Category Archives: Personal Empowerment

Yesterday’s Thinking

I just finished Marianne Williamson’s book The Law of Divine Compensation.   Marianne and I have a love/dislike relationship. (Disclaimer:   I don’t know her personally, she’s never heard my name so this is nothing personal towards her.)

I’ll be reading along and a paragraph will just be so true to my heart that it takes my breath away.  And then there’s a whole chapter that I’m tapping my toe, wondering how many more pages to go.

Marianne Williamson authored one of my favorite quotes:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne WilliamsonReturn to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

This is a glorious call to claim your greatness!  Just when I start thinking, “who am I to think I can do _____,” I hear these words in my head.

However, there are plenty of her thoughts that don’t speak to me — and that’s okay.  There is a quote attributed to Buddha:

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

Which, apparently is a very poor translation.  Here’s a better translation:  

“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.

http://www.fakebuddhaquotes.com/believe-nothing-no-matter-where-you-read-it/

(Very interesting reading on the above website!)

The point of this post is — read inspirational writings!  And know that not everything is going to make sense to you, or speak to you or will you even agree with it.  From the time that man could discuss beliefs, we’ve disagreed.  Some of us are born “old souls” with wisdom beyond our years, some of us earn our wisdom in our lifetime and some of us don’t care.  We talked about the lesson that most of us need to learn about not touching the hot stove by actually touching the hot stove.  The reality is that using your own inner barometer, your own experience and your own judgment is the only way to discern your own Truth.  And you should be willing to change your mind!

How many times have you heard a phrase or a concept and  the meaning suddenly hits you.  You understand the concept in a deeper, more touching way.  And you’ve thought, “gee, I’ve heard that story/phrase/thought a thousand times and never really got it.”  Perhaps an experience made that teaching come to life for you.

So pick up those authors who write words of encouragement or challenge.  Don’t get stuck on the stuff you don’t agree with — you may change your mind later, or you may always have the same opinion.  But be willing to look at what they have to offer.  Be willing to challenge your way of living and your level of awareness.  And be willing to share the gems that help you change your mind or that lift you up!

The last paragraph in The Law of Divine Compensation reads:

Today’s reality is simply a mirror of yesterday’s thinking. Now, in this moment, standing in the field of miraculous possibility, you can disenthrall yourself from the limits of your past. Nothing binds you except your thoughts; nothing limits you except your fear; and nothing controls you except your beliefs.  Think God, think Jesus, think Light, think Love, think whatever form of divinity calls to you.  And all else will fall away.”

Amen.  You said that very well, Marianne!

 

Zen This!?!!

A few days ago, when we had  the umpteenth April snowstorm, to say that that I was cranky about yet one more long commute on less than safe roads with the thousands and thousands of other commuters, is an understatement.  My darling husband tried to pull me from my funk.  He made me my breakfast juice and tried his hardest to make me smile about the snow.  It didn’t work.  And so, as I pulled on my coat and my gloves, his last hurrah was to tell me to “try to find the zen in the drive.  Look for the beauty in the surroundings.  And enjoy your drive!”

Ahem.  I would like it noted that I did not throw anything at him.

He clearly had not heard how tired of the snow I was.  He clearly did not know the darkness in my heart and the sheer wrath and frustration with the weather.  He CLEARLY did not know the whole story!!!!  And if I’d had the time, I surely would have cleared all of this up for him.  But I didn’t, so I chewed on his advice, and I was chewing with my mouth open.  An angry “zen this!” was all that repeated in my head……

About an hour into my commute (which is usually 25 to 35 minutes), I found the zen.  It was pretty, all that white snow covering all the tired winter’s muck. The DJ’s on the radio were trying extra hard to be entertaining.  And traffic was moving so slowly that I did not see one accident.

At the two hour mark, I’d lost the zen.

I could have kept my less than stellar mindset from you and let you believe that I’m pretty good at listening and following higher calls, but that’s not always the case.  I’m pretty good at listening and recognizing a higher call, but sometimes my response stays in the lower arena.

There were two things that came to mind as I processed my experience:  1.) Most of the time, we do recognize when we’re stuck in our story.  We know we’re not behaving in the manner we’d be proud of, but we’re so stuck that we just can’t get out of our own way.  And, 2.)  those who call us to step up higher are annoying.

Is there anything more annoying then when you’re having a tough day or dealing with a tough situation and someone says to “Smile! It’s not that bad.”  Really, because the last time I checked, you were not in my head.  Sometimes you do need time to process stuff on your own time.  Sometimes you do need to stomp, pout and get angry — just to get it out of your system.  And sometimes you need someone to invite you to step up to a higher perspective.

