Do What’s Right for You

This morning, I had to do the difficult job of letting our gardener go, we’ll call him John. While John’s a nice guy and I’ve enjoyed working along side him on various projects for the past couple of years, he just didn’t have the level of knowledge we needed.

Yesterday, when I finally made the decision, I automatically started playing a tape of negative thoughts such as, “how can you do this, he has two little kids? He needs the money. He’s not going to take this well. He’s going to be angry. I feel so bad doing this to him.”

Once I became present enough to become aware of my thoughts, I consciously chose to change them.  “It’s my right to hire and pay someone based upon their qualifications, not their needs. Who am I to know what is right or good for John? He may accept this well. It might even be good for him.”

Early this morning I sent John lots and lots of love. I intended that he’d take the news well and understand that it wasn’t him personally, but simply his lack of knowledge for our particular needs. Despite it being the first week of the month, I decided to pay him for the full month so that he’d have a small cushion. I sent us both compassion for the situation.

Before he arrived, I decided to share with the kids that I was letting John go and, of course, they wanted to know why. I explained that some of the trees were dying, the roses were pruned incorrectly, and things were generally not getting done. They accused me of being unfair, asked why I couldn’t just teach him, and said I was a mean person–exactly what I’d been thinking all day yesterday. I tried to use this as a teaching moment — that difficult situations can be handled peacefully, with good intentions, and love. And, that it was the right thing to do despite it seemingly being mean. They weren’t buying it outwardly, so I’ll just have to hope the seed was planted.

When John arrived, I increased my grounding, got in the center of my head and heart, and walked out to speak to him. These are good things to do for any meeting, but especially something potentially confrontational. With a smile and love, I explained the situation and handed him the check. Surprisingly (or not?), he understood completely, asked me a few questions which I honestly answered, and we departed on good terms. As I walked back to the house, I was filled with emotion so I went to my bedroom and allowed the tears to flow.

I didn’t want the whole day to be uncomfortable because I was suppressing pent-up emotions. While I felt great spiritually, I needed to acknowledge my body’s reaction–sure I’d done the energy work and things went well, but still, it brought up a lot–mainly “nice girl” pictures–and I wanted to let those go. It just took a minute or two to let them out, reground, center, take a deep breath and feel immensely better.

The reason I’m sharing this story is mainly because I wanted to talk about doing what’s right for you. We’re often taught to think of other people’s needs before our own and this is completely backwards. When I became hyper-conscious and present this morning, I suddenly realized that I’d known John hadn’t been working out for more than a year, but I’d put blinders on because I just hadn’t wanted to face all those negative thoughts about me being unkind, selfish, etc. Also, I’d just assumed on auto pilot that he needed this job. In other words, I was putting his needs above my own.

If I had been truly kind and loving, I would have dealt with the situation a year ago when I’d first realized he wasn’t working out. Now he’s gone a whole year thinking he’s been doing a good job. Maybe, had I let him go back then, he’d have figured out he needed more experience and knowledge and done something about it possibly getting even more referrals, better jobs, greater income, etc. Who knows, maybe he just bought a car or something since he was counting on my income and he wouldn’t have done that a year ago.

There are all sorts of scenarios that could have played out had I let John go as soon as I realized I should. I didn’t because I hadn’t allowed for any positive possibilities since I was so unconsciously certain that I needed to help him. Wow, that’s pretty egotistical isn’t it? Yep, and that’s exactly why doing what’s right for you is the most loving choice because it sends the universe the message that you want others to do what’s right for them.

Ok, that was/is confusing so we’ll have to discuss that another time, but this second awareness surprised me even more and so, despite, this becoming quite a long post, I’ll share it quickly.

After I re-entered the kitchen all calm and collected from my re-grounding, the three kids were still pretty mad at me and accusatory, which was understandable. One of my kids, however, became really angry and started taking down the quotes we have on our walls and shouting at me, “your fired!” Since I was still in hyper-present moment, I didn’t become angry or defensive, but rather looked at this child quietly and noticed he/she was desperately fighting back tears. I’ve always known this kid was super sensitive, but it hasn’t been at the forefront of my consciousness with all the business of our lives lately.

