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“Don’t push the river;

…it flows by itself..” ~Chinese proverb

Stepping out of the rushing river of life for a moment is not only difficult to do, it’s difficult to remember to do. It almost belongs on a To-Do list: laundry, shopping, sitting still. How do we fit that into our day? Granted, it’s not really a chore. If it is, we’re not being present. But, for many, it’s also probably not up there on the list of “Fun Things To Do in my Spare Time.”

Yet, regular practice of sitting still and being present can soften hardship and exhilarate joy. It allows the daily dust to settle and clears the fog of frenzy so that clarity of thought and pureness of heart can take their rightful places at the table.

Slow down. Invite the best parts of yourself. Welcome each to their place setting. Then quietly sit among them: patience, compassion, endurance, forgiveness. Offer them nourishment as you feast on silence. Refill their plates when they ask for seconds. Some have arrived malnourished. Dine on dignity, then toss the scraps of doubt.

When you and your guests are full, bid each one farewell. Invite them again, often. They will show their appreciation in ways that will surprise you.

Bon appetit!

I Love what I Love, but Not what I Do

“Let the beauty that we love be what we do.”
~Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273)

Why are we here? Is there meaning to this life? These questions we have asked for eons. Maybe there is more than one answer.

More importantly, perhaps, what are we here to do? Each of us has been given a “lean.” What do you lean toward? What propels you? What gets your heart pumping, your blood flowing?

Maybe you’re doing that already. Maybe you’ve found a way to make a living at it. Or maybe there’s a chasm of fear in the way disguised as an “obstacle,” a boulder. Is the other side attainable? Is the chasm traversable? Is there a way around the boulder? A path of least resistance?

What’s stopping you? What’s stopping you from reaching the upper limits of your greatest inspiration, your intention and desire for your work–or play–on this planet while you’re here? Perhaps you’re at a loss for what that greatest desire may be. If that’s the case, how do you go forward?

Try these three steps:

Step 1: Remain open to not-knowing. Let the unknown be OK. It will be revealed to you when you are ready. Don’t force an answer. Try to get comfortable with not-knowing.

Step 2: Get in touch with your passion, with what inspires you. How? Try this:

Make a list of what you love. Try not to think in terms of revealing what to do next in your life. Just enjoy the exercise with no judgment. Think about and write down anything you love. Here’s mine in random order:

Exploring spiritual and physical health and wellness
Music
Dance
Education
Writing (fiction, non-fiction, comedy)
Singing
Making people laugh
Arts and crafts
Helping others
Babies and children
Warm weather
Water and waves
etc.

Now, play with the list however you like. For example, what would it look like to merge everything I love into one career?

I could offer workshops in holistic well-being (with childcare provided) on a tropical island or by a lake in summer using comedy, writing, music, art/crafts, dance, and song.

Step 3: Take baby steps toward your dream. Ask your Spirit Guides (or Whomever for you) for your best next steps. Start with today.

Dream, then do laundry. Dream, then plan. Dream, then send an email. Do whatever it takes. Feel the fear, and do it anyway. Go around, through, over, under. Don’t give up.

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.”
~Bruce Barton (1886-1967)

This post was adapted from my older blog, Words of Wisdom.

The Joy of Conflict?

“Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.” ~M. Esther Harding

Conflict. It’s something most of us shy away from. After all, we paid our dues as teenagers, didn’t we? Oh. Maybe that was just me. But, now as independent adults, we can choose to avoid it, like choosing whether or not to make the bed or do our chores.

What’s the point of conflict anyway? Shouldn’t we avoid it…even when it’s unavoidable? Make cookies, not war…and that sort of thing? Don’t we want world peace starting with the person in the mirror? I’m conflicted about conflict. When given the choice between fight or flight, the latter seems more enjoyable, especially if I’m headed to a tropical island! 

Conflict, though, can be a positive thing, an opportunity. An opportunity for growth and change. Most of us resist change too, happily strolling along until life threatens to create so much conflict or major crises that we are forced to change. Why not nip it in the bud and embrace it?

Hey, Change! I see you comin.’ You’re cleverly disguised as Conflict. Ha! You’re not foolin’ me! And I’m not afraid of you…mostly. Yeah. Watch me bend and let you roll off my back. And if you come back with more, I’ll do the same. So there!

Conflict shouldn’t be about “fight or flight.” It should be about resist or grow, and asking ourselves: What am I seeing about myself in this conflict? What is trying to emerge in me? How am I participating? Where am I needing to grow? Where am I falling short? 

Today I will search for the gap within myself and do my best to close it. I will see Conflict for what it is: an opportunity for me to discover my best self.

Oh, Conflict! Who knew a silver lining was part of your clever disguise, you rascal!

