Coping With The Corona

The Corona is getting on my last nerve! I’m thinking it might be a good time to talk about some coping skills for high stress situations. As many of you know, I practice and teach a spiritually based form of conflict resolution that I learned early in my spiritual walk. (I will go into more depth on the conflict resolution method in future posts.) For now, let’s talk about the inner conflicts we are all experiencing and ways to handle our conflicts so we can live happier, calmer lives even under an unusual amount of stress.

Often, we think of a conflict as being an experience with another person, such as a fight with a friend or anger conjured up by the actions of someone else. While these are certainly examples of conflict, when we pull back to look at the idea of conflict from a spiritual perspective with the aim of healing, the first step is to acknowledge that the place we are experiencing the conflict is inside ourselves. Once we acknowledge that our conflict (the way we are responding to the stressor) exists inside ourselves, it is easier to see that the real issue is not really about something outside us. Yes, an event takes place out there, but the conflict is inside. When we take responsibility for our own inner conflict, we have all the power we need to heal it.

For example, when we look at the pandemic, we see that the conflicts we are experiencing are not being caused by anger at a person outside of us and it would not make much sense to spend a lot of time being angry at the virus, itself, would it? Instead, what we’re all dealing with is fear, frustration, grief, economic insecurity, confusion, anger, sadness, etc. This is a lot to cope with all at once! It also creates a kind of inner conflict that is quite different from fighting with another person. The answer is still the same… By taking responsibility for our own internal experiences, we acknowledge our inner conflict and go to work healing it. When we pick up our personal power In this way, we can heal and live happier lives!

So, we are all experiencing the same pandemic, but our experiences might be quite different. In other words, my inner conflicts are probably different from your inner conflicts. In terms of the virus, you may have heard it said this way, “We’re all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.” Same virus, different experiences.

In terms of our interpersonal exchanges, many of which are becoming quite strained these days, let’s review some basic coping skills that can help keep the peace ~

Email is a sure road to hell – It is important to remember not to have emotional conversations via email or text. I have heard it said this way… “Don’t have a 3D conversation on a 2D device.” Even in these days of social distancing, certain conversations need the advantage of voice intonation and body language, which only comes from voice-to-voice or face-to-face. If you have a conflict with someone you cannot be in the same room with, use a program on the phone or computer so you can at least see and hear one another.

Speak the truth, always with Compassion – When you are faced with a difficult conversation, remember that sometimes (often) the truth is difficult to hear, especially these days when we are already stressed. In my practice, we use a funny little phrase that helps keep a little compassion in the words we speak… We say, “Choose your words very carefully, for someday you will have to eat them!” This phrase goes straight to what Jesus said about, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” His statement says that we will be judged the same way we judge others. Ask yourself how you want to be judged in the world? I want to be judged with love and compassion, so that is what I strive to give to others. Let us please add an extra measure of grace and forgiveness in our conversations these days.

Let it go – Not every comment demands a response and sometimes it is easier to acquiesce, rather than escalate. This is a skill that was hard for me to learn. Ask yourself, “Do you want to be right or do you want to have peace?” When I get triggered, I do my inner work and I move as quickly as possible to the place of peace. Sometimes I don’t even need to go back and comment, because through my healing work I have been able to rise above it. Before I learned to do this, I was often triggered and looking for a way to be right, which led to a lot of problems.

Say “I’m sorry” when you screw up This one takes large amounts humility. Take responsibility for your part of the problem, own it and simply say, “I’m sorry.” And remember, when somebody else screws up and says they’re sorry, make sure you receive their apology with humility. Sometimes receiving an apology gracefully is harder than the one who has to say, “I’m sorry” in the first place. (Think about it.)

Lessons from MotherhoodOne thing I’ve learned from being a mom is to pick my battles. I have also learned another important lesson… You can win all the battles and still lose the war. I often pull back from situations because the relationship (my goal of “winning the war”) is more important to me than any particular battle. When you have done your healing work on those inner conflicts we talked about a moment ago, you will find you no longer need to keep going back for one last attempt at being right. Your inner work makes things right for you and that is your primary goal… Healing the Self.

As We Open – Many states are starting to open back up to life “out there” as opposed to the lock-down so many of us have been in. Please remember that no matter what the government or the news says, if you don’t feel comfortable and safe going out there yet, you do not have to go. No matter how much it opens up out there, you alone decide what you feel ready for in this new world we’re all going to create together, post virus. Taking this experience at your own pace is a terrific example of being Self-empowered. You decide.

Please try this at home.

I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

If you would like to receive my blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net

Let Go and Begin Again

Can we cross the bridge into a brand new day full of light?

