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Quality of Life

One of the privileges I have as a teacher of Spiritual Principles is that I get to continue to learn them…over and over and over again. As my students are introduced to various spiritual texts, I get to review the pages and passages that opened my eyes and heart the first time I read the writings. I find peace in the highlighted phrases and joy in the scribbles in the margins…and I smile.

On most days those notations are enough to lift my spirit and remind me how lucky I am to have found such a foundation of faith and to practice it through my ministry. On other days I must delve further into the texts for the inspiration that will most certainly uplift my consciousness and release the mental burdens…the heavy weight of my unceasing plans and constant doing-ness…under which I place myself.

You were not made for failure, no matter who you are, nor how much you know, nor what anyone has told you. God is your prosperity. God, the Most High, is your defense. God, the Absolute Good, is your friend.”                                 ~Emma Curtis Hopkins

It is important to remind myself of “first things first” when I start spinning from all the mental activity and ideas circulating in my head. What do I focus on? How much can I really do and do well? What is actually mine to do?  While my current life theme may be “simplicity,” it also must include the element of “balance” to address and achieve those tasks that are mine to complete on a daily or weekly basis…and into the distant future.

My intent is to create a quality of life that is improving and ever-expanding in all directions: spiritual/physical… work/play… home/community… relationships/solitude… activity/rest… learning/teaching… in an evenly-paced and sane approach of longevity and growth. Up until a few years ago, I would get so excited about the possibilities for expansion and the opportunities to learn or do, that I would work myself into an unsustainable frenzy of activity. It would be inevitable that a crash would occur …physically, mentally, emotionally…forcing me to rest, re-evaluate and recover from this self-inflicted abuse of over-doing.

My insatiable desire to learn all I can within this human lifetime, I’m sure, has something to do with my high level of activities, my growing collection of unread books, website searches on a myriad of topics, my eagerness to listen to the wisdom of others (conversations, classes, lectures, etc.), and my misguided enthusiasm to take on more than I can reasonably handle in a given day. Fortunately, I’ve become more aware of this destructive and innate pattern of behavior, and am now able to slow down the mental spinning to a more balanced and consistent forward movement. But more is needed.

clockThankfully, I’m willing to ASK for help, recommendations, suggestions or guidance when I feel lost. An idea, posed by a loving partner with whom I recently shared these darting thoughts, is being implemented, starting today:  Block out my schedule for various activities/tasks throughout the day/week and stick to it!

It sounds simple, right? Balanced? Logical? It’ll be interesting to see how my ego committee mind reacts to this “novel” idea. Yet, you and I both know this is not a new approach. I’ve brought it up before when I shared my work-aholic tendencies and the “power of an hour” concept of achieving things. However, I obviously need more than just an hour-by-hour plan. I’m adding a long-term view for a higher quality of life.

The wonderful part about this idea is that I have the freedom to create the schedule, starting today. The new blocks of time include spending more time with God than with projects, trading technology for daily periods of meditation, working only six days each week (for now), expanding my  exercise options, increasing creative art and gardening activities, and reading more books.  My aim is eventually to take off from work two full, consecutive days each week. Can you imagine that? I do. And so it is!

Back to Basics: Simplicity

Some months ago a friend told me how she picks one word on which to focus for the entire year. I liked the idea so much that I decided to do the same. The word I chose to begin this practice was “simplicity.” I’ll admit there are times when I forget about it. However, I’m quickly reminded of my intention whenever life starts spinning into chaos and confusion or I start experiencing feelings of overwhelm. It’s then I know to take a deep breath, stop whatever I’m doing, and evaluate what’s most important in that moment.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as getting a cup of tea…practicing songs on the piano…going outside to feel the sunshine…petting the dog. When I physically remove myself from the situation and the moment of confusion, it’s easier to gain new perspective. I’ve found it works with people, too. While it may not always be possible to remove myself from someone’s presence, I can stop talking or mentally planning my next sentence. I can listen. I can see them more clearly in that moment of heightened awareness. I can connect with them soul to soul where words are not necessary.

zen_gardenThe practice of simplicity brings added benefits I had not anticipated. I’m learning to have Zen-like focus in all of my tasks and activities. While I’ve been an accomplished multi-tasker, I’m more willing now to limit my attention to one task at a time until it’s completed. I actually get more done by having dedicated focus on one single project rather than trying to do several at once. The quality of my work has improved. The moments of chaos and confusion happen less often. I’m able to work for longer periods of time without feeling nearly so tired or stressed. One step in front of the other. Back to basics.

