What do people thank you for?

As we are set to enter a new year I’ve stopped to reflect on my life since I started this journey. I’ve experienced many blessings as well as times I wasn’t sure why I was on this journey.

I searched my heart for a question that would give me some answers. The question I came up with is, “What do people thank you for?” I’m not talking about things like holding the door or stopping at the store on your way home. I’m referring to things that go deeper and that are consistent in your life.

What is consistent in my life? Thank you for listening, when no one else will. Thank you for supporting me in the most challenging times of my life. Thank you for being honest with me even when it may not be what I want to hear. Thank you for fun times.

I answered the question and the answers were revealed. I know why I am on this journey. I am blessed.

Find what people thank you for and you will find your purpose.

Meditation, am I doing it right?

I used to ask myself this question all the time when I first started practicing meditation. Am I doing it right? With all the latest research pointing us to use meditation as another tool to living a healthier, happier life, I thought it would be helpful to give my readers a long overdue post and dedicate it to the practice of meditation.

Defining the actual act of meditation can be difficult as there are many traditions and countless ways to practice. It is a heightened state of awareness that requires you to be fully present in the moment without judging what is in that moment.

Generally meditation consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on your breath, a word or a mantra. However, anything we do throughout the day can be an act of meditation, walking, standing, even washing dishes. The key is to be focused on the present.

Many who are new to meditation will ask, “How do I know if I am doing it right?”. The short answer is “If you feel better at the end, you are doing it right.” It is natural for there to be internal chatter and this isn’t a sign that you are doing something wrong. Acknowledge the thoughts and chatter and then let them go.

Most people who are drawn to meditation are seeking ways to reduce stress and quiet the mind. It is a very effective stress reducer.

The 4 most important elements in meditation practice are a quiet location with as few distractions as possible, a comfortable position whether walking, sitting, or lying down, focusing your attention, and an open mind.

Meditation may be used as a compliment to traditional medicine (not a replacement of) for various health related issues:

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional issues related to chronic illness
  • Overall health and well being

Meditation teaches us to focus attention and be mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations and too observe all these in a nonjudgmental way. The result is a mental calmness and physical relaxation.

Be here now!

Small Stuff

One of my favorite books is “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and It’s All Small Stuff.” If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and try to find a copy. The title says so much.

All too often in life we find ourselves fearful of things that never happen. Most of what we worry about will never come to fruition. The question then would be, “Why stress?”

What do we gain from stress? The negative effects of stress on the body are well-known. Research shows that psychological stress causes a multitude of physical ailments. Reading this piece from the Mayo Clinic touches on the effects of stress.

If we aren’t getting a physical benefit from stress there must be another need we are meeting. I’ve learned in my own life, that if I can determine what need I’m meeting with my worry or some other negative emotion, I am able to make the necessary change to grow and meet my needs in a higher quality way.

Focus on something in your life that causes you stress. What do you get from that situation? Does what you are worrying about get you the love and attention you want from someone? That someone could even be you. Maybe what you are stressed about allows you to feel accepting of yourself.

Are you feeling bored and using this to add variety to your life? We all need variety in our lives and although we don’t look at stress as something that may be used when we are bored, it is a very real way to add variety to your life.

Maybe what you are stressed about gives you a sense of safety and certainty. We have times when worry is the only thing that seems to give us a feeling of control.

In the grand scheme of life, it is important to realize that are few things worth stressing over. This moment is all any of us have, are you spending it in a way that makes you happy, adds to the happiness of those around you, and serves a greater good? If you answered yes, congratulations, you are one of the few. If you answered no, or you’re not sure, this is an opportunity for growth and change. What will you do with it?

Vulnerability, Lessons from a Broken Tooth

In many situations in life we must be willing to be vulnerable. If you want to find love, you must be willing. If you want to pursue a dream job, you must be willing. Want to learn something new, you must be willing. In almost every aspect of life we must be willing to screw up, show our true self, be who we are and let down the walls.

We must be willing to accept that we are not perfect, we are however, pure love. We come from love and we are made up of love. Does that mean nothing will go wrong? No.

I found myself in a vulnerable position this week and I am here to say, vulnerability may have led to a bad decision. Broken tooth–filling fell out in my sleep–no dentist–visible infection–no insurance–not much cash–fear–can’t eat–get the picture? In that vulnerable state, I realize I must do something so I search the internet for a dental office nearby that will see emergency patients. I find a well known chain and they tell me to come in immediately, exam and x-rays free for new patients.

Tons of x-rays and an evaluation, the dentist tells me there isn’t enough tooth to save, she recommends extraction with sedation (because of my fears). This is on Monday, they can do the surgery Wednesday. I’m concerned that if I don’t do it immediately I will have worse problems and my fear will keep me from doing what needs to be done. The bonus, I don’t have to pay it upfront.