In meditation practice we are taught not to worry when the mind wanders. It is often said that the most important moment in your practice is when you realize your mind is wandering and you come back into your body and find peace in the present moment. So, the mantra is, “Let go and begin again. Let go and begin again.” We learn to realize that it’s OK if we get lost… Simply notice and come back to balance. In contemplating this idea in reference to our current situation, we could see this time of pandemic in the same way… For now, we might feel lost and need to practice coming back to balance, over-and-over, as best we can.

I don’t know about you, but the level of fear and worry I’ve been experiencing has sometimes been overwhelming. I have occasionally been afraid for myself, but mostly I’ve had to fight debilitating worry for my family and for the world. One day, when I was changing my grandson’s diaper, I reached for a second butt-wipe and a huge rush of emotion came over me. I was overtaken by sadness for the people who might not have any butt-wipes at all. That might sound silly, but the feeling was very powerful. In that moment, as my nervous system got all charged up, I had to refrain from following the stream of fear all the way up to panic. I recognized the moment as an opportunity to take a deep breath. I let the energy of fear pass through me as I sat quietly breathing and feeling gratitude for the beautiful, healthy child I held in my arms.

We talked about fear last week and said, “Don’t fight it and don’t feed it.” This idea takes me back to a book I read many years ago… In “Dune” by Frank Herbert, there is a powerful passage called the Litany Against Fear which was said by the people when they were in peril…

As we search for meaning in this experience, we might contemplate the possibility that we are undergoing a powerful Transformation on the Earth. In a Reading in late March the Angels said, “One of the greatest vaccines that is happening right now is Compassion.” They talked about how we are being forced into deep emotion while feeling and showing Compassion for ourselves and others. We are being shown the cracks and flaws in the old systems… the cultural systems at large, the systems within our own homes and families and even the systems inside our own hearts and minds. It’s as though the virus is showing us what we’ve been missing, the things we’ve forgotten and so much that we have taken for granted. What have you learned is truly important to you that you have taken for granted in your life? These are good things to learn even though it has been a tough way to learn them! As we have said before, this medicine may be tough to swallow, but God is present here, dear people. There will be new Light in the darkness.

Even though we might feel lost right now, eventually our isolation will end and we will return to life in a whole new way. Let us look forward with gratitude as we come to a new moment of balance. Can we imagine Compassion as vaccine and Love as antiseptic? Can we cross that bridge into a brand new day full of light? Perhaps we will see this new way as the first moment we can truly, “Let go and begin again.”

Please try this at home.

I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

If you would like to receive my blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net

Fear ~ Don’t fight it and don’t feed it

I posted only a poem and a few short words last week, because I was in the midst of a whole week of anger! It surprised me, because I don’t do a lot of anger, but there it was. We’ve talked many times about how important it is to feel our feelings and not minimize them or pretend they’re not there. A common self-help saying comes to mind, “When we bury our feelings, they are buried alive.” Then they come out of us in some really counter-productive ways… like spewing the green vomit of anger on a completely unsuspecting loved one, for example. Or the anger festers deep inside and eats us alive over time. So I spent the week feeling and breathing some real nastiness.

One of the most important things I reminded myself NOT to do was to attach a big story to why I was feeling anger. It’s important to remember that when we create a story, we end up living inside that story. We may start to close down and obsess on the story line, which easily takes our awareness away from the messages of Spirit. What we find is that sometimes our feelings aren’t about the stories at all… They are about things we don’t know or understand yet. The Angels taught us not to “predict possible futures” if we can help it. Rather, it is best to stay in the present moment, feel and breathe, and see what comes. We must also remember that creating a story is more like thinking about our feelings, rather than actually feeling them.

Coming into the Present Moment – What about feelings that come from trauma? One of the things that happens, especially when we’re on the hamster wheel in our minds, creating stories and trying to describe and justify our feelings, is that we re-live the trauma and the pain, over and over. This keeps it alive and sometimes even accentuates it. We forget that the trauma is in the past. Our stories can even project the fear and pain into the future, creating dread and overwhelm. When we come into the present moment, we are able to calm down and center. Then we realize that the trauma itself is over. Now we can move more fluidly through our emotion about the pain, instead of recreating the pain itself over and over again.

In our current situation, processing the trauma is easier said than done, because we didn’t have one big trauma that is over. We are in the middle of a trauma that is ongoing. This is frightening and creates a sense of dread about whether or not it will get worse. Still, the answer is the same… When we come into the present moment, we come into our bodies where we can hold those feelings gently… Dare I say, hold the fear… and move through it. Denying it doesn’t work. Accentuating it doesn’t help. But when we simply hold it and allow ourselves some grace and the fullness of time, we get our power back and we can move through it. The fear might still be there, but we are not expending so much energy trying to run away from it… or kill it.