I recognize that John wasn’t telling me to find the zen just to annoy me.  But it did.  We were able to laugh about it later that day when I told him about my “zen this” thoughts.  We have that relationship where we feel safe enough to encourage and challenge each other.  But it doesn’t make hearing those call outs any easier.

I will tell you that the rest of the week, I’ve been very aware of any “suffering” I’ve been doing.  I’ve been looking for those zen moments.  And when I seek, I find.

I’m sitting here in my house with the doors open and sun streaming in.  The cat is in the window soaking up the sunbeam and the dog wants to be outside investigating.  It’s peaceful in my heart.

It may have taken a few days …. but the zen is here.

From One Parent to Another…..

We have one son, who is now 24, on his own, living the Army way.  It wasn’t in my plan for him to be an only child, but that’s what happened.  I’ve often said that God knew that it was going to take all my strength just to raise this one. I have to admit that while this is a sorrow of mine, when I look back, there are years that I don’t know that I could have successfully raised another one because the one I have was so all consuming.

I wanted this child, oh how I wanted him!  And there were days I could have walked away….. oh, I say this half-heartedly.  I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have EVER walked away from him.  But I did entertain the dream!

I was one of those young women who scoffed and scorned parents whose children were out of control in the store or restaurant.  “My child was NEVER going to do that!”  And, for the most part, my son was great in stores and restaurants. (There was that one incident in the middle of the drug store that gave me all new insight on what you can control and what you can’t.)  But my child made me pay in other ways, in ways that no one in my family understood, in ways that no one around me understood and in ways that I clearly didn’t understand.

Simple punishments did not work on him.  We had locks on our TV’s so he wouldn’t spend his life in front of one.  We couldn’t ground him long enough to get his attention (and we tried).  The more we punished him, the more isolated he became.  It was having the opposite effect.

His room was never clean.  I learned to help him sweep through it a couple times a year to get the trash out of there and then I’d close the door.

I thought I’d be the fun mom of the neighborhood.  I’m crafty and creative. I’d enjoyed fun gatherings when I was in high school.  I thought my house would be the hangout house with the cool mom.  Hah!

My son’s friends thought I was the toughest mother they’d ever been around. (This is in stark contrast to the adults who counselled me to quit being so easy on him)  One of his friends actually told me that for years he didn’t understand it but then one day, he clearly got why I was so tough.  My house occasionally had a kid or two in it but never the gang. This house just wasn’t the fun house.

Why do I share this with you?  Because sometimes your plans don’t go the way you think they should and there isn’t an option of turning around.

I tell you this because if we can raise a kid who this day is responsible and plugged in and happy, you can, too.

So, in those moments when you are wondering what you were thinking wanting to have a sweet little munchkin  take a deep breath.  And then take another one.  And take one more.  Your job is not to raise a straight A student (although it is a plus) or the star gymnast.  Your job is to raise a productive, responsible grown up.  I encourage you to look up and look around and look to the future person your child is becoming.  It’s really easy to get caught up in the small things that can ruin the enjoyment your own child.

And if you see a young woman giving you the stink eye because your child is misbehaving, smile at her and know that one day she’ll have clarity.

And if you see a young mother trying to deal with a child who is having an unholy meltdown, smile at her and give her an encouraging word.

And if you see me laughing at my son when he calls to tell me how rotten his (not yet conceived) children are — you’ll know that God smiled on me that day!!!

Einstein’s Flow

Copyright John  G HarrisAlbert Einstein once said “Nothing happens in the Universe until something moves.”  The Laws governing abundant flow in our lives are very much aligned with that principle. For flow to occur in our lives, we must allow flow and an easy first step is to initiate the flow with an outgoing gift.

Anonymous Giving

Spiritual teachings of many cultures emphasis the importance of giving in an anonymous way. Anonymous giving, or what is sometimes called “Righteous Giving” in Christian teachings or “Perfection of Giving” in Buddhism is a form of flow with no strings attached – no expectations of reciprocation and free of wrong motivation. If we expect reciprocation, is it truly a gift? If we expect to be honored for the giving we are feeding ego and thus not giving in the highest intention. If you are looking for status or prestige, check your motivations.