I’ve also begun applying the idea of “simplicity” to my life’s greater vision. Everywhere I focus I consider how I can do things with the least amount of commotion, effort, money, time or energy. Sometimes this means delegating a task or project to others…taking my time to arrive at a decision…or just not doing it…right now. When I get into that mindset that I have to “make things happen,” then I need to look at whether its creation is a matter of forcing something (ego) or a sense of lack in my life (not enoughness).  In either case, it’s necessary to go back to taking a breath, being grateful for “what is” and giving more thought to the validity of the desire.

As I’ve simplified my life, I’ve made numerous changes. I’ve gone back to basics with my diet and nutrition… planted a garden… make my own laundry soap… visit more with family and friends… changed careers… am more successful in financial matters… enjoy a variety of creative activities… and am constantly grateful for my life and everything in it! It’s simple, but not always easy. Yet, so worth the effort and diligence required to calm my busy mind. I live more from a sense of peace than I ever have!

Such commitment to a simpler way of living and being means that I get to experience daily the basic feelings of happiness and contentment…love, serenity, abundance, and connection… to life, people, my work, and God… one purpose, one action, one simple thought at a time.

The Ever-Present Voice

A wedding anniversary is a good way of measuring how much we’ve grown…as a couple or as individuals. One area we’ve been particularly focused on improving together is how we manage our finances and resolve our beliefs about money.

While I don’t think of myself as being ignorant about money, it seems to have taken me a long time to handle my financial affairs with the same concern and respect I’ve had when working for others, such as conserving an employer’s resources or maintaining records. I am ever so diligent in those matters. However, I’ve struggled to find a money system that works for me for more than a couple of pay periods. And now that I have, “that voice” is starting to whisper again. But let me back up a bit.

I recognize that my early money management training consisted of little more than properly filling out tax withholding forms when I started a new job, opening a checking account, or trying not to spend more than I made between paychecks. When I first started working (at 14), I may have been advised to “save something” along the way, but the message did not take hold for a few decades … and then some major life experience always seemed to wipe out everything I had accumulated to that point.

Without going into the boring details of life, it’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve really gotten honest with myself about the way I deal with, handle or think about money and debts. The first real eye-opener came after reading “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.” I had collected and read numerous books from other financial gurus, designed to change my perception and financial standing, but nothing was as impactful as the questions and exercises posed in that book. Together with my husband, we began to explore our deep-rooted beliefs about money.

I was forced to notice the negative patterns I was repeating and imitating, creating a cycle of financial failure over and over again, whether in relationship or all by myself. Going through the exercises and questions together, forced us to get honest with each other. There was no one to blame; we were responsible for our situation. I was tired of failing at this. I was done with the arguments about money every time the bills had to be paid. There had to be a better way – some way to be successful in how we managed our money. And there was!

Through forgiveness of self for past mistakes, a pledge of rigorous honesty about finances, and a willingness to face my fears while making a serious effort to turn things around, I started educating myself with renewed fervor. I reviewed books about different debt-reduction systems. I shared the information with my husband. We visited financial planners, CPAs and prosperity classes. I’ve been introduced to new mentors. I also created spreadsheets that were more realistic than any previous plans…until we found a formula that worked for where we are, but could evolve with us. We opened our hearts and minds – no more secret stashes or resentment spending. It was time to trust the numbers, each other, and God.

Our consciousness about money has matured – finally! We’re making better decisions about our long-term financial future. After just a few months, man_w_moneybagwe’re seeing significant progress. It feels like we’re getting ahead of the debt without feeling a constant struggle. We’re creatively reducing costs. The money arguments have ended; the fear is gone. I’ve been consistent with my record-keeping efforts, too. And then, today, that old voice came back.