My friend, Barbara, and I have talked about the story of Jesus spending 40 days in the desert, talking with the devil. This is sometimes referred to as “the temptation,” but I don’t think Jesus was actually tempted by the devil. He knew better. Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus did not kill the devil or in any way try to destroy him? Instead, he used a tool I call “disappearing.” He simply knew better than to be taken in by the force of darkness that appeared right in front of him. Jesus picked up his Power and simply “disappeared” him, even while the devil was standing right there.

We’ve heard this said another way… the way it is said in the picture at the top. Peace, being faith-filled and disappearing the darkness around you, is that calm place in the eye of the tornado… All hell is breaking loose around you and you are able to be centered in your heart. We may not be able to control the things happening around us, but we can find faith and peace in our hearts.

Please be in Gratitude for those who are on the front lines, feeding us, delivering what we need and keeping things going in so many ways. Please pray for those in charge to have the wisdom needed to plan well and to keep our best interest and the Greater Good in their hearts. May each be rewarded ten-fold for the things they put into the world. Please say a prayer to honor the dying and those already departed. Most of all, remember that it only takes the light of one little candle to dispel the darkness… Be The Light.

Please try this at home.

I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

If you would like to receive my blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net

Finding Meaning in the Struggle

Blessings to you. How are you today? How is your family? May we all stay strong and healthy. Amen

Who’s in charge of your day? With everything we’re going through right now, that may sound like a trick question. One of the hardest parts of this experience is the uncertainty and lack of control we are all experiencing. We’re accustomed to a certain sense of control in our lives, but the truth is, we typically have far less control than we realize. Try stopping the rain, for example. However, what we do typically have is a feeling of control that comes from our previous life experiences. We all feel certain that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. Why? Because it always has. We have a lifetime of experience telling us the things that have always happened will continue to happen. But what we’re going through right now doesn’t fit any patterns we recognize… None of us have past experiences to help us with this. We have no context. That alone makes this scary.

It is true that there are a lot of things not in our control right now, but what is in our control is our perception of the situation. Each one of us decides our relationship to what is happening. We decide what our attitude will be. And our perception will help shape our reality. I read something the other day that said this experience is either a portal or a hole. Is it a portal to a new way of being that we don’t understand yet? Or have we simply fallen into a hole with no good in sight? You choose. I’m holding onto this… “Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” I choose to believe that miracles are on the way, even when I can’t see them!

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was an Austrian psychiatrist and psychotherapist who survived the concentration camps of the Holocaust. He later wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

People are saying this is a reset for the Earth and I’m sure that is true… The Earth is receiving a much-needed rest from all the trudging around we humans do in our environment. However, it is important to notice that this is giving us time to reset as well. Please don’t miss this opportunity to get quiet and listen. At this point, many of us don’t have much to do except stay home and wait, so what can we do while we wait? Of course, we send hope and love to one another… That is a given. We can pray, even if we’re in our pajamas all day long. We can also spend some time noticing the differences we are experiencing in our lives right now and examining how they make us feel?

We’ve talked before about the importance of feeling your feelings… So what is that like for you right now? Look at what you’re afraid of, go inside and spend some time in contemplation of those fears. Yes, I’m saying to move toward the thing you’re afraid of in order to diminish its power over you! When we don’t examine all that’s going on inside us, we are vulnerable to being controlled by it, and we don’t even realize it.

Look carefully and honestly at the world we already have and visualize the world as you want it to be. See the change… Be the change. Anytime we can be free of worry and fear we are contributing to the highest good for all. In those moments, when you feel calm and centered, remember that you are holding that space of Compassion for the whole planet, really.

We are ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, so remember… We are at our best when things are at their worst!  There are lessons in this experience for each and every one of us. There are also gifts that come from the lessons, but the gifts only come to those who are open to receiving them. What is in this experience for you? Are you looking for the gifts? Are you sending and receiving Light? Are you asking for support when you need it and giving support when and where you can?

You may be alone in your home, but we are together in our hearts. Stay calm and stay home. Feel and breathe. Love one another. This too shall pass. If you need somebody to talk to, please email or message me. We’re all in this together and I’m right here.

Please try this at home.

* Featured art by SandySue at SandySueAltered.com

One of my greatest outside supports has been my meditation app, 10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

10% Happier is also giving FREE 6 month memberships (or for the duration) to all healthcare workers on the 10% Happier app. Email Care@tenpercenthappier.com or click on Caronavirus Sanity in the app.

You can also go to 10% Happier Live on YouTube (scroll down for episodes) at 3:00 Eastern Time (2:00 CST) every weekday for a live gathering that includes a wealth of information and a short daily meditation with some of the leading meditation teachers in the US.

