Walk This Way?

Practice gratitude to feel gratitude. There is no other way.

You cannot give it service with your lips and expect to feel it in your heart.

Let’s ask a few interesting What if questions:

What if what you are talking about is what the Universe is giving you in return? Empty words devoid of feeling?

It is easy to read the wisdom books and memorize the correct terms. I have learned from experience that it is much easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk. Many times, when we say we know something it means that we understand it intellectually, but knowing something intellectually and actually living that way are two different things.

What if you substituted the word know as in I know what gratitude is, with the word live as in I live that way in everyday life…would the statement still be true for you?

This is what I mean – most people say they know what gratitude is, but do they really?

Intellectually I may know that gratitude means living with a grateful heart, but do I live my life with a grateful heart?

What if I am I pretending to be something I’m not?

People who live with a heart filled with gratitude practice gratitude every day, in every way they can. They know its true value.

They practice it so they can feel it. They share it so they can continue feeling it.

What if, in the words of Aerosmith, we were to Walk this way?

Point of Impact

What is the point of it all?

Everyone must find the answer to this question for themselves. The only way to answer it is through living and exploring your precious life.

Approach it with the mindset of a contributor. Consider your potential…what you give may be the catalyst for something wonderful happening in someone’s life. You never know what this means to you until you act.

A perspective that you share may open someone’s eyes, a smile may brighten their day, a kind word may cause them to step back from the brink of oblivion.

You may be the reason that another person learns to be kind because you allow them to be kind to you…

Everyone says, Think big! What impact can I make on a global scale? I want to change the world!

The choice to walk creates the path ahead…

I believe it is important to focus on the point of engagement that is right in front of me…and find the Something Colored Beautiful moments in my ordinary day, those mundane points of impact that I have come to understand as blessings in disguise.

Until we are willing to do that, to be quiet and listen and observe and serve, our ego runs the show. It is our ego that screams, Be important or die!

In this way, it is speaking its truth, because everything is a deathmatch to the ego. Problem is, in its world, everyone dies.

This is what I have found to be true in my life – If I release my need to be important to everyone, I can focus on being important to someone.

I believe it is important to not spread yourself too thin…build your impact one by one person at a time…the people you see before you are your point of impact.

The ego hates to hear that. It hates to be last, or even second best. It must win. If you let it win, this drive will cost you your life, because for our ego even first is never enough.

Engage each person from your power-point, your point of impact. Make every interaction a quality engagement. Whatever flows from that point…if you influence one or grow your impact to reach thousands or millions, you will have built it on a truly solid foundation.

Then, friend, you will have the satisfaction of answering your own question.

Afterthoughts

Can we ever truly heal from the death of a loved one?

I was listening to a radio show on CBC where the author being interviewed was discussing healing. He said he thought that you never really heal from the death of someone you love.

It struck me as a pessimistic perspective. I think healing depends on what healing means to you.

Oxford Dictionaries defines healing as “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.” This does not mean a reset back to the way life was before the event occurred.

After we experience the death of someone we love, we are not the same person we were before they died. To use the analogy of a wound being inflicted, we experience a deep rend in the fabric of our lives, one that feels like our heart actually has a gaping, bloody gash. It feels soul deep.

This gash did not exist before, so how could we possibly be the same after its infliction?

The way of all things is to be stripped of all things…

When you open yourself to love in this world, you are opening the door to its loss. Argue as we often do, we are neither exempted nor excused from any aspect of living or dying. We all live, and we all die.

Given time, wounds heal. Bones knit, and scar tissue forms. It may be bumpy and not as pristine as before, but we know that once it has healed, the actual site of a wound can be even stronger than it was before the injury. Nature has mechanisms for healing that operate unhindered if we accept this as fact.

The problem is, death is not a fact we are prepared to accept.

There is an appropriate and necessary period for a human being to mourn. This is unique to the character of each individual and cannot (and should not) be circumvented.

Grieving and feeling have a purpose. We need to deeply feel our farewells. The problem with healing from loss lies in our resistance to it.

When someone dies, you are abruptly smashed in the face by their physical absence. This shock happens not only after an unexpected death but even after a prolonged illness or the end of a long and productive life. You discover just how accustomed you were to your umbilical-like energetic connection when you, who are left, can no longer feel it.

Now you are faced with an entirely unfamiliar sensation — an unsecured and unbalanced feeling that will undoubtedly be one of the most terrifying experiences of your lifetime, an experience that may be further intensified for reasons that perhaps you are not aware. It brings you face to face with the naked brutality of your aloneness.