As I was balancing checkbooks, paying bills, and distributing funds amongst accounts, that ever-present voice started whispering. It was bored with saving money…of paying extra funds toward mortgages or credit cards…of cooking meals at home when we could go out. Progress wasn’t happening fast enough, it said. This process was easy, but boring. It wanted the familiar chaos, complication, uncertainty and over-spending of the past.

Frankly, I had forgotten about this scared and doubting part of me. That voice had become so silent during recent success, that it startled me, at first. Once I recognized it as an old way of thinking that no longer worked in this new paradigm of conscious money management, I thanked it for being a clear reminder of how far I’d come in such a short time. I also know I have a long way to go.

I see the potential for significant advancement in my financial understanding and undertakings. It’s not too late to learn…and I know how to learn! The blended system we’re using is working wonderfully; it’s become a routine. There’s no reason to change it. I’m sure part of my past money-handling mistakes was because I didn’t stay with a system long enough to be successful. No more. As long as I can see increased savings and reduced debt on a monthly basis, I’ll continue on this path with great vigor and dedication. More than ever before, I respect and value the money we earn and where it goes.

Someday, I might be a voice of wisdom for my children and grandchildren. But first, I must earn the right to speak.

Universal Principles in Action!

Recently I was in a dilemma about a prosperity workshop I wanted to attend. The guest facilitator was someone I’d heard about years before and whom I admired from a distance. I’d never met her in person but, after hearing her story of success and reading her book of how she has used – and continues to use – Spiritual principles to create a prosperous life, I was inspired to take the next step and attend her workshop. And I needed to quell any lingering doubt and skepticism about what she was teaching. I believed the only way I could learn the truth of her claims was to meet her in person. Little did I know her lesson would come from an entirely different source.

The first challenge I encountered was that her workshop was scheduled on a date for which I already had major commitments at the exact same time. The afternoon was fully booked. I was required to attend another function, and there was no way to see her that day. I searched her website to discover she would be in another town the following evening, delivering the same presentation…a town that was 360 miles away!

After a little more research, I knew I’d rather drive than fly. I could leave the morning of the workshop, drive about six or seven hours, attend the two-hour workshop, stay the night at a hotel, and drive back early the next day so I could teach my own class the following evening. Piece of cake! Then I went online to register for the workshop. After entering my name and contact details, I hit the “submit” button and got an instant response: EVENT SOLD OUT. Argh!

Now, when I had finished reading her book the midnight before, Spirit had given me a nudge. You know, that small voice with the big message? It had told me to contact her directly about how much I wanted to meet and talk with her…how inspired I was by her book. So when I received the “SOLD OUT” message about the workshop, I began writing an email to her – to propose another idea. At the same time, I sent an email to the distant workshop organizer, asking to be placed on a reserve, backup or waiting list, in case someone canceled at the last minute and I could still get in. Simultaneously, I had a quick but stern talk with the Divine.

I said, “Listen up, God. You’re the one that put this idea into my head. I’ve done everything I know to do to see her. If you really want me to go, then you better figure it out and DO something about this! I’m ready to go. I’ve done all I can. And if this creative intention stuff really works, then show me some results now!” I’d worked myself up into quite a praying frenzy. So I took a deep breath and went back to writing my email to the author/teacher.

I explained about not being able to see her at the first workshop due to conflicting events…how I was willing to drive the distance to see her in another town…only to find out there were no tickets available, but that I was on a waiting list and hopeful. I offered to drive her from Point A to Point B (and back again) just for the privilege of hearing her experiences and basking in her years of wisdom. I assured her I was not a stalker, just a very enthusiastic minister with a desire for clarity about a big project of my own. I offered to pay for the travel and meals, and deliver her safely to wherever she needed to go, even if I could not get into any of the workshops where she would be speaking. I’d patiently wait at my hotel until the next day and bring her back to wherever she needed to be. I was willing to serve and happy to accept any time and conversation she was able to offer.

I was just about done composing and editing her email, when another one came back from the distant workshop organizers. They explained that they had put me on the reserve list a few minutes ago, as I had requested. I had been second on that list. However, they just received a cancellation from a couple who couldn’t use their two tickets, so enclosed in the email was a link to my FREE ticket and directions to the workshop location. They also offered to find me a place to stay with one of their group’s members. They looked forward to meeting me soon.

