Monday, December 30, 2013

How I Made My Outside Match My Inside

“Some art shouts at your from across the room; this whispers for you to come closer.”

An art teacher my freshman year of college said that about my drawing when the class had posted our work on the wall. At the time, I thought he was saying my drawing was insignificant, which fit my image of myself and my artwork. I figured if I could do it, anyone could. Other drawings looked so bold and alive.My teacher was telling me that my art was powerfully subtle.

Feeling a Bit Lost In the Crowd

Being a middle child in a large family also adds to feeling a bit overlooked and lost. So it seemed natural for me to think that way. I was a sensitive kid surrounded by siblings – mostly brothers – who were loud and forceful. In frustration my mother once called me the Princess and the Pea.

Different Types of People

Fast forward 40 years to when I watched a series of online videos at that described four different energy types. Now that may sound woo-woo to some people, and like pigeon-holing to others. But being a lifelong introvert, I tend to observe and notice quite a bit

I am sure that you can call to mind people you know who are bold, some people who are quiet and may seem a bit timid at first, and others who are the life of the party, while some people just make things happen everywhere they go. Well, these are the four basic energy types the author is talking about.

Accepting Who I Am

After a year of looking at myself and others with this system, I accept myself more for who I am and what I bring to the table. I dress in a way that is congruent with my inner experience and outward expression. And hopefully that congruity is helpful to others as well, knowing what to expect from me. When I was wearing solid, deep colors I knew it was because I wanted to be taken seriously. But that image would have confused people when they heard my soft-spoken manner; it was incongruent with who I was and how I expressed myself. Now I realize that it’s OK to be quiet, kind, and detail-oriented, because it’s who I am.

Different Types on the Job

Before-and-after DYT
I laugh at the job descriptions I see that say they want someone detail oriented and able to multi-task, because those are two very different types of people. As a detail-oriented person, I could be happy focusing on one project for the whole day, never speaking to another soul all day, and the result will be a detailed, accurate report, project or spreadsheet. But if I need to multitask, as I did on my last job, jumping up to answer the door at a moment’s notice in the middle of complex calculations, there are sure to be numerous mistakes in that spreadsheet.

Type 1 thrives with a random schedule; they are the idea people, and are able to switch tracks quickly and easily, but might forget to go back to the original task and complete it. Type 2 enjoys planning and details, and a linear process. They can take Type 1's idea, and plan our how to make it so. Type 3 makes it happen, and they do a fabulous job juggling all those balls at once and keeping track of them, but they don't like details. Type 4 would probably also want the undisturbed, focused time, but wouldn’t be happy with the minutia of a full day of details.They like to analyze and perfect things.

A Surprise at the Veterinarian

Dressing Your Truth for Men
I recently took my cat to the vet. We have usually had women veterinarians, but this time we saw a man. He wore a colorful jacket and matching tie covered with orange cartoon cats. His curly wild hair made me smile. I instantly thought, "He looks fun and spontaneous." But as we spoke about my cat's health, it was clear he was a Type 4: Thorough, focused and efficient. If I hadn't known about this course, I might have been taken aback, seeing him as abrupt. But I shifted gears quickly, and listened to his astute observations and took them to heart. I wonder how others see him though, when he looks light-hearted and speaks seriously and directly.

Understanding Myself and Others

I find the system useful for understanding others at work, at home, at play, everywhere. And it's easier to get dressed in the morning because everything goes together better than it did before. And now my outside matches my inside. I am honoring who I am, and letting you know when you meet me what to expect when I speak.

How About You?
Do you struggle choosing what you want to wear? Have you tried this system? What did you think?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dancing with Chaos

There’s nothing like standing in the middle of a circle of three large men poised to attack as soon as I bow to signal that I am ready to begin. Not that I ever want to do this in real life.

Dancing with Chaos

Randori can translate as dancing with chaos; it’s a martial art practice of three against one. It was one of my favorite Aikido practices, and although most schools reserve the practice for Black Belts, my teacher let us practice this early in our practice, and it became a requirement for earning our first belt.

It may sound intimidating, but when you learn how to do it, it’s actually more dangerous for the attackers. I never got injured when in the center of the randori, but I broke a finger once as attacker when the person in the center turned the “wrong” way.

Set-Up Practice for Life Off the Mat 

It’s also a good practice off the mat, in life. Uh, no, I’m not recommending throwing people around or inviting attacks. But stuff happens, and life can sometimes be a dance of chaos.

Dancing with Chaos at the Mall 

We used to do randori in short demos at the mall as a promotion for the dojo (school), and being a small woman, I often was the one in the middle with three big burly men. I remember one time in particular when my teacher said, “Get her!” and they really went after me. I tossed them around like dolls, and when I was done my legs were shaking and mush. But it proved to some ancient survival part of my brain that I could do hold my own. And by the way, oh yeah, this stuff really works!

Chaos Off the Mat 

We’ve all had to dance with chaos at some point in our lives, even though it doesn’t usually involve three burly men and physical assault. It’s more common to find chaos in our daily lives. And I haven’t been on the mat in at least a decade, but chaos in life? That’s a much more frequent occurrence. The concepts are the same on the mat and off:
  1. Stay centered. 
  2. Stay in your own rhythm. 
  3. Don’t run away or deny what is happening. 
  4. Remember who and what you are. 
  5. Don’t over-reach. 
  6. Use your energy efficiently. 
  7. Brute force doesn’t work. 
  8. Be present and feel what is. 
  9. Learn from what works. 
  10. Learn from what doesn’t work. 
  11. Stay connected.
You may also like:
How Dancing in the Dark Taught Me Not to Be a Victim
First Do No Harm
Celebrating Freedom and Independence

How About You?