An adjustment period is natural, but we often resist this transition of learning to live our lives without our loved one in it. We hang on to their personal items, their favorite things. We search clothing for their scent; we lie on their side of the bed. We trace their scars in our mind and picture the way they wore their hair… Their little gestures and vocal inflections become overwhelmingly endearing. We visit their grave and talk to their headstone. We cherish these snapshots of them in order to keep them with us, as solid and earthly as possible. You only have to consider the despair you feel when you realize you can no longer recall the sound of that person’s voice to understand this deep resistance.

Through our desperate clawing at who they were in life, we keep the wound open. Deep down we know the purpose of our clinging — we are grasping for some measure of control over a situation that was entirely out of our control. We focus on worrying the wound, on keeping it as open and bloody as it was the first day it happened. We believe that if we keep it bleeding, the person is not that far away.

However, this wound is not fresh. It happened in the past. It could have been a year ago or 10 years ago.

During that time, your situation has evolved, but for some confusing reason, you may find that the fond memories do not satisfy you. Your mind keeps rolling back to the moment when they died. The situation is multi-layered; you may believe you wish to heal but perhaps do not recognize the contradiction of your words and your thoughts as you continue to replay and relive the moment of their death in your mind.

Your efforts to heal as well as to keep the wound open and bloody have been partially successful. A scab and some scar tissue have formed in some areas (you may be able to function on a superficial level), but your continued efforts to keep this wound open has opened the door to disease. The wound has festered, and when you are alone, you know the full brunt of its infection.

There comes a time in the healing process when you become tired of feeling sad. This is normal. It is not a betrayal of your loved one’s memory. It is the mind’s natural mechanism that allows you to move on and live — to create healthy scar tissue. After all, you are still alive.

When you are faced with this feeling, you have to realize that what you are doing is not working.

There is a distinct difference between mourning a death and celebrating a life. We must come to the point where we understand that we are not honoring either life (theirs or ours) by this suffering.

Do you continue to mourn the person’s death, or do you instead celebrate his/her life? Does their memory bring tears through loss or tears through smiles?

You have to consider that perhaps you have deliberately kept the fond memories at bay (and therefore denied your loved one’s life force or energy from once again blending with yours) because you cannot let go of who they were in life.

Where is the joy that their presence brought to your life if every time your mind accesses the memory of that person you become sad? What is more important to feel and share as their legacy?

Each time you are reminded of this person, the energy you generate through these thoughts serves to feed or to starve your own life force as well as that of all whom you encounter.

Healing is hard work. This presence of mind does not happen easily. It involves actively letting go, and, as I stated before, this takes time. Be kind to yourself, and let the days go by as they will. Feel and deal with your grief and loneliness in order to heal.

Remember, healing does not mean you will be the same person you were before their loss. Healing can mean you are a better person now because you knew and loved them.

It is the experience that, once you know, you will never forget, nor should you forget any aspect of their love and the gift of that person’s influence in your life. You simply train your mind to recognize the nurturing memories and gently substitute them for the sad ones whenever the sad ones come along.

I have found it beneficial to write down some of the happy stories about my loved ones and share them with others. It works just as well to keep them private and to read them in the times when you cannot seem to let go of your sadness.

Healing: the process of making or becoming sound or healthy A-GAIN. Wouldn’t that make your loved one smile, thinking about what they have given you?

Healing from death is honoring the life of the person you love through the way you choose to LIVE yours.

Excerpt from, Saving Your Own Life:  Learning to Live Like You Are Dying by Paula D. Tozer

Living In The Gap: Embracing Emotional Maturity

How does a person go from confusion to clarity? From restlessness and distraction to serenity? From conflict to peace? From noise to silence? From angst to joy? From entitlement to gratitude? From selfishness to service?

This transformation is the result of embracing learning and change.

I think that explaining the changes that happen when a person reaches emotional maturity is not as effective giving the person a means to obtain it.

 

Emotional maturity, for me, is what I term as living in The Gap (a state of inner space, not the store!). Viktor Frankl called it the space between stimulus and response.

The Gap is that split second between when something happens and our reaction to it.

 

  • Our senses to register it as having happened (stimulus)
  • They send signals to our brain
  • We sift through our mental database for a similar experience and choose the best possible reference. We remember what we did before, or what we have been taught, or what we saw someone else do in a similar situation (even someone on TV).
  • We to apply to this situation (response)

When we act from memory, when we remember a similar experience and act from it, we call this reacting.

