Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking Back ... and Ahead

As the year draws to an end, we tend to take stock of our lives; our accomplishments, our failures, the changes which occurred, and the challenges that lie ahead.

There are many sources of strife that are intertwined with simply existing in the modern world today. We feel burdened with too many physical possessions or deprived without them. We worry about being able to keep what we have, and we worry about not being able to amass more.

Here in the bleak midwinter, we find time to be alone. The cold holds us captive in our homes, and the dark confines us to long evenings of relative solitude. It is during this time that we can seek to center our lives and work on obtaining a balance in time for the promises of renewal that await us come Springtime.

To obtain that ever important balance, to achieve that ballast that will keep us afloat, we need to seek clarification into our life regarding what is really important to us.

Let’s ask ourselves what we would take with us if we were informed that we had five minutes to leave our homes. At that moment, it is likely that what seemed tremendously important just moments before - the bills, a broken appliance, or the laundry pile - would cease to exist in our minds.

Perhaps we would rush to grab a treasured photo album, a favorite piece of jewelry, or a personal memento of a loved one or a time gone by.

Who would we want by our side in the aftermath? Family? Loved ones? A pet?

Our answers to these questions are a window into what is important to us and what and who we should focus on. Maybe doing the laundry can wait while we call a loved one, or spend some time doing something we really enjoy.

Now ask what would be important to you if you found yourself taking your last breaths. Would you worry more about unfinished business, or an unsaid "I love you"?

What would you rush to accomplish and what loose ends would you tie up?

There might be a dream we never chased or someone we wished we had forgiven.

Our answers to this question can help us to determine how we truly wish to be spending our time on this earth.

We might consider tying up that loose end or chasing that dream now, rather than later.

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They simply serve to help us better understand how we can lead the life most fulfilling.

Choosing to change our lives, to embrace new priorities of our own design, even on a small scale, can be the most rewarding thing we ever do.

Wishing you a new year of balance, with love & light,


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Impossible Dream

When it comes to the things we want, there always seems to be an endless list.

It seems that as soon as the goal of one accomplishment or achievement is reached, we replace it with another, seemingly impossible one.

I keep lists in my BlackBerry of things to do, films to watch, home improvements to make, and plans for the distant future. Once a list begins to seem stagnant, I update it and prioritize it again, adding other items and allowing myself to believe that this newly updated list has conquered the previous one, and off goes the Don Quixote in my mind to battle the windmills once again.

In life, this drama of wanting and getting and wanting is all part of the dance. The things we want motivate us to get up and get them. Yet, at the same time, we can torment ourselves with our wanting, especially when we want something we can’t have or can’t find. It is in cases like these that it might be fruitful to entertain the idea that maybe what we really want is right in front of us. Perhaps we even utilize this desire we can’t fulfill to distract us from truly engaging the blessings we already have.

It may seem as though that does not make sense, yet we do it all the time. It may be easier to see it in other people than to see it in ourselves. We have all heard our friends wishing they were more this or less that. Meanwhile, looking at them we see clearly that they are everything they are wishing they were. We know people who are in wonderful situations and yet envy ours. We wish we could give these people a look at their lives from our perspective so that they could see that what they want really is right in front of them.

It is not too far-fetched to consider that we might be victims of the same folly. It can be scary to have what we want. We become caught up in the chase and forget to enjoy the beauty right in front of us, like a child who never wants the toy in hand but always the one just out of reach.

My dog has a large basket filled with toys. His favorite is a hedgehog that grunts when squeezed. He has two of them, but if he has one and I take the other, he wants the one that I have. This dance continues until I tire of it, give him both, and walk away. He then wants neither one.

This may be amusing or comical, but it also serves as a commentary. Perhaps he never wanted either hedgehog. Perhaps he just wanted what he already had … the person who walked away.

Too often we lose sight of what we have. Our loved ones -- partners, families, and friends -- are here with us and we have worked hard at building and maintaining these relationships. How often we leave them to the side while we pursue our quests. What if they were to walk away and never return?

Perhaps today we can learn to consider the many pleasures we have in our lives and how we might best enjoy them.

With love & Light,


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Ripple Effect

In a world of six billion people, it’s easy to believe that the only way to initiate profound transformation is to take extreme action.

However, each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others. As the effect of a seemingly insignificant word passes from person to person, its impact grows and can become a source of great joy, inspiration, anxiety, or pain. Our thoughts and actions are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to spread and expand as they move outward.

The impact we have on the world is greater than we could ever imagine, and the choices we make can have far-reaching consequences. We can use the ripple effect to make a positive difference and spread waves of kindness that will wash over the world.

Should the opportunity arise, the recipient of a good deed will likely feel compelled to do a good deed for someone else. On the other hand, someone feeling the effects of negative energy might be more likely to pass on that negative energy. One act of charity, one thoughtful deed, or even one positive thought can pass from individual to individual, snowballing until it becomes a the ray of light that saves someone’s life.

I like to share my story of a young man who was a server in a restaurant we used to frequent. He spoke of how he lived in a basement apartment with little sunlight and worked in a dark, wood paneled restaurant, again with very little sunlight. It depressed him and he saw himself going nowhere in life. I visited one day and gave him a bag of (what was then new to the market) light bulbs that would replicate sunlight. He left that job shortly after and I never saw him again, until about ten years later. He recognized me while we dined at another restaurant and came over to tell me that the light bulbs made a difference. It was not just the bulbs, but rather the simple act of caring that inspired him to further his education and earn his degree in teaching. He then married another teacher and had a child on the way.

So, this one act of kindness transformed a depressed individual into a brilliant teacher, and we will never know the differences that this teacher will make in the lives of others, and what ripples will be sent forth.

Every transformation, just like every ripple, has a point of origin. We must believe in our ability to be that point of origin as we seek to spread the goodness of God, as we are called to do.

A smile directed at a stranger, a compliment given to a friend, an attitude of laughter, or a thoughtful gesture can send ripples that spread among our loved ones and associates, out into our community, and finally throughout the world. We have the power to touch the lives of everyone we come into contact with and therefore everyone those people come into contact with. The momentum of our influence will grow as our ripples moves onward and outward.

One of those ripples could become a tidal wave of goodness, compassion, and love.

With love & light,


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Balancing Our Daily Life

The way in which we wake can have a profound impact on our day.

If we are still weary when we we hit the ground running, rushing to prepare ourself to face our worldly obligations, we are likely to feel fatigued and overwhelmed for most of our day. That will affect not only our lives, and the lives of those we encounter, but also our perception of the gift of life.

A leisurely and relaxing morning, on the other hand, can energize and excite us, as well as give us the courage to meet the challenges that await us. By beginning our day in a focused and balanced manner, we make the day our own. We set the tone of our expectations and choose the mood we will use to respond to our circumstances. A gentle, reflective, and thoughtful morning will prepare us to create a gentle, conscious, and thoughtful day.

The simplest way to eliminate the rush from our morning routine is to rise earlier. Perhaps that is easier said than done, but it can be accomplished simply by going to bed earlier in the evening. The added benefit of that can be the opportunity to allow ourselves to fall to sleep, perhaps while listening to meditation music set to an off timer, by reading an enriching piece of literature, or reflecting in meditative prayer, rather than succumbing to exhaustion. This also allows our sleeping space to become a sanctuary of sorts, rather than a destination.

Encouraging our household families into routines that send them to be off to their days in the same way requires even more time. This may seem like a hardship at first, but the extra minutes afford us the opportunity to really enjoy watching the sun come up or to connect with our loved ones before we go in our separate directions.

There are many more ways we can constructively use the time we gain. A mere half of an hour of time in which we examine our priorities, give thanks for the richness in our lifes, pray for the needs of others, and contemplate the known and unknown blessings we will receive this day can lift our spirits and help us to formulate lasting and positive expectations.

We can also find a way to maintain this balance and inner peace throughout our day, as well as to project it and share our light with others. Perhaps as we begin our time of reflection and prayer in the morning, we can find an object to hold; a new object every day, and something simple that fits in our pocket. A leaf, stone, or blade of grass from our lawn. An item of clothing, photo, or a note given to us from a loved one, kept within our reach can be held during times of trial and stress during our day. Along with a deep, controlled breath, we can receive a brief moment in order to return our selves to our center where we know our balance.

If we want little more than just to enjoy our day, we simply need to simply devote a portion of our personal time to activities that both ground and delight us, such as meditation, reading, walking, or listening to music.

If there is little room for change in our start of the day routine, we can just try to make each activity we engage in upon waking a ritual in its own right.

