Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: Shedding Baggage like Snakes Shed Skin

Study the past if you would divine the future. ~Confucious

Each year I take an opportunity to prepare myself for leaving a year behind and starting one anew. Many are ready to get on with it, giving little to no thought to the past year and its good, bad and ugly, while others, like myself, reflect.

A year is a mile in the journey of life we travel. Wallowing in one's past with regrets is not recommended, but honestly “revisiting” the past year's experiences is a helpful study of the landscape for the last “mile” traveled this life. Reflective attitude of willingness to acknowledge one's mistakes, less than stellar moments and choices, coupled with a resolve to own responsibility and consciously commit to change one's ways are keys towards creating a better new year. Holding/Living in regret, anger, guilt, resentment, vindictiveness and wishful thinking invites the Human Ego (and its pride) to further nurture grudges, deepen resentment, and fester in blame. Law of Attraction states: what you put out in the Universe boomerangs back to you more of the same in your life.

I choose a journey free of excess baggage. “Reliving” and “stewing in” past experiences is unproductive. The new year offers an opportunity for reflection, contemplation, and re-evaluation, ideally done with compassion for self and others while objectively observing one's personal choices and actions as if watching a movie. My favorite approach involves visualizing myself sitting in a movie theater, watching the movie that has been my life in 2011. From this vantage point, and in a prayerful meditative state to hear God's guidance, we detach from the events' emotional plug-ins to witness what transpired and how we “performed” within them. Feelings may be felt, but in the observer position, their energetic grasp loosens within a reflective state of mind. This review requires purposeful willingness to be truthful with ourselves from a spiritual/God-centered place, which invites Divine wisdom and insight into the review. This approach facilitates shifting of our Ego-focused and -driven emotional obsession around past events into recognition of our responsibilities within them; it creates an openness to become more forgiving, of our self and others, and thus, the process of healing which opens the door to inner peace and harmony; and it opens a greater awareness of how to move forward more productively into the next year. We also realize the positives we experienced, accomplishments we achieved, and successes we enjoyed. We must celebrate it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

For me, 2011 involved a great deal of decluttering my life of unproductive people, patterns, and habits. Just as a snake sheds its skin, I needed to physically and energetically shed a great deal, things once comforting to me but no longer serving my highest and best good. I resisted this shedding process. Upon review of the difficult and heartbreaking events of the year, I recognized my pattern to negotiate and compromise my values in the name of keeping peace. I tried to carry “baggage” that weighed me down, both vibrationally and emotionally, when it no longer offered anything of value in my life. Lesson #1 for 2011: If a situation, a career, a relationship (family, friend, romantic), a habit, a practice or a pattern fails to create, offer or facilitate peace, joy, harmony, and love in my experience, it doesn't belong in my life. Some situations and people that I hung on to, clung to out of hope and fear, dragged me down; I held on in the hope things would get better, improve or change. My efforts compromised my authenticity and sense of self as I avoided making heartbreaking and difficult choices to change or redefine circumstances, relationships, habits, and patterns in my life. Lesson #2 for 2011: I can only control who I am, how I show up through my words, thoughts, choices, and actions, and recognize I can't control how others show up, think, choose or act.

I faced some stormy weather in 2011 that led to hard decisions and major changes in my life: unexpected financial hits, disenchantment in a career path I spent 2010 blazing, loss of a beloved pet, draining relationships and their heartbreaking end, family transitions, unemployment, and foggy confusion as I struggled to regain clarity of who I am and my purpose in this life. I worked jobs I didn't want until I secured the one reflecting my passion for serving and empowering others. I grieved the loss of business and personal connections, developed new relationships, and strengthen existing ones while eliminating those that drained me. I held “Come to Jesus” meetings with myself about my health, dating life, spiritual practices, and my purpose in life. I reclaimed a drama-free zone, realigned myself with my value system, and faced my personal challenges with humility. I dug deeper in my personal power to stand against disrespect, bullying, and verbal abuse, as well as to ask for what I want and deserve. I cried, laughed, and forgave. I eliminated anything that threatens my experience of peace, joy, love and harmony in my life. I regained a foothold of centered strength in my spiritual truth, authenticity, values and guiding principles in the face of overwhelm, hopelessness, vindictiveness, disappointments. I reclaimed my life. I reclaimed me.

My reclamation is a process continuing into 2012. 2011 revealed I compromised my principles, my values, and my higher consciousness over the last two years. It was a year to deepened my faith that God's got my back, guiding me, providing for me, and supporting me through dark times along the journey. For the first time since my mom died, I'm actually excited about Life, and about my life and the opportunities available to me. No doubt there will be bumps, detours and roadblocks attempting to deter me, distract me and even derail me along this next mile of my journey. But I am prepared to assertively move through them, to circumvent them, and if necessary, eliminate them from my path.

Thank you 2011 and everyone who facilitated my personal growth last year! Hello, 2012, let's roll! Happy New Year to you all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Five of the Seven Deadly Sins Practiced in Christmas

The madness of Black Friday kicks off our holiday season as shoppers ring in the season with pepper spray and knives, shoves and pushes. Frenzied traffic as holiday shoppers forget their manners and their Christian principles blocking intersections and cutting people off as they scramble to fulfill the societal obligation of Christmas duties. Insane holiday party schedules disconnect us from the reason of the season. Like Cindy Lou Who, I wonder where Christmas is. I see hypocrisy, greed, glutton and the pursuit for the perfect Christmas holiday. I use to be one of these people, especially when I was married: the perfect menu that wows; the prettiest wrapped packages; the spirited decorations in every room of the house; a list of 100 for holiday cards; the most festive Christmas outfit. The older I've gotten, the less I enjoy Christmas when I see how our country, a society participates within it.

Many believe and preach the true reason for the season is Jesus Christ, and I agree; but I hold little confidence in the majority's belief when I witness such gluttony, and hypocrisy, practiced by the pious faith of Christianity. Somehow, I can't imagine Jesus would be okay with his followers behaving, both individually and towards others, in the spectacle of celebrating his birth through gluttony (excessive gifting, food, celebration), greed (perpetuation through gluttony), wrath (anger/rage in traffic, Black Friday), envy (wanting for Christmas what they don't have), and even pride (being more attractive or better through decorating, gift giving). Aren't these a few of the seven deadly sins? I grew up Catholic and understand the significance of Christ's birth; yet, despite the high-tech praise and glory power of Christmas services around the country, I see Christianity, never mind our society as a whole, losing sight of the meaning of Christmas. If Jesus really is the reason for the season, why do so many participate in this holiday madness? The Wise Men gave only three gifts, fine gifts, but they were in honor of Jesus, not to “wow,” impress, meet expectation, or earn favor. This season is about giving from one's heart, in honor and celebration of the person to whom we give, not because its “what we do” or expected of us.

Let the children enjoy Santa, but within reason. Do they really need all the latest and greatest of every trendy toy, electronic, fashion or gadget that's out there? What are we teaching children if not gluttony, avarice, and pride? Are we buying gifts because its expected and pressured of us? Do we endow so many gifts upon our loved ones to prove our love, materialisticly demonstrate how we value them, or worse, to absolve guilt, or win love and favor? Children should enjoy the experience of Santa's visit; it's part of tradition, and if I had children, I'd do the same thing, but within reason. A high school friend recently shared a story of a mutual classmate who purchased goats, chickens and cows for the poor in other countries through Heifer International in honor of her kids. Her kids will get a few small things to open on Christmas day but Mom decided they really didn't need anything since they are well provided for all year long. What a beautiful gift she's giving to her children: lessons about sharing abundance; global awareness; and the lesson of unconditional giving!

I've chosen to practice the true to the meaning of Christmas this year. I don't need or want anything, and have told my family so. I have a warm bed to sleep in, a home sheltering me, food, a good job, and friends. And my family doesn't need anything either. I decided to give the spirit of Christmas to my family instead: gifts given to those who are in need. I adopted two senior citizens with little income and no family, and given food to the food bank so those who are struggling can have a family meal. I also donated money to a local charity serving those who face an uphill battle to do the simplest things in life. I've also spent hours doing something I express creatively through my heart – baking. I've gifted those who've given me so much this year in my life with these sweet goodies.

The meaning of Christmas is about giving from our heart. As we were gifted by God an incredible teacher named Jesus Christ, the giving was simple without decorative fanfare and exorbitant extravagance. The Wise Men humbly gave small, simple, symbolic gifts without expectation of something in return. Their gift was of honor and appreciation for the presence of God's gift to the world. The gift of the Heart touches another's Heart, symbolic of God's Light and Love.

