This morning I was reflecting upon what I would say to people in my Seasonal Letter. I can't call it a Christmas letter because, I missed that date. I wondered what I would say, because of course I want to put my best foot forward about my life. Christmas cards seem to be the early or the original version of a Facebook entry. I am not very good at Facebook; I don't see the point as I find real stories much more interesting than the practiced facade.
This is probably another reason why my Christmas letters became Seasonal letters, I had a few challenges and I don't really care to fall in line with societal decorum and put an inauthentic spin on them. So, I will write what everyone else has probably heard versions of at some point if they sat across from me in my office as I encouraged and/or cajolled to your fullest potential...
This year has been full of challenges for many people. We have learned and been propelled to our greater good, but, the lessons may have hurt a bit this year.
I saw friends loose everything they had in devestating fires in Eastern Washington. I saw friends struggle physically, fiscally, emotionally, some even died. I don't understand why one died a tragic painful death. That is beyond my comprehension why that path was given to her, but I bow my head, surrender and trust the process.
And in so doing,I have seen amazing things as well. I have seen tremendous courage as many have reached within to understand and better themselves I know of one person who had the tenacity to fight off their addiction and at the same time be rocked almost to the brink of insanity as they confronted core issues that they had avoided since the original trauma.
I have seen someone who I never thought would bend due to the incredible trauma experienced, that I almost didn't catch it when they yielded so quietly and graciously as if that was always the way of it. A miracle.
I do not pretend to understand the pattern of the webs we weave, but I know that it brings goodness although we may sufffer a bit before we realize the joy. I, personsonally, end this year on a high. A back injury that has plagued me for over a year seems to finally be releasing it's grip on me and with it some of my own family of origin issues are melting away as well.
I am excited by new prospects within my spiritual growth, within my business, withing my community. How I wish I could have had a sense of this excitement when I was in some of the darker hours I experienced this past year, and yet, the reward of surrending to the mystery would not be as sweet as it is now.
Isn't that the way of it?
Happy New Year-Lean into the mystery that it offers to release you from the old!
Although it is November when I write this, the ground has turned hard and white, and visions of gravy and mashed potatoes dance in my head as the day of national feasting fast approaches, this can also be a time of renewing one's attention towards gratitude. It is always easy to belabor the problems one has or the anxieties that swirl in one's mind, but it is in the stillness of now that if one chooses to rest one's mind that one can find the inner-peace where gratitude lives.
To take this to an extreme example, if one is in physical pain, it doesn't matter how expensive the bed is or how elegant the bedroom is that one lies in to experience physical pain. The physical gifts that life can bestow or take away from us are just distractions from the internal world. In other words, when one is in pain, an elegant room doesn't reduce it!
To transcend the pain, one can of course take a pain pill to cut it, but sometimes, that's not always available for one reason or another so again, one is left with one's own internal landscape to make sense of the pain. I use physical pain as an analogy here because it is easier to delineate sometimes than emotional pain, but the same skills apply.
So back to the plush bed in the elegant room where one is distractedly focusing upon one's physical pain. To get away from it, the stillness in the body, where the pain fades to the background, is found in being stricktly in the moment. If one focuses upon the future or reminesces about the past, there is only heartbreak. One can get lost for days remembering or wistfully wishing for what could be, but isn't now.
The moment of now offers abundant opportunities for gratitude. If one is in bed in pain, can the thought enter in that one is lucky to have bed to feel pain in? There are so many in the world don't have that. If there is a body part that is shrieking in pain, many don't have that body part to feel pain. So how lovely that you have the opportunity to have your body share with you it's journey.
But can you hear, it? Do you tell it--f" off! I don't have time to listen, I have more fun or important things to do than to bother with a silly body part! Do you fall into discouragement and say 'what did I do to deserve this?' Maybe you barely notice your body because your going over lists in your head of what to do? Maybe this is all you know as to how to deal with your body because this is all you ever got and anything other, is strange.
In the stillness, the answers will come. Can you turn off the judgement of your pain being inconvenient, an annoyance to deal with, something that you judge is making you inadequate, doubt that it's such a big deal. Can you turn off your judgements, your distractions, your wistful wishes, your meanderings to the past and just rest with the abundance of knowing that right now in this very moment, you may hurt or all may not be perfect, but you are ok. Just in this moment. You may not have everything figured out, you may not like where you are, you may not have the answers questions you have, but just for right this moment you are ok because you actually have the presence of mind to be able to actually read these words and affirm them to yourself. Just in this moment alone.