The time we spend each day enjoying an invigorating cup of coffee, savoring a soothing cup of tea, or washing away tension in a hot shower can serve as a reminder of the need to care for ourselves no matter what the hour, as well as to take a reflective moment to give thanks for the life around us and within us, before and beyond.

Our morning is ours and should reflect not only our practical needs but also the needs of our soul. When we center ourselves at the start of our day, no matter if our day starts at 6:00 a.m, 4:00 p.m. or midnight, we do not only maintain our sense of balance throughout our day, we also to offer that same spiritual balance to others.

With love & light,


Saturday, October 17, 2009

We Need A Little Christmas ...

Celebrate Every Day

Life has suddenly become so stress-filled for so many of us.

We find ourselves wondering, each day, how we will survive financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Challenges, that we may once have invited as avenues to make us stronger, suddenly invite anger, depression, escapism, and spiritual death.

In order to maintain a balance of our love and appreciation of life, we need to celebrate each day and invite happiness to prevail over our trials.

We all know someone who keeps plastic covers on his or her sofa in order to protect it.

The irony here is that many of these people may live their lives without ever having actually made contact with their own furniture! This is a poignant and somewhat humorous example of the human tendency to try to save things for special occasions, as if everyday life weren't special enough to warrant the use of nice things.

Many of us have had the experience of never wearing a particular piece of clothing in order to keep it nice, only to have it go out of style or outgrow it in the meanwhile.

I remember when we purchased our good silver. It was beyond our financial means 20 years ago, but we wanted to establish some sort of a heritage. Interestingly, once we chose a pattern and committed ourselves to the purchase, the sales associate immediately began to sell us items in which to store away our accomplishment to keep it safe from the effects of sunlight and oxygen.


I have a friend who uses her silver and crystal daily. Meanwhile, our silver is packed up and too tarnished to be bothered with.

It's interesting to think of what it would mean to us if we let ourselves wear our nicest clothes and eat off the good china with our silver and crystal on a daily basis. We might be sending ourselves the message that every day we are alive is a special day and a cause for celebration, and that we are worth it.

There is something uplifting about treating ourselves to the finest of what we have. It is as if we rise to the occasion when we wear our best clothes and set the table beautifully, as if for a very special guest.

We are more mindful of where we place things, what we are eating, and who is with us. Using the good china, taking a meal at the Dining Room table, and taking the plastic off the sofa might just be an invitation for us be more conscious of the beauty and grace which is inherent in our everyday lives.

If there are things we've stashed away for a special occasion --a bottle of special wine, a new pair of shoes, an antique lace tablecloth -- we need to consider taking them out of their hiding places and putting them to use today or tonight ... just because we are alive now to enjoy them.

What better cause is there for celebration?

So ... dress in your finest, behave at your giddiest, break out the finest of all, invite your loved owns over for a spontaneous party.

In the words of Auntie Mame; "We need a little Christmas, right this very minute ..."

With love & light,


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Life Can Be Scary

I have always loved a challenge.

Or ... so I think.

Life can take us on a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows and twists and turns.

Even for those of us who enjoy unexpected thrills, it is frightening to suddenly find ourselves heading for a deep plunge. However, it happens to all of us.

It is at these moments when it is important to remember that we are not alone in our experiences. No matter how brave, how strong, or how levelheaded we are, at some times we all become scared or afraid.

Our fears may evolve around our physical safety, particularly if we are not feeling well, living under difficult circumstances, or doing work that exposes us to hazardous conditions.

Perhaps we may be experiencing financial woes that cause us to be fearful about making ends meet, afraid that we may lose the very home in which we've lived and loved. Or, we may fear losing investments that we have worked hard for in hopes of procuring financial security in retirement.

We may also fear the loss of a loved one who is sick, or we may never have been with someone and may be afraid of never finding someone special to spend our life with.

We may be scared to start at a new school, or be afraid of being denied admittance to one.

We may be afraid of beginning a different job, or be scared of losing a job we have.

We may be scared of moving to a new town, and afraid of losing the friends we've known ... the life we've enjoyed.

Whatever our fears are, they are valid, and we do not need to feel ashamed or embarrassed that we are, at times, frightened, afraid, and scared.

It may be comforting to know that everyone becomes each of these, and that is okay.

Sometimes just acknowledging our fears is enough to make us feel better.

Also, while it sometimes takes a lot more to ease our mind, we can console ourselves with the knowledge that life can be scary at times and that we are not the only ones who are afraid.

When we allow ourselves the permission to be scared or afraid, we allow ourselves to move forward through our fears so we can let them go and we can grow within ourselves through faith.

That growth, through faith, also makes us able to share our fears with others - therefore allowing the grace of God to work within us and through us, using our own difficulties, fears, and challenges as a channel in which we can guide others through the waters of life, and nurture faith in others.

Much like the ship that enters the unknown harbor, awaiting the pilot boat to navigate the waters ahead, sharing our apprehensions with others allow even our own fears to be realized as far less overwhelming as we invite the assistance and guidance of others to work as lighthouses against our own reefs.

When we share our own fears, we lighten our burden because we no longer carrying our worries all by ourselves.

We accept the gift of friends to bear the burden of our own Cross.

When we ask someone to be mindful, in meditation or in prayer, we invoke a power that is greater that any nation.

We invoke a power of love, spirit, togetherness, and faith.

With love, we can overcome any obstacle.

With spirit, we can reach far beyond our dreams.

With togetherness, we can outshine any darkness.

With faith, we do live eternally.

So, what we learn, is that we can lose many things which are afraid of losing, and we can encounter many situations which we are scared to step in to.

However, we can never lose our love, our spirit, our togetherness, our faith.

Remember ... we are never alone.

With love, light & faith,


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Soft Touch in Hard Times

Life is very tough.

Throughout life we must cope with blockages that impede our forward momentum ans seem to attempt to keep us from a peaceful inner existence.

Quite often, it is natural for us to respond with anger and frustration, but that does not equate with the peacefulness that we seek for one another.

Whether these obstacles are of a personal, professional, or societal nature, our first instinct may be to push against the obstruction. However, the simplest way to alleviate resistance is to approach it gently, with a soft manner and kind intentions.

To quell the storm, if you will.

Struggle and strife can find no foothold when confronted with mildness because conflict can only exist when fed by two opposing forces.

So many areas of our lives can benefit from the application of gentleness.

The beauty of gentleness lies in its own multifaceted nature. It is part love, part compassion, part patience, part understanding, and part respect for others.

When we move through life gently as a matter of course, we naturally attract these wonderful elements into our lives.

This does not mean that gentle people are by nature passive or meek. Rather, their copious inner power is manifested in their gentleness and their choice to move with the flow of the universe instead of against it.

We can make use of gentleness in our own life by applying it in situations where we feel challenged by our circumstances, by people in our environment, or by our own helplessness in wanted to bring healing to another.

Quite often, caring for another is a misunderstood anomaly as we are not accustomed to accepting what life holds before us.

However, it is important that we move forward.

As we move forward gently, the energy pervading our life will likely shift and, consequently, the blockages before us will diminish and ultimately vanish.

Cooperation progresses smoothly when approached gently because all parties involved feel confident that their needs will be met.

Quarrels are easily quelled with gentleness because the dualistic concepts of losing and winning are made moot by our willingness to exercise infinite patience with those whose values differ from our own.

Gentleness must be practiced, as we are inadvertently encouraged to act competitively in certain phases of our lives, fighting against nature and its inherent realities.

At first, our established habits may make being truly gentle challenging. Yet, as we grow and mature, we can commit to consciously apply gentleness to all areas of our life, whether by collaborating rather than competing, or yielding graciously to the impassable roadblocks in our path in order to seek a new road.

We will find that we begin to act gently.

Some might interpret this as weakness. However, it is strength is growth as we accept the lessons of this wonderful teacher called life.

As our patterns of thought and behavior become ever more peaceful, we will discover that we encounter far less impassable resistance on our individual journeys.

Also, as we discover this, we accept that no one walks alone in her or his journey.

Sometimes, it is easier to accept a held hand with our eyes closed.

Perhaps a held hand and closed eyes open our inner eye to all those who walk with us.

With love & light,


Monday, September 28, 2009

Life's Lessons

Most of us have the ultimate respect for teachers, as it is they who tend the gardens of our lives.

Many teachers, like gardeners, give their unlimited all in exchange for the sidelined gratification of silently seeing the fruits of their labor emerge into new life. Much like parents, they watch as their nurtured youth grow, take form, and fly - perhaps soar.

Many of us long to find a teacher, or guru, or spiritual guide. We may feel uncertain of how to practice our spirituality without one, or we may long for someone who has attained a higher level of insight to lead the way for us throughout this difficult and trying life.