The Season of Giving is about quality, not quantity. God's gift was simple but powerful: a baby born in a manger, given to teach us of the power of Love, Peace, Joy and Forgiveness. While our Christian society, both those “year-round” and “once a year” participants talk a good talk of putting “Christ” back into the reason for the season, I invite us all to really contemplate our holiday practices and actions, and how they are overshadowing the true meaning of Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Life is a See-Saw

Remember the see-saw? A child would sit on each end of a “plank” that was centered over a “sawhorse”. We'd take turns going up and down, the goal doing so smoothly, evenly, with balance. Sometimes your see-saw partner would decide to hit the monkey bars and off he or she'd go, leaving the see-saw partner crashing to the ground with a hard thud. That feeling of the bottom dropping out from under us as the see-saw responds to gravity's pull leaves us caught off guard, shaken.

Life is like a see-saw. Our goal is to live life in balance, not in one extreme or another. Imbalance occurs in the most positive as well as negative experiences. The start of a wonderful romantic connection can create imbalance in one's life as it's arrival creates disorientation and distraction. The loss of a loved one, expected or unexpected, creates imbalance in one's life, creating overwhelm and a feeling of dangling upside down. Regardless the see-saw experience, it leaves us feeling topsy-turvy, out of control, dazed and confused.

I use to believe the goal in life was to maintain balance at all times; I'm learning keeping life in balance all the time is impossible. The true goal is to know the balance within me, my Center, so that as life around me shifts, (and life is ever shifting) I can move through the shifts Centered and balanced within. I can't balance Life. Life is a force of its own.

Change happens. A new love interest happens. A new career position happens. A death of a loved one happens. Illness happens. And these expected or unexpected changes can leave us feeling like the child on a see-saw left hanging in mid-air before crashing with a thud to the ground. Everything we knew, trusted and managed in our routine called life is disrupted. If we know balance within our Center, our anchor in God, we can stand in the midst of the chaos of change, and therefore, move through the ripples of life's waves with greater grace and ease.

To know our Center is to regularly commune with God. Our Center is God, the inner beacon of Light that emanates our divinity. It connects us in the Oneness of Life expressed all around us. To connect with God, we pray, meditate, breathe deeply, sit quietly and listen. We take time out from the chaos of life, no matter the circumstances, to connect and feel God's presence in whatever way is meaningful to us: church, reading spiritual material, journal, nature walks, music, creativity. To know our Center, to firmly connect with this anchor, we must commune regularly when feeling balance on the see-saw of Life, and most definitely when circumstances leave us feeling imbalanced in the chaos of change. To center, we focus on being present, focused in each and every moment, the vantage point from which to best manage each and every ripple of change we are experiencing.

Yes, we will be left on the ground after the “thud” wondering, “what the hell happened?” In the movie Eat Pray Love, Ketut tells Liz we must lose balance in love to find balance in life. I've seen this movie over a dozen times, and always wondered what this meant. Now I get it.

Love. Health. Family. Death. We must lose balance in order to find balance in life. We often avoid changes in our lives because the upheaval of said change creates imbalance within them. We avoid changes when they would be better for us and others, or offer something greater than we already have or know. We fight changes when they are imposed upon us by others, or Life. If we seek love in our life, we must lose balance in what we know in order to incorporate a different and more fulfilling type of balance. If we seek a new career with greater opportunity, we must lose balance in order to learn a new and improved balancing act of being. If we lose a relationship, or a loved one in death, we must experience the imbalance in order to create an openness to new possibilities and growth for a different kind of balance.

Our Center, God, is our see-saw partner. If we are unfamiliar with this Center, we become sorely aware of its absence in the imbalance of life. When anchored in our Center, we can better manage, if not ease the “thuds” of change as we maintain or recalibrate a new balance on the teeter-totter of life.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Gift of One's Heart

I'm learning a lot about myself lately, and my heart. For many years I tightly guarded my heart after others disappointed, abandoned and/or simply abused it. Over the last few years, I've found the courage to open my heart again, risking it despite the heartache of the past. In opening my heart, I was able to release heartache, through the process of healing and forgiveness, of both myself and others. I spent a lot of time on the initial clean up of an emotional mess left unattended for many years. Now, regular maintenance is required, on an “as needed” basis. Over the last few months, life has required me to do some deeper cleaning and clearing.

Through this latest process, I realize I share my heart freely, authentically; I hold nothing back. I open it to most people, and I've learned to trust my intuitive guidance when discretion is necessary. I also realize giving my heart to others still involves risking its exposure to bitterness stemming from the recipient's own low self esteem or shame. I risk being taken advantage of by those with self-serving agendas. I also risk my heart being accepted, then left hanging out to dry, unattended and alone. Opening one's heart involves a great deal of risk. Having kept my heart behind a steel wall for many years, there are days I question my decision to open it up to others.

My heart is full of love, and it aches to share the overflow of love within it. When shared, my heart is not always warmly received, appreciated, or even accepted. My heart extends love to my closest friends who recognize, honor and reciprocate the precious gift of love and the courage it took for me to share my heart fully with them. I extend my heart to my family who, like most typical families, take it for granted, except my mother who always let me know how much she appreciated and valued my expressions of love. Over the years, I've offered my heart to many men who: abused and battered out of their own sense of unworthiness; was blinded by fear of its loving light; took for granted my heart's selfless devotion of its love; simply didn't want, or know how or what to do with it, and/or mismanaged it. I offer my heart to strangers, people in need, students, and clients. I offer my heart through my writing.

Whenever someone demonstrates a lack of appreciation, respect or care towards my offering, I continue to re-serve him or her my heart again, and again, and again, to a point where its is left bruised, exhausted, and in pain. Perhaps I'm making up for time lost when I withheld my heart from the world; or maybe I'm avoiding rejection, which would imply then, I believe its my loss if someone does not accept with appreciation my heart. I'm realizing in this latter possibility, “no,” that's not true.

Upon one's rejection of my heart, despite my countless attempts to offer it, my heart and I retreat and engage in an inner debate about returning to the steel prison from which it came. With each person's refusal, I'm recognizing my pattern of subjecting myself to continuous rejection with each attempt to give my heart away. Continuously subjugating oneself to another's rejection is an acceptance in belief one is unworthy of something better. Perhaps, maybe, I need to offer my heart in the same fashion they offer the finality of sales at auctions: “Going once, going twice, gone......!”

I believe in people, often times more than they believe in themselves, and their potential to receive and generously give love from their own heart. Many beautiful people I've met just once in my life, and many who have remained an integral part of my life, have shared their hearts freely, and together, we created a beautiful heart connection, loving unconditionally, believing in each other. In my family life, I unconditionally love but without sacrificing my heart for acceptance. In my friendships, I hold close to me those who value my heart, and release with blessings of love from afar those who take it for granted.

And in my romantic life, I'm learning my heart deserves, at minimum, its equal in willingness, respect, and appreciation of its expression of love and care for another, and nothing less. I'm beginning to understand for me to tolerate anything less is simply me not loving and valuing myself and my heart. And if this is the case, how can I possibly expect another to love and value my heart and its generosity?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Soul Teachers on Our Journey

Throughout our lives, we meet people who are soul teachers. Other souls traveling in the human experience cross our paths in a variety of ways: directly and indirectly; briefly and longer periods of time; violently and peacefully; eventfully and uneventfully; lovingly and hatefully, etc. Each of these encounters are classrooms in which we consciously learn something about ourselves through soul to soul contact, that is, if we are willing to learn from the experiences. Some believe we come into the human experience to “remember” and reconnect to the knowing of our soul essence: God within us, as us. We experience Life to more closely align with the divinity within. Sometimes our life experiences are hurtful and painful, and other times, exciting and enjoyable. They may be quiet, uneventful, but impressionable. The level of willingness to opening our awareness to a deeper understanding determines the extent of wisdom we will glean from the experience.

You and I both have experienced interactions with people that left us feeling less than, inadequate, or insignificant; in which we were left feeling empty, violated, or worthless. And yet, other experiences have left us wanting more for ourselves, joyous and inspired. Each and every person with whom we connect is a soul mate. We may not always understand from the human perspective why people do what they do, why people are taken from us with and without warning, or why people leave us feeling hurt, betrayed, or unwanted. These encounters often leave the deepest impression which are oversized invitations for our healing of something within. The significant experiences of life are etched into our memories. Personally, my spiritual wisdom files titled “Lessons Learned” and “Healing Projects” are busting at the seams; however, lately, I am moved to pay closer attention to the quieter, non-dramatic lessons my soul mates in Life are teaching me.

Recently, I shared a confidence about myself with a friend that I trust; despite that trust, I felt immense apprehension around doing so. I feared rejection, concerned my friend would be repulsed by my past experience. I prepared to be shunned, and steeled myself for it. Our Human Ego can create such drama in our minds first, only to generate unnecessary inner turmoil which feeds the externalization of the imagined drama made manifest. Upon confiding in my friend with bated breath, the reaction I got was surprisingly uneventful. There was silence, an acknowledgment of the information, and a reassurance it was okay. After a brief exchange around it, we were on to another topic for discussion. And interestingly, I felt awkward; this unconditional non-judgmental acceptance was not what I was expecting, so much so I silently questioned perhaps my friend didn't hear me, or understood what I said! Yet time kept on moving, as if the subject had never come up. The past was the past, and we were in the present moving forward.