Have you ever noticed a time when being centered help resolve a conflict? Please leave a comment to share.

Monday, December 16, 2013

First Do No Harm

At my Black Belt exam with an 80s perm, photo by my dad
In my younger days, studied Aikido for a dozen years, and taught both kids and adults. Aikido translates to “Way of Harmony with the All Life” It’s a non-violent defensive martial art. In other words, first, do no harm. And through practicing Aikido I learned that it’s really the only effective way to deal with conflict.

In Aikido, there are countless metaphors about life “off the mat”. Most importantly, that Aikido is about non-violence. You can read about one such experience on the dance floor here.

No Violence, Know Peace

When I think about it, it makes perfect sense. A person who feels safe, secure, and at peace, is not going to attack anyone. And that’s most of us most of the time. So why do so many of us walk around the world with our guard up?

If You’re Off-Center, You’re Easily Thrown

If this off center person comes into my space, and I am aware, I will feel the incoming vibe or attack before I even see it. Then from my center, move with the intruder and guide us both to safety. The energy is diffused, the violence deescalated, and peace restored. But if I’m off my game at that moment, I will be thrown off by the person.

Off-Center, Off-Kilter

It’s the times we get off center that we want to yell at the driver who did a crazy thing in front of us, or the paper jam in the copier or the computer that acts up. Someone with a mind to attack another person is definitely off center. So my practice in Aikido was to stay in my center when my partner came after me, and to use their incoming energy to guide them to the floor and pin them, or to throw them. We learned to roll, so this didn’t hurt on the receiving end.

Nonverbal Communication of Non-Violence  

In Aikido we learned to pin people without hurting them, and without malice or vengeful thoughts. It

is simply a stance of “I do not allow violence in my space.” And that includes in myself. It’s a physical communication that they will not be harmed.

Same Thing Off the Mat

It’s the same with life off the mat. If I go into a tense situation at work or with family, and I stay in my center, I will not be thrown by what happens around me. If there is anger around me, I will either remove myself or be the place where Peace shows up. I can practice both on the mat and off to be a place where Peace shows up.

You may also like:
How Dancing in the Dark Taught Me Not to Be a Victim
Dancing with Chaos
Celebrating Freedom and Independence

How About You?

Do you notice that being centered makes life flow more easily?

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Emptiness of Mind-fulness

Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a book called Peace Is Every Step. We've been using it in Lauren Darges' Mindfulness Meditation class, and I love it. Mindfulness is emptiness in the mind... or at least being aware of the usual mental chatter. Through focus, the chatter lessens.

With the holidays coming, you may feel the need for a little more Peace in your life. Especially with visiting relatives, or worse, the airport during the holidays. Ah, flying from San Francisco to Chicago at Christmas. Fog in San Francisco. Snow in Chicago. Delayed flights, crying babies, cranky adults. The last time I made the flight to Chicago we circled O'Hare for 45 minutes waiting to land after a snowstorm ended, and the pilot announced that it was 10 below zero, and with a windchill factor of 45 below. After that, Christmas was in January in California. Last week reminded me of that weather. But I digress.

Thich Nhat Hanh suggests a simple mindfulness practice that can be done anywhere - on the
meditation cushion, at the airport, standing in line at the grocery store. It is this... Simply notice your breath. Feel it in your body - maybe you notice it most in your nose, or your throat, or your chest, or even your belly. On the inhale think "Peace". On the exhale, think, "Smile". I love this simple, easy-to-remember technique for returning to the moment.

Here's an track that I wrote to accompany my 20 minute mindful breathing meditation, and the chant I wrote that the meditation track grew from. You can start with 2 minutes. Or 5 minutes. Or breathing mindfully while walking the dog. Whichever way you choose, just start. You probably won't lift off your meditation cushion, but you may that things don't bother you as much when you are off the cushion.

No player showing? Click the Chants for Peace tab above, and you can hear the chant. 
Mobile version HERE

But I think I might need a turbo version when technology doesn't behave as expected. Hmm... Maybe I'll play it in the background when I'm using the programs that I know are likely to act weird.

In his book, Thich Nhat Hanh also has a lovely suggestion. A Breathing Room. If you have the ability, designate one room in your home as the Breathing Room. It's like a time-out room for anyone in the family. A place to sit and re-connect to the
inner realm. I love this idea. I know it would have helped if we'd had one of those rooms when I was a kid. But we can have them going forward. The author has a beautiful description of what can happen when one person in an argument retreats to the Peace Room and collects herself. The Peace ripples out and changes everything. As an Aikidoist, I love that. True Harmony can only happen without force, without imposing my way on you, while at the same time not letting your way bowl me over. Just be. Just breathe. It deescalates the war of the mind so beautifully.

If you find that you want more than 20 minutes per day, or you want to practice with other people, there are plenty of options.

World Peace Meditation Hour on December 31

And if you want to help make the world a more peaceful place, you can meditate simultaneously with others around the globe on December 31 every year during the World Peace Meditation. It happens for one hour starting at Noon Greenwich Mean Time. Participants around the world meditate on world peace for one hour. Scientific measurements have recorded a noticeable shift in the electromagnetic field of the Earth during times when there is a global event. On the West Coast, it's 4:00-5:00 am. On the East Coast, it's 7:00-8:00am. Do an Internet search for it and you will likely find events in your area if you want to participate.