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I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

If you would like to receive my blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net

Can We Hold This in an Open Palm…?

Blessings to you. How are you today? How is your family? May we all stay strong and healthy. Amen

So much has changed in a week… Now most of us are staying home as much as possible. We’ve all seen the curves showing us why that’s important in order to slow the virus down so the medical system can keep up. We have moved very quickly from, “Make sure you wash your hands.” to “Is this really happening?” to “It’s here and it’s real. What do we do next?”

It’s an interesting time to have a new blog and it’s difficult to know what to write that might be helpful in this strange experience we are all having together… apart. I realize that all I can do is what I have always done… what God called me to do 25 years ago… Share my story and hope that something I say will ease your struggle and help you on your Journey.

As many of you know, I’m a depression person, so my primary focus this past week or so has been to stay centered and balanced, since those things are sometimes not easy for me. They are especially challenging in these trying times. I have to be constantly mindful, because when depression takes over, little else can get in until it passes. I also have to remember not to go into fear about the possibility of depression, because that can put me over the top and cause me to become a bit manic. It’s a defense mechanism that is often helpful, until it’s not.

I’ve done a pretty good job staying balanced… Making sure to feel my feelings and breathe through them, not deny them. Holding gratitude for our many blessings, even in the face of some fear. I have reminded myself that acceptance of “what is” usually helps me cope better. Once we accept “what is” as simply that… “This is what it is.” …we can move past the parts we cannot change and free up energy for what we really can affect. This is where we find opportunities to pick up our power and actually do something helpful.

Accepting “what is” can be really tough though. (You’re listening to a Recovering Control Freak right now, so I know what I’m talking about.) We spend so much time trying to change “what is” into what we want it to be, what we wish it was. It seems obvious, but I’ll say it out loud… No amount of wishing this was different will make it different. I’m reminded of the 12-Step Prayer… “God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.”

That leaves us with the question, “What can we actually do?” We’re in an interesting place with regard to this question, because one of the most important things most of us can do right now is… seemingly nothing. We have been asked to stay home… To hibernate, so to speak. For some of us (fellow extroverts raise your hands!) this is a big ask! It helps to remember that staying home is something you are doing for the Greater Good. Staying home will help you stay healthy and it helps everybody else stay healthy too. Staying home is not really doing nothing! It’s actively not spreading germs “all over hell and Georgia” as my Grandma used to say.

These things we are experiencing right now can be made gentler if we think of them as acts of caring and compassion. At first I was resistant to staying home. Even the phrase “social distancing” felt oppressive to me. It felt wrong. I had an attitude that said, “I’m tough. I can go out there. I can take it.” Then I realized that, by going out unnecessarily I could make somebody else sick. Or I could get sick and bring that to my family.

If we learn nothing else from this experience, we are learning how interconnected we all are. It’s funny, because Spiritual people talk about interconnectedness all the time and we are often called wacky and woowoo. But this is a secular example of how interconnected we really are and we are ALL feeling it!

If you are staying home, begin to see that as an act of compassion for yourSelf and for everyone out there. If you are on the front lines, one of those people who has to go to work right now, we thank you! We will pray for you. This is another way that those of us who are staying home are not really doing nothing… We are holding space for you to stay well and strong as you do the work that’s necessary out in the world right now. May God Bless you.

Here is some of the wisdom that has helped me in this past week…

This is from Mark Nepo: “Perhaps the washing of hands can become a modern sacrament, a holy ritual by which we hold ourselves and our global family in the deepest regard. Perhaps the slight bow of love and respect can replace the handshake as a holy ritual that will lessen our fear while sharing our love, so that we can bear the uncertainty together.”

I really love this from my Facebook friend, Jaime Meyer: “Take the opportunity to remember that Mother Earth sends us medicine all the time, and there is medicine in this experience, though it may be difficult to comprehend, and unpleasant to ingest. One part of that, for me, is that we are being taught how clearly interconnected all life is, and that core idea is probably the number one change of consciousness that our species needs, and is beginning to grasp and work with.”

As my dear friend, Jess, said to me this week, “Can we hold this in an open palm… Can we view it through curious eyes?” There is that lovely word again… Curiosity… Becoming as little children. How we choose to view this and how we respond to what is happening will affect our own experience of it. Remember… Too much worry can weaken the immune system. Don’t forget to breathe. Reach out when you need to.

How are you today? If you need somebody to talk to, please email or message me. We’re in this together and I’m right here.

May God Bless us every one.

Please try this at home.

*Curiosity (See Yoga Life Lessons post from 3-7-20)

One of my greatest outside supports has actually been my meditation app, 10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

The 10% Happier podcast, which you can find through the app, has a piece about Parenting During the Pandemic

10% Happier is also giving FREE 6 month memberships (or for the duration) to all healthcare workers on the 10% Happier app. Email Care@tenpercenthappier.com or click on Caronavirus Sanity in the app.