I realized later this beautiful soul was teaching me to unconditionally accept myself. My precursory upset and fear wasn't about my friend's reaction, but rather how I felt about myself. I was rejecting myself, feeling repulsed by my past, and projecting that onto my friend. In that loving soul to soul teaching moment, I realized how unconditionally accepting I strive to be of others, yet had left one important person off that list – me!

Who are your soul teachers in this life? They may appear in a variety of ways, but those with whom we are closest, with whom we have the greatest challenges and greatest joys are our biggest teachers. But today, I invite you to examine the everyday smaller events in your life: the exchange with the checkout lady or the UPS man, or a co-worker you deal with daily. What might they teach you as they cross your path in Life's journey? Our Soul Teachers may serve as mirrors to reflect back an aspect of who we are, or what we desire to be or not be. Or in a brief yet meaningful exchange, they may teach you something invaluable about yourself. Smile when you meet these individuals, and silently acknowledge their soul. Thank them for touching base with you in this dimensional realm.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mountains and Valleys

Life is filled with ups and downs. I remember when younger, before traveling on this spiritual enlightenment journey, telling people, “Life is full of ups and downs; you can't have the peaks without the valleys.” I would remember this mantra when facing life challenges in my young adult life, but funny I had not thought of it in the last few years. In doing so now, I must chuckle at the fact I left Colorado, home of the Rocky Mountains, to return to Browns Valley, Kentucky. Oh, the irony! Since then, my life has felt as if its been in a valley. I've enjoyed abundance of hilltop views throughout the experience, but only in the last few months am I feeling the pull of the mountainside – and heading in that direction.

When you've been in a valley for any length of time, the depths of despair, struggle and aimlessness gives reason to pause before taking on a mountain climb. There's usually hopelessness, doubt and an insecurity in making the trek higher. A mountain climber can not make his climb without gear; without it, little to no progress would be made up the jagged and rocky path. Hope and Faith are the “equipment” for this journey. Additionally, the climber focuses on the path ahead, not on the drop of the valley depths below from which he's climbed. Climbing mountains is steep work, and requires we reach far beyond what we believe we are capable of reaching. There's always a risk of falling, and the mountain climber heeds confident awareness in his climb, ever respectful of the distance from where he started to where he is. In traveling up the ascending walls from out of the valley, we may tend to focus on what we've leave behind and have known, the depths of despair and our history within it. A mountain climber focuses on what's in front of him, and travels in confidence of the mountain's new heights and all its majesty await to receive him with open arms.

In my Life's latest Valley, I found commiseration with others who enjoy the comfort in the depth of the drama rendering helplessness, hopelessness, misery and despair. Using every ounce of strength I had left in me, I decided to make my climb out of it. It's a choice; it ain't easy; and the effort requires greater drive and determination as you begin the trek. The Dogs of Despair nip at your heels, attempting to pull you back down into the muck and mire of the Valley's dark depth. The initial effort is the hardest, but with perseverance, you move out of its reach to continue the journey upward.

Out of the shadows of the valley, I feel sunshine on my face once again. I can see a new horizon high above me. This climb requires due diligence, consciousness, effort, and the climbing equipment of Hope, Faith, Determination, Patience and Courage. Many times I catch myself wondering when I'll fall (a.k.a. when is the other shoe going to drop?). In this momentary thought process, my Hope line gets tangled, opening me up to doubt, thus risking my tumble down into the Valley. With due diligence and a consciousness to my effort each step of the way, I secure my Faith which allows me to clear my Hope for a stronger grip as I pull myself upward. I continue on, slowly, intentionally, and with courageous perseverance. I focus on the mountain peak ahead, less on the Valley and all it was. When I briefly look back to assess my progress, I bless the Valley in gratitude for the wisdom and strength mined from within myself to make this mountain climb.

Stopping and resting along the climb is required as it allows me to reassess my travel conditions, reassess my navigational plan, and to recalibrate my intention that carry me towards my vision. I must routinely check and maintain my climbing equipment: Faith and Hope, Determination, Patience, and Courage. These tools are key to the success of this climb. I must also nurture myself along the way, and celebrate the progress I've made.

I'm climbing a new mountain once again. There are times it's exhausting, and the pull of the Valley beckons. In those moments, it would appear easier to give up and give in, a choice many often choose. With a quick nod of acknowledgment, I move forward, keeping my eyes on the peak high above. With that focus, I feel the strong magnetic pull of that which I desire. Often the journey feels slow, but with each step, progress is made. With each day, steps are taken. And in time, the sun's warmth on my face grows stronger and I relish in its glow. It nourishes my Hope, infuses my Faith. I strengthen my hold of Determination and find more Courage as distance grows between the Valley and me. I see the Mountain Peak; it is there I shall stand in the fullest glory of my Life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 - May We Remember the Unity and Oneness

September 11, 2001. No doubt we each remember where we were that fateful morning when the U.S. was attacked by terrorists. No doubt we each remember the feelings that coursed through us as the morning moved into afternoon, afternoon into evening, evening into night as the realization of what happened began to sink in.

The images are etched into our memory. But do we as a country remember the oneness that resulted because of this attack? Do we remember that solidarity of being United, being in this together? Given the recent goings-on in Washington around the economy, the deficit, and the sniping between parties, we have not witnessed a sense of “being in this together” within our governmental system Arrogance; pride; personal and political agendas; ugliness; defamation; finger-pointing; this is what we’ve seen demonstrated, not that of unity within our government.

Unfortunately, it takes a 9/11 to bring us together. It takes the death of many to realize how great we’ve got it, to shift our focus off our political agendas and petty differences and onto working together, doing what’s best for the country as a whole. Everyone is full of opinions but we are an emotional country – we react, and then we react in reaction. This method is how our government has been run of late, not just by our president, but by our senators and representatives, and most of all, we the people. We the people can choose to support the unfocused energy of politicizing and bad-mouthing or demand of all who are in charge, Congress and the Administration alike, to stop bickering in selfishness and party-righteousness, and come together in oneness to work together.

Tomorrow, we honor the ten-year anniversary of a devastating event that scarred firsthand hundreds of thousands of lives, and singed those of us who witnessed the brutal attack on our country. Let this anniversary remind us that red or blue, left or right, conservative or liberal, we are ALL in this together, and the only way we will survive is if we work together collectively and consciously to what is the highest and best for everyone, not just the elite or the poor.

May the souls of those who perished September 11, 2011 rest in peace with our Maker Above, and may the families and friends find comfort in this country’s appreciation for their sacrifice, especially those who gave their lives on this day in service to innocent victims of misguided self-serving believers of a faith misunderstood.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Obituary Never Published

Today, September 3, marks the two-year anniversary of my mother’s transition. Below is the obituary I wrote when we were making final funeral arrangements with her before her cancer worsened. If you read my blogs, you know I openly share my heart. Evidently, expressing my heart in this obituary was a bit overwhelming for my family; so, we ended up going with the traditional run-of-the-mill obituary seen daily in newspapers. I recently found this version while going through a plastic tub filled with old photos mom and I had sorted in the months preceding her death. And so, finally published is this version that speaks my heart; and what I wanted the world to know about how wonderful my mom was. Love ya, momma.

Jane Murphy Smith passed from this life on September 3, 2009 after a battle with renal cell cancer. Born November 9, 1939 in Weakley County, Tennessee, she was the daughter to her loving father Elvin “Doc” Murphy and mother Delma Oliver Roney.

Jane was married to her beloved and devoted husband, Dennis, for forty-five years, and resided at their home in Browns Valley, KY. Together they raised two children, Carolyn Denise and Steven Christopher. Jane retired from Williams Pipeline in 2002 after fourteen years of service. She was a member of Owensboro Christian Church.

A wonderful mother, Jane sewed clothes for her children in their younger years, served as a PTA and band mom, and set them straight through their adolescent years. As a beloved wife, she was Dennis’ partner in building a beautiful home on the hill overlooking Browns Valley. Her legacy lives on in her many flower gardens of lilies, roses, daffodils, and iris, to name a few. Jane stocked the cupboards with canned and frozen vegetables from the family gardens, and with jellies, jams, and frozen fruit pies from the family’s orchard. Ever the animal lover, she cared for her devoted dogs Candy, Oakley, Mitch, Mandy and Lady until laid to rest in the Smith pet cemetery. Wild birds knew where to land to find safe haven for food and a warm birdbath. A crafts and Martha Stewart enthusiast, Jane designed silk flower arrangements for the home and the tombstones of loved ones. The holidays were special with her beautifully-decorated Christmas Trees and wrapped gifts; holiday spirit filled the house with her snowmen, Santa Claus and Department 56 Dickens Village collections. A wonderful cook and homemaker, she created a warm and loving home for family and friends.