Here's to a peaceful and sweet holiday season for you all!

How About You?

How do you create or find Peace in your life?
Please post a comment to share with us.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Wow of the Tao

I'm taking a class called Tao: The Way Within with Reverend Kim Kaiser. I'm calling it the Wow of the Tao because it is deepening the wow factor in my awareness.

Taoism says that everything, including us, is constantly coming into form and returning to the Tao. We all know that we are alive on the Earth for a limited number of years. But it's not just that.

Every moment, we are coming and going from That-which-created-us. So I guess I should say That-which-is-constantly-creating us. That is pretty darn cool. And another reason to believe in mind-blowing miracles being not just an every day occurrence, but every moment occurrences. Every moment.

As long as I am focused on my mind and the way it perceives the world, I completely miss that. I miss that I am in motion. That I am not static. I think that I am static, because i see a constant image
in the mirror and in the people and things around me. And I have long felt/known that we are mostly space in between all the matter we can see.

But as 80 students sat in that classroom, I really felt it. It sank in deeper to my awareness that this body is not solid, permanent, or even a real thing of substance. We are like a motion picture that is made of thousands of still photos that run together fast enough to look fluid. We are flickering in and out of solidity so fast that we look like a solid, real thing. Perhaps it is that the subatomic particles take turns, not all leaving at the same instant, and so we seem real. This means that physical and energetic healing really is possible, because each time those microscopic parts of us leave and return, they are refreshed, or perhaps new particles altogether.

The I Am is always moving in me. In the same way that my cells are replacing themselves frequently, Spirit flows in and through me, replacing every particle moment after moment. Spirit interacting with this body is what we call life. That is life. What a trip. Like a candle flame that cannot be held

Spirit coming into and out of form moment after moment as this body, as that body, as that table or chair. Creation didn't happen once with the Big Bang or the Word. It is still happening. It is happening now. And now. It is happening always, every moment. Wow. I am not a solid thing. Nor are you. Nor is the chair you sit on. Something is moving. Something knows, watches, sees, experiences.

Can I take a moment to really feel that? Set aside all that I think I am and feel that? If I remember that for even one moment, could I ever really be attached to an absolute idea of what is right and wrong? To politics? Traffic? Anything?

Taoism says that the practice is to stay within myself and do nothing. That doesn't mean inaction; more like not doing things with my will. Just letting it flow from within.

What was I before I was born? I put my attention on the computer screen. I put my attention on the lamp. Now I put my attention on attention itself. What is it that knows that I see, hear, feel? If you take a moment, can you name it? What is it that is aware?

Monday, November 25, 2013

There's a Lie In Belief

“There’s a lie in believe.” That’s how my mother taught me to remember how to spell the word believe.

Do you believe that belief is a lie? Do you only believe in what you can see, hear, touch, smell, taste?

If you answered, “Yes!” then I invite you to take a little trip with me into the land of imagination, into the arena of possibility that there is more to the world than meets the eye.

What can the eye see? Here’s a graph of what the eye can see, and all the wavelengths that we can currently measure:

Source: NASA at

A Little Slice of the Spectrum

The little rainbow in the tiny slice above the eyeball about 2/3 of the way across, is the area that we can see with our eyes. The colors we see are different wavelengths of light in that tiny band. Bees and butterflies can see in the visible and ultraviolet range, and many flowers have ultraviolet patterns to attract them that we cannot see in visible light. Cats and many other animals can see quite well in the dark while we cannot. Snakes use infrared sensors to help detect prey.

Invisible Light All Around Us
Infrared lightwaves are used in your TV remote control and in thermal imaging, and we can see some of this light with night vision goggles. Did it exist before we discovered it? Of course. Same with X-Rays; we discovered them, we didn’t invent them. They are moving through us and around us right now even though we cannot see or feel them.

So let’s look at some less obvious examples. Ask yourself… Think of someone or something that you love. Can you see love? Touch it, taste it, smell it, hear it?

Can I see my thoughts? Can I prove that they exist? Can they be measured, seen, heard or touched? So do your thoughts exist?

What about the Big Bang? We have scientific descriptions of what happened fractions of a second after it, but cannot measure far back enough to what happened at the moment of creation. If nothing was here, what made it happen?

What Makes Your Heart Beat?

What is it that makes your body breathe and your heart beat? You can say it’s a biological function, an electrical impulse. But what is underneath that? What makes that electrical impulse? How do the heart cells know how to do that? How does the heart know to beat a certain number of times per minute? And how does an intestinal cell know how to allow nutrients into the bloodstream, and keep out that which is not useful?

The other day, a friend studying to be a nurse said, “If you don’t believe in God, study microbiology!” Something astounding is orchestrating it all. Could any human create in a lab a system so complex as a human? Could any human create a tree? Could any human create a solar system? Take a look at the stars and realize that they are floating I a seemingly empty vastness. What keeps them in place? We can explain it scientifically, but what created the laws of gravity and other laws of physics? Why does the universe continuously function according to those laws? What exactly is life? 

I invite you to start asking deeper questions, and to allow a bit of discomfort in the fact that there are some things that we will not be able to explain within our lifetime.

How about you?
Do you believe in things beyond what you can see?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How My Fat Cat Became a Fit Feline

At 6 months old she was sleek and slim
I recently got my fat cat to lose more than 3 pounds and become a fit feline. That may not sound like much, but for a cat, it's quite a bit. And she did it in about 3 months.

Most of my articles are about spiritual growth, but so many friends asked me about this that I decided to write a special article about it for them. She's been a great spiritual teacher, and opened my heart more than I could have imagined.