Some of us seek such guidance for years without finding compatibility. Others are blessed with a match, without much seeking.

The good news is that the greatest teacher we could ever want has been appointed for us since before birth and is always with us.


The people and situations we encounter every day have much to teach us when we are open to receiving their wisdom.

Often, we don’t recognize our teachers because they may not look or act like the teachers from our youth, our vision of a guru, or our concept of a spiritual person. However, our teachers embody great wisdom.

Sometimes, our teachers find our lessons in situations that we neither invite nor want. All the situations in our lives, from the insignificant to the severe, aspire to teach us exactly what we need to be learning at any given time.

The lesson plan, however, is not ours.

Patience, compassion, perseverance, honesty, letting go - all these are covered in the classroom of God by the teacher that is life.

We can help ourselves to remember this perfect teacher each day with a simple reflection. We can begin our day by taking a moment to say;
"I acknowledge and honor the teacher that is my life. May I be wise enough to recognize the teachers and lessons that I encounter today, and may I be open to receive them and remain thankful for their wisdom."

We might also take some time each day to consider what our lives are trying to teach us - some time to listen to the Spirit of guidance, which we so often pray for. A difficult phase in the relationship with our employment, life partner, family, or friendship, may be teaching us to be prepared to let go.

The homeless person we see every day may be showing us the boundaries of our compassion and generosity.

A sudden onset of lost items may be asking us to be more cognizant of our physical realities.

A sudden turn about in the health of a loved one may be reminding us to give great thanks and glory to God for the world of marvel in which we live, and for life itself as each moment passes in a never turning tide.

I watched the Sun rise the other morning as I traveled to New York, and it was beautiful. My Mom always tells me how much she loves the Sunrise from her front patios, which overlook the Delaware Water Gap from about 20 miles.

As I watched the morning's Sun rise, I noticed that it was reminiscent of a Spring morning. How peculiar for Autumn. For 21 years now, Frank and I have always wanted to photograph that beautiful morning moment, which so many people miss.

We still haven't done that.

Today, I wondered what lesson God's nature was teaching me with that gentle reminder of Spring at the onset of Autumn.

When we trust our intuition on the nature of the lesson at hand, work at our own pace, and ask as many questions as we need, we learn that life has all the answers.

All we need to do is learn.

With love & light,


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Making Life Ours

There is no secret recipe for happiness and contentment.

Those who move through life joyfully and embrace life's slings and arrows with faith-filled bliss have not necessarily been blessed with lives of abundance, love, health, and prosperity.

Such people, however, have been blessed with the ability to take the circumstances they've been become embroiled in and understand them as an opportunity to nurture them and grow them into something great.

Our individual realities are colored by perception.

Delight and despair come from within rather than without. Situations we regard as fortuitous please us while situations we judge as inauspicious cause us unending grief.

However, if we look at all we have accomplished without dwelling on our perceived misfortune, and make each new circumstance our own, the world as a whole becomes a brighter place.

A simple shift in attitude can help us to recognize and unearth the hidden potential for personal and outer world fulfilment in every event, every relationship, and every hardship.

The universe is often an unpredictable and chaotic place, and our human tendency is to focus on the negative and trust that the positive will manifest itself.

In reality, life can be no more or no less than what we make of it.

If we are working in a job we dislike, we can concentrate on the positive aspects of the position and approach our work with renewable vigor.

We might ask what we can do with this job that can turn it around so we enjoy it.

When faced with the prospect of undertaking a task we fear, we can view it as an opportunity to discover what we are truly capable of doing, given the power and strength of faith.

Similarly, unexpected events, whether viewed as pleasant surprises or unforeseen tragedies, can season our existence.

For some situations, the word "season" will be defined as adding flavor or spice, for others it will be defined as to age into another season of life, such as a wooden table or a cast iron skillet allows life to graduate its existence.

Either way, when we choose to love life no matter what crosses our path, we create an atmosphere of jubilant celebration that is wonderfully infectious.

A change in perspective is all it takes to change our world, but we must be willing to adopt an optimistic, hopeful, and faith filled mind-set.

To make a conscious decision to be at peace in the face of adversity is not enough.

We must learn to observe life's complexities as through the eyes of a child, seeing everything for the first time.

Furthermore, we must divest ourselves of pre-conceived notions of what is good and what is bad so that we can appreciate the rich insights concealed in each stage of our life's journey.

As we strive to discover the dual joys of wanting what we have, as we gradually shift our perspective, our existence will be imbued with the happiness and contentment that God has sought to provide us and that we wish for each other in life and in death.

When we embrace this reality, not only will this Spirit remain with us forever, but it will live on through us in spiritual energy here on Earth.

With love & light,


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Look To The Sky

When people say that one has his or her "head in the clouds," they usually refer to a mental state that appears to be drifting rather than concentrating. For this reason, putting our heads in the clouds can be a wonderful meditation tool. Whether puffy and white or tinted with the colors of dawn and dusk or shades of gray and darkness, those vaporous sky dwellers can remind us of so many things about life and about ourselves.

I sat outside of my office today, as I often do, and I watched the clouds go by and change their shapes. This provided for some healthy reflection.

For this sort of meditation, we can find a physical place to relax and look upward, or we can look to the skies from within our imaginations.

Directing our thoughts to the endless expanse of sky that clouds inhabit, we feel our souls expand to reach beyond any seeming limitations. Following the clouds, we are free to unleash our imaginations. We may choose to merely drift along with them for a time, enjoying their distanced perspective on the world. Or we can look for messages in their fantastical shapes. Even still, we can just sit, watch, and wonder as we feel the joy of their immense billowy puffiness.

However we interact with them, we do so from a peaceful place. Clouds drift above the hustle of the world below, knowing they belong to another realm that cannot be affected by the frenzy below, reminding us that peace is always available to us.

By directing our vision beyond the ordinary, clouds also remind us of the illusion of appearances. While appearing to be solid, their vapor and mist appear like puffs of cotton balls.

From below, they give little indication of the heights they reach.

Sometimes they may cast shadows, leaving us in shade, but like life's difficulties clouds change shape and move onward, revealing the shining sun, twinkling stars, and blue sky that eternally exist beyond them.

When a ray of light breaks through the clouds, their dramatic filtering only makes the light more beautiful by contrast, just as we can shine more brightly in the midst of life's challenges.

When we allow clouds to offer us a welcome respite, they help us visit the realm of illusion to see the truth beyond.

God's nature offers us so much when we seek peace.

Look to the sky and trust in it's change and wonder.

With love & light,


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Accepting Life As It Happens

Life has been challenging lately.

I usually embrace challenge and see it as opportunity. However, lately I have felt overwhelmed by the life this past year has brought to me and am eager to get past it and move ahead.

On 07 July, I wrote about "this too shall pass" and on 14 August I wrote about my goldfish pond and the cycle of life that it recalls me to when I feel sad or alone. I look at the pond and I know that when winter comes, the fish will hibernate beneath the cold ice above - just to return to life come Springtime.

Today, when the pond was approached for quiet reflection, it was discovered that the dozens of fish that lived there had died.

My immediate thought was how to see this as an opportunity, but that didn't take hold. I could only think "what more can happen?". I admit that I feared the answer to that and while I wished that this year would just end already, I was afraid of jumping to the future in haste and not appreciating what is here and now, no matter the situation.

We all go through times when we wish we could press a fast-forward button and propel ourselves into the future and out of our current circumstances. Whether the situation we are facing is minor, or major such as losing a loved one, it is human nature to want to move away from pain and find comfort as soon as possible. However, we know deep down that we need to work through these experiences in a conscious fashion rather than bury our heads in the sand, because these are the times when we access important information about ourselves and life.

The learning process may not be easy, but it is full of lessons that bring us wisdom we cannot find any other way.

The desire to fast-forward can lead to escapism and denial, both of which only prolong our difficulties and in some cases make them worse. The more direct, clear, and courageous we are in the face of whatever we are dealing with, the more quickly we will move through the situation.

Understanding this, we may begin to realize that trying to find the fast-forward button is really more akin to pressing pause. When we truly grasp that the only way out of any situation in which we find ourselves is to go through it, we stop looking for ways to escape and we start paying close attention to what is happening.

We realize that we are exactly where we need to be. We remember that we are in this situation in order to learn something we need to know, and we can alleviate some of our pain with the awareness that there is a purpose to our suffering.

When we feel the urge to press the fast-forward button, we need to remember that we are not alone; we all instinctively avoid pain. But in doing so, we often prolong our pain and delay important learning and healing.