You can also go to 10% Happier Live on YouTube (scroll down for episodes) at 3:00 Eastern Time (2:00 CST) every weekday for a live gathering that includes a wealth of information and a short daily meditation with some of the leading meditation teachers in the US.

#10percenthappier

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I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

If you would like to receive my blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net

Don’t Worry Yourself Sick

I have Restless Mind Syndrome. (OK, I made that up.) But my nickname with my business partners is, “Obsesses Too Much” so let’s just say there’s a reason I own a coffee mug that says, “Hold on. Let me overthink this.” I overthink just about everything. I tend to worry and I need to remind myself constantly that, “Worrying is like praying for what you DON’T want.”

Earlier this week I woke up in the middle of the night. I saw myself standing on the edge of a huge lake covered in new-fallen snow. As I looked out over that vast ocean of white all I could see was… nothing. Pure white nothing. And all I could hear was quiet. In that twilight time, between awake and asleep, the vision lasted only a moment. Then my mind started to think about what it was seeing and describe it in the way I just said it to you. Even the moments of description were pure and quiet like the snow. The only thing occupying my mind was the beauty and serenity of the scene before me.

Not once did I hear the dreaded “C” word.

We’re all a little too nervous these days. Worried. Becoming consumed by something we can’t control. Being cautioned not to get too close to one another. But it seems to me that, in difficult times, we need one another all the more. By all means, take every precaution you feel you need to take, but don’t let fear overtake you. Worrying more will not keep you well. As a matter of fact, worrying too much might actually weaken your immune system. Remember when your Grandma used to say, “Oh, dear, I’m just worried sick.” There’s a reason for that age-old adage. We must take reasonable steps and remember that panic never helps!

If you feel you can’t leave your house, reach out to someone you love who might be isolating too much… or tell a friend if you think you are isolating too much. Send a text or an email… Make a phone call… Share yourself any way you can. In the absence of a hug, even a text or a phone call is human contact. And by all means, find some way to laugh! My personal favorite is to call somebody who makes me laugh or who thinks I’m the funny one. But watching a comedy movie will suffice. It’s that old “Laughter is the best medicine” thing.

Whenever you feel fear coming up, take a moment and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and picture a scene like the one I described to you… or like the one in the picture above. Anything of beauty that makes you feel calm and grounded again. It may only take a moment to re-center yourself… or you may have to feel and breathe a little longer. You might need to do this several times a day. It seems so basic, but when we’re scared it’s important to remember, “Don’t forget to breathe.”

Please try this at home!

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I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

If you would like to receive my Blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net

Yoga Life Lessons

Listen to your body – Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But for some of us, even being aware of being in our bodies has been a challenge. Take, for example, me being over-weight much of my life. My body was not a place I wanted to be, because then I might notice that I didn’t like what it looked like. It took the first 10 years of my Spiritual life plus 5 years of karate training (ages 45-50) to get me inside my body in a productive way… And it takes a good bit of yoga, meditation and healing practice to keep me there and comfortable even now. And don’t even get me started on how religion often tells us that the body is nasty, evil and/or sinful. Your body is the vehicle that is carrying around your beautiful Soul, your piece of God. It is the Temple of the Spirit and don’t let anybody tell you different! Once we start treating our bodies as temples, we can love them (regardless of their size and shape) and learn to listen to their wisdom. Then we realize that a body aligned with Spirit is wise and we know that when our body says, “Don’t do it” …you don’t do it. This works for the food we take in, the energy we give out and the choices we make that either help us or hurt us in life.

Rest is another thing that goes right along with listening to your body. It seems self-evident, but hear me when I say… When you have worked hard and your body is tired, let it rest. We live in a culture that pushes us to the brink of exhaustion every chance it gets… Spiritually, emotionally, physically and psychologically, so it’s important to get enough rest. In yoga, at the end of each session, we lie down on the mat to rest, which also lets the positive impact and energy of the session settle into our bodies. Same goes for sleep, which is when we heal and recharge. Just remember, if sleep wasn’t important, we wouldn’t spend one-third of our lives doing it!

Balance is important – This is not only about the kind of balance it takes to stand on one foot, touch your finger to your nose and sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic at the same time. In yoga we create balance by doing the same thing on both sides of the body… We deliberately balance one side with the other. In our daily lives we might try balancing all the negative things we say to ourselves with some positive input whenever possible. For example, “You’re so stupid… Why did you do that?” needs at least a few positive phrases, said with gentle sincerity, in order to create balance.