I take the appointment, get a signed release from my doctors office to have the extractions done under sedation, and arrange for my transportation. Several times through this experience I felt like I was getting signs that were saying don’t do this, go elsewhere. I ignored them because I have such a great fear of the dentist that I believed it was my fear talking. It isn’t always easy to know if you are receiving a clear message from the universe of it is just fear getting in the way?

Without going into too many details, I will say this–there was a screw up with prescriptions, there are 3 different doctors listed on my paperwork but only one doctor was present, my face is still swollen, I won’t tell you what my gums look like, and they scheduled no post op. Told me if you aren’t getting dentures, you don’t need a post op.

It can be difficult to allow yourself to be vulnerable after coming through extreme challenges. We all build walls of protection. Yet the only way to move on from those situations is to allow yourself to be vulnerable again.

I’m hoping for a happy ending to my toothache and that will mean I will need to be vulnerable again. Without that vulnerability the pain can only get worse.

What have I learned from a broken tooth–vulnerability and physical pain may not be a good combination, at least for me. Be sure I have a dentist when in one area for any length of time. Don’t immediately assume that fear is talking and particularly if you get the same message more than once. And the biggest lesson of all–I’m still human.

 

Creating Your Reality-Choice or Chance?

Have you ever felt like your reality is more random and chance than it is creation? We all have those times when we feel like we have little control over our reality and that most of what happens in life is a matter of randomness and happenstance. Is it really or are we not expanding our awareness enough to see that our reality is created in the randomness and happenstance?

Virtually everyone has experienced coincidences at some point in life. Most will simply right them off as nothing more than coincidence. Many of us will miss the relevance of the synchronicity. What if you changed your perspective and understood that coincidence is a glimpse into the greater creative mind and your Source?

We have all heard someone say, “I was in the right place at the right time.” when asked about a success in their life. What separates those people from the people who just write off the coincidences in their lives is simple. Those successes are woven around the ability to pay attention to the synchronicity that occurs, when it occurs.

Here are a few tips for recognizing coincidence in your own life and the benefits of paying attention:

  • Live in this moment. Your awareness should be focused on the here and now.
  • Practice daily meditation. As you meditate you will expand your conscious awareness and your ability to recognize coincidence.
  • Live mindfully. Focus on each activity throughout your day without letting your mind wander to the past or future.
  • When you recognize synchronicity in your life, question it’s purpose.
  • Expanded awareness and paying attention to those things you may consider coincidences can bring you to live in a state of grace.
  • The more aware you are, the more you will find coincidence happening in your life.

In my own life, I have many moments of synchronicity. Most recently, I was prepared to leave on a travel assignment. I was excited but I really felt that I needed just a few more days to prepare myself for the new adventure so I opted to meet up with the group in the middle of the week. All the arrangements were made, including transportation. The night that I made the decision not to leave I received an email from a family requesting my assistance. Had I not listened to my gut I would have missed the opportunity that was presented. Was it a coincidence that I didn’t feel I should leave? No. Should I have ignored the email and continued on? I don’t believe so.

I could have dismissed the email and told myself that a plan is a plan and it is just a coincidence that they emailed me when they did. I can tell you now, that had I done that I would have missed out on a beautiful experience. If I had chosen to leave when I was originally supposed to leave I would have been stuck halfway to the desired destination. I found out the group I was to be leaving with had several breakdowns on the way to their final destination.

Are you listening to the messages the universe is presenting to you each moment of the day?

Success or Significance

Have you ever felt like you were living a successful life but there was still something missing? Are you a successful person?

One dictionary definition of the word success tells us it is the accomplishment of one’s goals. If you consider that definition in it’s simplest form, we are successful each day that we wake up, unless of course you have a goal of not waking up ever again. In that case, please find a friend to talk to, a support group or call an emergency hotline. Most of us can honestly say that we do hope to wake up from our much needed sleep and we are successful.

Continuing that thought process, we all have small successes throughout our day. We have a goal of going to work, or playing with our kids, or making dinner, or getting some fresh air as we head out on a daily walk. Successes like these may not be thought of as a success, you may not give any of the things you do throughout your day much thought. You should, it will instantly brighten your day, knowing you are a success.

However, does success bring happiness is the greater question. In some instances, yes, success brings happiness. If you were craving a great meal and someone just served it to you that would be a success that makes you happy. If you had a goal to play with your kids in the backyard for an hour and had more fun in that hour than you did all day–that is a success that makes you happy.