Matthew 6:1-4, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Sufi sheikh Kabir Helminski states: “The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘the best of my people will enter paradise not because of their achievements, but because of the Mercy of God and their being satisfied with little for themselves and their extreme generosity toward others.’ “

Detachment

We give it with the highest intentions and completely let it go.  If we hold expectations on the gift, in a way we are still attaching ourselves to it, have we really given it away?  By releasing attachments and expectations we are allowing Divine Spirit to lift the end results to higher levels than we could ever anticipate.  Attaching expectation is a “My way or the highway” mentality, and who are we to judge what the recipients best interests really are? They know their life needs better than we do and certainly so does the Divine.
You may find it helpful to say a little prayer of intention and release as you give.

“Diving Loving Spirit, I am eternally grateful for the abundant flow of good in my life and the opportunity to share the good with others.  I release this gift into your Loving Guidance knowing that the highest and best possible outcome is unfolding right here, right now.  For this I say thank you God. Amen!”

To be in the flow it is vital to be open to the many ways you can receive.   Being in the receiving position of flow shows up many ways you may not have previously viewed as Divine Flow. When that co-worker offers to buy you lunch, accept it!  Someone offers to pay you for gas in exchange for a ride, accept it.  When we refuse these gifts we are creating two powerful blocks to flow:

  1. We prevent the other person from experiencing their highest potential for flow.
  2. We are telling consciousness that we don’t want flow in our lives.

By limiting others giving to us, we stand directly in the way of their choice to be fully in the flow.  They want to give and we are taking that away from them. Accepting their gift is not placing a burden on them, but rather providing them with joy.  If you are triggered by receiving, change your mind. If not for yourself, at least do it for them.

Once we open to receive, greater things will come to our attention.  Not because new things are there – the abundant flow has been there all along, but because we have begun the process of aligning our consciousness with flow. We awaken to see now what we did not see before.  By refusing to receive we tell our consciousness that we choose to step out of the flow – that we no longer wish to see the abundance of good that is always present, just waiting for us to open our hands and arms to receive.

Here is a wonderful metaphor that exemplifies the power of shifting awareness:

Driving home from the auto dealer you become amazed at just how many of the same model of car there are on the roads. They seem to be everywhere and you wonder why you had not noticed them before.  As you ponder this you pull onto your street and discover that the family two doors down has one in their driveway and it’s been there all along.

If you drive, the chances are very good you have experienced something very close to the example. This is shifted awareness. Now that you are consciously alert to the model of the car, you see them where you had not seen them before.  This is just the way our minds work. Seeing opportunities in life such as flow is no different.  Change your mind, change your life.

If you are ready to see greater good in your life, actively start the ball rolling. Move something in the universe and be open to receive.

Some simple anonymous gifts:

An envelope with some cash or a gift card mailed to a family experiencing lack with a nice unsigned note.
Donation / Tithe to a spiritual center that spiritually feeds you or someone you know.
The Starbucks Effect: Pay for the coffee or meal of the person in the drive-through behind you.
Visit department stores and offer to pay towards the lay-away of needy families. The clerks will often have an idea of who might be the most ready to receive.

Share your ideas for conscious and anonymous giving in your comments below!

Who is serving who – Time to purge?

releasing burdensWe all have it. Stuff. Things. Material goods.  Every item in our life has amazing potential power you may not be aware of.  Things in our lives have the power to serve us in ways that can enhance our present state of being, and they have the power to suck the life out of our day.  I invite you to think about it this way: If the item makes your life easier it is serving you. If the item burdens you, you may be serving it.

It started harmlessly enough, with a seasonal cleaning of the garage.  After the fifth or sixth time of stepping over a pet travel crate I began to get frustrated with the entire ordeal – I had been stepping over and around this thing for months. When I get frustrated I know it’s a sign for me that I am either bumping up against my own limiting thoughts, or a blockage of flow.  In these cases I have a ritual that helps me:  I take a gentle deep breath and drop my attention to my heart space. I feel the love in my heart and I ask for Divine guidance.  In this I was quickly reminded of the question: “Is it serving you, or are you serving it?” from a chapter in the book The Prosperity Paradigm by friend and once-upon-a-time mentor: Steve D’Anunnzio.

The concept is simple really. If something in your life either saves you energy or provides you ease, grace or joy, it is serving you by increasing your quality of life. If something requires more energy to maintain than is saved or returned to you, then you are serving it.  If that’s the case, it’s time to consider letting the item go as it may no longer serve a true legitimate purpose in your life.  Whatever our “stuff” is, it took energy and resources to create it and now that energy can be sitting stagnant on your shelf, drawer, closet or garage floor.  Get it back in the flow where someone who can be served by it is waiting.