Un-sass your hips – I have no idea what life lesson we can learn from this… I just like how it sounds 😊 and my yoga teacher says it all the time.

Breathe into it – When we come to a point of discomfort in yoga practice, we are reminded to breathe into it. This involves turning our attention toward the discomfort and offering it soothing breath and loving compassion until the discomfort lessens. Turning toward a struggle may seem counter-intuitive, since we tend to want to run away from it, but the first step in healing is to acknowledge what needs to be healed.

I can’t tell you how many times this tiny practice has come in handy in my life… When my body hurts, when my heart hurts… When I was in the hospital trying not to die 10 years ago and the only way I could get through all those awful tests was to close my eyes, go inside and breathe loving-kindness into my sick and aching body. The next time you are struggling in body, mind or emotion, take a moment and breathe into it. Send it some sweet lovin’ and then just “feel and breathe” until you get through it.

Eyes on your own mat – How often do we cause problems for ourselves and others because we start paying more attention to what they are doing, which means we are paying less attention to what we are doing ourselves. Wouldn’t life be grand if we all paid more attention to our own moves, the things we actually have the Power to impact, and let everybody else tend to their own lives.

The lesson in my class today was, “Perfection is a thing of the mind, not the heart.” When she read this at the end of class, I immediately started flipping back through the times in class I thought about how bad I must look in this particular position and what if somebody in class notices how I look and… blah… blah… blah. Then I stopped, because that is all ego and no humility… and a total waste of energy.

Have you ever noticed how often little children stop themselves from squealing at the sheer joy of being alive because they might not look good doing it? The answer is NEVER! Children experience life from the freedom of the heart and approach everything with curiosity. What a great word… Curiosity. Let’s do that today!

Please try this at home!

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I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like to go next.

If you would like to receive my Blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net

Creativity (smaller)

Creativity and Passion

My friend and I were talking on the phone the other day about the joys and struggles of running a business. At one point in the conversation I heard mySelf say, “Yes, isn’t it wonderful to be in a state of Creation!” Wow, that is a statement to savor! This is what productive work gives us in this lifetime… an outlet… an expression of the Self into the world. It gives us an opportunity to experience one of my favorite words… PASSION!  To pour yourSelf into something creative and watch it be born right before your eyes. It’s one of the best and highest experiences we can have! This is what people forget about our daily lives and the work we do. Creativity and Passion aren’t just words to describe what a poet or an artist does. These are words that describe a state of Being and, in this way, we have a choice every single day about being in this state, or not. I spent my entire career doing some kind of office work… First as a receptionist, then a secretary (There’s a word for the Baby Boomers. Do we even have secretaries anymore?) Then I became an Office Manager and that’s pretty much where I stayed until I retired a couple of years ago. As an Office Manager I did all kinds of things: Bookkeeping, Human Resources, Accounts Payable and Receivable, lots of problem solving. Oh, how I do love problem solving! Basically, I moved paper around a lot. Case in point… After a few hours of Take Your Daughter to Work Day, my 12-year old proclaimed, “This is boring!” To which I replied, “This is how we eat, my dear.” She was probably right. To some it was boring. But to me, this was Creativity! This was my Passion! My outlet and my contribution! No, it was not poetry. It was not even the thrill I get when I work on a book, write these blog posts or do Spiritual Direction work with people… But it was accomplishment. It was mine and I poured my heart into it every day. I didn’t even realize how much I loved it until I stopped doing it. Then… Oh, how I missed my spreadsheets! (Early retirement did not look pretty on me!) We must cultivate the state of Creativity and Passion. Look for it. Call it to you. And most especially, we must recognize it, because God put passion in everything! There are many who drag themselves to work every day and don’t even notice what they do as a contribution, an achievement each day. Please, notice what you do! And notice how others contribute to your state of Being. I have a friend who always calls me Beauty. Just Beauty, said matter-of-factly, as though everybody talks like this. “Hello Beauty.” It lights me up every single time. I don’t ever let myself un-notice it. So don’t let yourself believe that the job you go to everyday is meaningless, simply because it’s not big in the eyes of culture. We all love the statement, “It takes a village to raise a child.” So remember… We are the village. All of us. The big and the small. The ones with exciting jobs and the ones without. The point is not what you do. The point is how you do it! The Passion you bring to whatever it is you create is the Energy you are putting into the world. Don’t let that Energy be flat, dull and lifeless. Do yourself and the rest of us a favor… Bring your whole heart to whatever task is in front of you and you will feel like a Rock Star every day! Please try this at home! If you would like to receive my Blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like to go next. Second Coming – Awakening The Christ Within