You can see it's a choice. You can choose to hold this reality or you can choose to come up with a million reasons why I am wrong: --That you are not ok; --That I don't know XYZ issue you have going on for you. You can choose to put your attention on explaining and arguing, or you can just try something new and hold that, just in this moment and this moment alone--you are ok. And what if you string a whole lot of those moments together and hold that just for these moments, you are ok. What if?
May gratitude warmly and richly fill your heart so abundantly it graces your Thanksgiving holiday overflows into your being throughout the year.
I have a saying that goes—“ The difference between an addict and a spiritual warrior is discipline.” Many people know what I mean, but many are also confused. I thought I would help clarify what is meant by the statement by discussing a little bit about what it doesn’t mean.
Often times, when the word discipline is heard, it somehow can imply a stringent or judgmental attitude. But, typically a true spiritual warrior won’t live in judgment. When a warrior is really disciplined regarding their own mental health, they will be too busy processing their own material to be concerned with judging another person’s emotional baggage. As warriors, we know that the key to the alignment with the Divine is through releasing our emotional baggage. Since emotional baggage keeps us from knowing the Truth of the Divine, warriors become highly motivated to clean emotional house!
Additionally, once a spiritual warrior begins the daunting and ceaseless task of cleaning one’s emotional house, opening doors and seeing the amount of emotional dust mice one collects over a life time, the question is begged –“how could I judge another for their imperfections when my house has the dust mice running around my emotional body that it has?” And, we can all be assured that as long as we are not walking on water, levitating, living in a perpetual state of bliss, whatever one’s faith holds as the epitome signature of holding the Divine’s vibration, we have issues. In other words, everyone on this planet has emotional issues that we are continuing to process and clear.
It is actually a fabulous thing to have issues or emotional baggage because it keeps us humble. I have been a counselor working my family of origin issues for over 20 years. I have a lot of therapy under my belt and a lot of experience, but I still sink when I hit the waters of Lake Washington. Because my bones are so big, they don’t even float well so I sink fast.
If we do not have few nicks in our emotional surface, how do we understand another's journey? We will just sail off the smoothness of our surface, thinking we "got it under control!" It's when we trip over a scratch that we didn't put on our emotional surface that enables us to have compassion for our friend who is also down on their smooth surface and smiling sweetly up at us after tripping over their own arrogance. It's then when we realize that maturity means having the grace to allow one's self and others to be clumsy, whether that is emotionally or physically.
And, this is where I think one can lose sight of how discipline is interpreted. A spiritual warrior is a path of the heart so how could one be cruelly implementing discipline if one follows such a path? Discipline does not have to be practiced using terror or intimidation. Discipline can be a practice that is self-defined as a rigorously kind act of self-care that enables oneself to be lavished in love. Wow! That sounds awful, huh??!!! A practice that would lavish one’s self in love?
When one is lavishing one’s self in love, it does not sound like-“Oh dang! How stupid! I didn’t do it right again! I didn’t exercise my practice in love!” Instead, the spiritual warrior on the path of the heart would say, “Huh! How interesting? It looks like I didn’t practice that exercise to love myself. I wonder why? I will see if maybe I could practice it in the next minute or tomorrow without self-recrimination because I know that if I could have done it already, I would have. I will establish that practice in the perfect minute for my heart at the perfect time even if I don’t know when that is.” Namaste
I continue to see the struggle people have with how to create passion. It's a dilemma to be sure. In order to experience passion, one must risk...something. What is risked depends upon what passion one is trying to achieve. Another component complicating everything is that in order to have passion, we must strive for what we are trying to achieve which in our culture is very risky. Our culture celebrates the hero, but the hero's journey is a solitary one. Someone becomes a hero because, in that critical time in which a decision needs to be made it is selfless; what is tested is his/her own inner-metal. So, if we are passionate in a way that is currently socially unacceptable, we risk offending by being "too much" or "too out-there" or "too unconventional" or just plain 'too...". And yet, to do nothing is boring.
