you never know

This could be your last day here on earth. It could be the last time you speak to someone you love, the last time you give a hug and say have a good day, the last lunch you pack. You may be lucky/unlucky enough to get a warning in the form of a diagnosis or an illness, but you may not. You could get hit by a car, choke on your sandwich, struck down by an aneurysm or a heart attack. We are all in the process of getting closer and closer to our exit from this existence. Let this be a reminder not to waste your precious time being angry at someone, to make that phone call, to say I love you, to give your gratitude and thanks. We are here in this form on a temporary basis, everything is always changing and moving closer to going back to the earth, us included.

What if we are here to fully enjoy and experience all that this physical world has to offer? What if we are not supposed to take everything so seriously and instead be joyful? What if you approached every day, every interaction, remembering this simple truth, that every moment is a gift.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward

quiet mind

Even a positive mind is busy staying positive, and looking for the good. Give your mind a rest and let it find quiet. Positive is better than negative, but quiet beats all. It can be challenging to find it in this world of constant stimulation and immediate gratification and instant feedback. I have my go-to tricks for getting there, sometimes for just a moment. A moment is all I often need to remind myself of what really matters to me.

Barefoot in the dirt or grass
A hot shower with the lights off
A walk in the trees
A quiet room and some deep breaths
A heartfelt full body hug with someone I love
Gazing at the night sky
Watching the waves in the ocean
Sitting in my parked car for a moment before starting it up
Washing dishes in hot sudsy water

A quiet mind lets me remember that I am so incredibly blessed and grateful to be here on this planet at this time in history, with the people I love, learning the lessons I need to learn, and to lighten up!

 

being human

Sometimes I am so zen and peaceful and I think I have figured it all out. I know to let go, I know it’s all good, I know that I can handle whatever comes my way. In this space nothing can phase me, and it is easy to be kind to myself and know that I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing. I can even let myself think about worst case scenarios and still maintain my cool. I think this place is heaven on earth, and that nothing can jolt me. Then it happens. The little sliver gets touched, the one that is hidden still far back in my past or deep in my psyche, and all the old feelings come rushing back to remind me that I am still human. And that’s okay. It just means that I have another opportunity to learn more about myself, to uncover and heal another layer, and to give me perspective again.

All those people you see that seem to have it all together, that are smart, that are successful, even that are teaching or preaching, they are all human. We are all here doing the best we can, and we all have moments, days, years even, where it’s hard. Where we struggle, where we search, where we fall and where we fail. But when you begin to see that there is a door, and if you open it just a crack even, a light begins to shine. The light that shows you a different world, one where life is good, where you have choices, infinite choices, where you can change your thoughts and change your life. This is what it is to be human.

hold a place

He was quiet and I could sense he was dealing with some disturbing energy. One of my challenges has been to maintain my neutrality, my positivity, my cool, when people around me are upset. We all have the ability to know, to feel, when someone is dealing with difficult emotions. The danger is always that emotions are like magnets, and it takes self awareness and the ability to remain centered to stay put and not get sucked in. Sucked in to reacting with anger, or worry, or any fluctuation in your own mood. This is especially difficult when one of our hot spots gets triggered. You know what they are, the core issues that seem to repeatedly come up in your life. The need to be right, the need for everyone to like you, the need to be the best, the need to have more, the need to be in control…we all have some variation of these needs/wants, the roots buried deep in our personal story.

So here was my test. My son was upset, the ultra sensitive mom radar was beeping as I intuitively felt his mood. The first thing that popped into my head was “*Alert*Alert*Equilibrium compromised*Dig*Ask questions*Fix*”. My instinct, conditioned I am sure by years of practice, was to fix it. To delve in immediately and see what I could change in his world to bring him back into the comfort zone. “Hold a place for him” was my second thought, thankfully before I could act on the first. I have read about “Holding a place”, but until this moment it was a vague theory that I kind of knew what it meant but not really. In that moment I realized it is a choice to sit back, quiet the voice in your head, and be present for someone. It makes no difference if it is your child, your spouse, your coworker, or even the person waiting behind you in line.