Garden of Dreams

A friend and I headed for Taylor’s Falls and made a stop along the way at Franconia Sculpture Park. http://www.franconia.org/ Winding our way through this gorgeous natural setting, looking at some truly inspiring works of art, we came upon a garden patch… wild, lush and overgrown. I walked in as far as I could and just stood there, taking it all in. When I came out, three young boys, ranging maybe 8-12 years old, ran into the spot where I had just stood. One said, “There’s nothing in here.” To which my friend responded, “Everything is in there.” The boy asked, “What do you mean?” to which I replied, “YOU are in there.” and my friend added, “And that is everything!” The boy, who looked to be the oldest said, “That’s weird.” Another boy just looked at us and the third boy got this amazing far-away look in his eyes. The look lasted only a few seconds, but we both knew he felt it.  The whole thing lasted only a few seconds and then they were gone.

We reflected on this experience throughout the day, with the garden as the proverbial metaphor for life. My friend has been struggling with some issues that come up for people of a certain age… In other words, feeling old and used up, but still with plenty of years still in us, so what to do? It’s not the easiest stage in life and my friend is really wondering why he is still working at a job he doesn’t want to do anymore? He’s realizing it’s pretty much just so he can make the payment on his big house, which he doesn’t really need. A house that requires a lot of repair and upkeep, which he thought he was excited about when he made his initial purchase. But now… His dreams are screaming at him! He is over-stressed and so caught up in “shoulding” on himself that he has lost 80 pounds since the last time I saw him, and that was only a few months ago! Seriously. The things we do to ourselves, until we give ourselves permission to think outside the box.

I said, “You know, those 3 little boys are all inside of you.” One is just going along, one is scared to death to be authentic and the third one is open to the exciting things all around him every single day. My friend and I have seldom had deep conversations like this and when we have, he has usually been the older boy who shut it all down with words telling me, “That’s weird,” even when he really needed to talk it through. But it just felt wrong to be vulnerable and say he was scared to be so real and raw and open.

The garden itself was wild and lush and overgrown and there were metal sculpture pieces that came up high above the flowers, creating something of a framework for the whole thing. We talked about those stick-straight, hard metal rods being the “shoulds” in life. The things we have to do – or think we have to do – to fit in or get by in this world. The ways we dump hard and fast expectations all over ourselves. Of course, there are things we actually do have to do in our lives… Obligations… Responsibilities. But sometimes we just get stuck in a rut that tells us we must trudge on, even when the need is long gone. We tend to keep doing what we’ve always done, even when we want to make a change, simply because it’s become a habit and we forget there are other possibilities out there. Or because we’re afraid to make a change and take a risk. I guess that’s why we need our friends and the off-day when we decide to take a drive out into the country.

The sticks, the structure that created such contrast for the massive over-growth of the garden, wasn’t our focal point. More often we talked about the chaos in the garden. The incredible and passionate beauty of flowers gone wild. He wanted to clean it up. To fix it. He wasn’t yet comfortable with the idea that he could leave the job he’s good at and has always done well, which provides the income that pays for the big house he doesn’t need anymore. And then we finally got there… ‘Who am I to think I can just walk away from what is expected of me and live my life exactly the way I want to live it?’ Mind you, there are no children to feed in his story and nobody will be harmed if he does whatever he wants at this point in his life. But he can’t take that first step, because he can’t find himself worthy of doing what his heart desires. And so we kept walking.

Next we came to a garden of mirrors. No matter where you stood you could see your reflection in at least one huge mirror. We moved through, finding the places where the mirrors doubled up on themselves, reflecting many of us out into infinity. And he called me over to one particular spot where you could avoid every single mirror, if you got small and held really still. The mirror metaphors were not lost on us.

We talked about Self Love all day long… How hard it is to find ourselves worthy in this world. That even when we believe in God, we don’t believe in ourselves, so what God has created in each one of us is diminished by our own criticism of it. I can remember thumping my own chest years ago, as I proclaimed the realization of my own lack of self worth. I was living out the belief that said, “This may be good enough for God, but it’s not good enough for me!” What?!? And then came my revelation… When I diminish and betray myself, I’m saying loud and clear that, in making me, God created junk. This cannot be true. So what do we do to turn this sick thinking around? We take one baby step after another until we start to see the Light of God within us. And then we just keep walking.

Later that night I got a text from him that said, “I’m going out of my comfort zone, but after today I’m not quite so scared. What I find truly amazing is that, after setting this [outing] up weeks ago, now when I needed someone to help me sort life out, here we are…” All I could say back was, “God works in mysterious ways!” And then the next morning another text came that said, “Step one complete.” Sometimes all we need is permission to open to new possibilities. Permission to see the beauty in the chaos and let ourselves be in process. Sometimes all we need is a garden full of wild flowers and mirrors to help us see how beautiful we really are… just the way God made us.