Albert Einstein once said “Nothing happens in the Universe until something moves.”  The Laws governing abundant flow in our lives are very much aligned with that principle. For flow to occur in our lives, we must allow flow. This includes both incoming and outgoing flows.  By initiating an outgoing flow we make room in our lives for the incoming good.  If we want more good in our lives, we can start by releasing that which no longer serves us.  This frees us from carrying the burden of the old and opens our awareness and our environment to be aware of and receive the new abundant good.

If you are ready for more abundant good in your life, find that which no longer serves you and release it.

If there is something constantly taking your resources to maintain it or work around it. Why keep putting up with it?

That dog carrier? It went to a good home – a young lady on freecycle who needed a way to get her rabbit to the vet.  Other bags, boxes and clothes went to charity so they could leverage the benefit for someone else’s needs.

Here are a few resources:

Non-profit Thrift Stores

http://www.arcthrift.com/
http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/
http://www.goodwill.org/

 

Homeless Charities List

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Homelessness_charities

 

One on One giving

http://www.freecycle.org/

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional

wpid-wp-1365963486013I believe Buddha is usually attributed to this quote.  It doesn’t really matter but we’ll give the Buddhists the applause for having such clarity around suffering.

When you were a child and you touched the stove that you’d been warned not to touch, the resulting pain marked a moment that you may have forgotten about but created a lesson you will not forget. In that split second, you learned something to keep you safe — that stoves are hot and to pay attention when you are around them. (And, maybe, to listen to those voices around you when they call out warnings?  Ah, but that’s another post.)

And yet, while we all know that things cooked on a stove or in an oven are scorching hot, who among us has not reached for the piping hot pan at least once?  Even though you learned the lesson at an early age?  Hmm…….

What’s the difference then in the experience?  Is the pain any different now than from the first time you burned your finger?

Probably not. But I imagine, if you were like me, you suffered that first burn.  You cried. You sought help.  You cried some more. You got some cream and a band aid (and maybe a kiss). You showed the blister to your friends. You told them your horrible tale.  You popped the blister, picked the scab and retold the story. You may have found some sympathetic listeners or others who had similar experiences but in the quiet of the night, when that burn ached, you remembered how you did something you were not supposed to do and now you’re paying for it.

Now move forward in time to the last time you burned yourself……  other than an “Ouch!” did you suffer it? Our son trained to be a chef. He once burned his hand so badly that I was really concerned about him. He however, was unconcerned. It was just another burn he treated and his life moved on.

Interesting, isn’t it?  Perspective, life experience and coping tools change the very same pain from one that we suffer to one that is a minor blip in our life.

So, is there a pain in your life that you are suffering? Is it the first time you’ve felt this pain or is this one you’ve been dragging around for a while? Have you sought help and tools to aid its healing? Or are you telling your tale and taking the punishment over and over and over again?

You have it within you to release the suffering. Stop telling your story. Take steps to heal the pain and move away from those who encourage you to pick the scab. Seek supportive but not co-dependent people to call you out when you are standing in your suffering. Seek the higher call in the situation. Is there something you are supposed to be understanding or is it just an experience from which to draw future wisdom?  You don’t have to understand it right now.  You just need to not get stuck in it.

Living hurts sometimes. It sucks and sometimes it’s all you can do to take the next step.  But take it. And take another and another.  Choose to acknowledge that it hurts but the hurt is not going to take over your world forever.  Because burns heal.  They leave a mark, but it doesn’t hurt like it did when it first happened.  You don’t have to carry the story anymore.

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome. — Arthur Ashe

journey_1Welcome to our journey!

And what a journey it’s been so far!

John and I have a dream of working together (or on side by side paths). We’ve been on a path of spiritual seeking for a while now.  We enjoy sharing our discoveries and our conversations with each other and with anyone who is interested.  We’re not perfect by any means. But it is our imperfection (our journey) that has brought us to this place, so we’re going to celebrate being here and share what we’ve learned.

Please take away what makes sense to you, ponder something that seems a bit out there, and discard that which does not measure up to your inner truth.  You know your world and your spirit better than we ever can.  We’re open to having the conversation — but in polite tones, please.

This is our place to share.  Any post that is deemed offensive or out of the conversational spirit will be removed.

We look forward to sharing our lives, our discoveries, some recipes, helpful hints, and hopefully some provocative thoughts with you.

Enjoy!

-Melissa