Athletes work on their reaction time, repeating the same action until it becomes what we call Second Nature. Doctors and pilots and musicians and parents and factory workers and dancers, like Tom Cruise in the movie, Cocktail, practice their moves until they become so smooth, so easy, it is like they always knew how to do this thing.

But they didn’t. Even with natural ability, they still had to learn the moves. And it took years, even decades, to master this skill.

Living in The Gap gives us access to First Nature. This is who we are before we become domesticated, shaped, molded, and folded into a predictable version that is acceptable to mainstream society.

The original Big Sky country, First Nature is a space where the wildest, most courageous, curious, creative, and passionate hearts roam free. It is a space of calm, and quiet. Time becomes null in this void. It is Sanctuary.

It is where the most honorable and compassionate part of us, the part I call our Constant Traveler, awaits.

We must come to our Constant Traveler’s space. I learned that attempting to draw her “out here,” into the world, breaks the connection.

I spent decades catching only flashes of her…being with her just long enough to know it was possible but never being able to stay for more than an hour or two. I spent years yearning for the delight of this place that I knew existed but in which I couldn’t live…until Viktor Frankl taught me through his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, about the space between stimulus and response.

I began to extend the time in between when something happened and my reaction to it. It was hard. It hurt. I had to bite my tongue, as my Irish grandmother would have described it, and wrestle with my feelings over what I believed to be an injustice.

But I wanted it more than anything. I had to desire peace more than I desired defense.

I studied the work of psychologists Carl Rogers and William Glasser, and teachers like Jiddu Krishnamurti, Wayne Dyer, and Alan Watts, as well as other great thinkers and teachers. Gradually The Gap began to expand.

The Gap is the space where I learned how to shut my mouth and listen.

Emotionally mature people value The Gap above all else. They use time wisely. They take the time they need to consider an appropriate response and do not let the drama of a situation drag them from this sanctuary.

Essentially, it is where the subject learns to be the observer by positioning you, as A Course In Miracles describes it, above the battleground.

This is how life has changed for me. I am no nobody’s guru, but I do enjoy living in The Gap.

Try it on and see if it fits you.

It’s A Beautiful Day

You are here now.

Enjoy what you have. Prepare for the future.  How often have we heard someone say that? Sometimes this seems like it can’t be done, right?

Or we worry that it can’t be done right. It’s all so damn confusing.

The interesting thing about the future is that it is formed from today. I have found that playing with this idea has given me insight.

When this picture was taken I was sitting on a rock looking out at this magnificent view. I had just hiked for 1.5 hrs to get here.

At this point, my destination wasn’t even in view. Baxter Peak was somewhere up there to the right. For the moment it was blocked by a stand of trees.

The trek had just begun. I still had hours of climbing ahead of me.

I had done my homework. My hiking boots sat on the ground beside me as I cooled my feet. I could feel the sweat on my back…I was warmed up and ready for the next leg of the hike. This path was almost straight up, climbing over the huge boulders that comprise the Cathedral trail on Mt. Katahdin, the northernmost mountain on the Appalachian Trail in Maine, USA.

I knew the path – I had climbed the Cathedral before. I had trained for this.

I had a map. My way was clear. The mountain beckoned!

I found myself feeling very grateful for the man sitting beside me. My husband, Mark. Without him, I would not be here. He is my rock on this climb.

Mark is my adventure buddy, my hiking, cycling, kayaking, and resistance training partner, and my 2nd husband.

Before we met in 2005, I did most of my adventuring alone. On that particular today, I once again choose him and he chooses me.

I am pleased because it is always today. It is my choice to have Mark in my life for every today.

I remember this moment this picture captures very well – the way the wind whispered through the trees…the fresh evergreen air…the exceptional brilliant blue-green of Chimney Pond…the small chipmunk that sat on a rock behind me begging for peanuts…and the camaraderie of the other hikers who were about to take this epic journey along with Mark and I.

These people would be in my life for a short time, not a long time. I may not remember each of their faces and I did not catch many of their names, but I value every step with every one of them.

People come into your life for a season and a reason. The season may be long or it may be short. Some seasons must end sooner than later and you must move on.

The reason may be clear or it may be obscure. Either way, you must search your heart and decide what reason you give it.

Whether it is a reason to travel with the one who chooses to be with you today for as long as feels natural to you both or to use your discomfort as an excuse to prolong or pre-empt the experience…this is your choice, as well.

You are wise to be considering your choices before acting.

If someone is truly holding you back…if they are discouraging you from living your best life…it may be time to move on.  I never would have found Mark, my adventure buddy on the road of life if I had chosen to remain stuck in my discomfort, resigned to adventuring alone.