How She Became a Fat Cat

My cat refuses to wear a collar, but she is obviously not starving. The shelter where I adopted her said she was rescued at 6 weeks old, starving and flea-infested. They nursed her to health, put her in foster care, spayed her, and when she was old enough, put her up for adoption. I was the lucky one she chose when I went to the shelter to find a cat.

She was up to 18.3 LB for 3 years
I had not notice that she was gaining weight. One day about five years ago, she wasn't feeling well, and I took her to the vet. She had a blood infection because her blood sugar was high. The next five years were a maze of figuring out a better food that she would eat, blood glucose curves, insulin shots, and a journal of what she ate and drank. I was spending upwards of $200 per month on her prescription kibble and canned food, insulin, sharps, and supplements, not to mention visits to the vet. And she just wasn't losing weight. I put her on a high protein, low carb food, but she remained my little gordita.
Bilingual Coat of Shame

That's when I discovered that a neighbor was feeding her. Probably some inexpensive, poor quality kibble. Meanwhile I was spending more and more on fancy prescription food, struggling to keep her healthy.That's when I made her a shirt that my friend Sherry dubbed the Coat of Shame. I live in a condo, and I still put it on her once in a while in case she tries conning any new unsuspecting neighbors into believing she's underfed. She's good at that.

And once in a while I'd wonder if there was a grain-free food, because cats aren't meant to eat grains.

The Turning Point

I went to a presentation by Dr Jona Sun Jordan on Pet Personalities. My cat is definitely the personality type run by food. I'd say she's obsessed with it. At the end of the talk, I briefly shared with Dr Jordan my struggle to get my cat to lose weight. Her advice made a huge difference in my cat's life and mine.

At her suggestion, I switched my cat cold turkey to the grain-free raw kibble she recommended. When I went to the local feed store to find the kibble, there was a woman outside who was giving away samples. My cat loved the new food! So I switched her with no turning back.

A Dramatic Drop in Blood Sugar

I checked her blood sugar 4 days later, and it had dropped more than 40 points! I was sold! She had been on Insulin for 4.5 years, and it's more dangerous for her blood sugar to be too low than too high, so now she'd need a new dose. But she was till begging me constantly for more food. So I did a glucose curve with insulin and without. Armed with the numbers, I made an appointment with Dr Jordan to learn more. And it just kept getting better.

Kitty's New Diet and a Brilliant Idea

She used to get 1/4 cup of kibble and 1/6 can of wet food twice per day. Her new diet was 1/8 cup of Nature's Variety grain-free kibble and one 1 oz medallion twice per day. Se also gets a snack of 1/2 a sardine at mid-day.

Dr Jordan made a brilliant suggestion. Instead of feeding her in a bowl, I make her hunt for her food. 
I divided her 1/8 cup of kibble into a half dozen little bowls. First these were placed in her usual spot, then I moved them further out. One day I hid them around the living room. She didn't really understand, so there I was on my hands and knees, looking under the sofa, behind he table, teaching her to hunt for her food in the living room. It worked. 

Not only does this provide mental stimulation for her, but she no longer views me as her only source of food. I might still have a few little dishes in my hand, but she's checking under the table, under the chairs, and next to the refrigerator, instead of coming to me for food. I love it!

The raw medallions are frozen raw meat. It's the same food for dogs and cats, and you can choose from duck, chicken, rabbit, venison, beef, and lamb. They pressure treat the meat to ensure that there are no harmful bacteria. It is ground meat, organs, even bone. Apparently all the problems with animals eating bones is only when the bones are cooked. dogs and cats are meant to eat raw bones and are able to digest them within 24 hours.If your vet ever gets x-rays from a vet that isn't familiar with this, they may be recommending emergency surgery because bones are supposedly quite dangerous. But not raw bone. Our critters were designed to digest raw bone. And they get nutrients from it, so she no longer needs the glucosamine supplement, which had sugar in it.

Transitioning to the Raw Wet Food

She didn't eat the raw medallion the first time I gave it to her. So I put her regular canned food in the dish with it, and she ate both. The next meal, I gave her just the raw, and she's been on that ever since. She loves it. If they had mouse and gopher varieties, I'd buy them, but I imagine that that's a quality control issue. Can't go catching gophers from people's yards when they may have been poisoned or eating who-knows-what.

November 2013 slimmed down to 15.1 LB

She's Lost 3 pounds 

After 4 months on this diet, she is a svelte 15.1 LB, and the vet said she's "a little on the chubby side", which is much better than obese! She is able to jump onto the coffee table again, and has more energy than she did before. Oh, and her dandruff cleared up within a few days of starting on a raw diet.

I did several spot-checks on her blood sugar in the next 2 weeks, and wrote up a report to take to my old vet so they would know about it too. Hopefully they will jump on the raw food grain-free pet wagon!

Lia was diabetic for long enough that she may need to go back on insulin, but at a lower dose and with an eating plan that works with her body instead of against it. I am so glad to have found out about this grain-free raw pet food, and I know that my cat is too!

Lia is now at 14.5 pounds! She is almost at her teenage weight! Guess I'm next!

Happy munching!

How About You?
Have you tried raw for your pet?
Did they like it?

Please comment below.
I'd love to hear your stories!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Not Feeling the Thanksgiving Vibe?

As you make your plans for Thanksgiving, what is on your mind? Food? Travel? Dealing with the In-Laws or that one cousin. you know the one I mean.