When any human being that is in your life is upset, angry, hurt, depressed, you can be the anchor. You can be the place where they feel safe. You can be the unconditional acceptance that we all need by choosing to listen without judgment, to be present without offering a solution, to hear without reacting. This is what it means to hold a place.

change the channel

Imagine a room. This room has a comfy chair in the center, the kind with a floral print or soft velvety fabric that your grandma may have had. It’s cushy and broken in with down stuffed pillows and rocks a little, and sits in the middle of the room. In the far corner of the room is a TV. This is not a flatscreen, plasma, HD, modern style TV. It’s an old one. The kind of TV you see in old movies, that sits on a stand and looks like a box. It has a dial to change the channels, and maybe even some antennas sticking up from the top. It is beige and a bit dusty, but the picture is still clear and the sound surrounds you.

The room is your mind, and you are sitting in the comfy chair, watching the TV. And you think this is your life. The TV show may be all about stress and all of the things you have to do, how much further along everyone else is than you, all of the stuff you don’t have and never will, and every rejection and failure you ever experienced. Every once in a while a commercial comes on and you are granted a reprieve from the day to day, you see flashes of hope, mini vacations from your current reality.

What I am going to suggest is that you pull yourself out of that comfy chair, and change the channel. If you don’t like what you are seeing, change it. Get up and turn the dial and look for the good. Look for the opportunities, for the kindness, for the abundance. There are multiple channels broadcasting simultaneously, and the shows are hypnotic. So hypnotic that we get sucked into them and believe them to be the only reality we can see. It can be hard to grasp the idea that you can change the channel, that you can take control and shift your focus, but once you realize that not only is it possible, but also necessary to your well being, you can begin to be freed from the tyranny of being controlled by your surroundings.

I use the imagery of changing the channel as a tangible method to shifting my focus. I know that if I am feeling down, or overwhelmed, or out of time, sad, stressed, angry…The channel I am watching will continue showing more of the same. I take a deep breath, pull myself out of that chair, (though sometimes it wants to pull me back down) and change the channel. I change it first to gratitude. I begin saying thank you for the variations that life brings my way, because it shows me how blessed I am. Thank you for the many demands on my time, because it teaches me to focus on the important things. Thank you for the challenges, because they help me to grow.

I am not going to say that it is easy, but with practice it does get easier. It gets easier to catch yourself and remember to change the channel, though sometimes I need a nudge. The best part is that I know there is so much more than the small TV in the corner of my mind. I stand up from the chair, and I look around my mind, and I see a door. I have tried at times to open it, pushing against it, trying to force it to open, but it resists. The more I push the more shut it is. So I let go. I stopped searching for the key, pushing for the answer, asking everyone else what to do. I stood back, arms at my side, and let go. What happens next is that the door begins to open. As light begins to shine into the room, I can see a small plaque next to the door that says “door opens in”.

From here begins the journey into consciously getting to know myself by looking in and letting go.

smile

You may never know the impact of a smile, a kind word, a “No, you go first!”. Many people are going through their day in a daze of thoughts and worries, virtually sleeping awake. When you are fully awake and aware of your body in space at this moment, it is not unlike putting on your glasses when you didn’t even realize your vision was blurred. Take a moment and try it, especially when you are in a public place. You will see people in their heads, you will see blank eyes, you will see others talking and interacting, and you will make eye contact with someone who is also awake. Smile and appreciate that fleeting connection, the recognition of another soul momentarily brought into the present moment.

I think we are so used to the hum in our heads, the constant commentary that is going on, “I am thirsty, man I need to get a manicure, I wonder if it’s going to rain today, is he going to get to work on time? What am I going to make for dinner, shoot I hate going to the grocery store. I need to stop eating crap late at night. Those bananas are overripe I should make banana bread.” If you think you don’t have all of that an more going through your head at any given moment just pause and listen. That voice that says “I don’t hear anything” is the voice I am talking about. It is so familiar to us, it has been in there talking our whole lives, so we don’t even notice it, until we do. That voice can be silenced for a time, but it can also be retrained. It takes practice, and noticing it, and quieting it when you can so that you can smile and connect with another human being. This is when souls talk to each other, through silence and a smile.

obscurity

From a very young age we are taught that the more attention we received, especially for being a “good boy” or “good girl”, the more we were praised and accepted by those that mattered to us. We will even choose “bad” behaviors to get attention, as any parent (or pet owner!) knows. The better we did at fitting in, excelling at school and earning the gold star, being the best player on the team, earning the trophy, the more status we received. This began the pattern of searching for acknowledgment from the outside world, through comparing ourselves to how we rate with others.