An avid fan of road trips, Jane enjoyed traveling with her husband, taking in thirty-four of the fifty states; farthest north to New York, east to Maine, south to Louisiana, and west to Utah. She visited twenty-five state capitols and completed her collection of all the newest states’ quarters.
Jane’s last request asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to support the efforts of the Owensboro Humane Society, in memory of her love for dogs, and to Hospice of Western Kentucky that supported her and her family through her transition from this life.

Jane is survived by her husband, Dennis C. Smith, and two children, Carolyn Smith Ferber of Longmont, Colorado, and Steven C. Smith and his wife, Sheri, and their sons, her grandchildren, Tyler and Logan, all of Frankfort, Kentucky. She is also survived by her sister, Reba Adams Callins of Greenfield, Tennesse, and Robert Adams of Sharon, Tennessee.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Coyote, Grasshopper, Meadowlark & Dove Conspire

Animals, insects, reptiles and birds are great teachers for life if we are willing to heed their lessons. Native Americans have long held these creatures with the highest regard as communicators of wisdom. It is believed that when you have an out-of-the-ordinary experience with an animal, it is purposeful to our journey. One may encounter the same animal many times, or once in an unexpected crossing of paths.

In the last two weeks, a Coyote pup, a Grasshopper, a Meadowlark, and a Dove have conspired to present their lessons to me in an "in your face" kind of way. In three out of the four encounters, the creature was dead. I’ve been told that when an animal sacrifices itself in this way, it is so that we may be startled awake to the message loud and clear, and that their sacrifice is worthy of highest honor and respect. While I cringe over their demise, I’m honored by their selfless effort so that I may receive their message of wisdom without fail or waste.

My first encounter was during an early morning country road walk. The coyote pup must've been freshly hit during the night. Coyotes are around but never had I experienced a close encounter or a pup. While annoying to many, coyotes are regarded as teachers and creators. They are playful and very skillful, but too often look for shortcuts to get what they want, making things more complicated than necessary. There was no surprise in my understanding Coyote’s medicine because my impatience tends to “fast-forward” my journey to the end result rather than relax into it with simplicity and trust. I also lose sight of my playful side, becoming bogged by the seriousness of life. The fact that this coyote was a pup further prompts me to reawaken my childlike wisdom in response to the world and its chaos, so that I may move through it with greater poise and adaptive ability. Often as we age, we become less comfortable with and more rigid to change. Coyote invites me to keep things simple, trust in the process and its unfolding, and to rely on my intuitive faculties to adapt and move through the travel of change.

One evening, I was walking down the darkened hallway when I saw something at the baseboard; at first I thought it was a spider but when it jumped upon my closer inspection, I discovered it was a grasshopper in the house! Grasshoppers represent uncanny leaps forward and remind us to get off our haunches and MOVE; to take a chance and leap forward. Often in change, we freeze in fear, thus we take no action. We simply stay where we are and “deal” with whatever isn’t working for us. Grasshopper reassured me that my taking action was positive movement forward. But when taking action, I get impatient with the progress (notice a pattern here?). When we find things aren’t moving or flowing the way it does for others, we may feel we're left standing still while others seem to be making step-by-step progress. The Grasshopper’s long and large hind legs give it the ability to leap the distance twenty time’s it size. Grasshopper’s cameo appearance asks me to not become discouraged in my efforts and to know that there is about to be movement that will carry me forward by leaps and bounds! Grasshopper also finds the “sunny side of the mound” so it enjoys the warmth and Light of the sun, and in doing so, knows when to make its leap. Grasshopper reminds me to stay in the Light v. the Shadow of despair and discouragement, so that I may listen more clearly to my inner voice and know when to make my next move in any area of my life.

The bird was lying on the road’s edge, its form perfect, as if it was asleep. I first saw it while walking Casey one evening, and gave wide berth to keep her from investigating it. I anticipated that by morning a creature of the night would pick it up for its meal. But the next morning, and again later that afternoon, this bird remained in the same place, untouched. I picked it up by his tail feathers to move it into the hedge row that runs parallel to the roadside so its carcass would be left undisturbed by scavengers and car tires. It was then I noticed its bright yellow chest, and realized it was a Meadowlark. Meadowlarks teach the cheerful journey inward and the movement associated with self discovery. Unlike most birds, Meadowlark sings cheerily in flight where other birds sing on a perch. It lives in open meadows which symbolize positive growth and fertility. The Meadowlark offered me the lesson to find joy in going within my Inner Self to find ways to sing within my life’s conditions, and to recognize and remember that every individual event in my life is a part of the greater journey. A conspiring accomplice to Coyote, this bird reminds me that the joy of the quest is not in reaching the destination but rather in the journey itself.

Finally, today, a Dove flew into our patio door so fatally hard it sounded as if someone had thrown a rock. The Dove is my favorite bird, and it saddened me to know of its violent sacrifice to remind me to have peace as I move through this transition of what has been to what shall be. The Dove’s song can be heard throughout the day but is more distinct at dawn and dusk, the “between times” that represents the thin veil between the past and the future. The Dove helps me to remember to use this "in between" time to see the creation process active within my own life. In doing so, I am alerted to remember the promise of my future yet to be seen, while staying peacefully present in each moment of my journey. The Dove is a symbol of peace, and today, sweet Dove reminds me that peace can only be found within, never from anything or anyone outside of me or in the outer world.

The Dove and Meadowlark conspire to teach me that peace and joy are found only through the process of going within (meditation, quiet reflection, prayer, and contemplation of self) to discover that true peace and joy can only be found within. Coyote reminds me that my efforts to move forward need not be complicated, but rather simple, without struggle or drama, and to assert myself in complete trust so that I will, much like Grasshopper, move forward by leaps and bounds as I find my courage on the sunny side of up.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

An Open Letter & Relationships

“It saddens me. But I am the one responsible. I am the one that didn’t see things as they were. I was the one that was so desperate for a connection that I lowered my standards to feel less alone. I was the one who didn’t “see” or just out-right ignored the signs when they started showing up. I was the one who tolerated the inadequacies of our relationship and kept silent for too long about my feelings. I was the one who chose to ignore the issues, gave benefits of doubt not once, but many, many times in the hope that the beauty I saw beneath the veneer of insecurity, manipulation, anger (at self, others and the world), abusiveness when I stood my ground, disrespect, and saboteur choices would spring forth. I saw the real you – your heart, your spirit, that God essence within you and I stuck it out because I believed in it, in you.
But my belief in you, in your heart, in your spirit wasn’t strong enough to overcome the lack of belief in yourself.

And ultimately, in my efforts to extract that part of who you really are into fuller expression, I lost. I lost sight of who I am in the subjugation of verbal and emotional abuse demonstrated through hurtful hateful words, critical judgment, and negative falsehoods shared in covering up your inability to sustain a healthy relationship, all so that you wouldn’t have to deal with your stuff. I lost faith, thankfully for only for a brief time, in my own ability to see through the façade and appearances that served you in our relationship. In my effort to preserve your sense of self, I lost courage, perhaps even gave up my right, to stand up for myself and what I deserve as an equitable, respectful and communicative relationship with another. I lost sight of my values, my personal standards, and my principles as I re-negotiated them for your benefit and the benefit of our relationship’s survival.

But just as importantly, and the hardest of all, I lost you and our relationship because I needed to be who I am, and not change or conform to what and how you expected me to be within our relationship. Nor could I ask you to do the same.

So now, we move on and our relationship changes. I move forward with greater wisdom and a greater consciousness. I’m not sure what happened, or even how it came to pass, but I know that each of us was at choice through the entire process. I can only take responsibility for my part, and that can be a bitter taste of Humble pie that many won’t even consider trying. I lean into such opportunities because I seek to live wiser, more authentically, surrounded by people who mutually share my values and principles, who mutually value and unconditionally love all that I offer in a relationship – my feelings, my thoughts, my faults, my opinions, my quirks, my needs, my compassion, my open-mindedness, my honesty, my heart, and even, my willingness to give above and beyond (what is sometimes unhealthy for me) to make a relationship work because of my belief and ability to see the highest and best in others. So thank you. Thank you and your soul for serving as my teacher so I may be wiser, more aware and to expect more from a relationship. Thank you for being you.”