As I read the email twice and then again, I started crying. I also quickly printed the ticket to be sure it was real. Then I sent a REPLY, thanking God…and them…for the opportunity to attend. Hotel reservations were secured immediately. After wiping the tears from my joyful face, taking a few deep breaths, and gathering my itinerary papers together, I went back to make changes to my email to the author/teacher.

The email now expressed a tone of heartfelt service rather than pleading. I told her I had been able to secure a ticket at the new location. I resisted offering all the details of this miraculous victory. My offer to drive was still an option I hoped she would consider. I pressed SEND…and smiled my way through a prayer of gratitude for this valuable lesson.

When we are clear about our intention, our desire, to experience something Good in our lives…and state it or write it plainly…and throw in some passion toward its creation…and do our part but also leave some room for God to work in mysterious and wondrous ways…I have NO doubt that demonstrations such as this will occur all the time. We need to be open to seeing the miracles, the God-stuff, being created all around us…in God-time, not ours.

This was the fastest gift I’d ever received from the Divine (that I can remember). It wasn’t my first and it won’t be the last. But this experience was a clear reminder of the clarity, the passion, and the trust I need to have when creating something I desire. It wasn’t going to come from the author/teacher. It came from the Divine Power within me…the same Power that’s within each of us. What an incredible lesson! And there’s more…

Since that day my “big project” has gotten even more clarity. With the help of a spiritual life coach, I saw not only some much needed adjustments to the vision I’d been creating for myself, but also what had kept me from going forward with my plans. It was the wrong dream! My new direction has filled me with energy, enthusiasm, and simplicity of vision…it’s do-able and exciting! I wake up eager each morning to take the next steps into my future…and reluctantly retire to bed late at night. I love this life!

One last note…in case you still don’t think God has a “hand” in our affairs. After all that activity to secure a ticket, get a hotel room, rearrange my work schedule, etc., a week before the workshop date the author/teacher fell and broke her arm, which will include additional surgery. She had to cancel BOTH workshops and has no other events scheduled in this area for the rest of this year. However, there is a FREE three-day Ministers’ workshop next year at her retreat center…and I REALLY want to see what that looks like.   🙂   Listen up, God!

Discriminating Ideas

I recently saw a film about a well-known American baseball player in the 1940’s. It depicted the challenges of and racism toward a black athlete entering a strictly white sports team. Some parts of the movie were difficult to watch because the hatred was so clearly portrayed. It didn’t seem to matter to the team’s other players that this rookie was a phenomenal athlete or that the team’s improved standings as a result of his playing would benefit all of them. At least…not a first.

Eventually, much of the initial bigotry and prejudice amongst team members subsided, thanks to a forward-thinking team owner. The ideas associated with general racial discrimination became more specific over time. They became more discriminating about their discrimination. What an idea!

I find it interesting that two words, so similar in form, can be so different in meaning. Discrimination has synonyms like: bias, favoritism, prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. Discriminating, on the other hand, uses words like: sharp, astute, selected, perspective and discerning. Except for the positioning of the final two letters of each word, they’re identical. So where is all this going?

Any discrimination I have faced in life has not been racially based. Religious, yes. Gender, yes. Economic, yes. Nationality, yes. As a result, those experiences have made me more discriminating, whether I’m close to someone or not. For example, I’ve felt the pangs of religious discrimination from family members; it can come from anywhere. That experience had a significant influence on my efforts today to warmly welcome everyone who chooses to explore New Thought teachings and, in particular, our Spiritual community and church.

Much Good for my personal and Spiritual growth has resulted from those past hurts. I am…

  • more selective about what I share about myself or when I voice my opinion. I don’t need to comment on everything.
  • diligent in keeping an open or objective perspective about the world, to be more accepting of people as they are…neutral, non-judgmental. (It takes a little more effort and sharp focus when the people are closer to you in relationship. )
  • able to separate the person (that child of God) from their misbehavior, which has allowed me to practice forgiveness more readily.
  • an astute observer, noticing details about a person’s words, body movements, voice tone, or other communication methods.  As I really see people, I’m able to notice their vulnerability, their authentic Self, and offer compassion and kindness that connects us at a heart-level, a soul-level, where we recognize we are all part of that Divine Oneness.