There were years when I only saw what I didn't have, what I wanted, and how unhappy I was. Lately I have been giving thanks every day. I have so much to appreciate in my life. And as I have been reminded in a few places lately, appreciate means to raise in value. So for those times when I forget to be grateful for what I have, here's my fallback list of the things I appreciate in my life. When I think of them, their value definitely increases.


For many years, I have been grateful that I can see. Such a big thing, and so easily taken for granted.

I can see with my physical eyes and with my inner knowing. I have good color perception. What must it be like to be color blind? Does the world seem more interesting or more rich to me because I can see all the amazing colors and the subtlety of shades? I know it would seem less so if I suddenly become color blind.

Working Parts

I have two arms and two legs that work. There were injuries in the past to feet, knees, shoulder, that made me appreciate that so much more. And every finger... You know when you have cut or injured a finger or thumb how much you need it. I have lungs that work quite well despite having asthma. I have a heart that beats and circulates my blood and a digestive tract that processes whatever I throw at it. All of these things could be taken for granted so easily. And I have taken them for granted quite a bit.

Modern Conveniences

I am grateful to have a safe place to live... a roof over my head with
neighbors I like. Then there's the miracle of indoor plumbing. Another thing that I take for granted, but something that I get to enjoy every day. It's something that more than half the world's population doesn't have. A hot shower, a flush toilet, electric lights, clean drinking water and clean water to wash my dishes. Some of them are miracles that my grandparents didn't have as children. Nor did they have a telephone, television, or even radio for much of their lives. Not to mention computers or even calculators, which became available in my lifetime. Not to mention the mobile devices we all love so much these days.

Freedom and Choices

I was a child when John F Kennedy, Dr Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. I am grateful that I lived when they did. I am grateful for what they did for our society and the changes since then. I am grateful to live in a country where I have freedom, especially as a woman. My mother was born 5 years after women got the right to vote. Hard to believe. Back then, women didn't usually have the choice to work outside the home unless they were a teacher or a nanny. Maybe a librarian.

I am very grateful that I had the ability to choose if and when I would conceive a child. My parents did not have that choice because they didn't have accurate information about fertility. I am forever grateful that I have access to volumes more information about my body than my parents' generation.

New Thought

I am grateful to have found the New Thought movement, and the Center for Spiritual Living. Attending services there and being exposed to the ideas and culture there have made all the difference in my life and my world.  By going there, I have learned to look at what I have, where I want to be, and to know that I am so much more than my story.

I have found lifelong friends there. I have changed the way I think about my life, my past, my present, and my future. I have replaced beliefs that no longer serve me with new habits that do. I am living more often from the One in me that knows that It knows.

You may have heard of the practice of keeping a Gratitude Journal. Every day for a month, write down at least 5 things that you are grateful for. It helps jump-start noticing the good in you life. And you will start noticing more things to be grateful for. Have you tried this? I'd love to hear how it went for you.

My Second Life

And I retired from a job with a good base income to build upon. Not enough to become complacent, but enough to cover the basics. I am so happy to be writing and singing, to be living life the way I wanted to, but didn't allow myself to when I thought I had to be practical to earn a living.

The world is changing, and my personal world in particular is changing.
I have so much to be grateful for!
And I can't wait to see what comes next!

How About You?

What are you grateful for?And what do you picture yourself being grateful for one year from now?

You Might Also Like

How Gratefulness Is a Great Fullness
In the Stillness
Live in the Hum, Not the Humdrum
Exchanging Deadlines for Live Moments

Monday, November 11, 2013

What If It Were True?

What if it were true…
… that you are loved by the very Power that created you?
… you knew that were supported by that Power?

What if…
… you didn’t need to worry about anything? What if you could simply, calmly know what is needed, what is next, and then know it was taken care of?

What if…
… the secret dream you have for you life – the one you think is too big or too much to ask for – is the dream that Spirit has for you?

What if…
… you knew you are enough just the way you are?

What if…
… your willingness to say “yes” to that dream were all that is needed for Spirit to begin it in your life?

What if…
… you - or the thing you want to do - didn’t need to be perfect?

What if…
… you knew that you were still the magnificent being that you were born as? What if the fact that you can see the light in a baby’s eyes is Spirit speaking to you about your own essence? What if you could only recognize that light because it is in you? Still in you? Even under all the stuff you learned to believe that stands in the way?

And what if …
… your willingness to accept that as True was the crack in the façade that allowed that dream to start pouring forth?

What if…
… the thing you think you aren’t worthy of is the thing that Spirit has been gently asking you to do for It?

What if...
... I believe that I cannot connect to my inner knowing, but I already am connected?

What if…
… you have been waiting for something before that dream can begin, and Spirit has been waiting for you to say yes?

What if...
... the very thing that you are waiting for, is waiting for you?

What if...
... the very thing that you are searching for, is searching for you?

What if…
… it was all possible? What if it was all True? What if everything I thought limited me was in my mind? What if I could – for just one second – feel that I am more than that?

What if…
… Spirit was asking us to be that?

How About You?

Would your life change if you believed any of the above? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What If I Just Can’t Connect To My Inner Knowing?

Recently I sat with someone to pray after service who deeply wants to feel a connection with Spirit, but cannot believe that it’s true. She couldn’t let it in. She couldn't let herself feel it. Since these are 5 minute meetings, I didn’t have time to ask how it got to be that way, but I knew exactly how it felt when I didn’t believe, when Faith was a fairy tale that couldn’t possibly be true.

So I listened. And felt for her. And then I let Spirit tell me what to say in the prayer.

