Even the Buddha Got Stuck

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We all have our moments of stuck-ness. Or weeks. Or months. We come in and out of it….of being in the flow and so connected in so many ways, creating magic….and then other times we feel like we can’t manage to even pull ourselves out of bed, or decide what to eat for breakfast.

When we find ourselves “stuck”…it’s so easy to beat ourselves up about it wondering what we did wrong. What we did or didn’t do, should have done differently….what are we missing? We do we keep falling out of it? Why aren’t we “succeeding”?

But the bottom line is, we’re exactly where we need to be. It may not feel like it at the moment. We may not understand why circumstances are what they are.

The universe knows. It know better than us, it has our back, ALWAYS. Unfortunately, some growth happens to feel painful or difficult. But we don’t have to make the pain worse by adding our own self-bashing into it.

We have to remember to allow ourselves some grace. We are human beings, complicated creatures here to learn many lessons. And we will have ample opportunities to learn them, over and over! It’s time to allow ourselves to be human, feel our feels, find a spark of insight, and then move on.

To remember to treat ourselves the same way we would treat a little child who is trying so hard, and having a hard time. To give ourselves a break. Nurture our own little inner-child-selves and say “It’s okay. You’re doing great! Just pick yourself up and start again”.

To remember sometimes we just have to take a moment and STOP. And BREATHE. And BE. Nothing more than that. Because in that moment of pause is where the insight comes, where the clarity comes. Maybe just a tiny little glimpse of something, but a little something in the right direction. In the direction of inner peace, of happiness, of JOY.

To remember to surround ourselves with other people on this same journey. Positive people who can uplift us and remind us of who we really are. To reach out to them and say “Hey! I need a boost.” Or to find a way to regularly spend time with people who will help us stay in our higher vibration.

So remember…you are okay. You are more than okay. You are magical and amazing and on the verge of even more greatness than you could have imagined. You are evolving and growing and that in and of itself is the most important work you can do.

So don’t sweat the “stucks”.  They aren’t really “stucks”. They are pauses for expansion and greatness. Allow them, welcome them, learn from them.

Dance them out…

Sweat them out…

Yell them out…

MOVE THEM OUT.

Get your groove flowing again.

And trust…

You’ve got this.

 

The Magic Formula

The universe is ALWAYS speaking to us, sometimes in subtle ways, other times, more like a bonk on the head. That is a given, there is nothing we have to “do” to have it speak to us. We do, however, have to take the time to LISTEN. Which often means being more aware, creating space for that awareness by being still, pausing, listening, and being open to what is being said.

The week before last for me was a doozy. I didn’t plan it that way. It just kind of happened. I was diligently and with painstaking detail putting together a new PowerPoint presentation for a Peaceful Parenting Workshop I was giving on that upcoming Saturday. I had previously given this workshop a few times using my own notes, but it was time to kick it up a notch and make it pretty and use visuals to get the points across.

In the midst of working on that, beside my usual responsibilities, I somehow crazily (over)scheduled myself to see 4 doula clients in 1 day. No problem, I can handle that! There are plenty of hours in 1 day! Besides, that was on Wednesday, and left me 2 more whole days to put together everything I needed for the workshop. Plenty of time!

Then the Universe bonked.

But let me back up. About that formula. One of the tools I teach in the Peaceful Parenting world, which is easily applied to any relationship, and actually to every single thing in our lives, is how important it is that WE be at peace and as present as possible in every moment. How real/inner peace can be attained no matter what our circumstances, no matter what storms are raging around us. We have a huge say in what our world really looks like to us, we have immense power. We often fear that power and therefore prefer to play the role of victim to our circumstances. But the truth is we do have the power, to a great extent.

So what’s the formula, you ask?

EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME

It seems very simplistic. But it really finally made sense to me and hit home with me about a year and a half ago. I guess I was finally truly ready to hear it and grasp it. It’s a game changer. But you have to be ready for it. Because it means taking responsibility. You really need to be in a good mental space to have it work it’s magic, otherwise, it will have the opposite effect & you will fall flat on your face. Because you see, no matter WHAT event is taking place, be it not getting that raise you were hoping for & counting on, a tantrum your child is having, a cup of spilled milk, a serious illness, no matter WHAT the “it” is, it is YOUR REACTION/RESPONSE to it that will greatly impact the outcome. It can literally change the course of history in that moment.

Take milk, for example. Let’s say you are in a hurry to get out of the house in the morning to drop your kids off at school and make it to work on time for a meeting. So everyone is a teeny bit on edge because just maybe you’re a little stressed about the time. Then, let’s say your highly sensitive 5 year old son, in his haste to finish up quickly, accidentally spills his cup of milk all over the table and the floor. He then looks up at you in horror, with huge round eyes…..waiting…….an eternity…..for your reaction. Because he knows you’re already stressed, and this could put you over the edge. You could yell, scream, say all sorts of choice words to him and about him, or instead perhaps start slamming things  about and possibly then hurt yourself, which could lead to tears (both you and him possibly), him yelling back because he feels hurt (not to mention guilty), a struggle to get in the car, more fighting in the car, a longer than usual wait at car line, an accident causing extra traffic on the way to work….etc. Catch my drift? Because the universe is so in tune to you, it will provide you more of whatever you are putting out there energetically.