As we choose to move forward in real time and accept what life holds for us, we know that in the long run, this is the least painful way to go.

With love & light,


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Take Time To Breathe

"Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting children... or other adults acting like children."

That is an actual announcement that we heard once on a flight to Mexico. Certainly meant with humor to ease the anxiety of travellers, but also true.

We have all heard the instructions of an airline attendant reminding us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. This advice is often cited as a metaphor for self-care because it so accurately expresses why it is important. It seems to say, ironically, that if we can't take care of our self for our self, we can't do it for others.

Few situations in our daily lives mimic the wake-up call of an airplane emergency, so it's easy to keep putting self-care off easily; that is, until we become sick, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and we suddenly don't have the energy to care for the people who count on us. That's when we realize we haven't been getting the oxygen we need to sustain ourselves. We begin to understand that taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor indulgent; it's just plain practical.

Putting our self first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else in order to say yes to ourselves. For many of us, there is always something we feel we could be doing for someone else, and it helps to remember the oxygen metaphor. We can even encourage yourself by saying "I am caring for myself so that I am better able to care for others" or some other mantra that will encourage us. It also helps to remember that self-care doesn't have to be composed of massively time consuming acts. In fact, the best prescription for taking care of ourselves is probably small, daily rituals. For example, taking one half-hour for yourself at the beginning and end of the day to meditate, pray, reflect, or just be. We might also transform one evening to do invest an hour or more taking our daily shower or bath and turning it into a self-pampering session.

Whatever we decide, making some small gesture where we put our self first every day will immensely for us and the ones we love and provide care for.

The oxygen we need is all around us. Sometimes we just need to be reminded to breathe.

So, as a friend always tells me ... be good to you.

With love & light,


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Embracing Life

Celebrate Life As It Happens

While celebrations are intended to honor life’s more momentous occasions, much of real life tends to happen during the in-between times.

While moving from one moment in time to the next is seldom considered a significant occurrence, it is during those in-between times that we are most in tune with life’s most profound, albeit simple, joys. Between birth and death, triumph and sorrow, beginnings and endings, we enjoy innumerable experiences that often happen unnoticed.

These times are just as worthy of celebration.

The in-between times are seldom about landmark moments. How we choose to celebrate them or which moments we choose to celebrate is up to us.

We may want to celebrate the simple facts that we are alive and that every day is a chance to spend time with the people we care about or do the work that we love. Then again, when we look at the good that exists in our lives, many reasons for celebrating the in-between times may become clear:

*our favorite beverage,

*a beautiful sunrise or sunset,

*a good book read out of doors with the smell of fresh air and the warmth of the sun,

*memories of times shared with one we love.

Each of these is reason for celebration.

Celebrating the in-between times can be as easy as paying special attention to them when they do happen, rather than taking them for granted.

It is such focus of attention that can turn an in-between time into a celebration.

Every day is a holiday, every meal a banquet, every paycheck a fortune, and every every night a honeymoon.

Is there really any better way to embrace life other than these simple and beautifully optimistic approaches?

We can celebrate our days by slowing down and allowing ourselves time to look around and allow our hearts and minds to take in all of life’s wonders. Far too often, we can let those simple moments of awe pass us by.

These in-between times are when life happens to us between the pauses that we take to honor our milestone occasions. Without the in-between times, there would be no big moments to celebrate.

Those of you who know me well know that I celebrate "Half Birthdays".

Half Birthdays occur six months after our birthday - or six months before ... whichever comes first.

One must love having an "Alice In Wonderland" moment every now and again!

The beauty of a Half Birthday is not only that we acknowledge and celebrate our life without adding a digit to our age, but the beauty lies in the warmth that we feel as we simply celebrate life.

So, celebrate life and celebrate it when others least expect it.

Tell someone how much you love them. Dance in the rain. Sing out of tune. Follow a sunset until it rises again.

Love life, live life and celebrate life as if tomorrow never mattered.

With love & light,


Friday, August 14, 2009

Fear of Loneliness

I enjoy our goldfish pond.

Winter comes and freezes the pond over as the fish bring all of their functions to a bare minimum and hibernate beneath the thick, icy, barren world above them, only to return to full life along with the flora and fauna that surround them come Springtime. The pond is a wonderful place to sit for reflection when one feels a little lost, a little sad, or lonely.

We all have days when we feel lonely, but the very idea of loneliness comes from the false notion that we are separate and isolated parts in a world filled with other separate, isolated parts. In truth, we can no more be separate from our world than a fish can be separate from the water in which it swims.

When we begin to look at the boundaries we see as so solid, they prove to be, in fact, quite porous - such as the boundary of ice above the goldfish in the Winter. For example, it is not clear exactly where our skin ends and the air begins when we consider how our skin is affected by changes in the quality of the air and that air flows through us.

When the air in our environment is dry, our skin becomes dry, and when it is humid, our skin becomes moist and supple.

By the same token, it is difficult sometimes to distinguish the boundary between one person and another, especially when our lives tie us together so inextricably.

Every piece of our lives has an effect that touches all the people associated with us. On an even more subtle level, when we share a more intimate relationship with another person, we often pick up on their energy, feeling how they feel and attuning to them, whether we mean to or not; whether we choose to or not.

This is what we mean when we say a mood or a feeling is contagious. We cannot help but be part of the realities of the people we know and love because we take form from the same spiritual energy, and this energy unifies all life. This energy is the light that we instinctively know to move toward, and it is the light we dissolve into as we move beyond our individual egos.

If loneliness, or the fear of loneliness, is a temporary condition based on an incomplete understanding of what we are made of, we can think of its presence as a catalyst for exploring our ideas about our realities. We can respond by testing the boundaries we believe separate us from the life within and all around us. If we test them, we might discover that they are not so solid after all and that we can never really be alone.

With love & light,


Friday, August 7, 2009

Fear of Losing What We Have

One of humanity's biggest fears is losing what we have.

It is healthy when fear of loss helps us take steps to appreciate and protect what we have worked hard to attain, be that a career, a home, a relationship, a love, or a life.

However, it is unhealthy to continue to fear something we can do nothing about.

We need to remember that focusing our energy on fear can actually create and strengthen what scares us, and holding too tightly to what we have keeps us from participating in the spiritual flow of abundance and instead creates stagnation. Since we can only really control our thoughts and our responses, gaining proper perspective may be key to conquering such fears, allowing us to grow in spirit as intended.

It has been written that the letters of the word "fear" can be an acronym for
"False Evidence Appearing Real."

Fear of being separated from something or someone we feel we need for our security, happiness, or love comes from a delusion - a distorted way of understanding ourselves and the world around us.

When we understand that what we perceive as possessions are only tangible representations of spiritual energy at work in our lives, we can shift our attention to the right and proper place.

We can stop fearing loss of what means our world to us because, when we understand how it is created, we can always recreate it through energizing that spirit to live on forever within us and through us, to shine forth for others, and for ourselves.

We can stop fearing loss when we realize that our source of our joy and well being consists of the same energy of love, which can, in reality, never be diminished.

We need not hold anyone too close for fear of losing them for we know that love does not diminish when it is given or shared, but rather it expands beyond boundaries of time and space.

By focusing our light on our fears, they are revealed as mere shadows that disappear in the presence of mind and spirit. We can choose instead to direct our thoughts and creative power toward things of true value ... love, abundance, peace, passion, joy, and eternal spirit.

With love & light,


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Awareness and Faith in Times of Adversity

sLife is a journey comprised of many steps on our personal path that takes us down a winding road of constant evolution.

Each day, we are provided with a myriad of opportunities that allow us to transform ourselves into our next best selves. One moment we are presented with an opportunity to react differently when yet another someone or something in our life rubs us the wrong way. Another moment we may find ourselves wanting to walk away from a particular circumstance but are not sure if we can.

Sometimes, we find ourselves stuck in a rut that we can never seem to get out of. Perhaps we make the same choices over and over again because we just don’t seem to know how to choose otherwise.

Rather than leading us forward, our personal paths can sometimes take us in a seemingly never-ending circle where our actions and choices lead us nowhere but to where we’ve already been. It is during these moments that awareness and faith can be the first step to change.

Awareness is when we are able to realize what we are doing. Faith is when we are able to realize where we are going.

Awareness is the first step to change through faith because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place.

It is once we see the destination we seek, and have faith that we will arrive there, that we then begin to understand why we do what we do.

Afterwards, it becomes difficult not to change because we are no longer asleep to the truth behind our behavior. We begin to realize that, just as much as we are the root beneath the growth of our behavior, we are also the originator for any changes that we want to happen.