These are discriminating ideas that I offer to you now as well. If we were to hone our discriminating skills, using the four bullet points above, we might never experience discrimination again. Think about it. Isn’t it about time?

 

Snowstorms, Over-Dressed & Nesting

Heavy_SnowToday’s spring snowstorm and my habitual nesting that accompanies it, reminded me of a snowstorm twenty-five years ago. It explains why each prediction of heavy snowfall sends me scurrying to the grocery store to “stock up” as well as to have food prepared and cooked in case the power goes out. While today I’m not so concerned about having a supply of candles, I do have an inventory of assorted batteries for numerous flashlights. My phone and laptops are also fully charged and at the ready. My 4-wheel drive vehicle is gassed up. And then I watch the snow with no concern whatever.

The spring snowstorm of years ago started shortly after I arrived at the office. Snow had been predicted, but I had way over-dressed that morning for the bus commute to work. I wore leggings under dress slacks, two pair of warm socks in my snow boots, a turtleneck shirt covered by a sweater covered by a Aussie-style, walkabout coat. I loved that coat. It was khaki green and long, a great windbreaker, durable and stylish to boot. I topped off this ensemble with my “outback” leather hat, a warm scarf around my neck, and thermal gloves on my hands. I was ready for the elements!

The company decided to close early that day to allow employees to get home before the roads became dangerous. I redressed into my gear, walked to the bus station, and awaited the arrival of my chariot for the 15-mile journey toward home. The highways were already a challenge for drivers, including the one at the front of our bus.

As we approached the exit ramp, the incline of the highway and the ice on the road made it impossible for the bus to go any farther. One of the passengers, a female flight attendant who must have been a cheerleader in a former life, rallied the passengers to gather near the back of the bus. The theory was that our combined weight, concentrated over the rear wheels, and then jumping up and down together to the commands of our cheerleader attendant, as the bus driver slowly engaged the gears and tires, would allow the bus to creep up the exit ramp. Thus, we could make our bus connections or get to our cars, and she could get to the airport to make her flight. It worked for a few hundred feet, but the highway’s incline won. The bus couldn’t make it up the hill or to the car park ahead. It was stuck on the highway.

For those individuals who needed to get up the exit ramp, unbury their car, and join the insane traffic jam that traversed both sides of the road over the highway and the bus below…it was time to leave behind the warm bus and the motivating echoes of the flight attendant. I cinched the belt around my coat, secured my backpack and hat, and stepped out onto the edge of the highway and into a biting wind filled with snow, ice and cold.

A few of us made our way up the exit ramp together, crossed the intersection to the parking lot, and then went our separate ways. I stood inside the three-sided bus shelter, wondering if the bus to take me on the final leg home would actually arrive. Could it even get through all that traffic, let alone manage the icy road conditions? Since these were the days before cell phones were common, I had no way to let my then-husband know where I was. I just prayed he and my daughter were safe at home, and that I would get there before too long. It was already dark and the temperature was dropping.

I waited for at least 30 minutes, glad I had over-dressed and wondering if I’d get home faster by walking those last two miles rather than just standing there in the blowing snow and icy wind. There was plenty of traffic, none of which seemed to be going anywhere. Finally, the bus for my route pulled into the parking lot, escorted by two police cars as a way for it to get through all the traffic. I don’t remember if anyone got off the bus, but I know I got on as quickly as I could. There was standing room only, but it was warm. The crowd was friendly, everyone supporting the driver’s efforts and each other. There was no end to the travel stories of the past few hours. This commute had already lasted more than two hours for me and I was definitely ready to see it end.

Our bus left the parking lot and pulled into the crawling traffic, trying to make its way across the overpass and the highway below. The first bus had left by this time. Cars and trucks and snowplows slowly crawled the four lanes below. My new driver suddenly announced that the road conditions were making it impossible to complete his route. He had been instructed to divert the bus to a Red Cross shelter at a local church just up ahead.