This is an open letter to everyone with whom I’ve had a relationship – work, friend, romantic, family, etc. I’ve been pondering of late the concept of relationships in all areas of my life, and somewhere along my journey over the last few years I’ve chosen less than stellar relationships. I regret none of them. But in sifting through the experiences, I must look at my state of being in and through these connections. If we are to grow, improve and change our life’s experiences, we must always look at ourselves first – how we showed up, the choices we made, and where we surrendered our values, principles, our personal standards and power. This isn’t an easy task but if one truly wants to make changes for the better in one’s life, it means taking a cold hard look at ourselves with an objective yet constructively critical eye. We must also consider information via others’ perspectives, opinions and choices relevant to those relationships – for the law of cause and effect is forever at work. For every action there is a reaction, which begets yet another action.

I am blessed to have a few sounding boards that I not only trust and respect, but who trust me to share their perspective, knowing that I value their opinion, recognizing that while I will give it serious consideration, I may not adopt it as my gospel truth. Only I can discern my own truth which reflects in how I show up in life through my thinking, my choices, my actions and my manner with others. Living a lie, pretending to be someone I’m not demands a great deal of energy and can be exhausting. Lying to ourselves is much easier, but ultimately, is less spiritually fulfilling, and will never yield the inner peace and harmony we all seek in this life. I’d rather sift through the muck of my mistakes and rise from the ashes with greater self-respect and –love knowing that what the world sees when I move through it is the authentic me. Oh, and do this enough, the taste of humble pie grows on you.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Foundation of Friendship

Friendships. Many types of friendships are experienced in one’s life. We have acquaintances in which you know someone with whom you’re friendly but you expend no additional time or energy on them except when your paths cross, or one or the other wants something. Then there are the ever-popular virtual friendships of Facebook. “Virtual” is a great word to describe these connections because most have never met in person, connect electronically via IM chats, and have less depth than those of acquaintances simply by the lack of personal contact. These are safe, low-risk emotional investments because they allow people to be someone they aren’t, or the person they are because they lack the confidence to do so in a live connection. There are “common ground” friendships; these bonding connections share something in common: work, a similar life experience, a person in common, past history, etc. These relationships can have depth and be meaningful as these friendships stand on one shared pillar if both parties are willing to expand the friendship by building other pillars for durability. Then there are those friendships in which “everyone” is your friend; genuine caring and concern is expressed for all to a point. Whether on the giving or receiving end, an instant connection of mutual understanding is felt as two people experience validation for the currently churned up misery, upset or turmoil that is experienced in life. Finally, there are those friendships that feed the participants in some way, either temporarily or long-term: sympathy, empathy, validation, confidence boosts, sense of belonging, victim pity, etc.

Each and every friendship mentioned above is valid and valuable in some way, as long as both individuals within the relationship are getting what they need and want. But are they healthy friendships? Are these supportive friendships that endure the rough seas of life and allow each person within it to grow? Do these friendships honor one’s personal power and authentic self-expression; filled with mutual respect, unconditionally acceptance and love? How deeply rooted in honesty and trust are these friendships?

Strong and healthy friendships are built to last on a foundation of trust, unconditional love and acceptance, honesty, and compassion. Just as a house can endure the elements of stormy weather, a true friendship will sustain itself in good times and in challenges through disagreement, crises, life’s transitional curve balls, and even distance. Foundations of frienships must be tended to with a conscious effort and willingness to do whatever it takes to maintain its fortitude. Just as a house foundation needs pest control to eliminate termites that can leave weak spots, and proper drainage to eliminate erosion around its base, a friendship must also be maintained to ensure that its foundation is not weakened or eaten away with pestilent activity such as demeaning language, dismissive regard for feelings, disrespect, or self-righteousness. These behaviors are the “termites” that will kill the longevity and stability of the foundation of a healthy friendship.

In contemplating friendships, I realized I’d forgotten what true friendship is and that I may have taken such beautiful friendships I have in Colorado for granted. I left behind beautiful people who I proudly call my friends. Together, we shared intimate vulnerabilities of the good, the bad and the ugly of our lives, which brought us even closer together as we recognized our soul connections through our human imperfections in our journey towards personal growth and spiritual healing. We unconditionally accept each other, regardless of our choices and human flaws; we see beyond the external into the beautiful Divine Lights within our spirit. We unconditionally love each other without judgment, criticism or condemnation. Through our shared past mistakes, poor choices, heartaches, regrets and less than stellar performances in this life experience, we connected deeply as we built a solid foundation of friendship based not on the "perfection" in which we project to the world, but rather the imperfections solidified in healing to create a united strength. Through this unified bond, we liberated ourselves and each other from the need to be “perfect” in this Life and world. We ceased living a life of lies as we surrendered our facades of “perfection” to express ourselves genuinely, authentically to each other and to all who were a part of our life. Ever conscious to learning from each other, we looked to the other as the example for authentic expression of the truest depths of our hearts.

For me, these are the friendships I find meaningful and empowering. I cherish and dearly miss my spirited friends. They allow me to be me to express whatever is on my mind, be it the good, bad and the ugly, whether they agreed or disagreed. They step up as true friends and lovingly call me out on my crap when I need it, and vice versa, and yet we unconditionally accept and love each other despite our shortcomings without persecution, judgment or criticism. These friends I trust with my most intimate secrets, my fears, and my dreams. We never cheapen or corrode our friendships with divisive gossip, superficial concern, or self-serving manipulation. We have each other’s backs and unconditionally support each other in whatever paths we choose to travel.

Thank you, Laura, Mary, Deb, Barb, Jane, Maggie, Lynn, Ba, Dena, Jan, Jim, Tami, Kelly, Tana, and Cheri. You and the qualities you bring to our friendship are the bench mark for all friendships in my life. Though we are separated by distance, I know the energetic bond between us lives strong. My love and heartfelt gratitude to you for teaching me what true friendship really means!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Moving Forward in Gravel Face-Plants

Over the last month, I’ve contemplated my life and my choices over the last three years, and everything that’s happened. There have been moments where I felt resentment towards Life itself for “pulling the rug out” from under me. Other times I’ve felt that it was everyone else’s fault that things didn’t work out in my life – loss of a parent, my business, a relationship, my financial affairs, etc. And then there are those crystal clear moments of absolute self-awareness in which I realize: I am the one living my life; I am the one making the choices and decisions along the way, and; I am responsible for my current state of affairs which I created through my choices and decisions. Well, shee-ott!

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population remains unaware of how powerfully they create the state of affairs in their life. We sleep walk through life, unaware of the simple fact that every choice, every decision, every action (including NOT taking action), and every word we speak influences the outcomes that we experience in our lives. For forty years of my life, I spent most of my waking days in this state of unconsciousness, completely unaware that everything I do or didn’t do creates a cause and effect. If this rings strange to you, then I invite you to participate in a reflective exercise. Consider your life as the boat, and you are the captain at the helm navigating this journey. Each decision you make as the Captain takes your boat into the direction of calm waters or stormy weather. If you willingly take an honest yet objective look at every crossroad of your journey, you will begin to see how your choices have influenced the current circumstances in your life today.

Lets it break it down in a simple example: You come across a stranger who for no apparent reason in passing gives you a dirty look. You can A) take it personally and immediately decide what a jerk that person is; B) think to yourself, hmmm, someone isn’t very nice or friendly; C) shrug it off and go about your business without giving it another thought, or; D) give him an equally dirty look clearly expressing your displeasure that you are the target of one’s scowl. In this scenario, there is no right or wrong answer; EACH ANSWER IS A SIMPLY A CHOICE that will yield an effect or consequence!

In our society of self-righteousness, in which we must label everything as “right or wrong” in the name of morality, socially-defined acceptable norms, and what I call “the Joneses standard”, the bottom line is there is no right or wrong choice, just choice. Each choice yields an outcome or result, and in the example above, there’s not even one absolute definitive outcome. Why? Because each person making the choice brings a unique memory filter of past experiences to the situation which influences the choice made. Choice A may leave you with hurt feelings that nag at you for the rest of the day, telling one or more people about how awful that person was for giving you a dirty look for no good reason. In this case, your choice is to carry the other person’s emotional baggage that he dumped on you via a dirty look, thus turning yourself into a victim, a role that you really put yourself into by taking it on. Unless you asked the other person as to why you were getting a dirty look, you have ASSUMED it was about you. This self-righteous arrogance (because you instantly made it all about you) indicates insecurity or a low sense of self. Choice B frees you of the burden of the other person’s baggage, but places you in the seat of Judge, thus passing judgment on WHO the other person is, based on one look. Judgment is another self-righteous act, and makes us feel better about ourselves when we “put others” in their place, mentally or verbally. Debbie Ford, author of “The Dark Side of Light Chasers”, states that when we are judging others, those we judge are the mirrors of our own self reflection. Choice D reciprocates the dirty look, which creates the potentiality for a further unpleasant experience via your invite for confrontation. In this choice, you are dumping your emotional baggage of insecurity, etc. on to the other person. In any of these choices, one is taking the dirty look personally and making a huge assumption that it has anything to do with him or her. Perhaps, the person just had a fight with a loved one, is in physical pain, just lost a loved-one, or received bad news that he or she is losing a job? Or maybe s/he is just angry at the world and is taking it out on everyone!