Believe It Or Not, It’s Still True

The prayer invited her to pretend to believe that maybe possibly some day just a tiny bit, she could feel some connection to Spirit. Maybe, just maybe, even if she doubted, even it she thought it wasn’t true, even if she argued, even if she didn’t think it would ever happen, it was just possible that it could be just a tiny bit real. It let her know that arguing is OK. That not believing is OK. That having doubts and struggling are OK, and even interrupting the prayer with words of disbelief was OK. That Spirit doesn’t care if she argues. Spirit doesn’t mind if she doesn’t believe. Spirit just Is. Spirit is real whether she feels it or not, whether she believes it or not, whether she knows it or not, whether she accepts it or not. And it is right here right now holding her in the same way the chair is holding her. It is here under her just like the floor is here. It is here around her like the air is around her – invisibly present, sustaining her, filling her, giving her a space and place to move and live and be. It is here like the room is here, enclosing her in a safe place out of the weather. And it is here in the form of the two people speaking and hearing this prayer.

Whole Perfect and Complete

When I look at the sky, or a tree, or my cat, or a baby’s eyes, I see that there is something there that no person could create. They are what we call whole, perfect and complete. There is something in them that, when we look at them with soft gaze, opens the wonder and the stillness of mind called awe. I look and know the part of me that knows.

When I see a baby’s face, full of life and light and love and joy, I feel the Presence of that which created that precious life. And even though my body was capable of creating one of those, I could never design one myself. No one knows exactly what mystery gives life to when that sperm and egg get together. There is some part of me that knows that there is something beyond what I see. It knows that it knows.

No one knows what makes a tree grow, what makes a mind think. In fact, no one has ever seen mind. No one can see thoughts. We can see a brain, but we cannot see thought. We cannot see a mind.

What Is It In You That Knows That You Know?

And what is it that I am seeing when I watch my beautiful cat sleeping in her bed? What is that invisible thing that brings tears to my eyes with the love I feel for her? And what is it that knows when I see an animal on the road that has been hit that knows it is not alive? Not just that I see my cat breathing, and the possum laying still. What is That Thing that tells me it is alive or not? We cannot see it, but we know it. We recognize it. What is it inside you that knows that it sees this? What is it inside you that knows that you are reading right now? That hears your mental responses, opinions, and thoughts? It cannot be seen. It cannot be touched. And it cannot be denied.

How about you? 
What is it that puts you in that place that knows that it knows?

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Forgot to Remember

When you are about to leave your home to go somewhere, and forget something, do you say, “Oh, I forgot…” Or do you say “Oh! I remember…”? Well, not long ago, when I realized that I forgot something, and caught myself saying so, I realized that I couldn’t have known that I forgot it until I remembered it. I decided to start saying, “Oh, I just remembered something else!”

Re-framing Is Another Way of Looking At Something

This is a simple re-frame, another way to look at something. It may seem subtle but I am giving myself an entirely different message. It is one small part of moving in an upward spiral instead of a downward one. Reframing is part of New Thought philosophy. It’s taking something that you believe, and turning it around; looking at it another way. Mentally walk around the thought to another side, or turn the thought, and you will see something different. In the same way, I can take a thought, turn it on its head, and find a more productive way to think about it.

I’m Asleep… I’m Waking Up

Recently, fumbling in the kitchen in my just-woke-up-gotta-feed-the-cat haze, I caught myself saying for the umpteenth time, “I’m sleepy… I’m asleep.” I stopped right there and realized what I was saying to myself, so I said, “I’m waking up.” And when I caught myself saying, “I’m tired.” I changed it to, “I’m moving nice and slowly. I’m waking up and being easy with myself.” This is a big deal for me, since I had in my younger years been accused once of tap-dancing on the table at 6am. These days, sleep is more elusive.

On several levels, I would MUCH rather be waking up than sleepy. In the physical process of daily sleep-wake cycle, I am telling myself that I am on my way to waking instead of reinforcing to my subconscious that I am sleepy. And of course in the spiritual sense, I would much rather tell myself that I am awakening than that I am asleep.

Wait a Minute...

So now I have a new practice for myself. Whenever I catch myself saying something that points me in a direction that I don’t want to go, I can stop and say, “Wait a minute!”, and choose to reframe it. The first step is becoming aware that I am doing it. Then I can start noticing it often, and sooner in the process. Eventually I can catch myself as I start to think it, and choose something else. That step takes some practice. Then when I’ve practiced it enough, it becomes a new habit.

Consciously Incompetent

Many years ago at work, I was taught this learning process called the Four Stages of Competence. It comes from Gordon training, and applies to everything from riding a bicycle to learning a new language. And I use it when reframing habits I want to change. That stage where I'm consciously incompetent is where I need to be gentle with myself, remembering that I am practicing a new habit or idea, and it will take time before it's second nature. I can simply notice it a little sooner each time until I am effortlessly doing the new habit. Just like riding a bike.

Competent Eating?

I am currently practicing this process with my eating habits. I eat really healthy food most of the time, but I have a huge sweet tooth. When I go on my friend JoAnn Newton’s e-cleanse program, it helps me avoid what she aptly calls nutritional bandits. And then sometimes I still fall down when I see a plate of brownies at a potluck. Back to consciously incompetent. This may take a while. This may take a LOT of patience.

Practice, Practice, Practice

So it’s a practice, just like meditating. It is an awareness practice throughout the day to honor what
works for me in terms of food. And instead of saying to myself, “I blew it again.” I can choose to re-frame it and say, “My stomach is not glad I ate that.” And associate the mental picture of the brownies with the feeling in y stomach so that next time I see cookies or brownies, I can remember a little sooner.