There is a freedom that comes with awareness of our faith, combining the two. Rather than thinking that we are stuck in a repetitive cycle where there is no escape, we begin to see that we actually do very much play a hand in creating our lives.

Whether we are aware of them or not, our behaviors and choices are always ours to make. Our past and our present no longer have to dictate our future when we choose to be aware and faith-filled.

It is then that we are free to move beyond our perceived limitations, make new choices, and take new actions. With this awareness, our paths can’t help but lead us forward in our lives while paving the way for new experiences and new ways of being. It is through faith that we can continue to consciously evolve.

Along the path which lies before us grows hardships and joys.

When we encounter adversity, the stress we feel can erode our optimism, eventually convincing us that the issues we face cannot be overcome.

In faith, however, there is no situation so dire, no challenge so great, and no choice so bewildering that it cannot be overcome. Though we may believe that all avenues have been closed to us or that our most conscientious efforts will come to naught, we are never without feasible options.

The best course of action may be veiled benath a protective shell of doubt, but it is there and waiting to ne nurtured to life and growth.

When we are honest with ourselves with regard to this simple fact, we can overcome anything because we will never stop looking for a solution to the challenges before us.

Faith, coupled with a sturdy plan of awareness, is the ultimate antidote to adversity’s tendency to instill disillusionment in the human mind.

As difficult as the obstacles that plague us seem, they are no match for the unconditional love of a supportive God who has been a part of our life since before the day of our birth, and will be with us forevermore.

We must not to be misguided by our fears as this gives rise to the notion that there are problems without solutions.

When we have faith in the talents and capabilities that God has granted us we may discover that our personal paths, that we once believed could lead us in a seemingly never-ending circle, miraculously open. Even if all we can do is allow our perspective to turn an impediment into an opportunity for growth, we will have found the hope that is an inherent element of all hardship.

Our destiny is a product of our own creation.

Even when it seems we have nowhere left to turn, there is a solution waiting for us.

The only insurmountable obstacles are the ones we create in our own minds, and these can only persist if we allow them to overpower our faith.

Uncertainty will always be a part of our existence, but perseverance and mindfulness of what we believe ... our faith, will never fail to see us through to the other side of hardship where only peace and joy can thrive.

No matter what life places in our path, there is absolutely no situation that cannot be resolved with time, love, and friendship.

With love & light,


Friday, July 24, 2009

Letting Go To Grow

There is tremendous freedom in letting go.

Letting go of a situation frees ourselves of things that clutter our lives; too many possessions, unhealthy habits, old beliefs ... even emotions that drain our energy. All of these things and more can weigh us down. So, every once in awhile it's good to "clean out our closets" literally, figuratively, and emotionally, allowing change to take place and bring us to new life elsewhere.

When we suffer a loss, we tend to concentrate our energy on regretting moments lost to the passing of time, and moments that will never be as they are lost to our evolving life.

Like pruning dead branches from a tree or weeding a garden, we need to let go of the what no longer exists, so that there is room for something new, alive, and what is needed at this time in our life.

We are a possessive society.

We often hold on to posessions, feelings, and relationships out of habit, fear of being without, or sorrow for a loss.

So much of learning to let go is about learning to trust. We have to be able to trust that, indeed, new budding branches will grow, and that there is a beautiful garden waiting for us beyond the weeds. We must also learn that, to the degree that we are willing to let go, we are able to receive.

In reality, we own nothing. Certainly, we don't own people. Our spouses, families, and friends are not really "ours." Even if we own the title to our house or car, such possessions can be gone in a moment, taken by a natural disaster, an accident, or financial circumstances.

I recall, from a ceremony at which we asked Mother Earth for blessings in constructing a Labyrinth, that Native Americans could not grasp the European concept of "owning" land, anymore than one can own the sky. Everything belongs to the universe, as even we do.

When we allow ourselves to rethink our sense of "ownership" of posessions, people, and moments lost to circumstance, we find it easier to be thankful for what we had, when we had it, and it is easier to let go. We no longer need to feel burdened by the responsibility of having to hold on to something. We can rethink the value of a prized book collection, a coveted job, or feelings for an old flame.

Allowing ourselves to accept a loss, letting go of the power that a person, ideology, or material object possesses, and embrace the memories associated with it is truly freeing.

With love & light,


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Love You ...

I have a friend who, almost every time he texts me, writes "I love you".

I don't think that I reply with the same "I love you" often enough. So, as you read this, please know that I do love you ... and you know who you are.

Oddly, and too often, stating "I love you" to someone we truly do love is difficult to express.

It is easy to take our feelings for granted and to assume that the people we care about know how we feel about them. But while those we love are often quite cognizant of our feelings, saying "I love you" is a gift we should give to our loved ones whenever we can.

Letting people know we love them is an important part of nurturing any kind of loving relationship. Few of us ever tire of being told we are loved, and saying "I love you" can make a world of difference in someone's life, take a relationship to a new level, or reaffirm and strengthen a steady bond.

We all need to hear the words "I love you."

Three simple words ... I - Love - You.

When we declare our love for someone, we admit to them that we care for them in the most significant way.

It can be difficult to express our love using words, but we should never be afraid to say "I love you" or worry that doing so will thrust us into a position of excessive vulnerability. It is important to share our feelings with those who matter to us.

Not only is there a fulfillment that comes with loving someone and telling them that we love them, but the fact remains that love exists to be expressed, not withheld.

When we love someone, we need to let them know. There is no need to be afraid of the strength of our emotions or worry that our loved one won't feel the same way.

The words "I love you" are often best said to another without expectation of a return investment. As each one of us is filled with an abundance of love, there is never any worry that we'll run out of love if our expression of love isn't returned for replenishment. The unconditional love that God has graced us with is unending.

Saying "I love you" is a gift of the heart sent directly through words to the heart of the recipient. Although it may not always seem that way, true love from our heart is an offering that is always unconditional and given without strings attached, and given without our prior consent.

That is the true essence of the gift of "I love you".

Throughout history, love has burned in the hearts of composers, writers, and painters, as well as in those of parents, children, and friends.

Love, primal, passionate, and pure, has been dissected, revered, and derided. It has been called complex, ethereal, and mysterious. We long for a definition but fear that the feeling called love would be less exhilarating if it were to be specifically defined.

Much of the mystery is rooted in the incomprehensibility of love's purpose. It is possible to have intense feelings for others but not define those feelings as love. Yet love remains a powerful and universal force that uplifts us, inspires us, and strengthens us to bring about great change.

Like the wind, which we cannot see yet know is all around us aas we feel it, love is often more easily perceived through its effects. As we transcend the boundaries of ego in order to love and be loved, we put aside our self-centeredness and experience unity with another, as well as compassion, peace, joy, excitement, and fulfillment. No matter if the focus is a lover, a child, a relative, or a friend; the results are both familiar and novel, more so when love is returned in kind.

It has been noted that "to describe love is very difficult, for the same reason that words cannot fully describe the flavor of an orange. You have to taste the fruit to know its flavor. So with love."

Those who have tasted of it often equate love with jealousy, bitterness, resentment, lust, or aggressive attachment, but it is none of these things. Love is both a feeling and an action. As it brings us into our light, we strive for the happiness, stability, and fulfillment of those we love.

It is true that love can be fleeting and accept few controls or conditions. However, the strongest of love either blazes into being and withers away in an instant, or lasts lifetimes.

Love is not something that we learn, but rather it is a light that burns within us and yearns to shine.

It is only fear that causes the need to love and be loved to be hidden beneath that bushel basket.

It is when we accept our worthiness and reject indifference that we are able to completely become outlets of God's unconditional love.

With love & light,


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sharing Our Enlightenment

At lunch yesterday, I overheard someone say "cellular phones have us so connected; we have become disconnected from one another".

So, later, a friend and I decided that we would put away our phones and devote our evening to each other, as one. As the pace and fullness of modern life serve to isolate us from one another, the contact we do share becomes vastly more significant. Even If I had decided to just ignore the vibration of my Blackberry and kept it tethered to my hip, there would have been a distraction with each disturbing buzz and my mind would have wandered to thoughts of what the call or email might be.

It is a wonderful feeling when to put away your onnection to outside communication, and not even have a sense of the time, giving ourselves completely to the person we are with.

By doing this, I was able to focus more intently on each word, expression, and intention of my friend - from the manner in which he treated me as well as those we encountered throughout our time together.