Regardless of the reasoning behind the dirty look, Choice C invites us to simply dismiss the dirty look and not assume anything by it – a.k.a. not take it personally. Unfortunately, most people shift into automatic pilot and take other people’s opinions, thoughts, expressions, words, and actions VERY personally. Why? Because we are trained as humans to rely on external influences to feel good about ourselves. It’s why we overeat, shop beyond our financial means, have extramarital affairs, have revolving love relationships, or bitch and whine about how miserable our lives are so people can tell us we’re okay. We look to our parents to make us feel loved, friends to feel included, and lovers to know our worth as loveable. When someone looks at someone the wrong way, or says something unkind, most will take it personally because it’s a statement held in our insecure psyche that says “you’re not ok.”

When we are secure in our own sense of self, we are not easily influenced by what others say or think. We are willing to take more risks, stand by our truth and authenticity, AND be willing to fall flat on our faces when and if those choices don’t work out. When we play it safe doing what we always do, never taking responsibility for our life experiences (despite the fact WE made the choices), and/or placating others with whatever they expect of us (say, do, choose) so we feel accepted, loved, and “okay”, we stick our heads in the sand, and close ourselves off to being judged as failures, losers, etc. In doing so, we also squelch our heart and soul’s desire to fully express the joy, harmony, peacefulness, love (for self and for others), wisdom, abundance, and freedom to express authentically. Regrets, Judgment by Others and even Self-Judgment are the faces of Fear that grips many when making choices that take them “out of the box” to do something different rather than do what the they've always done or what the "Joneses" are doing. And while Fear always creeps up regardless of how self-aware and –confident one is, those who are grounded in a strong sense-of-self and self-awareness will find the courage to recognize Fear as illusion. Fears are as real as the monsters that live under our beds.

So, as I pick myself up and dust myself off yet again, and rethink my game plan for reaching my heart’s desires in this life, I’m comforted by Victor Kiam’s quote when the monster Fear rears its ugly head: “Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward.” I reflect upon past experiences, recognize my responsibility of making past choices, and I mine for the gold nuggets of wisdom. With this wisdom, I am more conscious to how I may choose more productively, understand where my pride and arrogance tripped me up, and humbly return to the Drawing Board to create a new navigational map that offers an even better and more abundant life than I’ve enjoyed thus far.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Living a Drama-free Life

Drama. In my work and daily dealings with people, I’m told they don’t like drama; and in the next breath, drama is created through their words and the charged emotional energy of upset, assumption, self-righteousness, self-defense, complaints, whining and anger. Drama is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a composition to tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue and typically designed for theatrical performance.” We all, myself included, can get caught up in the drama but it takes a great deal of self-awareness to know when one is on that “stage” and to know when to make an exit from that theatrical performance in life.

I know drama well, not just because I have two degrees in theater arts, but because I use to be a drama addict. I was the epitome of “victim” in which the world and everyone in it was against me. Life was full of angst, and I was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. When things got too quiet or were going too good, I’d stir up some drama. I’d find something wrong with someone, something to criticize or judge, or took offense to the slightest thing because I was bored(thus the addiction), and more importantly, in avoidance of looking at myself and my unhappiness. It wasn’t until I crashed and burned that I began a conscious effort of self-exploration and -awareness of my habitual patterns of behavior and emotional reaction in coping with life. I came to realize that I was my own worst enemy. With further support of counseling, life coaching and spiritual teachings, I began the healing work of past hurt and experiences. I owned my part in the responsibility of past dramas through my choices, actions and behavior, thus releasing the baggage of pride, victimization, hurt, grudges, anger, resentment, and the need to be right and better than everyone else in order to feel better about myself.

Drama fills an inner need to feel counted in this world, to feel alive, even in misery; it stems from insecurity, low self-esteem and a sense that we are not in control of our life. The problem is that it becomes such a way of life that we are completely oblivious to how we perpetuate it and show up in it; thus the lack of self-awareness. I saw a wonderful statement on a church billboard this morning that said, “It’s difficult to see the picture when you’re inside the frame.” It rings similar to the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees” which means that each tree blocks a part of our vision until there are so many trees that you cannot see. Each drama that we add and proactively create and/or in which we participate represents a tree.

If we truly desire a drama-free life, we don’t engage in the emotional energy of the latest indiscretion by taking something personally, minor setbacks in a situation, or when something happens. We are human, and as humans we have emotion, so venting that emotion is important if it’s done in a healthy way. However, targeting that emotion towards another person or in a situation is not healthy or productive, but rather drama-inducing. Venting involves privately releasing one’s emotionally-charged thoughts and opinions. Once released, we let it go and forget about it, or deal with the situation for a resolution. If the issue lingers in one’s mind and heart, then there’s an invitation for deeper healing around some past baggage left unchecked. Additionally, it may be an invitation to have a voice, which includes having a productive dialogue to directly deal with the situation in order to move forward. Fuming, bitching about it, holding onto resentment and grudges, defending oneself in and around it, whining and rehashing the details through the retelling of one’s story to anyone who will listen serves only to feed the drama.

So yes, we all have our moments when we are pissed and upset. Let’s exhale that energy in a productive way. Call a friend; ask if you can vent, then let it fly. Upon completion, take a deep breath then begin self-inquiry: What about that set me off? What makes me feel a need to be defensive? Is this situation really bothering me, or is it something that happened in my past that I haven’t resolved and forgiven? Inquiry helps us shift energetic gears from “D” into “P”: drama into peace. If you ask questions before shooting off emotionally-charged bullets, fewer people, including yourself get hurt, and greater understanding and forgiveness occurs.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nurturing Our Fragile Ego

Life can be challenging. Things happen. And sometimes, things happen that trigger our old stuff, such as the upset of a past relationship that didn’t work out, the loss of a loved one, an incident at work, or another dark time in our past. These past experiences surface in invitation for healing. Unfortunately, we’ve learned to stuff those old feelings back down (thus the terminology “old stuff”), but doing so beckons future invitations for the old stuff to resurface, and usually, with greater intensity and often an emotionally crippling effect.

When dealing with old fears, anxieties and heartache, we must recognize that the part of us that makes us human, the Ego, is crying out and needing some attention, much like a child that’s feeling neglected by not getting its needs met. What the Ego wants is comforting, reassurance of security and safety, healing. It needs to know that it’s okay, that it’s not being ignored. But we stuff those icky feelings that surface, like parents telling little children, “Stop your crying! Buck up!” or “Get over it! Stop making it such a big deal," rather than heeding these cries of help from Ego.

When we nurture and love the tender Ego and all its neurosis, we are actually nurturing and loving ourselves. All too often we fall short in loving ourselves, choosing instead self-criticism for being emotional, judging ourselves for not being “over it”, weak and vulnerable. We re-stuff those emotions and profess to all who inquire, “I’m fine,” plowing forward steeled against the world in a new layer of protective walls.

I use to be that person. Since adolescence, I hid behind the many walls of protective layers of “I’m fine” until I learned that it was actually okay to have my feelings, to not be “fine” all the time, to feel emotion, and that it was normal and natural to do so. Thus began my journey of healing, releasing the intense feelings of old stale emotions I’d long stuffed inside with denial, food, television escapism, alcohol, boys, drama, victimization, and shopping. We all have addictions, legal and illegal, that help us avoid and stuff these emotions and shore up walls. Once the walls started coming down, it's gut wrenching and I felt exposed; but a healing process began, and the authentic me came out of the self-imposed prison (which I learned to build from a number of influencers in my life).

Once free, the human Ego feels naked, vulnerable and uncertain of how to “be” or “exist” in this new space, a similar experience when a ward of the prison system is released after years of living a very guarded life on the inside. Upon release, it’s a new world, and for Ego, it consists of learning to trust again, to not instantly recoil in fear at the slightest stumble as life happens. And as you and your Ego begin this new journey of greater self-awareness and understanding, your Ego may reactivate old fears to shift you into familiar patterns of coping, stuffing and hiding behind walls. During this fragile time, you must nurture the Ego as it and you undergo these changes; reassuring yourself and Ego, much like we reassure a frightened child that’s lost in a foreign place that all will be okay, it’s safe, and to choose courage as you move forward, despite the fear.

How we talk to ourselves is very important in this process; loving self-talk that affirms we are capable, we are loved, even if aren’t feeling it from the world. Taking time to support these growth opportunities honors Ego’s willingness to move from simply “dealing” into “healing.” Simple things such as a walk through a flower garden, a bubble bath, reading spiritually-motivating material, journaling, or meditation are but a few ways to help move along the bumpy road of churned up feelings. Once over the humps, celebrate the healing process and nurture Ego with positive affirmations, such as “Yea me, I am worthy of freedom from past hurts” and “God unconditionally loves me, and so I love myself!” Treat yourself with an in-home spa treatment, an evening with a special friend, or fresh cut flowers to celebrate. The key is that the nurturing of Self is healthy and not a flashback to old coping patterns.

