though my commute would not be affected – I walk from my bedroom to my office on the bottom floor of my house – I was concerned. (I have a thing about snow...)

Next thing I know, it was nearly two hours later and I was sitting in front of the TV, still eating, mesmerized by a perky blonde journalist recounting the latest scuttlebutt in Washington. 

“Is this bringing me closer to, or further away from my goals?” I heard the voice in my head say.

“Oh, CRAP!” I thought (the exact phrase might have been softened here but you get the idea).

I quickly got up, turned off the TV, and got back to work…

Monday, January 1, 2018

What's your word for 2018?

I've often heard my friends say they pick a specific word to guide their journey at the beginning of each new year. I've never done that. At least not consistently or consciously. I'd pick a word that I thought sounded intellectual and oh, so spiritual to respond to my friends queries when asked. But I can't say I was dedicated to living from my word. Until now.

I have a word. And it was given to me by my inner divine voice.

Yep, that's where it came from. I was in meditation, minding my own business, being lost in the vast nothingness of the "all," when I heard - yes, HEARD - "Your word is expansive."

"Ugh, what?" I thought. But it was clear. Expansive is my word. But what did it mean for me?

And that came as well. In a flood of images, feelings and a strange knowingness it all came in. 

I'm dedicating my year to more consistently tapping into the creative, intelligent, expansive divine spirit within to expand in all areas of my life. 

I'm expanding into love, understanding, compassion and peace. 

I quickly found out that my ego is still very much in play as my immediate thought was, "OMG! I don't want everything to expand! My belly doesn’t need to get any bigger!" Silly ego.

I had to start again. I had to remind myself that the divine within wasn't trying to "trick" me into gaining weight, losing friends or becoming too "woo woo." That's all ego stuff.

I think my opportunity is to learn to expand beyond my usual self judgement, fear and worry. To really allow myself to expand into the consciousness of love as my guide in daily life. 

And when I fall short of that goal, I’ll choose again.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What Do You DO When the World's Gone Mad?

It’s crazy. CRAZY. Here in the United States the last couple months have brought devastating hurricanes that effected millions and the deadliest mass shooting in our history.

Whether you were directly affected or not, you know lives have been forever changed. Whether you were directly affected or not, one of those lives might be yours.

So what do we do?

What do we do with the sadness, grief, fear and anger? We each process our emotions in our own way, get professional help when needed and make a choice. Will these events change me for the better or the worst? Or will I pretend they don’t affect me at all?

I know what I choose.

I’ve sat with my feelings, tapped into my heart and continue to process the events in supportive environments. And I’ve decided three things.

I’ll LEARN about my brothers and sisters in pain and how I can help, both before and after disaster hits. I want to be more open to the cries of others and be aware when someone maybe reaching for help and understand what to do. I’ll learn how to better connect to my inner divine so I can more easily take inspired action when my ego wants to react from fear, distrust and anger.

I’ll LIVE my life, engage with others and do my best not to let fear guide me. I’ll be smart about my decisions and more self-aware of the times I can be more fully present to the wonders of daily life.

I choose to live my life from a foundation of LOVE. The love that has the courage to see the divine in all situations, seeks to serve and forgives when my ego doesn’t want to.

I don’t think this will be easy. But I know that I’m drawn to LEARN, LIVE and LOVE my way through the chaos I see around me.

What are you drawn to? Ask your inner divine for the answers that are right for you.

All my love,

Thursday, May 25, 2017

10 Tips to My 18 Year Old Graduate Self

May is the time for graduations. From preschool to grad school, my Facebook feed is full of photos showing beaming graduates of every age and the tearful families who love them.

I’m a sucker for graduations. The pageantry, the ritual, the joy of new possibilities…I just love it. Even if it’s only a TV commercial, I start to tear up when I hear “Pomp and Circumstances.” Every. Single. Time.

I got to thinking about my own high school graduation in 1975 and what I’d tell myself at that age if I had the chance. At 18 I wasn’t ready for a lot of hard truths, but here’s 10 tips that would have made the next 40+ years easier:

1) Do what scares you. Meet new friends, have adventures. Take more risks. And when that sweet girl in your dorm freshman year asks you to go with her and a few friends to hear her cousin play in a new band, GO! Her cousin turns out to be Clarence Clemons and you could have met Bruce Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band. Studying for that stupid history test only got you a B anyway.  

2) Listen to the wisdom of your inner voice. Balance “what makes sense” in your head with what your heart tells you is true. You’ll have several situations where you went directly against what you knew in your heart was the best choice…and you’ll regret it. Mom was right. Listen to your intuition. Like when you felt pulled to go to the hospital to see your friend “D” but didn’t want to intrude. Go. Turns out you don’t get another chance.

3) It sucks, but Mom was right about a lot of things. Just accept it. You’ll understand more when you have your own kids.

4) Dad was right too, especially about money. Put some away every month. The years do go by faster than you think and you’ll wish the money you spent “investing” in your 8-Track, Pet Rock and Beanie Baby collections had been sitting in a bank benefiting from years of compound interest. 

5) Always tell people what they mean to you, how much you love them. Never hold a grudge. Forgive freely. Holding on to hurt never helps. Love yourself and forgive yourself for everything. You finally figure out all your “mistakes” were opportunities to grow. Trust me, you end up with TONS of growth opportunities.

6) Turns out meditation isn’t just for weirdos and hippies. It becomes your foundation in a decade or two and changes your life in miraculous ways. Don’t fight it.

7) Calm down. Just calm the hell down. What you think is a big deal, usually isn’t and the really scary stuff you never see coming. Learn to be more present in each moment and you’ll do far better than worrying about a thousand possible situations in the future.

8) Stop worrying so much about your weight and hair. Get more exercise and trust hair products will be invented that will tame that curly mane (it takes a few decades though). You’ll finally learn you are not your looks. The sooner you figure this out, the better life becomes. Oh, and when you hear about this thing called a “Brow Bar” run, do not walk, to the closest one as fast as you can. (I know I just told you you’re not your looks, but it doesn’t hurt to be well groomed.)

9) Every second of every day is precious. Do your best to not waste a minute. 

10) You were absolutely right about one thing. Elton John IS still rocking well into his 70’s! And he still sounds amazing.