We unconsciously absorb each other's energy, adopting the temperament of those with whom we share time, and we find ourselves changed after the briefest encounters. Everything we do or say has the potential to affect not only the individuals we live, work, and play with but also those we've just met. Though we may never know the impact we have had or the scope of our influence, accepting and understanding that our attitudes and choices will affect others can help us remember to conduct ourselves with grace at all times. When we seek always to be friendly, helpful, and responsive, we effortlessly create an atmosphere around ourselves that is both uplifting and inspiring, and that same loving attitude grows within those we encounter.

Very often we neglect to give thought to the effect we have had or will have on others. When we take a few moments to contemplate how our individual modes of being affect the people we encounter each day, we come one step closer to seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. By asking ourselves whether those we encounter walk away feeling appreciated, respected, and liked, we can heighten our awareness of the effect we ultimately have.

Something as simple as a smile given freely can temporarily brighten a person's entire world, and can even be a life saving factor. Our value-driven conduct may inspire others to consider whether their own lives are reflective of their values. A kindly shared word of advice can help others see life in an entirely new fashion, and small gestures of kindness can even prove to those embittered by the world that goodness still exists.

By simply being ourselves, we influence other's lives in both subtle and life altering ways.

To ensure that the effect we have is positive, we must strive to stay true to ourselves while realizing that it is the demeanor we project and not the quality of our wondrous inner landscapes that people see. As we interact with others, the manner in which we behave can be as important as who we are.

If we project our passion for life, our warmth, and our tolerance in our facial features, voice, and choice of words, every person who enters our circle of influence will leave our presence feeling at peace with themselves and with us. We never know whose life we are affecting, big or small. We also never know whose life is going to affect ours.

Our individual journeys take us into many unexpected situations where we encounter a wide variety of people - some quite like ourselves and some very different.

We cannot anticipate these meetings, but we can make the most of them when they take place. When we are courteous as a matter of course and open minded in our assessment of the individuals whose lives touch our own, if even just briefly, we are more apt to stumble upon surprising gems of enlightenment that open our eyes to new worlds of possibility. Every person we meet can affect us profoundly, just as every situation we find ourselves in can teach us something new.

To fully embrace this fact, it is essential that we acknowledge that everyone is valuable in their own way and capable of expanding our horizons. Since we never know when we will happen upon those individuals who will unveil the truths that lie before us, we must extend to all people the same generous level of kindness, care, compassion, and understanding. When we accept that everyone we meet is special and treat them as such, we can develop a strong rapport quickly. By making an effort to adopt a positive attitude toward others at all times, we ensure that our emotions do not blind us to the enlightenment that exists, even in difficult or distressing situations.

With love & light,


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life's Difficult Decisions

Many of us have a hard time making decisions.

We fear that if we choose the wrong partner, we'll be stuck in an unhappy relationship. Or, if we make the wrong financial decision, we'll be stuck in a bad investment. However, there are no wrong decisions.

Perhaps we could, at times, make different choices regarding our relationships, personal pursuits, careers, or the right color of paint for our walls. Yet, regardless of the outcome, we always gain valuable experience and insights from any choice we make.

Making a decision is always better than making no decision at all. Once done, we know that we had the courage to decide, take a chance, and make a move in a particular direction. We can't take action unless we make a decision first; and a decision is never wrong because we always gain something from it - whether we get what we thought we intended or learn a valuable lesson. Sometimes, we need to follow through on a decision to realize that we don't really want what we thought we did.

Each of the many decisions we make every day has the potential to have a deep impact on our lives. Some choices touch us to our very cores, awakening poignant feelings within us. Others seem at first to be simple but prove to be confusingly complex. We make the best decisions when we approach the decision-making process from a balanced emotional and intellectual foundation. When we have achieved equilibrium in our hearts and in our minds, we can clearly see both sides of an issue or alternative. Likewise, we can accept compromise as a natural fact of life. Instead of relying solely on our feelings or our rationality, we utilize both in equal measure, empowering ourselves to come to a life-affirming and balanced conclusion.

Balance within and balance without go hand in hand. When we are called upon to choose between two or more options, whether they are attractive or distasteful, we need to understand all we can about the choice ahead of us before moving forward. If we do not come to the decision from a place of balance, we risk making choices that are irrational and overly emotional or are wholly logical and don't take our feelings into account.

In bringing our thoughts and emotions together during the decision-making process, we ensure that we are taking everything possible into account before moving forward. Nothing is left up to chance, and we have ample opportunity to determine which options are in accordance with our values and our needs.

Our perception of the traits and characteristics that make us who we are is often tightly intertwined with how we live our life and the way we make our decisions. We define ourselves in terms of the roles we adopt, our actions and inactions, our triumphs, and what we think are failures. As a result it is easy to identify so strongly with a decision that has resulted in unexpected negative consequences that we actually become that "wrong" decision. The disappointment and shame we feel when we make what we perceive as a mistake grows until it becomes a dominant part of our identities. We rationalize our "poor" decisions by labeling ourselves incompetent decision-makers. However, our true identity cannot be defined by our choices. Our essence - what makes us a unique entity - exists independently of our decision-making process.

All decisions contribute to our development and are an integral part of our evolving existence yet they are still separate from our self. A decision that does not result in its intended outcome is in no way an illustration of our character. Still, it can have dire effects on our ability to trust ourselves and our self-esteem.

We can avoid becoming our decisions by affirming that a "bad decision" was just an experience, and next time we can choose differently. We then need to avoid lingering in the past and mulling over the circumstances that led to our perceived error in judgment. Instead, adapting to the new circumstances we must face by considering how we can use our intelligence, inner strength, and intuition to aid us in moving forward more mindfully. We must not entirely avoid thinking about the choices we have made, but reflect on the consequences of our decisions from a rational, rather than an emotional, standpoint.

So, we strive to understand why we made the choices we did, forgive ourselves, and then move forward.

Life's decisions provide a valuable learning experience and is, in essence, a gift to learn and grow from. We are not bad people and we are not our decisions.

We are simply human.

With love & light,


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Times Are Tough ... This Too Shall Pass

We all have days that seem endlessly difficult and hard. On these days, it is as if the odds are stacked against us and we just can't get a break as one challenging ituation follows another. We may feel like we're standing in the ocean being hit by wave after wave, never able to get a full breath or keep a steady footing, becoming more exhausted with each strike.

Sometimes it's necessary, or worthwhile, to remain committed and work our way through. Other times, the best idea is to go home and take the breath we need in order to carry on.

If the only choice is to get through it, a hard day can be a great teacher. It will eventually end and we can look back on it, taking pride in the determination, courage, and ingenuity it took to hold our ground. We may also look back and see how we could have done things differently. This knowledge will be valuable when we face the inevitable challenges that lie ahead of us in our life.

It is as these challenges present themselves that we must trust our spiritual guidance and discern wether to work through it or take a different course.

Very often, a timely retreat is the best way to ensure a positive outcome. Allowing some quiet time to listen to the Spirit inside us can remind us that external circumstances are not the whole picture.

Once we catch our breath and re-center ourselves, we find a true perspective. We begin to see that what we perceived as hardships can actually be opportunities.

Sometimes all that's needed is a good night's sleep. No one is immune to having a hard day and these are usually the times we can learn the most. If we can find it in our hearts to examine the day, and maybe make one small change in perception, we can ease our pain and greet the next day with ease, remebering that the bad times too shall pass, as shall the good times.

As the story has been recorded;

One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, "Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it."

"If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty," replied Benaiah, "I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?"

"It has magic powers," answered the king. "If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy."

Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day's wares on a shabby carpet.

"Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?" asked Benaiah.

He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity.

"Well, my friend," said Solomon, "have you found what I sent you after?"

All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone's surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, "Here it is, your majesty!"

As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words "Gam zeh ya'avor" -- "This too shall pass."

At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.

So, we must remember that our tough times shall soon pass, and give thanks for that. We must also remember, however, that our good times shall also pass, and so we must give great thank for those times and share them.

With love & light,


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Times Are Tough ... be gentle

Times Are Tough ... be gentle

During these times when our lives are confronted with what seems to be constant change, challenge, and growth, it is important to remember that we need to be gentle with ourselves.

It can be easy to use our energy to keep up with the day to day momentum of our lives and become exhausted and tired of our existence.

Sometimes the goals we have set for ourselves are out of reach. That might be by nature, or by the overly optimistic expectations that we or society places before us. Either way, we often become eager to fault our progress and expectations, and therefore our own selves. We become accustomed to these "beat downs" on a more regular, perhaps daily, basis and so we accept the perception of failure as becoming regular or common.

However, we may not be aware of the dangerous fact that we are likely to run our own selves down spiritually when we do so.

When things seem to be moving quickly, be they negative or positive, it is especially essential that we make a point to slow down and be gentle with ourselves.