My heart went out to him/her and I just sent them love and compassion. Now it makes more sense why this child lashes out and we’ve had some growing conflicts recently. I’d chalked it up to age development, but now I see with crystal clarity that he picks up on everyone’s emotions and that’s a heavy burden to carry. Rather than fight him, I need to make sure I’m keeping my own energy in check and clean. It’s also a good reminder for me to revisit with the kids how they can own their energetic space so they are not so affected by other people’s emotions. In the meantime, I can have much more empathy for this particular child with my renewed awareness of his/her extreme sensitivities. Sometimes when we’re so busy getting through the days, our awareness of the depth of life can become dulled.

As difficult as this morning was, it served as a wonderful wake-up call for me to be more actively and intensely present. I hope you’re inspired, too. Now go out and do what’s right for you!

My New Favorite Podcast

I have been absolutely loving the Rich Roll Podcast and wanted to share it with you in case you hadn’t come across it yet. This podcast is long-form so most of the episodes range from one to two hours. At first, it annoyed me how Rich meanders around during the interviews, but now I have developed more patience and enjoy how the conversations flow. I listen to them while driving, cleaning, walking the dog–anywhere and everywhere. Hence, my book recommendations have dwindled a bit.

Topics center around nutrition, fitness, spirituality, environmentalism and entrepreneurship. I am a newbie so I downloaded the free app since you can only listen to the most recent 50 episodes on iTunes. We’re all incredibly busy so I’ll just share some of my favorite episodes so far so you can get a taste and see if you’d like to pursue more on your own:

# 102 Amanda Slavin–this gal is incredible! Trust me, you’ll be fired up after this one.

#103 Preston Smiles–super inspiring!

#97 Dan Harris–this is good for anyone who wants straight, basic talk about meditation (I am still recommending this one despite Dan’s slight digs at Deepak and Eckhart)

# 86 Timothy Shieff–this guy is extremely talented. I showed one of his videos to my kids and am hoping to entice them to listen to this session as well.

# 120 Michael Gervais–meditation consultant to extreme athletes.

If you’re into running, there are a bunch of ultra marathoners you’d enjoy hearing from and if you’re interested in heart health, there are several doctors interviewed as well, but I’ll let you find those on your own. I could go on and on, but as I mentioned, I want to be respectful of your time. Let me know what you think and/or if you are passionate about any podcasts you’re currently enjoying.

 

le piece de resistance

Wow, it’s been more than 2 months since I’ve posted! I’ve had so many ideas and insights that I’ve wanted to share, but I’ve been in a state of resistance (every time I say this, I hear in my head le piece de resistance from The Lego Movie) and the more time passed, the more powerful le piece de resistance became.

Alas, now that I’m sitting, where on earth to begin?!? Let me start with Thanksgiving since I had really wanted to share about that experience at the time. My family is great, but sometimes (ok, let’s be honest, often) being around them lights me up one way or the other. I have done so much personal growth work, yet put me with my family, and babam! I revert back to the bratty, bossy, self-righteous witch of yore. I was meditating two, sometimes three times a day to try to bring myself back from the dark side, and while several times it helped, too many others, I stood by incredulously watching, but not stopping, the monster-me devour whomever was in my way.

It was ugly. No, I, was ugly. Did I immediately go down the dark hole of  self-judgement and self-criticism when I returned? Nope, I’d already started that during the long drive home. Double, babam!

Luckily, I have a regular appointment on Mondays with a psychic friend where we trade looks for each other. As the universe so perfectly arranges, that particular session was my chance to ask questions, so of course I asked about what had happened over Thanksgiving. She told me what she saw, we did some energy work around it, and lo and behold I had a huge shift.

Remember, I’ve been doing this sort of thing for almost 15 years, yet, I was still able to experience an incredible release; so much so, that by the time Christmas rolled around and I was right back in that same environment, it was a completely difference scenario–and drum roll please, might I dare say enjoyable?!!?