If you head out to work, bring home a great paycheck, have very little debt, but hate your job or feel you have no purpose, you may be successful but certainly not happy. How many times in life have you found yourself achieving a goal only to feel successful but unhappy? You got what you wanted, when you wanted it, but something was still missing.

Then you have those moments where you can’t sleep and you do something you find joy in but not something you feel successful at. Something that has significance, even if it is only significant to you and you are over the moon happy.

The key to joy, harmony and balance in life is to find success through significance. If what you are doing doesn’t make you feel significant, you may want to reconsider what you are doing. The ultimate success is found in doing something with your life that makes you feel significant to yourself and others. It has been said many times but it is worth repeating…”What would you do even if you didn’t get paid to do it?”

 

One Billion Rising–Stand, Dance

I thought it only fitting that I post this today as women, men, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, husbands and wives are rising up to speak out about the violence against women. I was one of those women wrapped in the chains of violence and it took me 22 long years, and 2 failed marriages, to break those chains.

My story didn’t start with the marriages. It started much earlier when, as a young girl, I was molested by a half-brother and a grandfather. It was many years later after breaking those chains, that I knew in my heart that those earlier circumstances were what lead me to the men I married. For many years I would not speak about the things I had been through and there are still details, no one knows. Not because I can’t bring myself to speak about them, but because I have found that I am able to help others without all the details of my experiences. Healing is a reality not just something we hope for!

However, you could say that my chains started even earlier than the first day I was abused. My parents divorced when I was 5 and I watched as my father threw my mother out of the house. I was hiding where they couldn’t see me and crying softly. I just knew it had to have been something I did. I didn’t see my mother for years after that. Despite everyone telling you, it isn’t your fault, as a child, you never really believe that. I don’t remember consciously thinking about it much but I would discover later, when I had my own children, that it had always been buried in my subconscious. I now know that it wasn’t anything I did but it took me many years to understand that.

I was blessed with 3 beautiful children and it was because of those children and my experiences of divorced parents I endured the abuse. Ironically, it was those beautiful children that helped me find the way out. They don’t know that, it wasn’t something they did or said. As a mother, there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our children. I love my children with all my heart and I know they love me. I knew that then and it was as if a light went off..divorced parents or dead mom..divorced parents was a much healthier option for all concerned. This truly was a case of “Love conquers all.”

I have always been blessed with the ability to keep the smile in my heart despite the outside challenges I may be facing. However I have not always had the ability to truly know how to break the chains and stop the cycle of abuse. Learning to break that cycle is a true awakening to the power of who you are. It is a time of returning to spirit and knowing you are worthy of love and to be treated like the goddess that you are.

There are no excuses for violence against another human being. If you are reading this and in a violent situation, STOP reading, get help. Violence comes in many forms and is not always physical. If you feel anything less than extraordinary you may be suffering from abuse. We all need to rise up against violence! Children learn by example, they mimic what they see. We need to show them a world filled with love and peace.

If I only help one person in this world to break those chains I will have been a success.

I would love to hear what you are doing to stand up against violence..leave a comment below and share with the community of friends.

Friends?

We have all heard sayings about how to tell who your real friends are and yet how many of us really are put in a position to test that? My guess is, not many of us.

It is easy to be a friend to someone when they are on top of the world and winning in the game of life. What happens when they are in the wreckage of the world and losing at life? Would you give a hug to a homeless person? Think about it, if you have nothing else to give, isn’t that just what a homeless person may need? Would you drop what you are doing, go out in the cold, to help someone who had just been beaten? Would you sit with someone as they lose their battle with cancer? There is no better gift to give yourself than the gift you give to someone else.

If you have never taken a moment in your life to give to someone who can never repay you, what are you waiting for? Most of us have heard it said that if there is one piece of pie left on the table and someone else wants it, let them have it. What if someone needed more than that piece of pie? What if what they needed was everything you had?

Some of you may not know but when I found my purpose and embarked on this journey into kindness, I sold most everything I owned and gave up my apartment. Yes I do have a few personal things but no furniture, no car, no television or stereo–none of those things that you might have in your home. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have a home. I guess you could say, I am “purposefully homeless.” I didn’t have much because I have always been somewhat of a minimalist however you may still be wondering what I did with the money I made selling my possessions. Simple, what I didn’t need to survive, I gave to others. Was it easy, no, not at first. When I first started to part with all the “things” in my life I went through an emotional roller coaster ride. I never realized how attached I was to my “stuff.” It didn’t take long before I realized the freedom that this process was bringing into my life and more importantly into my heart.

As I live a very minimalistic lifestyle and I travel to speak with survivors I find myself learning much more than I teach. Maybe it is in teaching that I learn. I am not on this mission with the goal of becoming wealthy but I am experiencing richness in life. If I transition out of this life having nothing more than the knowledge that I have helped someone else have a better life than I will have accomplished my dream.