It might be difficult to notice what is happening to us for we may be so caught up in the whirlwind of our lives that we lose sight of the direction in which things are heading.

Being gentle with ourselves does not mean that we cease to achieve to accomplish things. Rather, it means that we honor ourselves in an ongoing basis and tend to the needs of our spiritual well being and our own bodies, as well of those of others ... all of God's Creation, animal and earth, pets and gardens

This means different things to different people. For instance, it could mean having a session with a Spiritual Advisor, or perhaps taking some much needed extra sleep. For others, perhaps a return to nature or a cultural mecca, be that a museum or a walk-about to appreciate our architectural accomplishments, or those created by God's nature at hand.

Whichever path we choose leads us back to our spiritual selves and helps us to create space within ourselves for a more positive, loving, and accepting view of our lives and those of others.

By setting the intention to do so, we become more cognizant of our spirituality on a daily basis and become more able to replenish ourselves as needed.

The more we are able to treat our souls and bodies with gentleness, the more tenderness and compassion we can set forth into our lives.

Learning to understand and pay mind to what we need will in turn allow us to fill our lives with unlimited unconditional love and healing energy in order to truly tend to what God calls us to do.

It is then that we can shed the scars of our lives and begin to heal the wounds of others.

Please pray with me.

With love & light,


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Year's Eve ... a Six Month Retropestive

It's been six months since New Year's Eve, so I thought this would be a good time to post a piece that I sent to some friends back then.

I was fortunate to spend time with an enigmatic young man named Thomas
during a very special period of my life. It was a time of change, growth,
and overcoming challenges for me.

Thomas taught me many things during our days together, and this time of
year reminds me of one particular interaction we had.

"Now that you are becoming more aware," Thomas said, "you need to begin to
set goals for yourself so you don't lose the momentum you have built."

"Like New Year's resolutions?" I asked.

"That's an interesting idea," he smirked. "Let's do that."

By then I was used to his cryptic responses, so I knew something was up
because of the way his eyes sparkled as he let out an impish laugh.

"Tonight, make two lists," Thomas continued. "The first is a list of all
the New Year's resolutions you WANT to keep, and the second is a list of all
the New Year's resolutions you WILL keep. Write the WANT List first, and
when you have exhausted all of your ideas, then write the second list on
another sheet of paper."

I went home and spent several days working on the two lists. The WANT List
felt overwhelming at first, but after a while I got into writing all the
things I had always wanted to do if the burdens of life hadn't gotten in the
way. After nearly an hour, the list swelled to fill the entire page and
contained nearly all of my ideas of an ideal life. The second list was much
easier, and I was able to quickly commit ten practical resolutions that I
felt would be both realistic and helpful.

The next time I saw Thomas, he said "Tell me about your two lists" as the
familiar smirk crept onto his face.

"The first list contains all the things I SHOULD do if I completely changed
my life to be the person I always wanted to be. The second list contains all
the things I COULD do by accepting my current life, and taking realistic
steps towards the life I want to lead."

"Let me see the second list," he said.

I handed him the second list, and without even looking at it, he ripped the
paper into tiny pieces and threw it in the nearby trash. His disregard for
the effort I had put into the list annoyed me at first, but after I calmed
down I began to think about the first list in a different light. In my
heart, I knew the second list was a cop out, and the first list was the only
one that really mattered.

"And now, the first list."

I handed him the first list and held his gaze for several seconds, waiting
for him to begin reading the page. After an unusually long silence, he began
to crumple the paper into a ball and once again tossed it into the trash
without looking at it.

"What did you do that for?!" I couldn't hide my anger any longer.

Thomas began to speak in a quiet and assured voice. "What you SHOULD or
COULD do with your life no longer matters. The only thing that matters, from
this day forward, is what you MUST do."

He then drew a folded piece of paper from his back pocket and handed it to

I opened it carefully, and found a single word floating in the middle of
the white page:


And so, I offer you my love and I wish for the new year to bring you a
loving life of quiet balance as you encounter each new day.

As for me, I'll be looking back at this past year with fondness and
thankless for having you in my life.

With love & light,


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Loving Grace, Living Love

Upon waking, many of us view the the coming day with trepidation.

Because of the natural human tendency to focus on what we fear or dislike, it is easy to unwittingly send a message of unease into the future that negatively impacts the quality of our day ahead. Restless nights spent worrying about what tomorrow holds for us as we stress over financial obligations, health concerns, and world events sets us into a path on unease, uncertainty, fear, and desparation.


Although our lives are busy and frequently replete with challenges, they are also rich with joy and experiences worth savoring. My siblings and I have spent this past week emailing recollections of our childhoods. We have a wooden "Memory Box" for our Mom. In it, we add slips of paper with a fond memory on it. Mom can open the box and read through them whenever she likes, and we can continue to add to it it as we live on. The time will come when we'll gather and read through them together, sharing the love we have. I highly recommend this as a gift to a loved one.

It's nice to have so much clarity when looking back at happy, simple times. It brings a wonderful feeling of foundation and a certain bliss. I find it fascinating that "bliss" is only one vowel away from "bless".

I have a dear friend who emails me daily and always wishes me "Blessings on your day". Such a gift.

We can attract this natural bliss and into our lives by starting each day with a message of loving blessings. When we send love and blessings ahead to our day, that love manifests itself in our personal interactions, our professional endeavors, and our domestic duties.

Tasks and circumstances once made trying by our own anxieties can be transformed by our love, and we can find ourselves approaching life's subtle nuances with great affection.

I suggest that each morning, when we have cast off the fog of sleep, we take several deep, grounding breaths and reaffirm the love we have for ourselves. Think of the good that we do and how we are loved by others, be they spouses, family, friends, or pets. Say it out loud, whisper if you must, but say it with affirmation.

Speaking a loving, self directed blessing aloud enables us to access and awaken the reservoir of tenderness in our souls. Before we leave the comfortable warmth of our beds, we need to be sure to tell God that we are eager and ready to receive the blessings He has set aside for us. Then as we prepare to meet the day, we can visualize ourselves first saturated by and then surrounded with a warm and soft loving light.

This circle of light will soon widen until we unwittingly send it ahead into our day.

That circle of light is made of all those who love us, particularly God and our own selves.

Those of us who commute to work, can send a blessing to the roads upon which we will travel, our fellow commuters, and the geographical location of where we work as well as those who we will interact with. In turn, every single person we interact with, kind or cruel, brings to us a blessing.

If we have colleagues who arrive at our workplace before us, we can send them blessings of love in our hearts. Likewise, a day spent being a parent or addressing household chores can benefit from the sentiment that precedes us. Sending love ahead to everyone we will meet and everything we will do can ensure that our day is suffused with grace. The grace that God has always shared with us and asks that we share with one another.

It can be difficult to send love to those situations and individuals we deem particularly frustrating. However, that is not our call to make. After all, love and grace are each a gift that God has given us as a gift to share, and it each are most beautiful and powerful things.

Consider that the warmth and tenderness we project can change our life for the better as well as the life of the recipient.

If we send this loving grace forward each morning, we will exercise our power to control the ambiance of our existence and color our day with positivity.

If we send this loving grace forward throught our day, we will enforce our ability to have our world around us feel the same warm, encompassig light we awoke with.

If we send this loving grace to sleep with us each evening, we will sleep peacefully, allowing God to cradle us in His loving embrace and face each new day with the knowledge that everything is okay in God's light.

With love & light,


Monday, June 22, 2009

A Stone Soup Weekend

The Wisdom of Sharing

There are many variations on the story of Stone Soup, but they all involve a traveler coming into a town beset by famine.

The inhabitants try to discourage the traveler from staying, fearing he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there's no food anywhere to be found. The traveler explains that he doesn't need any food and that, in fact, he was planning to make a soup to share with all of them.

The villagers watch suspiciously as he builds a fire and fills a cauldron with water. With great ceremony, he pulls a stone from a bag, dropping the stone into the pot of water.

He sniffs the brew extravagantly and exclaims how delicious Stone Soup is.

As the villagers begin to show interest, he mentions how good the soup would be with just a little cabbage in it.

A villager brings out a cabbage to share, and this episode repeats itself until the soup has cabbage, carrots, onions, and beets - indeed, a substantial soup that feeds everyone in the village.

This story addresses the human tendency to hoard in times of deprivation, and we are in times of deprivation now, both financially and spiritually.

When resources are scarce, we tend to pull back and put all of our energy into self-preservation. We isolate ourselves and shut out others.

As the story of Stone Soup reveals, in doing so, we often deprive ourselves and everyone else of a feast. This metaphor plays out beyond the realm of food. We tend to hoard our ideas, our love, and our energy, thinking we will be richer if we keep to them to ourselves.