Instead of resisting the gunk that arises as you move through life's challenges, give yourself permission to stop the merry-go-round of life, face the choppy waves of emotion to learn, grow, and heal. This is the place where wisdom is gleaned. Then honor yourself for easing the burden you carry from your past. This work of facing past heartache and darkness isn’t easy, it takes a great deal of courage; but with the right support, the right tools with which to process through it, it can be a liberating experience that brings greater joy, love and harmony into your life.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Daughter’s Appreciation

Everywhere mothers’ will be revered and celebrated. This holiday is the second Mother's Day since my mom has been gone, and many of you will be missing your mom as I will be this weekend. I’m sharing this poem, which my dad found in a stack of cards my mom had tucked away, that I wrote for my mom for her last Mother’s Day 2009.

If you still have your mother, I encourage you to write your own poem that lets your mom really know how you feel, beyond the Hallmark card, beyond the flowers, beyond the dinner out, beyond the gift.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all, and for those who are missing your mother, know she’s listening from beyond. Just tell her what you want to say, how you feel, and she will hear it. Our moms are always with us in Spirit.

A Daughter’s Appreciation by Carolyn Ferber

Thank you for being my mom.

Thank you for letting me cry, then and now.

Thank you for comforting me, then and now.

Thank you for the clothing on my back, and the smacks on my backside.

Thank you for creating a comfortable home, and the blood, sweat and tears to do so.

Thank you for all the food you grew, canned, froze and cooked.

Thank you for your support, even when you didn’t agree with my choices.

Thank you for tolerating my adolescence and young adult years as I stretched my own wings to try them out.

Thank you for laughing at my jokes and laughing with me.

Thank you for the Easter baskets, the Santa Christmases, the Valentine’s, and the birthday celebrations.

Thank you for letting me play my music loud, and letting me be a slob in my bedroom.

Thank you for the health care, and the tender, loving care.

Thank you for teaching me independence and responsibility.

Thank you for letting me laugh the way I love to laugh.

Thank you for letting me be myself, even when it was frustrating or you didn’t understand.

Thank you for giving me life when I was unexpected.

Thank you for giving me a loving home.

Thank you for being my mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom – I love you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bin Laden & Ezekiel 33:11

I struggle with the celebration of Bin Laden's death.

I'm GRATEFUL his vindictive and terrorist influence is diminished. It was required for the higher good of humankind.

I'm PROUD of our armed forces for accomplishing the task to stand for liberty, justice, and peace on our behalf. We have a right to be proud of these men and women who serve to protect us.

But how are we any different than those of Bin Laden's following who "danced" in celebration of the thousands of deaths caused on 9/11 if we dance in celebration of Bin Laden and his family's deaths?

Are we truly better than Bin Laden and his camp if we go to the same level of lower vindictive "celebratory" vibration that he and his followers did upon the loss of our fellow patriots and loved ones?

I don't always understand these turns of events, the "how" or "why" they unfold, but I do know they are designed to teach us to show up better than those who we've deemed evil.

As my wise young nephew pointed out on Facebook: "Bin Laden's death definitely helps us to feel a little safer in this world, but the Bible says, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.' Ezekiel 33:11. I find it very hard to not be happy over his death, but God says otherwise..."

If we are celebrating the death of a wicked man, I would venture to say that we are being invited through this biblical quote to also not become that of the wicked, but rather in this instance to live and show up in a Higher vibration as God intended us to live.

God bless the USA.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Riding Out the Storms

How much can you take of what life gives you? How many blows can you take? Knock downs? Are you willing to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward? Are you able to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and take another step into the winds of change that seem, nay, feel like they are working against you?

The Tri-State area has endured of late some seriously stormy weather that has knocked people's spirits down, never mind their trees, and homes. Many of us have felt Mother Nature working against us as we were continuously pummeled day after day with storms. It’s been tiring; wearing; annoying; frustrating, and; exasperating. It’s been what it’s been.

Life shells out its own kind of storms – financial, relationship, marital, job-, health- or family-related. Gray clouds of discouragement gather around us, leaving us to feel as if no sun can ever shine through again. Rough winds blow in unwanted climate change with such intensity, of such uncertainty that you struggle to keep your footing when standing against them. Lightning flashes of reality offers within the stormy situation such brutal clarity that change is coming, that it’s here, and moving through whether you like it or not. Claps of thunder hammer home the reality, relentlessly rumbling its truth through you to the core. And the rain torrentially pours around you, drowning you as the emotion of it all floods over you, leaving you feeling helpless and out of control.

How do we weather the storms that Mother Nature and Life send our way? One storm at a time, that’s how. Mother Nature sends one storm at a time; we’ve been blessed over the last two weeks to have a break between them: to assess any damage, evaluate what happened, recover and deal with it, and become better prepared as we anxiously awaited the next forecasted storm moving in on us. Life sends us one storm at a time, and as in those Mother Nature imparts, we can feel pummeled. In Life’s storms, we must ride them out one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. We must evaluate what’s at hand, assess collateral damage, determine the best plan of action in dealing with it, then take the necessary steps to implement recovery with focus and determination. Life may send more than one storm at a time, and in this case, we must measure the severity of each storm, prioritize how and what we deal with first, then multi-task the necessary steps to move through them.

In storms of both Mother Nature and Life, the one thing we must always remember and never forget is to have faith as we ride these storms out. Faith in that Higher Power to guide us, protect us and support us as we move through these storms. We must remember to trust that these storms make us stronger, and help us more deeply discover who we are and a strength we never even imagined we had. We must remember that we are not alone but supported in either type of storm; even under the darkest cloud of seemingly impending doom, we have support that’s only one reach away, one request for help away. We must remember to know hope in order to keep hope alive that all will be okay, even better after the storms have passed.

Storms are never pleasant but what we can always count on, despite the number of days we endure these relentless storms, the Sun is always shining on the other side of those dark looming clouds. It’s always there. If we can remember this important fact during the dark and stormy nights of severe weather and Life’s challenges, we then truly embrace a knowing of faith, trust, support and hope.

Please join me in sending Love and offering up prayers for all those in the Tri-state area plagued by flooding and storm damage, and especially for those victims of tornados that blew through the South last week.

For more information how you can help support those in recovery from Mother Nature's storms, please visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We Are All Columbine

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 20 will mark the 12th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. This date is forever etched into my memory as a young woman arriving fresh from Kentucky into a stunned and grieving community, but not as deeply and painfully burned into memory of those who were in the building that day.

On Wednesday, April 20, 1999, I left Kentucky for a new life in Colorado. Earlier in the month, while in Denver for a job interview, I connected with a coworker’s brother who lived in a beautiful apartment complex called The Fairways at Raccoon Creek where I obtained rental information for my return later in the month. The apartments were in Littleton, Colorado across the road from Clement Park, across Clement Park from Columbine High School. On my first day’s drive, I stopped in Kansas for the night, calling home to let my folks know I was safe. It was then that I learned about a school shooting. I continued west the next morning towards my new life, arriving in Denver later than evening, arriving at my temporary home, a LaQuinta Inn just outside of downtown Denver. Tired from the drive and hungry, I got a bite and went right to bed. It wasn’t until the next morning that the reality of what happened two days earlier sunk in, not only for me but for the rest of the city, state, and world, as more details unfolded. You couldn’t miss it; it was on every local and national news station: scenes replayed from helicopter vantage points; ground footage of bloody teenagers running for their lives; interviews with students, their parents, faculty, law enforcement, anyone who was in the vicinity at the time of the incident. I sat in my motel room watching for hours, sobbing uncontrollably.

I later returned to the Fairways to secure my apartment. Getting into the area required credentials and was like getting into a war zone. On the road's edge of Clement Park, a makeshift memorial developed in memory of those who lost their lives that day; for all except the two that spearheaded the rampage. My heart was immediately anchored in the community of Littleton. I had a stake in all that this community was going through, the grief, the anger, and the confusion of how such a thing could happen in such a charming community. I met families who were impacted by the shooting; parents who knew nothing of the safety of their children for hours afterwards, teens who witnessed their friends injured or killed.

Littleton united to mourn the losses, honor those lost, and to begin a healing process that would take many, many years for this community to even begin to experience. Media trucks took up residence everywhere throughout Clement Park for a month and a half. Memorabilia of stuffed animals, candles, notes, flowers, trinkets, letters, signs, and other such items collected throughout the park’s sidewalks with designated areas for each of those whose life was lost that dark day. People from the metro-Denver area, as well as surrounding metro communities, towns, even out of state, came to pay their respects, in the hopes of walking away with a better understanding of what happened, how it happened, why it happened. Many left only shaking their heads and in tears. Someone raised fifteen crosses for the dead; outrage broke when two of those crosses were raised for the two young killers. Two of the crosses were taken down amidst division of anger and forgiveness. While the effort was noble, no one at this time felt themselves in a forgiving mood.