The yearning to be famous is evidenced all over social media, as we broadcast the snippets of our perfect moments, creating the illusion of a glamorous life. These fragments of captured realities are a double edge sword, showing the rest of the world what is possible at the same time as it says “I have this and you don’t”. There is nothing wrong with wanting more than you have, this is how we reach goals we set. The awareness that has to happen, however, to truly appreciate what you attain, is that you already have everything you need right now. If you are constantly seeking, approval, fame, more, love, money, peace, they will always stay just out of your reach. The only way to truly have any of the things you seek is to see them in your life right now.

From the Tao de Ching
“Fish cannot leave deep waters” – for when they rise to the surface to see the world, the net swoops down and catches them. Practice living under the radar, stop measuring yourself against others, abstain from drawing attention to yourself, allow others to shine

a parable

Although we love certainty, and work to make our lives operate in such a way that we know what to expect next, we also conversely crave uncertainty. Another word for it is variety.

There was a gambler who died, and as he approached the pearly gates, he was amazed and ecstatic that he had made it to heaven! He was so delighted to see that heaven was as if it had been created just for him! There were roulette tables, blackjack, slot machines, showgirls…a real Monte Carlo. As he stepped up to place his bets he found his pockets full of cash. He placed a bet, and won. Another, and jackpot. Again and again he bet, and won. After some time had passed he began to feel not just bored, but really unhappy and dissatisfied. All the winning was great, but something felt off. He went up to St. Peter, “Hey Pete, I don’t know about this, I think I am over heaven. I want to go to hell instead.” St. Peter replied, “Sir, I am sorry to tell you, but this is hell.”

The ups and downs, the wins and losses, are the juice of life. Without failure we would not learn, without the night there would be no day. Remember the parable of the gambler as you work so diligently to make your world comfy and certain. I have a love and appreciation for my losses and the darker moments, because they help me see how blessed I truly am.

the cure

Some people cause happiness wherever they go. Some people cause happiness whenever they go. Oscar Wilde

Which one are you? Do you make it your intent to bring people up? Or are you tuned out inside your head, thinking the hundreds of thoughts that are looping around in your mind at any given moment?

And how the heck does one stay positive when faced with grouchiness and negativity and aggravation? What about when you are working with a deadline? or short on resources?

Our mind is a tool, and it’s main job for generations has been to ensure our survival by looking for all the threats. In this day we live in, and if we are lucky enough to be reading this online, we have resources and are not racing for survival. There are no saber tooth tigers ready to pounce, we have access to food and shelter, clean water and electricity. Yet our minds are slow to advance and still look for danger. The overwhelming fear that is all around us will invade the most loving space if it is allowed.

I have put myself on a news diet. Meaning I am done with it. I turn it off or tune it out or leave the room when it is on, and lucky for me my family is following. I am not saying to bury your head in the sand and chant “its all good its all good”, but rather to focus on the love and good things that are all around you.

One thing that is certain is that this current state of affairs in our country and our planet has brought to the forefront of our awareness the need to WAKE UP. To realize that you have the amazing ability to change your world. That the only way to counteract fear is with love, anger with gratitude, frustration with acceptance.

change the world

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

How much control do you have on the world we live in? Do you believe you have the power to make a positive change? Do you think that the things that are happening in your city, in your state, in your country, in the world, are your responsibility? Are you a spectator or are you a doer? When someone is rude to you, or unfairly accuses you of doing something, do you feel hurt, or angry? Do other people’s actions and moods affect yours? If you are like most of us, they do. I see it all the time with angry drivers, or people I work with that bring their personal problems to work, or in the media on the world stage with all of the back and forth tit for tat. It has been an ongoing process for me to learn to stay cool, to stay me, when faced with outside influencers. It can be hard to do so especially with the people that have the most influence on us, our parents, our kids, our spouse.

It’s easy to see how easily we can be affected by upset, so how about we take that and flip it around. How good does it feel when we get touched with love? What if you set an intention to make all of your interactions laced with love, with kindness. Do you think that will have a ripple effect? I believe it does. I believe that the only way we are going to make this world we all live in a better place is to begin right here, with the daily connections and collisions we have ourselves. Begin the conversation, don’t be shy. Talk to your kids, to your coworkers, to your boss, to your neighbor, to the guy asking for change outside the cafe. Look up, look out, practice giving love even silently at first, then as you get brave, out loud. It may feel strange at first, to tell a stranger you love them, or someone you work with, but it gets easier the more you do it. Start small. Get great.