I continue to see people who have not succeeded in obtaining their passion fall into the failure of boredom. There is so much to do and achieve in this world that the retreat from life into the safety of boredom can be seen as the failure to launch into one's passion.
The struggle for passion I witnessed the other night as people leaned into learning how to be emotionally intimate was just that, the failure to launch, but understandably to me and probably incredibly to my readers, most were not even aware that they had failed. They just thought they were bored. Often times, we don't go after our dreams, not because we are dying to chalk up yet another failure in our life, but because our original blueprint for life, which some refer to as our family of origin issue, casuses a hiccup in our ability to make what we want happen.
If one is not aware of the programming stopping one from acting outside of their own norms, one is forever doomed to walk within their own box of comfort. A life is lived knowing what one can expert of one's self and thus, one can be fairly certain of the ensuing reaction from others.
The free-fall experience of changing behavior or expectations can be a heady rush of anticipation and/or anxiety. Our emotional body is so geared to avoid pain that we can be driven to actions that don't make sense when we are not imbued with the family of origin message that directs our actions without conscious thought.
I heard of a situation where the father from another country attempted to have his own daughter and grandchild killed so as not to stain his family with the taint of divorce that his daugher was threatening to bring. This father had received his approval for his action from his father, the woman's grandfather. This is an excellent example of the lethality of family of origin issues. So, if a father can be driven to murder his own daugher so as not to risk feelng that heady free-fall experience that might have occurred if he thought outside the box of his cultural norms, maybe then when I mention that a family-of-origin issues has been triggered, people will appropriately shake in their boots.
However, I realize this awareness is hard to absorb because it forces people to come face to face with the fact that we might not know everything about the favored topic of ourselves. Only a strong ego can handle knowing that not only doesn't it know, but it doesn't even know what it doesn't know. Fortunately, the drive for passion in our existence is like a monotonous distant drumbeat if it is not drowned out by addiction or mental illness. Eventually, we will buckle to its beat and seek out meaning that brings passion.
It is difficult to change the path of our personal star streaking across the night sky. However, if we don't reach for the stars, it is possibly because we have been trained to reach for worms in the dirt due to our family of origin issues. It might be a little while before we know to head in the right direction, but with the knowledge that changing our behavior is akin to changing the flight plan of a star, compassion will provide the fertile ground for patience and persistence to grow our own success. Good luck.
When the Olympics arrive, even though they do so on a regular basis, we as a world get excited. At some intrinsic level, I believe that we celebrate the people of so many nations who are participating in the games because they come together to... try.
Because the Olympics are a competition, this means that inherent in the excercise some will fail. But not for a minute, do I believe that the excitement the games generate is because somebody might fail the day they watch the Olympics.
There is evidence in that belief because when an athlete from another country is endangered or hurt, everyone in the stand encourages the athlete, not just the observers from that country.
In the men's Olympic ice dance competition on the night of February 13th, ice skater, Jeremy Abbott, was making his attempt for Olympic gold, but he missed his quad jump. His skate had dug into the ice at an inopportune time. It caused him to go airborne, but not in the direction of the intended quad. He landed with the whole weight of his body on one hip on the hard ice, continue to slide across the ice and slam into the ice rink wall. It he looked as if he was down for the evening.
His performance music continued to play, but he lay on the cold wet ice with his face into the wall. We all waited. Wondering. Was he seriously injured? Would he be able to continue? And if so,what he was going to choose to do. Give up? Or go on?
When he was able to pull himself raggedly to his skates and begin performing, even trying to catch up with the music, the whole arena not only applauded but continued to clap in time to the beat of his music. Everyone, Russians, Germans, American, everyone was signaling their encouragement and support for his tenacity and fighting spirit. They were celebrating his spirit of trying.
In the face of such odds and pain, Jeremy tried. Knowing that his chance for the gold was probably left on the ice underneath his hip, he got up and performed anyway.
There are contestants that come to the Olympics knowing that probably they will not go home with the gold, but they reach for it anyway. They just want to be a part of it all because there is a lot more than gold won at the games.
So reach for the stars, who knows you may just get there. And if you don't quite have the moxie to do so right now, watch the Olympic games and sees motivated fabulous role models in how to try from every nation!
Cheers to the spirit of the Olympics!