Thousands of lives were changed that day. Everyone in the metro-Denver area questioned how such violence could be felt or created by two young teenagers. Those in surrounding neighborhoods questioned a sense of safety for themselves and their children. Those in school that day, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, and all faculty and staff who lost peers, students, and colleagues suffered post-traumatic stress, haunted by nightmares. For months afterwards, customer service reps or business connections asked me how “we” were doing, and let me know that “we’d” been in their prayers.

The following fall, Clement Park was again its lush green landscape that for months was trampled into dirt by mourners visiting the makeshift memorial. Much debate around who was at fault, how to better secure schools, and sorting out all the details of what actually transpired that fateful morning was still a loud murmur in the aftermath. On the first year anniversary, and second, third, and fourth, media returned to “pick the scab” of a community desperately trying to heal the wounds that would forever leave a scar. And for several years afterwards, to the chagrin of many Littleton community members, myself included, Columbine became a tourist spot, as people would sit on or by the Columbine High School sign for photo ops. One weekend in late October, a stranger approached a friend and me asking us where the Columbine Memorial was located. After explaining it had since been gathered and stored several months earlier, the stranger’s responded with irritation: “Well, I drove a long way to come see it!”

I mourned the senseless loss of life, and I quietly grieved for the two young men who felt their only option was to act out rather than ask for help. I cheered on support for more proactive education against bullying and I cringed when everyone blamed each other. I silently believed that we ALL were responsible for Columbine in some small and indirect way: by allowing violence into video games, and our young people access to this desensitizing entertainment; by allowing children unmonitored access to the Internet and website development sites; by “respecting” teens’ privacy by not entering bedrooms; by not more closely monitoring and being aware of who our kids are hanging out with, where they are, and what they’re doing; by not talking to our children about bullying, and by not teaching children to not judge others by appearances, to respect differences, and unique personalities; by condoning in-school intimidation and arrogance by school athletes, and allowing students easier access on and off school campuses for lunch breaks; by not insisting enforcement authorities do more to investigate red flags of violence; by allowing kids to “pretend” to shoot guns at other people; by not insisting on stricter regulations for gun purchases in the name of “right to bear arms” and for making “how to make a bomb” information more easily available on the Worldwide Web. I could keep going but you get the point. We all contribute to the development of our youth’s well-being of body, mind and spirit. It takes a village. . . . .

Positive things came out of the experience as we learned some valuable lessons – law enforcement is better equipped to work more collaboratively in handling such an overwhelming experience, video games now have age appropriate ratings, and we as adults take more seriously verbal threats, real or unreal, spoken in anger by children. I hope you’ll join me for a moment of silence Wednesday, April 20 at 11:17 a.m. as I do every year to honor the memory of those lives lost so that we may remember and learn.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Our Grief and Closure

Yesterday during a Sunday visit with my dad, we looked at the things he’d recently sorted of my mom’s stuff. He and I perused all the remaining closets, rooms, cabinets and shelves still left to address when in one closet I found a pillow case stuffed with something. It was my Baby Tender Love doll from my preschool-aged childhood! Her hair was matted, badly suffering cowlicks. She still wore a little blue-print “onesie” gown that my mother had made for her (one of several little outfits). Other than a rip in the bottom hem and having a bad hair day, the little gal is in pretty good shape.

After I came home, I pulled Baby Tender Love out for a visit and the childhood memories came flooding back. We lived in an old dilapidated rental house on Redhill-Maxwell. As a child it seemed huge, though I remembered during a return visit as a teenager how small the rooms and yard really were. I remember playing with my dolls while sitting on the floor in the bedroom that I shared with my little brother, including my Barbie, PJ and Ken dolls for which Mom also made very fashionable clothes. I suppose all those outfits were pitched, though I did see a naked Barbie on a shelf. Evidently she's been a Nudist the last few decades.

As I remembered these memories, I hugged Baby Tender Love close to me as if she were my baby again. The rush of memories suddenly flashed forward to April 1996 when I lost my own baby at eleven weeks, and with it, the dream of being a mother. Grief struck out of nowhere and tears flowed for the little baby girl (my intuitive sense) I carried and called "Peanut." In hindsight, I now realize that I never experienced closure around this loss.

Before mom passed, I abhorred funerals. I never felt comfortable being in the same room as a dead body. Yet, I also recognized the event for what it was – closure for those who loved the one lost. When mom died, my experience was different. After seven plus years of spiritual development, and understanding life as we know it in human form is simply energy transitioning into spiritual form, I felt differently about funerals. I initially resented the visitation, because I was tired, grieving and I didn't want to meet and greet others. But I soon realized they also needed closure to deal with the passing of a friend, neighbor, relative, coworker and an acquaintance. After it was said and done, I was grateful for the visitation because I learned how much Mom impacted the lives of so many, and how they loved and appreciated her. It was such a gift.

As for my mom’s body being on display, her funeral was the first I’d been to since stepping into my spiritual journey. It wasn’t uncomfortable or awkward at all. I felt gratitude for the opportunity to have been present with my mom upon her death, and for the funeral that allowed my family and me to have closure through the final farewell as we prepared to return her to Mother Earth.

With my unborn child, there was no farewell; no funeral service or closure that signified she was gone; no opportunity to say “goodbye” after our short-lived relationship was over. There was only hemorrhaging through the night, labor pains and cramps as my body gave premature birth to the fetus. There was fear, uncertainty, and disconnect with the reality that I was losing my baby. The next morning was the doctor visit, then outpatient surgery for a DNC, then home to carry on as if none of it had ever happened. As if I’d awaken from a bad dream. I’d dealt with the grief off and on for several years afterward, and truly feel peace around it, despite the annual reminder of the lost dream of my being a mother to what would be a beautiful fourteen-year-old today. I think of “Peanut” every December, the month that would’ve been her birthday had she gone full-term.

Last evening as I held that baby doll, I strangely felt a connection I never felt with the child I lost. A physical connection that tapped right into grief left unfinished. A connection to what it might have felt like to hold my baby for the first time, if only briefly. I connected with that grief and felt a greater sense of closure. I was able to “hold” energetically my unborn baby to say “goodbye” as I embraced the Baby Tender Love that I loved so dearly as a child.

Grief is a process, ongoing and in many phases. Rushing grief is unproductive; denying grief only feeds its strength into volcanic releases. I've dealt with the loss of my unborn baby. Now this grief feels complete. Thanks Mom for hanging on to Baby Tender Love for me. And thank you Baby Tender Love for allowing me to say the goodbye I never had the chance to say fifteen years ago.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Exhaling Love, Peace and Harmony for All

My heart aches. It aches for the loss of three teenagers in Franklin County, Kentucky. It aches for the parents who are intimately experiencing this loss. It aches for friends who have lost loved ones. It aches for the loss of life in Japan, and the familiarity of life for those that survived. It aches for the planet that struggles to manage all the abuse that humanity puts it through. It aches for the loss of my Belle the Beagle. It aches for the loss of dreams that could’ve, would’ve and should’ve been for so many.

My heart aches for the upheaval of foreign countries, and the battles fought for the right to exist, freedom and justice. It aches for the economically depressed that must further struggle for the basics of food and gas in a shaky economy. It aches for the lonely. It aches for those who are lonely within relationships. It aches for those who seek some peace in their life through external means. It aches for those who are living life in a state of confusion, a sense of helplessness, and a sense of hopelessness.

Our world as we know it is changing, on a personal, local, state, national and global level. Are we prepared for such change? Are we willing to be open to change? Are we willing let go, surrender into the flow of these changes? Are we willing to trust in something Higher than ourselves, something Higher within ourselves, to move through these changes?

The sun shines and yet I carry melancholy in my heart. I am a sensitive – and there are days I’m not sure if what I feel is mine or that of the people I love or that of the Collective Unconscious. I breathe. I breathe deep and in the exhale, send out to the world as much unconditional love, peace and harmony as my heart can tap from the supply of the Great One Divine. I am but just one person, and my breath cannot do it alone. We ALL have access to this supply of love, peace and harmony within our hearts, infinitely supplied by the Great One Divine. Are you breathing deep and exhaling God Stuff? Are you sending unconditional love, peace and harmony to countries torn in war, ripped apart in disaster, grieved in loss?

If not, please do. Breathe. Long. Deep into your heart. Exhale the breath of Love, Peace, and Harmony that is the supply of God Within. Breathe deep for others with healing intention. Breathe deep for yourself and for the world.