I can remember, not forget.

How about you? Do you relate to the stages of competence? Do you feel consciously incompetent about anything?

Monday, October 21, 2013

How a Chick Flick is an Action Flick

Maybe it’s because I’m a chick – and I use that term in the most endearing way- but I like chick flicks and have always been averse to action flicks. I know, I know, not ALL guys like action movies, but I’m looking at the overall preferences here. If you are a guy who likes chick flicks, then maybe you can relate. I watch all that fighting and chasing, and wonder when they are going to get to the point. I find the violence and adrenaline quite tedious and tiresome, always feeling like there’s already too much discord in the world. I don’t really need to watch more of it on the big screen or the little screen.

Bad News – Which Came First?

OK, so I’m probably in the minority; I won’t even read the paper or watch the news on TV because it’s unrelentingly bad news. I’ve heard the term, “If it bleeds, it leads.” But who decided that that’s what we want to see? I don’t buy newspapers or watch the news, and get the important news from the radio or when friends discuss it. A journalist friend of mine says that what people want to see. Obviously, or the news media wouldn’t be selling papers and airtime, and would be doing something else. But do you ever wonder if it’s a chicken-and-the-egg thing? Which came first – the news media trying to top one another with gore and grief, or the consumer focusing on that type of thing?

Action in the Arena of the Mind and Heart

On the other hand, for me as an introvert, Chick Flicks are action movies of the highest order - where the arena is the heart and mind of the cast. The kiss near the end of the movie is, I imagine, the same kind of payoff as the tanker truck explosion for the action- and outer-oriented movie buff.

Even in suspense or science fiction, which I love, I still like a movie that makes me think, like The Usual Suspects or Memento. I find those fascinating, and love it when I haven’t figured out the end until at least halfway through the movie. And I love watching the Away Team beam down to a planet and try to find their way around a difficult situation, especially when there was relevant social commentary or when cooperation was the best solution rather than phasers on full.

That’s More Like Life

For me, the chase or the puzzle or the fight is all in the hearts and minds of the characters. There is evolution, insight, revelation of deeper feelings and understanding. In true introvert or chick fashion, I am more drawn to these things.

That’s Where the Real Treasure Is

I prefer these kinds of movies because that’s where the treasure is. There is so much in the inner world, and our societ doesn’t usually focus on that. We divert ourselves with television, movies, the Internet. I couldn’t begin to guess how many hours I’ve wasted on FaceBook after checking in with my friends. There’s a limitless supply of entertainment available to us. And it is so tempting to follow it and forget about the limitless supply of our inner world.

Blow Up Your TV, Throw Away Your Paper

I love that John Prine song! It is a pipedream for many of us – to move to the country. But the idea is to live life away from the media madness and find that slower inner pace in harmony with our origins. That’s where the treasure is. And that’s the real richness of life for me.

How about for you? Do you prefer to dive in to the inner world or succumb to the temptation of entertainment?

Monday, October 14, 2013

How Gratefulness is a Great Fullness

I did an auditory double-take the other day when I heard a word that I had not heard before: Gratefulness. Oh sure, I’ve heard "grateful” and "gratitude", but not the word gratefulness. And I heard it as Great Fullness, which it actually is. The feeling of Gratefulness is a great fullness in my heart, an experience of being full to overflowing.

The Opposite of Grateful

The opposite would be feelings of taking things for granted or complaining, nit-picking, fault-finding, and so on. And I practiced that for longer than I care to admit. I may be stuck on thinking I don’t have this or that, but whenever I step back and look at what I DO have, I am blown away with a great fullness. I have a roof over my head, an income, a car, indoor plumbing, hot water for a shower, a washing machine, and a fabulous cat. There are millions of people who don’t have those simple pleasures that I take for granted nearly every day. If I look only at what I don’t have, it is difficult to see what I do have. It is easy to see only the lack. We live in a society that tells us the a better car, a better mate, more money, a bigger house, will make us happy.

It Just Isn't True

Maybe it’s because I was a teen in the early 70s and related to the flower child generation, but something has always told me that this simply isn’t true. The best things in life aren’t things at all. The important things are clean air, a walk in the woods or at the ocean, connection with family and/or friends, and having the freedom to move, think, and express that we enjoy in our country. And as a woman, the freedom that I have to get an education, vote, work, and easy access to birth control. These are things many women in the world do not have, and we have had for less than a century.

Behind the Iron Curtain

In 1998 I spent 10 days in the former Soviet Union; that was before the wall fell. The people were wonderful and the experience was amazing. But I will never forget what I felt about 45 minutes after our plane took off from Moscow headed for Copenhagen. I suddenly took a deep breath, feeling as though I had come up from being underwater a long time. I was certain that we had just left Soviet air space. And for the first time in my life, I understood what a privilege my freedom as an American is. I have a huge fullness of gratitude for that fact now.

A Wake Up Call

I was never more struck with this difference - between focusing on what you have and what you don't have - than when I received a call for prayer from someone asking for prayer for financial abundance. They spoke about all the things that their significant other was giving them and their child – trips, money, time, family. Yet this person went on for 20 minutes about how they were so frustrated and upset that they had to commute, to work, and the frustration that they couldn't live a life of leisure. Quite upset, I just kept saying, "Wow!" at the amazing things this person had manifested, and wanted to ask how they did it, because I wanted some of that. Of course, I didn't say that out loud.