I’ve learned that living is about giving. I’ve learned that if I can let go of my fear of deprivation I am able to give and know that my own needs will still be met. I’m not perfect, and sometimes it is a battle, however, it is in those moments that I smile at my imperfections and move into a place of gratitude. I realize, in those moments, that I would not be asked to give unless more was going to be provided.

One simple example of this is my tent. As I’ve traveled with my tent in tow, the only time it has seen any daylight was at DrumStrong. If you don’t know what DrumStrong is, it is a 30 hour drum circle to raise money for cancer research.

30 Hour Drum Circle..Amazing!

So why has this been the only time the tent was out? Simple, the universe has always provided me with a wonderful host family and a comfortable place to stay. I have met some amazing people and I have some wonderful memories and new friends. I have always had what I need. I am truly blessed.

I’ve learned to bargain, and barter. I’ve even exchanged writing services for education. There are so many ways to experience the wonders of the world. The only obstacle we face is ourselves.

If you want to experience the richness that life has to offer, learn the value of what life brings and not the price of life’s things. Be a true friend and you will always have true friends.

Connecticut in Our Hearts

In the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting many of us are left feeling helpless. What can we do to protect our children, our grandchildren? It is a time when we stand together in disbelief, a time of sadness and heartbreak in our nation. We come together to send our love and prayers to the families of these children at this school, yet somehow that doesn’t seem to be enough. We take the time to hug those we love just a little tighter. We are searching for answers. There are no answers that could ever be sufficient. The loss of innocence leaves wounds that run deep. Although we need to bind those wounds, we need to also use them as a catalyst for world transformation.

Many of you are asking how do we smile in this time of great sorrow? We need to smile at our sorrow, knowing we are more than our sorrow. We need to thank our sorrow for showing us our strength and our love. Even when we force ourselves to smile, we become our smile. Lead with love, lead by example. Find ways to be of service to others and to those you love. Doing something for someone else helps with the healing process in our own hearts. Show your love to those you are close to and even those you don’t know.

Life is filled with despair, but it is also filled with joy and wonder. Live mindfully each day, Today, this moment, is the only moment we have. If all is well in this moment, all is well.

We are a world of disconnected souls. Many have failed to realize that we are all part of the same family. We are all manifestations of the same spirit. The air I breath is not separate from the air that has passed through the lungs of my sisters and brothers half way around the world. If you have ever flown in an airplane you know that the dividing lines between states and countries can’t be seen, they don’t exist. Those lines are man made. The separateness of the human race was created by man. The world is not a planet filled with individuals, what happens to one, happens to all. I believe that when we come to this realization we will see world transformation. Transformation starts within.

This tragedy has not happened in Connecticut, this tragedy has happened in the world. It has happened to all of us and it will take all of us to heal the wound. My heart goes out to all…I love you..

 

Are you listening?

This post is being written as the words flow from my heart. As I proceed on this journey life unfolds before me. I am open to receiving all the messages that come to me through everyday happenings.

I was with a new friend just recently and decided that I needed a movie to watch for those nights when I just need an escape into another world. I asked my spirit to lead me to what I should watch. I don’t normally buy movies while traveling but I figured I would send it to someone and pass it along as a gift. The movie didn’t win any awards, it is probably a movie that many never heard of, it is however a movie I was lead to. I watched that movie tonight and I now know why. Lately I have had moments where I just don’t know if I can do this, it is tough. I miss my family and to be honest this trip put me totally out of my comfort zone. The message from this movie, not only are you making a difference, but you need to push on because the road will lead to greater love and joy.

I am finding that the more I travel this road, the more messages I receive in the most unusual ways. One day last week I was up until 3 am working on a project and just couldn’t seem to get it right. I decided to take a break and check my email. The first email I open says, “there comes a time when we are best served to call a project done”… Talk about a wake up call, or in the case of 3am, a good night call.

Just a short time later I was thinking about someone I was waiting to hear from about something important and as I was preparing to call them, up popped an email. How can I not listen to what messages are there in everyday happenings.

All too often, we get so caught up in life that we forget to live, to listen. I believe that this post was meant for someone who is reading it who may be in need of encouragement, hope, or maybe just your own wake up call. It is so simple to hear your messages, just listen and remember messages may come from anywhere, an email, an unexpected phone call, even a movie that few have heard of.

Give a smile to a stranger. Don’t wait for people to be kind, show them how. Do something for someone who can never repay you and even better do so anonymously. I hope that all of you reading this will take some time today to just breath, to just live, to just listen.