This was adapted from my older blog, Words of Wisdom.

Making Peace with What Is

“Today I will accept people, situations, and events as they occur. This means I will know that this moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be.” ~Deepak Chopra

Sometimes it’s hard to think that everything is as it should be, especially when it doesn’t feel very good. We think: how is it possible that this was supposed to happen?! But we remember that change is ultimately positive as it leads to action, evolution, and growth.

Childbirth is physically painful, but look at the end result. Education or learning a new skill can be mentally taxing, but look at the reward. A major life crisis beyond our control can be an emotionally draining struggle, but look at how we are shaped by it.

We are forced out of the routine and into a pin-pointed focus of survival of some kind.We can learn to accept each new situation as something that was supposed to happen. This does not mean, of course, that we lie down and allow it if we see a way to improve it. Accepting life as it is does not mean being a martyr. It does mean not struggling against it in the moment.

We can pause, breathe, and from that non-resistant stance, decide what our response will be. If it is beyond our control, we can choose to go with it and let it be, let it find its own outcome. But if we can affect a change for the better, we can accept what happened and then make our move…or not.

Adapted from my other blog site, Words of Wisdom.

Cognitive Dissonance

“Wisdom is tolerance of cognitive dissonance.”  ~Robert Thurman

Lexico.com gives this definition of “cognitive dissonance:” the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

I had a dream last night that I was to take dictation from a classmate when they call, type it up, and hand it in when I get to class because they are unable to go. This may have been a message from my Spirit Guides to listen and write what they have to say. 

Over the past several months, I had been extremely irritated by two family members. Different issues, but my ruminations about both were the same. How do I deal with their constant negativity and critique of me? Not blatant critique, but subtle and underhanded, the kind of criticism that’s not obvious at first, but over time erodes my tolerance of their every word.

The most recent exchange drove me to block one of them on Gmail–which of course I had to google having never done that before! But, I immediately questioned myself. Did I overreact? Am I a bad person? Isn’t the answer always Love? Love thine enemy? But how do I weigh Love and care of myself against Love of their “lost” souls? Shouldn’t I protect myself from constant attack or at least take a respite from my inner work? Is it wrong to evade self-reflection about what each of them is showing me about myself: old hurts that I’m tired of feeling?

A messy scene. My baggage clashes with their baggage. A jumble of backpacks and suitcases thrown open with our contents strewn about and mixed up until I can’t tell whose stuff is whose. (This is the only time I wish my baggage would get lost or sent to Hawaii or Curaçao so I could go there to claim it!)

They’ve both burned bridges with other people: friends and family. It’s not just me. They both thrive on conflict. They seem to get some kind of pleasure out of stirring the pot and inviting arguments for argument’s sake over politics or over…any subject will do.

So, no. It’s not wrong for me to disengage from petty unwinnable arguments with people who believe only they are right. They don’t like to be wrong. They prefer to prevail.

I don’t enjoy being wrong either, but I am open to other opinions and discussions to reach a new understanding. I draw the line at personal attacks that buzz in like haloed hornets with smiles sweet enough to boil my blood. I am more than willing to let down my guard if/when they stop giving me reasons to keep it up.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep my distance. From here, far away from the flying barbs, I can try to find in my heart an iota of Love and compassion for them at some point. I can ponder–or not–what might have made them like this. I can dwell on truths about myself.

            Dear Self:

            Remember that how others treat you is telling of who they are, not an indicator of who you are. It’s ok to take a respite from the battle. It’s ok to feel anger, hurt, and rage. No, you are not a bad person, and, dear one, neither are they. It’s just a clash of baggage.

            Take all the time you need to return to your own peace of mind. Once there, you can choose to allow your heart and Higher Self to sense compassion. You can’t change others, you can only change your response to them. But do know that All are Loved.

P.S. So, yeah. A few days after originally posting this, I opened the book by Gay Hendricks titled, The Big Leap. My mind was far away from the issue of this post. I opened to a random page using both thumbs, as I often do when I feel a message is there for me. Reading the passage felt like hearing musical dissonance resolve into harmony:

“If we’re in the grip of worrying while someone around us isn’t, we seem to have an almost uncontrollable urge to criticize that person until he or she jumps into the stream of negativity with us.”

Ahh…so that’s what’s going on. This message from my Spirit Guides answered my original question: How do I deal with their constant negativity and critique of me?

Answer: With understanding and compassion.

Insomnia allows for answers.

It was my third night in a row of insomnia. My brain was latched onto a problem that had persisted over months of back and forth, leaving me feeling out of control, overwhelmed, and unable to let go. In my view, it was taking too long to resolve and I had very little control over the issue. It felt like the slow, painful removal of a bandaid.