I knew where that church was located and it would take me close to, but in the opposite direction of, my home. I made my way to the front of the bus and begged him to please let me out when he reached the corner where he was going to turn the bus toward the church location. I told him it was very close to my home and I could walk from there, please. That was the truth; it was only about a quarter of a mile to walk. I could tell he was concerned for my safety, so I begged a little more. When the bus turned off the main road, he stopped, opened the door and I got out. So did a couple other people before the driver pulled back into traffic toward the church and emergency shelter.

The snow was already a good 18 inches deep with drifts up to my waist. I was grateful I didn’t have miles to walk. I was rather pleased with myself for being so over-dressed that morning. It was perfect for the current conditions. I felt strong. I was used to walking and thought this to be a good test of my strength and stamina. It was. I wrapped my long scarf across my mouth and around my neck, readjusted my backpack, and headed toward home.

After 30 minutes of trudging, slipping, falling and getting back up (my foot went down an open curb gutter buried beneath a deep drift; I thought I’d lost my leg), I finally made it into the townhouse complex. Another few minutes of dragging my body through waist-deep snow and I was standing in front of my gate and home.

I was greeted with hugs and many questions about my extremely long and cold journey home. My four-year-old daughter had been so concerned. After taking off my layers of wet clothing, all I wanted to do was to hug her and cry. I was so grateful to be inside. I chec

ked my leg for bruises, changed into some dry clothes, and, together, she and I started cooking.

We made several entrée dishes and baked other goodies in less than an hour…just before the electricity went out due to the heavy snow on the power lines. It came back on and off again throughout the night, but never long enough for us to get cold. We were going to be okay. We had food. There was plenty of snow for refrigeration, if we needed it. And I knew I could walk the distance to the convenience store if I really had to. I spent the evening reading bedtime stories by candlelight, cuddled in warm blankets and lots of love.

Snowstorms. Over-dressing. Nesting habits. They all go together for me. I want to add something else… Gratitude. That experience was the first time I remember truly listening to my intuition (to over-dress for the day and then to cook quickly when I got home). I’m thankful that I paid attention. I’ve never doubted the messages since. Today’s snow is a good reminder to keep listening.

Self-Reliance

[I wrote most of this in 2006 with a bit more added today…a reflection of Emerson’s essay of the same name. ]

When I’ve thought of self-reliance in the past, it’s always been in the form of survival, of doing what needed to be done and usually without anyone’s help. I learned to rely on certain skills to live my life and care for my children – skills such as: my ability to work and learn, intellect, communication, to “read” people, humor, to get back up no matter how much I was beaten down, to adapt, to change. These are the tools that kept me alive, fed my children, and allowed me to build a life. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and the challenges I’ve overcome. My abilities served me well.

mirror_imageHowever, there were times when I did not trust my own judgment. I occasionally lost touch with any sense of God-presence and many times turned to my human abilities or the words of others rather than rely on a Higher Power. I was self-reliant, but with a small “s.”

Emerson’s self-reliance offers a different perspective. He defines it as “a new respect for the divinity in man.” This interpretation has me thinking of it as Self-reliance (with a big “S”). I now view the term as, not what I can do to live, but what I can be to express who I am in this life.

I agree with Emerson on a number of points he made. I can believe in my own thought; I can trust myself. As a living expression of God, I must find courage to fully express my uniqueness, my talents and abilities, without hesitation. There is no reason to imitate someone else in order to find fulfillment in my life – “imitation is suicide” and it kills the core of who I am. If I believe that “infancy conforms to nobody,” then why would I choose conformity as an adult and allow society more control over my life? “My life is not an apology, but a life.” I must and DO live it to the fullest capacity I can muster. Emerson states: “Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.”

Well, I know how to work, and am finally doing the work I’ve been called to do. I’m also learning to be the person I always dreamed I was – a unique expression of Spirit. May my actions express the greatness I feel inside me, without apology. “I must be myself.”

 

Praying from a Different Position

Every once in awhile we’re given the opportunity to see into the future, of what a situation might be like, if we’re only willing to open our eyes to see it. Such was the case as my husband and I made our way upstairs to our room at the end of a very long and busy day.