During this relentless circular story of what they didn’t have, it was glaring that they weren't looking at what they already had. So I prayed for this person's financial independence, and the freedom it would provide. But many months later, I remember this person, the bounty that they had received, and how they were still frustrated and furious that they didn’t have everything they wanted. And they could not see that it was the very frustration and lack of gratitude for the bounty they had, that prevented them from feeling good with their current situation.

I Have So Much

When we focus on what we don't have, there is no opening for what we want to enter our lives. When
we are grateful and happy, we are open to receiving more. So now whenever I catch myself thinking “I don’t have…”, I remember her, and check my perspective. I DO have so much. I have so much to be grateful for. Two eyes that work, two ears that work, two legs that work, a healthy body, a beautiful head of hair, a safe place to live with no bombs dropping in my country, freedom to pursue my dreams, the freedom to live any way I choose. I have so much that millions of people on the planet do not have. If I compare myself to the rich and famous that I see on television, I could make myself miserable. But if I turn the other way and look at all I have, then I am creating a space to welcome in so much more.

By allowing my heart and mind to be a great fullness for all that I have and know and am, I am making space for a great fullness in all areas of my life.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How Dancing In the Dark Taught Me Not to Be a Victim

 If you ever doubted that your thoughts can affect your experience, or your vibe can affect what’s around you, consider this…

Many years ago, long before I knew that thoughts are creative, or about owning your space, or Aikido, I had a minor life-changing experience while out dancing in the dark to live music one night. Back in the days when I could stay up that late, I often took to the dance floor shoeless. It was the norm to dance solo; what my friend Nita calls “wiggle dancing. Shoes were always optional in my favorite spot, so it was completely safe to go barefoot – that is, if you don’t count the grunge you accumulates on your socks, leading to the inevitable decision of whether to get that grunge in your shoes when you put them back on, or to go home sockless. But I digress.

What The Heck?

So there I was on the dance floor in my socks, having a great time for about a half hour, until a number of couples joined me on the tiny dance floor. No big deal, that was normal. But this time – maybe it was the choice of band that carried a different crowd? – I was getting elbowed in the chest by people taller than me, and I looked around to notice an uncharacteristic sea of cowboy boots and stilettos stomping the floor around me. What the heck? This is ‘70s Cotati, the post-hippie mecca full of flower children and burnt-out longhairs. Why are there cowboy boots and high heels on my barefoot hippie dance-floor? Granted, I wasn’t on the Cotati Caberet’s enormous dance floor that night, but at the tiny Inn of the Beginning. But I was there to have a good time swimming in the music, and these couples were bulls in my china shop. I was outnumbered. My rumination was interrupted by a sharp pain in my right foot as a stiletto heel came down on it. The pain was intense. Even shoes would not have helped much with that drunken misstep onto my instep. I wondered if it was broken. I stood, waiting for the pain to subside.

I noticed that the more perturbed I became, the more collisions I experienced. So I made a decision: I am going to have fun anyway. I am just going to close my eyes and enjoy the music as I always do. And I did. Near the end of the next song, I realized that no one had bumped into me since I had closed my eyes and let go. I opened them, and was pleasantly surprised to see a two-foot clearing all around me!

I Wonder What Would Happen

Delighted at this, I decided to experiment. I kept my eyes open and went back to scrutinizing the elbows and dangerous shoes around me. I didn’t say a word or look anyone in the eye, just this one internal shift. Within a minute, I was being bumped and jostled again. Fascinating! So being all Spock about it, I again closed my eyes and went back to grooving in my own rhythm, abandoning myself to the music and forgetting that anyone else was there. Once again, my space cleared in less than a minute. Magic, I thought! This is amazing. I tested it once more with the same results.
This is fantastic news! When I shrink back from seeming insult – whether intentional or not – the world literally crowded in on me. When I refused to let it bother me, and stayed in my own Joy and space, that space was given to me. 

My Mindset Actually Affects What Happens

So it is with interactions off the dance floor. And in everything. The mindset I bring with me into a situation can actually affect what happens. Not just what I see, but how people interact with me, whether or not they see me. This was proof for me that if I don’t occupy my own space, others will. It’s a physical example of what we might call being a pushover – when we aren’t accepting that we have a right to be here, that this is our designated space in the world, and fully living in it and enjoying it, we can be invisible to other people. Some of the couples around me may have had a feeling of entitlement because they outnumbered me, because singles don’t count in their minds, but I would guess that most of them didn’t even notice. Because I wasn’t filling my physical space, I was simply invisible to them. I mean, they weren’t THAT much taller than me. It was my mindset that was affecting my surroundings, like that science experiment where the sub-atomic particles change their behavior depending on what the observer thinks, does, or expects.

Feeling Invisible

I have noticed this many times since then. In business meetings, where I make a suggestion that is ignored, and someone next to me says the exact same thing five minutes later and everyone thinks it’s a great idea. Something about my manner (I won’t assume it was my gender, but it could be) made me invisible at those meetings.

Still Practicing

I wish I could say that this was the last time I felt invisible, but I’m still practicing decades later. After a second degree Black Belt in Aikido, lots of work, and Practitioner studies, this first lesson stays with me. And when I get grumpy about my surroundings being less than my self-made expectations, I know I have another option: To relax and just Be.

Ahh... That's much better.

You may also like:
Dancing with Chaos
First Do No Harm
Celebrating Freedom and Independence

How About You?

Do you find that things are smoother and easier in your life when you are in your own rhytm and enjoying life?