I like to think of growth work as an onion–you peel back layer after layer and at some point to get to the core of the issue. It can feel like you’re not making progress when the same or similar issues keep coming up over and again. But more than likely, you are just moving through the different layers making more progress than you realize. I distinctly remember telling my friend that memorable Monday, “I’m so sick of this issue, I’m done, I want to move on,” and so be it. Am I “cured”? doubtful, changed? definitely.

This experience left me fired up!!  Energy/spiritual work, or personal growth, or whatever you want to call it, can be incredibly powerful and rewarding. It also reminded me about the difference between doing the work and walking the walk. There’s a Grand Canyon-sized gap between reading a book about running, for example, and running; reading about meditation and meditating; wanting personal growth and growing; wanting to write a post and writing it.

There, it’s written! And it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I’d made it out to be in my head. Here’s hoping I can get to New Year’s before Easter rolls around.

Happy 2015 Everyone!

$50 and $.50 Continued…

A few days after receiving my reading about the strange $50, I was at the thrift store with my kids who were looking for items to create their Halloween costumes. While they were busy perusing the treasure trove of possibilities, I wandered around as well. I came across a tiny bookshelf in the glassware section–a different floor, even, than their normal large book section. Curious, I bent down to check out the books and was surprised to find a book that I had been reading from the library, wishing all along I had my own copy for my personal reference.

That book, by the way, is “Anatomy of Spirit,” by Caroline Myss. I had devoured the first few chapters and already then wished for my own copy so I could highlight important insights and otherwise mark it up. But then she gets into some heavy work on each of the chakras and I was having a harder time getting through those chapters all the while running out of time on my library loan. Earlier that morning I’d received the dreaded, items are due back soon email thus creating my current “wish” for my own personal copy.

Fast forward back to the thrift shop that afternoon and of course you know that the first book I spotted was “Anatomy of Spirit.” I pulled that out as a little “sign” and smiled and thanked the universe:). Then I saw another book I’d read, but had loaned out, but never received back, and another that I’d wanted to share with a friend, but wasn’t willing to give up my own copy, and yet another that was a great read that I’d given away. As I contemplated buying all four books, I tried to find the prices on the inside cover because this thrift shop is either bizarrely expensive or I’m still living in the 1970’s. I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but as I started to put the other three books back on the shelf, I “just happened” to notice a sign above the book case saying each of these books was…drumroll please…yep, you guessed it, 50 cents! Wow, wow, my heart soared, this stuff is so fun!

Did I mention that I’d found two quarters, ie, 50 cents, at the gym that morning as well? Yep! True…

You Are a Bad Ass

Yeah, I thought that might get your attention. I wish I’d thought of that blog title myself, but I lifted it from Jen Sincero’s fantastic book, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

I’ve read loads of similar books, but for some reason this one stands out so I wanted to recommend it here. I hope to listen to this yearly or whenever I am feeling stagnant and need some inspiration to get in the groove again. Note: this is a great audio book if you can manage that format since the author reads it with the same conversational tone as if you’re sitting in the room with her.

Sincero is a clear and compelling story teller so this is actually a fun, as well as educational, read. This book probably wouldn’t fall under the “spiritual” category, but it certainly covers many of those principals, perhaps just using different terminology. Frankly, sometimes “spiritual” books can be so philosophical and big picture, that they can be a turn off to some folks. Sincero, however, is witty and clear so it is easy to remember and implement her suggestions (admonitions?) immediately. This book would be a great start for anyone looking for some tangible tasks and/or results.

I could not get enough of this book and will be asking my husband to read it for my next gifting holiday:). Ms. Sincero, if you find this blog review somehow, I implore you to write an ever so slightly less colorful version for kids–I’d make my whole family sit down and listen!

If you get it or have read it, let me know if you did or didn’t like it as much as I did. In the meantime, know that it’s true, You Are a Bad Ass! No go get ’em!