Please try this at home!

P.S. In case you’re wondering… Step one was to quit his job. He got his house in shape and sold it within a few months. He purchased a beautiful plot of land in the mountains of Colorado and he lives there now, building his dream home and living in serenity. This is his view…

 

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I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like to go next.

Second Coming – Awakening The Christ Within

 

Blessed to Give and to Receive

A friend once asked me, “So this Receiving thing… How do I even do that?”

I told him that asking the question is actually the first step! The first thing you need to do is open, and continue to open, to the possibility that you can receive… that you will receive. You need to know that it is a good thing to receive, since it completes the circle we create when we give. This is something I didn’t understand… Giving and receiving create a circle. When I refused to ask for help or let others take care of me, I was stopping the natural cycle of sharing. By being the only one who gave, I robbed other people of the opportunity to be in service to me! Eventually God said to me, “If you continue to refuse to receive, your ability to serve will begin to diminish.” Holy smokes, I better listen to that! I don’t know anything about the details of your life, so I don’t know what specific examples and opportunities you will have from which to receive, but it definitely starts with the willingness to allow good things to come to you. The ability to receive is, first and foremost, a mind-set.

For example: When I had the first photo shoot for my website I texted a few friends to ask for support. Asking for help is an act of willingness to receive. And it was scary for me! “What if I ask for uplifting support and none comes? Will I still be able to feel worthy?” Two of the friends I texted were easy, because we have been friends for a very long time. I know without a doubt that they love me, so even if one of them hadn’t responded, I would have been okay. The third friend I texted was the one that pushed me outside my comfort zone. It’s hard enough just to ask for help and it’s really scary when you’re not sure how your request will be received. But I also know that I need to be pushed outside my comfort zone sometimes, so I have learned to take this kind of risk and allow myself to feel vulnerable. It’s not always comfortable, but I always learn something.

As you continue to open to the possibility of receiving, look at the times you catch yourself resisting an opportunity to receive… or the times you completely miss the possibility that there was something there for you. Then look at the reasons you missed it… Where is your resistance? What is your self-talk around the possibility of receiving? When you do allow yourself to receive, what do you hear in your head about yourself and the experience? Is it an issue of self-worth? Do you hear self-talk that says, “I’m not worthy of having good things come to me.” Or “I don’t deserve this.” Or “I’m not good enough so nothing good will ever come to me.” These were the kinds of statements I heard in my head before I started opening to receiving.

Another one for me was, “If I don’t do wonderful things for other people all of the time, nobody will want to be with me.” An interesting thing about this statement is that there is some truth to it. I was really sad to see the people who went away when I stopped doing ALL the work in the relationship. But it’s better to know who is truly in your corner and it’s healthier to stop putting a lot of energy into fair-weather friends. Sometimes receiving is just a matter of stopping something that is wearing you out or sucking you dry… What a gift to yourself that is!

I know it feels like always giving to others comes from the High Self, because we are taught to give, give, give and never think of ourselves, but this can actually be mixed up thinking. We deserve to be cared for, just like everybody else does and much of that care needs to come to ourselves, from ourselves… From the inside, not from the outside. Otherwise, we wear out and become resentful.

In my deepest self-discovery about giving and receiving I learned that I needed to be needed. I couldn’t feel worthy without input from other people. I learned that I was not giving as an act of service or grace… I was giving because I needed to get. I had a lot of work to do around that. I still give a lot to other people, but the difference now is that I give from a different place… I give from a place of Self Love, not from a place that says, “I need you to love me, so I will take care of you and you can make me see that I’m good enough.” I’m learning to give from a place of abundance, instead of giving from a place of lack and need.

Another part that can be confusing is that receiving is not the same as taking. I know people who are great at taking! They take and take and take all the time. But they often feel empty as though nobody ever gives them anything good. This is because they have not yet learned to receive! They take out of desperation and never open their hearts to allow themselves the opportunity to feel the joy and grace of truly receiving. Again, it’s a mind-set. It’s all about the intention and the energy of the experience. When we give and receive with love and feel the blessing of the experience, we are experiencing and sharing God-given abundance. As you will hear me say all the time, it’s all about Self Love!

I think of it this way… Jesus said the most important thing is… “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Religion often forgets about the last 2 words of that statement, “as yourself.” Jesus knew we needed Self Love before we could love others and this is what he taught. The truth is, you can’t give what you don’t have! (Right?) So if we don’t have love for ourselves first, we don’t have love to give away. Once we learn to love ourselves, we actually have way more love to give into the world. In this way, practicing Self Love is the greatest gift you can give to the world!

Please try this at home!

 

I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like to go next.

If you would like to receive my Blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net