However, keep in mind that the present is where you get to enjoy today. Consider the gift these people may be giving you by inviting you to enjoy not just the destination, but the journey as well.

Your mountain awaits…and today is a beautiful day.

Who’s Driving The Bus?

To be or not to be?   Why do we spend so much time searching for the reason for our existence?

We ask and the ego answers.

I consider the ego as psychologist Carl Jung described it – a mask, or persona, that we present to society. Things can get confusing when we take this persona too seriously.  We need our ego to negotiate the world, but things get tricky when we give it too much power.

The ego is always searching for a reason to exist. It needs constant confirmation that it is the most important part of a human being. If we accepted that we are living our ultimate purpose now – that we have come to life simply to live it and that life takes on the meaning we give it – we wouldn’t need our ego nearly as much.

Our fragile ego, defined and defended by our wounds and confusion, needs drama in order to survive. It is in our mask’s best interest to scream and defend itself.

This Art of War has been perfected by humans from the time that time began. Everyone we know has been trained in its tactics and strategies. Our lineage has taught us well.

Like with any other part of our human selves, offer your ego compassion. What a horrible way to live…always filled with dread, in the most basic, reptilian way. Your contempt makes it fight harder.

You see, it is perpetually terrified of one thing…its death. Keeping us freaked out about protecting it – for any reason other than the simple one – keeps us in fear mode – the only home the ego knows. It lives in fear.

I consider my identity in an artistic manner…it is mold-able and fluid, like clay. I invented myself, so I can reinvent myself. If I allow my mask to solidify that is when things get tricky. The key is to remain open and accepting of change, to go with the flow, and not take things too seriously.

Accepting that the ego is part of us, a poor driver that we allow to sit at the back of the bus, puts an end to war. It positions us above the battleground where we can understand the actual function of this part of us and not give it any more importance than is absolutely necessary.

Keep in mind that we have the choice of who drives the bus.

Always Arriving

In a recent interview, modern thought leader and author Brendon Burchard described a meeting with Oprah.  Before anything else was discussed, she asked, What is the intention of this meeting?  

As Brendon explains it, Oprah is always seeking clarity – clarity of purpose and of time expenditures.  Well aware that there are only 24 hrs (or 1440 minutes) available in each day, she demonstrates that she values her precious time by seeking clarity in every interaction.

As Brendon teaches, every high performer knows that if they take care of the pennies, the dollars will look after themselves.  By clarifying their Whys, they can clearly map their Hows.

Why then do so many of us get bogged down?  Why is the “devil in the details” more apt for some of us than it is for these high performers?  Why does attention to detail bog us down instead of freeing us to do our best work?

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions?  Or perhaps we are afraid to ask any questions at all?

Question Everything – this can be an open-minded, freeing way to live, or it can also be the means to close us off from the very things we are seeking.  The nature of your questions matter more than you may be aware…

Why am I so dumb?
Why can’t I stop eating junk?
Why can’t I be like my brother?
Why are people so hateful to one another?
Why does everything have to happen to me?
Why can’t I overcome this?
Is there anyone out there who loves me?
What if I never feel like I’m enough???

Is this line of questioning coming from a place of abundant curiosity, or lack of hope?  Haven’t you already decided before you asked the question?

And what happens when we are so afraid to speak up or so afraid of not being able to handle the answers, that we never ask the questions?

Truly, there is a devil in the details here, and it is fear.  Question the source of the questions.

Another reason we are afraid to seek clarity is that in order to do so we must admit that we don’t know what it is.  If we are afraid to ask questions because we may look dumb or incompetent, we become that which we fear.  We cannot feel competent and confident in our ability because we have chosen to pretend that we are something we are not….something limited.

How can you discover that which has the potential to fill you if you pretend that you are already full? 

You have chosen from meager offerings (the limited options you see before you – the ones you have already lived) and out of fear of being exposed as a poser you have fortified your position with mute defense.

You can’t unfold a flower with your hands…

Inspiration is the result of surrender to the natural flow of events. Fear of being discovered as not knowing blocks knowing.

Open yourself to what is possible.  You always have that choice.  Learn from the examples of the highest performers among us.  No matter what their age, level of success or intelligence or station in life, they seek clarity in all things.

An elegant mind does not accept detours, because it is always arriving.  It does not attempt to make the road shorter, but travels in such a manner that every action leaves the land more fertile and the landscape more beautiful.

Seeking clarity is a lifetime pursuit because each situation is always new.  You and I have never lived this day…in this way…before.

With this in mind, we are always arriving.