$50.00 and $.50 Part 1

About a month ago, I was getting gas. The pump was moving so incredibly slowly that, while I’d love say, I was all zen and enjoying the present moment and just waiting patiently, I wasn’t. I was the opposite–irritated, impatient, and probably ungrounded to boot. I said to myself, “This is ridiculous. I’m going to stop this at $50.” Just then I noticed the pump slowing down even further and it stopped at exactly $50.00 even. “Wow, that was wild,” I thought.

The very next week we were heading out of town, so I decided to fill up in preparation even though the tank registered more than 1/4 full. This time the pump was going extraordinarily fast. I thought for a nano second, “wouldn’t that be hilarious if it stopped at $50 again?” But of course pushed that thought out instantly since there was about the same chance of that happening as winning the lottery.

You already know what happens next. Yep, it stopped at $50 on the dot! I was so filled with wonder and joy that I laughed out loud, incredulous at the “coincidence.” Of course, there are no coincidences so I just took it as a fun wink from the universe–a wink about what I had no idea, but I figured it meant something.

Two weeks later, I kid you not, I was pumping gas again. I can’t honestly say whether or not I was thinking about the $50 this time. I do remember that I was sitting in the car listening to my book du jour when I heard the pump click off. You can only imagine my total and complete astonishment when it was $50 exactly a third time and in less than a month! Now I was truly freaking out, in a good way, but still utterly perplexed. What are the chances?

Now I definitely had to get some outside perspective on what this meant so I asked one of my psychic friends to take a look. This friend is a big muckety-muck at an international firm so we exchange looks over email to accommodate our different schedules. Since it is convenient for me to cut and past it, I’ll share part of what she emailed…

50 is a personal test.  You are testing your creation system to make sure you are indeed creating your life (something you don’t really trust at times or want to believe at times because dis-empowerment is easier. So you find ways to have the world play back your ability to create in little ways, reoccurring numbers, synchronicity, etc.  Not significant because it is all from you, reflecting out in the world.  My message here: YES you are a creator.  It works.  Play big and trust yourself.  Do not model for the world, your loved ones your fear in creating!

I told this story to my oldest son on the way to school the next day and he replied, “mom, your credit card probably maxes out at $50 for gas.” Ugh,” I thought disappointed. That could very well be the explanation, especially since my purse had been stolen within the year. I had so wanted to believe it was my way of reminding myself that I’m a creator.

To my great delight, the next time I pumped gas, it went all the way up to $61 and change. What my friend had seen felt right and true to me so I was relieved that these “coincidences” couldn’t be explained away otherwise. You’d think I’d trust this process more since this is what I do for others, but you know the saying about the cobbler’s kids not having any shoes to wear… What a great reminder for me (all of us) to own my ability to consciously create and a nice knock on the head to sit down and meditate more, since you can’t create what you don’t know you want and meditation is the fastest way to get clear.

This post is too long already so I’ll continue the story in the next one. Until then, get out there and create big! Let’s inspire each other with how big we can play:)!

Can You Stay Open to the Pain of Others?

This comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, New York Times best-selling author, Advisory Board member of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited lecturer at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard universities. It’s kind of long, but it’s worth the time to read to the end.

            Can you stay open to the pain of others?

The Practice

Being at peace with the pain of others.

Why?

Humans are an empathic, compassionate, and loving species, so it is natural to feel sad, worried, or fiery about the troubles and pain of other people. (And about those of cats and dogs and other animals, but I’ll focus on human beings here.)

Long ago, the Buddha spoke of the “first dart” of unavoidable physical pain. Given our hardwired nature as social beings, when those we care about are threatened or suffer, there is another kind of first dart: unavoidable emotional pain.

For example, if you heard about people who go to bed hungry – as a billion of us do each night – of course your heart would be moved. I’m usually a pretty calm guy, but when I visited Haiti, I was in a cold rage at the appalling conditions in which most people there lived. On a lesser scale but still real, a friend’s son has just started college and is calling home to tell his mom how lonely and miserable he feels; of course she’s worried and upset.