He walked up the steps in front of me, slowly, one step at a time. I followed close behind, clutching the back waistband of his jeans and the thick belt wrapped around his waist. I very much needed his strong momentum and the pull up the stairs as a recent injury to my knee hindered my mobility, gait and strength in climbing toward bed and a night of much needed rest. My leg was swollen and throbbing with pain.

Half-way up the stairs I made a flippant comment about not expecting this type of ascent to come so soon in our lives; I thought it would be at least 15 to 20 years before we would have experienced this episode. Our laughter turned to tears. We were supporting one another in a very physical way, but also an emotional one. We hugged as we victoriously completed the last step. We were both keenly aware that we needed to make a concerted effort immediately to achieve and maintain our individual physical strengths so that this assisted stairway climb would be an anomaly and not the norm anytime soon.

It was a minor accident. The heel of my shoe got caught in a small hole. The shoe stayed stuck just long enough for my leg and knee to hyper-extend. Before the jerk from the forward thrust could pull me to the ground, the heel came free from its prison. I maintained my balance, readjusted my shoe, and continued through my day. In the middle of the night, several hours after this incident, I was awakened by throbbing pain around the knee. The joint was seriously injured. I sent a prayer request to my “spiritual brigade.”

knee_xray_image
knee_xray_image

After two days of wrapping, elevating and icing the swollen knee, my husband convinced me to see my chiropractor (who specializes in sports injuries, too). Naturally, I did my own research before the appointed time, forming my own diagnosis. The doctor came to the same conclusion through his examination of my limb that I was able to discover on my own. I love validation! However, because the knee tissue was still quite swollen, any further MRIs or testing would have to wait a couple of days more. More ice. More rest. More prayer.

The injury was perfectly timed. This is my “spring break” from teaching classes. Also, I’m fortunate to be able to work from home. Most of my work is computer-based and I can sit on the chaise or at my desk with my knee wrapped, iced and propped in a somewhat comfortable position…and still be quite productive. By having limited mobility, I maintained focus on pressing projects and am ahead of schedule. What a gift

The prayer support and messages from friends lifts my energy and helps me stay focused on returning to full functionality as quickly as possible. I’m grateful for my husband’s loving attentiveness and his willingness to collect my things from one room to another. My dog monitors my every move, content to stay close by in case I need something to cuddle. I’ve even begun replacing my shoe wardrobe with safer, sensible and knee-friendly styles.

My attitude is one of gratitude and positive focus. I choose to be well. I choose strength and health. And I know that I already have it right now within my mind and soul. It’s just going to take whatever time is necessary for the healing to manifest as a fully functioning knee joint.

Meanwhile, I’ll say my prayers from the sitting position, knowing they are answered just as easily.

Face-to-Face & Heart-to-Heart

Those folks who spend any length of casual time with me or friends who know me well will acknowledge my kinship with communication technology (e.g., tablet, laptop, email, texting, social media, etc.). I’ve always been somewhat of a geeky introvert (yes, I have) so these forms of “talking” or staying in touch with people have been my favored or preferred methods of contact. I enjoy writing and playing with words. Just because I have a smartphone doesn’t mean I use it for conversation; it provides my link to email accounts, texts and the Internet. However, lately I’ve been increasing my personal face-to-face contact with people and with surprising results.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” ~ Nelson Mandela

I’m sure part of my past hesitation to communicate verbally stems from being hushed as a child. The adage “Children should be seen and not heard” was a constant reminder that I had not yet earned the right to speak with any wisdom or knowledge of life. I developed a fondness for collecting quotations that expressed what I could not find the words to say. I carried the idea of being reserved into adulthood for many years, speaking only when I truly felt passionate about a particular situation, injustice, cause or favorite topic. Then, perhaps not so oddly, I majored in Communication at university and now speak every week before a growing congregation. My writing, speaking and teaching topics are all spiritual in nature. What isn’t?

“When we talk about understanding, surely it takes place only when the mind listens completely – the mind being your heart, your nerves, your ears – when you give your whole attention to it.” ~Jiddu Krishnamurtiheart

What I have discovered to be my biggest aid in communicating with people is…(drum roll, please)…to be authentic…to come from my God-Self and not my ego-self. As long as I let go of all the concerns of what people will think, how they will react to what I say, how cleverly I present the message, how long I go on, whether they understand (or not) the words I use – as long as I release all those thoughts and speak from my heart or pause in silence – the meaning will be understood. Sometimes, such “speaking” comes from just being present in their presence…to hold a sacred space where they, too, can be their authentic selves.