Truth being, however, that we make the world, and ourselves, poorer whenever we greedily stockpile our reserves.

The traveler was able to see that the villagers were holding back, and he had the genius to draw them out and inspire them to give, thus creating a meal that none of them could have created alone.

We have to ask "who is this traveller?".

I travelled this weekend to Holy Cross Monastery with a dear friend who inspires great thoughts in me.

Once again, I learned the greatness of the gift of sharing, and the Benedictine example of doing for others.

Our meals there were beyond comparison. Everyting was plentiful and gracious.

We wanted for nothing at all.

One of our meals was an amazing Curried Chicken Stew, which was well recieved.

One of the Brothers comments that "the chef will be pleased to see an empty bowl".

Are we like the villagers?

Are we holding back?

When we come forward and share our gifts, we inspire others to do the same.

The reward is a banquet that can nourish many.

During the train ride home, I commented to my companion that I must have gained at least 5 pounds from the genorosity of the Brotherhood.

In retrospect, I would say that I gained just shy of triple that ... 14 pounds - one stone, in old English measures.

Of course, that stone that I gained is not in weight, but in love & spirit. I left there with one stone's worth of love to share.

A beloved friend of mine from Mexico City died recently at the tender age of 25.

When I last saw him, he gave me a small blue stone at the airport after calling me back from the gate.

He asked me to keep it in my pocket, as his Grandmother gave it to him when he was a child.

It was for blessings for a safe journey.

Not just a safe journey through the skies, but through life.

I still carry that stone in my pocket.

It painfully reminds me of Miguel, who was full of life and love, but it also serves to remind me of the love that he and we have to share with one another. If not for any other reason, it is to justify his brief being and continue his God given spirit.

We may travel through life with a stone's weight, which is burdensome.

We may even choose to carry a stone in our pocket, or a pebble in our shoe, to remind us of life's burdens.

However, it is when we share that stone, those 14 proverbial pounds in our pocket, that we call others to share in our Soup, and we all become a well nourished community.

Do you see?

Together, we can make Stone Soup.

With love & light,


Thursday, June 18, 2009



-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Insecurity; Reclaiming Our Sense Of Worth


There is an innate awkwardness to being human.

With each decision we make, there is the potential for self-doubt, and it is this self doubt that forms the root of insecurity - a complex emotion that is a mix of equal parts of inadequacy, isolation, fear, and hopelessness. Yet these feelings of insecurity that prevent us from fulfilling our potential by inducing us to abide by arbitrary self-limitations are nothing more than erroneous perceptions.

We feel a loss of confidence and uncertainly of ourselves because we judge ourselves to be so. Ridding ourselves of these feelings is often simply a matter of challenging ourselves in order to prove that we are indeed intelligent, competent, and able.

When we feel insecure, we not only perceive ourselves as incapable of meeting life's challenges but also fraudulent and unworthy of true happiness. We move through life plagued by a sense that others have judged us and found that we are lacking. As a result, we are robbed of our personal power and rendered unable to feel positive about the choices we make.

Everyone feels insecure from time to time because each of us is born into the world with unique strengths. When we find ourselves with feelings of insecurity, however, we need to understand its source. Perhaps the cause is having been repeatedly berated as a child or spouse. When we have experienced this, we seldom accept positive reinforcement in the present. A tendency to withdraw from risk or uncomfortable situations can amplify feelings of insecurity.

We don't know what has happened earlier in the lives of others, and so we need to always be aware that harsh responses to individual viewpoints and opinions can have devastating effects. Hopefully, those we hurt when we respond as such will share their feelings with us so that we can move forward in life in a positive manner.

To berate another in any form is a sin against God and neighbor, but these things happen. It is then that we need to have a heart to heart discussion and say or hear the words that have been detrimental in our personal devopment.

Once we have this discussion and define the origin of our insecurity, we can focus on our abilities.

The more we utilize our personal power by taking risks, facing challenges, and acting decisively, the stronger it will grow.

Remember that insecurity is not objective. Rather, it is an emotional interpretation of our value unconsciously based on doubt, shame, and fear.

As we overcome these underlying emotions through courageous action and copious self-love, we discover that we are capable of achieving more than we ever thought possible.

That is what God offers for us and wants for us. We just have to claim it.

With love & light,


Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Light Within

The human mind thrives on novelty.

What was once a source of pleasure can become tedious after a time. Though our lives are full, boredom lurks around every corner because we innately long for new experiences. Yet boredom, by its very nature, is passive.

In the idle state of mind, which is boredom, we may feel frustrated at our inability to channel our mental energy into productive or engaging tasks. We may even attempt to lose ourselves in purposeless or self-destructive pursuits.

I spend most of my time, as I work on my consulting project, either in a state of extreme busyness or extreme boredom. It is during the times of extreme boredom that I wander, both in mind and in body.

While this can be a sign of depression, it can also be an invitation issued from God, asking us to challenge ourselves.

Boredom can become the motivation that drives us to learn, explore the exotic, and harness the boundless creative energies which thrive within us.

In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, boredom is perceived as a pathway to self-awareness. Boredom itself is not detrimental to the soul. However, it is the manner in which we respond to it that determines whether it becomes a positive or a negative influence in our lives.

When we respond by actively filling the emptiness we feel lurking in ourselves, we cultivate creativity and innovation.

When we find ourselves in the grasp of boredom, we have an opportunity to create a list of tasks we can turn to when it feels as though there is simply nothing to do.

Referring to a list of topics we want to learn more about, projects we have yet to begin, or even pending chores can spark our creative energy and reawaken our zest for life.

I always keep a list of chores and of fun things as an agenda. Often, when bored or otherwise preoccupied, I begin a list of annoyances which I would like to correct.

I ask that you take a moment to view this link. It is a "take off", if you will, of "I've Got A Little List" from Gilbert & Sullivan's opera "The Mikado". It's quite brilliant.

Now, I've digressed but I'm certain that the song did something for you.

When we are presented with boredom, it is not that there is nothing to do but rather that we are not stimulated by the options before us. A bored mind can be the canvas upon which innovation is painted and the womb in which novelty is nourished.

When we identify boredom as a signal that we need to test our boundaries, it can be the force that presses us to strive for opportunities that we otherwise thought were beyond our reach and we can indulge our desire for adventure.

Every change that I've made in my life, every addition to Fairview (my home), every new adventure, has come from when my idle mind, in all its boredom, has grasped the opportunity to explore and become inspired.

After all, isn't boredom nothing more than inspiration at rest?

We all know inspiration when we feel it. It is a force that enlivens us and activates us to do something.

We might dance, sing, paint the house, or envision a new change.

We might call an old friend or plan a trip abroad.

Whatever the case, doing what we do from a place of inspiration makes all things seem possible. Inspiration often comes out of nowhere, from boredom, landing unexpectedly in the midst of our lives and lifting us out of our habitual mindset and into a higher level of vision.

We can, however, be more intentional in our relationship with inspiration other than just waiting for it to come to us. There are many ways to cultivate its presence, from journaling, to photographing, visiting with a particularly interesting friend.

Finding what inspires us, and consciously cultivating it, gives us access to new ways of thinking and energy we never knew we had.

Sometimes, we can be inspired by trips into nature. I'll never forget the walks I took with my dog Otto to the stream near Fairview. Sometimes the walks were out of boredom, other times they were out of need for balance.

We often keep mementos, such as a box full of objects, a seashell, an old photograph, or any collection of other items that does the trick.

They offer fond memories to us and provide us with inspiration to live on.

There are as many ways to find inspiration as there are people looking for it.

Once we understand what inspires us, we need to find a way to incorporate it into our lives on a regular basis.

If we aren't sure what inspires us, or if it changes, we need to take some time to prayerfully reflect upon it.

When was the last time we felt the spark of our imagination?

When was the last time we acted on an impulse that felt totally right?

When was the last time we decided to spend a moment together to embrace our friendship?

When we are in the presence of The Spirit that inspires us, we hear our Spirit more clearly, nearly, and dearly, and we have the energy to follow its cues.

If it has been a while since we have been touched by inspiration, we might feel listless and dissatisfied.

It is then that we need to know and remember what it is that can turn things around by embracing what lights us up and bringing that into our lives in order for us to shine brilliantly forward with the Spirit that lives within us so that we may share our light with those whom we are called to love and serve.

So, I ask that we take our times of boredom and see them as opportunities for us to listen to God and focus on those who need us, give thanks for all we have, and find a path on which to shine our own light.

Our light is too precious of a gift to not share.

With Love & light,