But then – as the Buddha continued with his metaphor – there are the second darts we throw ourselves: rehashing past events, writing angry mental emails in the middle of the night, anxious rumination, thinking you’re responsible when you’re not, feeling flooded or overwhelmed or drained, getting sucked into conflicts between others, etc. etc. Most of our stresses and upsets come from these second darts: needless suffering that we cause ourselves – the opposite of being at peace.

Our second darts also get in the way of making things better. You’ve probably had the experience of talking with someone about something painful to you, but this person was so rattled by your pain that he or she couldn’t just listen, and had to give you advice, or say you were making a big deal out of nothing, or jump out of the conversation, or even blame you for your own pain!

In other words, when others are not at peace with our pain, they have a hard time being open, compassionate, supportive, and helpful with it. And the reverse is true when we are not at peace ourselves with the pain of others.

So how do you do it? How do you find that sweet spot in which you are open, caring, and brave enough to let others land in your heart . . . while also staying balanced, centered, and at peace in your core?

How?

 Keep a warm heart

Let the pain of the other person wash through you. Don’t resist it. Opening your heart, finding compassion – the sincere wish that a being not suffer – will lift and fuel you to bear the other’s pain. We long to feel received by others; turn it around: your openness to another person, your willingness to be moved, is one of the greatest gifts you can offer.

To sustain this openness, it helps to have a sense of your own body. Tune into breathing, and steady the sense of being here with the other person’s issues and distress over there.

Have heart for yourself as well. It’s often hard to bear the pain of others, especially if you feel helpless to do anything about it. It’s OK if your response is not perfect. When you know your heart is sincere, you don’t have to prove yourself to others. Know that you are truly a good person; you are, really, warts and all, and knowing this fact will help you stay authentically open to others.

Do what you can

Nkosi Johnson was born in South Africa with HIV in 1989 and he died 12 years later – after becoming a national advocate for people with HIV/AIDS. I think often of something he said, paraphrased slightly here: “Do what you can, with what you’ve been given, in the place where you are, with the time that you have.”

Do what you can – and know that you have done it, which brings a peace. And then, face the facts of your limitations – another source of peace. One of the hardest things for me – and most parents – is to feel keenly the struggles and pain of my kids . . . and know that there is nothing I can do about it. That’s a first dart, for sure. But when I think that I have more influence than I actually do, and start giving my dad-ish advice and getting all invested in the result, second darts start landing on me – and on others.

See the big picture

Whatever the pain of another person happens to be – perhaps due to illness, family quarrel, poverty, aging, depression, stressful job, worry about a child, disappointment in love, or the devastation of war – it is made up of many parts (emotions, sensations, thoughts, etc.) that are the result of a vast web of causes.

When you recognize this truth, it is strangely calming. You still care about the other person and you do what you can, but you see that this pain and its causes are a tiny part of a larger and mostly impersonal whole.

This recognition of the whole – the whole of one person’s life, of the past emerging into the present, of the natural world, of physical reality altogether – tends to settle down the neural networks in the top middle of the brain that ruminate and agitate. It also tends to activate and strengthen neural networks on the sides of the brain that support spacious mindfulness, staying in the present, taking life less personally – and a growing sense of peace.

Spirited, Awaken the Spirit Within, and Maxed Out

It’s been fun receiving book recommendations from you! Thank you!

Mary Ann recommended two books by Rebecca Rosen that I really enjoyed and think you will, too. Spirited: Connect to the Guides All Around You and Awaken the Spirit Within: 10 Steps to Ignite Your Life and Fulfill Your Divine Purpose

Rosen is a medium who communicates with souls who have crossed over–along the lines of John Edward. I found her writing style and stories interesting and enjoyable. She also gives lots of great techniques for getting in touch with your inner guidance system, increasing your overall consciousness, and practical tips on how to use your spiritual gifts in daily life. I’m always surprised my library has these types of books, but I’m so glad they do!