“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” ~Diogenes

Some of my favorite moments have been sitting with a friend, lost in our individual thoughts, connected at the heart-level, and joined in the spirit of the moment. I’ve done that quite often this week, relating with people I’ve just met, known for a few months, or with friends whose lives have mingled with mine for decades. It takes more effort to meet face-to-face and share heart-to-heart; no doubt about it. I come home from these experiences gently used and deeply satisfied, content to have been part of someone’s journey for part of a day or to help with some form of healing. I’d like to think their experiences are as positive as mine. I know that being in their presence has revealed in me a desire to do more of this type of “talking.” I am grateful for the soul exchange and want to attract more of them.

“Sometimes it’s a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence.” ~ David Byrne

As I go through my work day with technology and assorted gadgets, messaging for the sake of efficiency, writing on the computer rather than long-hand, I’m drawn to my phone. I open my contacts database and peruse the list for the name and number of someone dear to call after work. I pull out my note cards and write a message to go with the package to be mailed. The note cards provide just the right amount of space for generous love and few words. I complete my tasks quickly and efficiently so that, when the next opportunity presents itself to hold sacred space for a dear friend, I will be ready to do so…with a smiling face and a loving heart.

“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.” ~ John Wayne

Defiant Faith

This week a phrase has been repeating itself in my head and heart with absolute clarity and power: Defiant Faith. I don’t normally think of myself as defiant…not since my teenage years or battling through my first divorce. The simple definition is “a bold resistance to an opposing force.” This Defiant Faith of which I speak relates to the Power of Thought and its ability to create whatever images or ideas or beliefs we keep in our consciousness long enough to manifest.

I know how powerful thought can be in my life…in anyone’s life. I’m a witness to the “miracles” occurring for many people around me – getting promotions at work, being awarded new jobs in a beloved career, homes selling in record time, offers of help just when you need it, unexpected gifts that ease the burden of life, recovery from pain and illness. Defiant Faith is a powerful trust in one’s vision for their life. You know that you know that you know!

“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privileged, established institutions and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid…Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.”

~ Bertrand Russell, Why Men Fight

When moving and living in Defiant Faith, you do everything you humanly know to do in a given situation, in that NOW moment…cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s. You demonstrate responsibility for your part of the creation process. Then you let go and let God have some space to create the final form. It’s in this last step where Defiant Faith can be such a powerful force for yourself…to support your belief in the idea you are about to birth. It’s a way to remind yourself that the direction in which you are moving has value and purpose. You are resisting the opposing forces of negative thought of your ego or from the naysayers around you. Your belief, your faith, MUST be defiant if this dream or desire is to come into being!

“We must face this situation with great awareness, responsibility and defiance.”

~ Bashar Assad

PhoenixAwareness comes from many sources. First, and foremost, from that “still small voice within” if we only give It proper attention and actually listen to It. Meditation is great for hearing It. Awareness and responsibility also come from our own life experiences, including any ventures deemed unsuccessful. There is MUCH to be learned in what we sometimes call “failure.” Mythology tells of the great phoenix rising from the ashes of its predecessor. There are many success stories built on years of disappointment. And yet a Defiant Faith kept the dream alive. An idea, a thought, to create…whatever had been placed in someone’s particular being…head, heart and soul…had to be brought into being…or die trying.

“Dying is not difficult, yielding is impossible.”

~ Jane Grey Swisshelm

I, too, am at that juncture. My desire to create “something” is so big I can no longer contain it. Yes, it’s important to take measured steps, to plan and build on solid ground, to do my part in full awareness, with great responsibility, and in absolute integrity. This adventure will teach me even more about myself; it will test and expand my skills, capabilities and consciousness. I will definitely grow. The tasks will build community and connection; it will bond those involved in a united purpose for the highest and best good of all. And this journey will require a Defiant Faith and trust that this thought, this idea, is mine to do…now! And so it is.