The “witching hour” seemed to always be 3 a.m. Each night I tried concentrating on my breathing, changing my focus, practicing conscious relaxation, but none of those worked. I couldn’t release the buzz in my brain or my limbs.

It is suggested that when you can’t fall back to sleep, you should get out of bed and do something with low-lighting that avoids looking at screens. I went downstairs to listen to a guided relaxation, but that didn’t help either. I came back upstairs feeling out of control. I begged my Spirit Guides for help. Please show me a sign that you are listening.

Distraught, I lay on the couch with my cat on the floor next to me. Ah! Petting animals is supposed to lower blood pressure. I reached down and pet him for a bit, still feeling lost.

On the coffee table was a book that I had gotten off the shelf a few weeks back: How to Be an Adult. I picked it up thinking it might be a useful distraction. Or, there’s a message in here for me somehow. With both thumbs, I randomly opened to a page that I sensed was what I was supposed to read. On the right side was a new chapter about adult relationships. Whatever, I thought. That’s not where the problem is. That’s where I get the most support.

On the opposite side, was a quote that exactly matched where I was at emotionally. Therein was my answer and the sign I had asked for:

What is hard to appreciate, when terror shapes a catastrophic gap, is that blankness can be a Fertile Void. The Fertile Void is the existential metaphor for giving up the familiar supports of the present and trusting the momentum of life to produce new opportunities and vistas.

The acrobat who swings from one trapeze to the next knows just when he must let go. He gauges his release exquisitely and for a moment he has nothing going for him but his own momentum.

Erving and Miriam Polster, Gestalt Therapy Integrated

My stress was immediately calmed with the reminder that I was not going at the speed of Life. I wanted an end to the pain immediately. I also had distrusted the Universe that things were being orchestrated to work out in due time.

TSA DISCOVERS ALARM IN MY CROTCH

The TSA found an alarm in my crotch. I was traveling back home from vacation in Branson, MO with my husband. Standing in the security line at the airport, I was decidedly not frustrated by the antics we air travelers have been required to go through since 9/11/2001: removing shoes, belts, hats, emptying pockets.

As I stood there, I thought back to that horrific day and why we do this. We had to come up with something. We had to reinvent travel. As I stood in solidarity with my country, I thought: They should have a poster up on the wall to remind people. And then I saw it: a black and white and gray poster of the two white beams shooting up into the night sky, the new memorial at ground zero. At the bottom of the poster, it read: “Never forget.” 

I proceeded through the line, placed my things in bins, emptied my pockets, and walked into the booth. I assumed the stance: feet on feet, arms up and bent at the elbows as if under arrest.

“Ok, step out and stand here,” a male TSA instructed me pointing to yellow footprints on the floor. “She’ll be over in a minute,” he continued, indicating a female TSA nearby. Dave was still putting his things on the belt and walking through. 

The female TSA approached me and said, “We found an alarm on you.”

“You did?!” I quickly self-scanned in my head, but I had removed anything metal. She pointed behind me to a small digital sign of a stick figure standing with arms raised, as if under arrest. There was a red mark in the crotch. Hmm, I thought. That doesn’t even look like me.

She then explained in rapid succession what she was going to do to me with her gloved hands. “I’ll start in the back, go down the outside of your legs, up the inside, then…” She rattled it off so fast, I couldn’t keep up.

When she was done, I said, “Inside my clothes?!”

“No-o-o-o!” she responded with the sarcastic tone of a sassy teenager.  “Who are you traveling with?”

I pointed to my left behind me. “I’m with Dave, that guy there.”

“Is he laughing at you?” she asked.

“Probably,” I said.

They finally let me go after molesting me over my clothes. They never found anything because there was nothing to find.

We continued on toward our gate and had time to stop for lunch and a much needed drink. I had a Moscow Mule, which kicked in hard on an empty stomach before the panini caught up with it.

Later, at the gate, I texted my friend: “TSA found an alarm in my crotch and I’m not even wearing a thong!” It made sense to me at the time.

But, what if there was such a thing? A crotch alarm, like a rape whistle.  Soon as the perp gets close enough to my crotch, a deafening alarm sounds, scaring them off.

Sorry, TSA, that’s just my rape alarm. Seems some of you guys just can’t control your urges, so I invented my own type of chastity belt. So, that’s why my 9 volt battery device (I know, it’s heavy and bulky, but this is just the first prototype, soon to be streamlined and more affordable! A great gift idea for that special someone in your life!) showed up on your scanner. It doesn’t have the power to blow up a plane, but it can destroy the eardrums of potential rapists.  Cool, huh? Oh, and it’ll likely go off when you scan my private parts with your wand or latex-gloved hands since I can’t really remove it and put it on the conveyor belt. Jus’ sayin’.