Tambra turned me on to, Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink, by Katrina Alcorn. I wish I’d read this when my kids were younger, but still found it interesting and relevant. I had just finished, Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg when this one finally popped up on my hold list at the library.

While I enjoyed Sandberg’s book, it made me question whether or not I was putting in enough effort in trying to work either more hours or in a more traditional job. I went to grad school for crying out loud and what the heck did I have to show for it besides an impressive student loan?! An MBA doesn’t give you much street cred on the psychic scene.

In any case, I appreciated Alcorn’s candor on many levels. It was also a good reminder that no matter what our situation, we’re all out there doing our best. While some people may appear to be “doing it all” and “doing it all well!” or just plain, “doing it all better than we are,” that’s not always how it is behind the scenes. We’d be wise to stop comparing ourselves and trying to meet unrealistic expectations, whether self or other induced.

As always, thanks again for the recommendations!

Women’s Reclamation and Renewal

Way back in this post, I talked about the incredible growth I’d experienced as a result of a Women’s Renewal Retreat I participated in last January. That weekend was so powerful, that our group asked the supremely talented facilitators, Sharon and Jess, to create more opportunities for us to continue what we’d started. As a result, Women’s Reclamation and Renewal was born.

I won’t go into all the details about what we did during those gatherings, because Sharon and Jess are offering another series commencing September 13th for those of you lucky enough to live in California’s Central Coast. I will say, however, that I continue to reflect upon and use the wisdom I gained from those experiences in more ways than I ever could have anticipated.

Here is a quick description of the next series:

Women’s Reclamation & Renewal is a four part series that guides women on a journey of transformation in a wilderness context. Guided group practices and solo experiences are intended to offer opportunities to build a relationship with the landscape that activates your personal potential, enriching your lives and inevitably the communities that hold you.

FALL 2014 DETAILS

Weekend I:  September 13 & 14 ( 9am Saturday – 5pm Sunday)

Weekend II: October 4 ( 9am – 5pm Saturday)

Weekend III: October 19 ( 9am – 5pm Sunday)

Weekend IV: November 7 – 9 ( 9am Friday – 5pm Sunday)

If you’re looking for a guaranteed way to shake things up in your life, this is your ticket!  Let me know if you take the plunge and we can have our own private pow wow. If you have any questions or hesitations, feel free to contact Sharon, Jess, or myself and we’d be happy to walk you through them. Ooooh, I’m getting the tingles just thinking about all the wonderfulness that will surely happen here!

The War of Art

I don’t know how I came upon this book, but am so glad I did! It’s official title is, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, written by Steven Pressfield.

Even if you’re not a writer or in another type of creative professional field, this slim edition would be a fun addition to your arsenal to break through any and all road blocks to free flowing energy. There is a pervasive fallacy that you’re either the “creative type” or not. I have to stop my inner voice which constantly says, I’m not creative and I don’t have a creative bone in my body.

Literally everything we do is our “creation.” Whether it’s a thought, relationship, meal, email, hug, a deep breath or heartfelt smile, a clean drawer, it does not matter as they all result from our creative force.

Pressfield describes many common ways we block this creative flow which he labels as RESISTANCE. For me, just naming this force brings it down to a surmountable size. For example, when I’m stagnant on a decision, I now notice the paralysis and then hear myself saying, oh that’s just resistance, what am I resisting? what am I afraid of? is it that bad? I’ll just move forward one step and see where that takes me and Boom! just like that, the resistance dissipates.

Also, now I can see that one of my children is constantly in resistance, whether it’s to new situations, activities, people, a different hiking trail, it doesn’t really matter, this child will dig down into the trenches and be almost impossible to budge. Prior to this book, I thought that child had control/anger issues. Now that I recognize their underlying motivation as simply Resistance, which is just another form of fear, it takes the sting out of the obstinate behavior and elicits more compassion from me. It also makes it easier to move through the power struggle and gain compliance once the resistance/fear is named and validated.

The War of Art is a great followup to Fail Fast, Fail Often. The two together make for powerful motivation to just Get Out There!