But what about the flip side? What if, instead of getting upset and going down that road, you CHOOSE instead to take a moment, pause, then take it as a cue to slow down and not take things so seriously.  Instead of getting mad, you take a deep breath and then say to your son “Hey, no biggie, let’s each grab a rag and work together to clean it up. We can pretend we are robots and make our best robot noises!”. Chances are, that will be met with a lot more joy, cooperation, and a more peaceful exit out of the house as well as a more peaceful commute. Most likely, that energy will continue to permeate your day and smooth things out for you in all aspects of your day.

Because really we are 50% of the equation, and the outcome. We can choose to see everything in a positive or a negative light. Its not always easy, I know, I get that. But it’s like a muscle. The more you work it, the easier it gets.

So back to the Universe bonking me.

The night of my 4-clients-in-one-day-while-preparing-my-upcoming-workshop, when I finally got home at 9:30pm…I got a phone call that my 83 year old father, my “Papi” (who has a myriad of serious health issues to say the least) is being admitted to the hospital and needs immediate gall-bladder surgery the next morning. 1 hour away from where I live. This wasn’t a complete surprise as we had been dealing with his delicate gall-bladder issue for 6 weeks now, but careful measures had been taken to delay having the surgery as long as possible, to make it as smooth as possible since he has so many other issues that impact him undergoing surgery with general anesthesia.

So off I went the next morning….after dropping off my son at school, the 1 hour commute to the hospital in Miami rush hour traffic….to meet him to prep for surgery. I was nervous of course, he’s elderly, sick, and he’s my Papi. But from the moment I got the news I made a choice I was going to be positive about this and trust that all was happening as it should, and all would be well. I tapped into the peace inside me and let it ride. It was a smooth sail to the hospital. Things that morning sort of just clicked. I got there in time to meet the orderly who was wheeling him to the OR prep/triage room (who happened to also be Cuban, as are we. My Dad takes great pride in it). My aunt/his sister was also with him. The kind orderly asked my aunt & I to wait outside in the OR waiting room and promised someone would give us updates along the way. So my aunt and I prepared to hunker  down and wait.

Not 4 minutes later, a nurse came out (Russian, gotta love living in an International melting pot!) calling my name, and told us we could come on back. She let us in to the prep/triage room to wait with my Dad while they started on all the prep necessary for surgery. Papi was in good spirits, cracking jokes. I was also trying to keep the mood light and positive for us all. We could hear everything going on in the adjacent “bays” in the room (each separated by paper thin curtains) as others were also getting prepped (and prodded, and poked). And it was taking a really long time. Like for real, not like just because it’s happening to you  it just feels like a  long time. Other patients were coming in and then moving on. More nurses (Cuban) came to prepare him, kindly flirt with him, and ask more of the same questions we’d already answered at least twice previously. Anesthesia (American, maybe?) came and talked to him, then the surgeon (Cuban). He explained there was a need to possibly transfuse blood/plasma as well as this possibly turning into more than just a  quick laproscopic surgery. So prep would take a little while longer than usual.

I’m still choosing to remain calm and at peace, even while reading between the lines of everything he was saying.  I will say that I did have a moment just then of a little panic and doubt. I took a moment and tried to go within, to ground and center myself, to ground the staff, everyone present, the room. I breathed. I felt the need to stand up and stroll a few steps away from my Dad and towards the exit leading to the OR. And there it was, my message. My reminder. Clear as day, big and bright, on a bulletin board (Really? In an OR triage room?) no less:

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EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME!

What are the freaking chances??? I literally laughed out loud, am I’m sure sounded momentarily psychotic to the nurses around. Then I snapped a picture on my phone and almost got kicked out of there. I had to explain to the nurse in charge that the message on the bulletin board was EXACTLY the message of my upcoming workshop, how that same equation was literally the last slide in my PowerPoint and how meaningful it was. Luckily, she smiled and got it and it sparked a conversation between us and then we were good.

I (silently) thanked the Universe for the message, and I was all good again. I knew then no matter what transpired with my Dad, all would be alright. That no matter what happened in life, period, it would all be alright. I had faith. I felt supported. And I was reminded by that not so subtle detail on the bulletin board. My perception makes the difference.

I then took a moment to take in the bigger picture, to look for more signs (why not?). Then it hit me, we were the only family members in this triage room for the last 3 hours. Not 1 other family member. All the other patient’s family members were all outside in the waiting room. Why had the nurse come and gotten us to come and stay with my Dad when no one else was allowed/invited back there? Why only us? There was absolutely no logical reason.

Funny what we realize when we take that moment of pause. Everything becomes illuminated.

In the end, the operation was way more complicated, they had to do a lot more than anticipated. It took twice as long as they had said, they had to call in an additional surgeon, make quite a large incision, transfuse plasma, rewire some internal connections in my Dad, but he got through it all with flying colors. He even came out of the general anesthesia and was breathing on his own way quicker than normal, despite all his other medical issues and concerns that had delayed this surgery so long in the first place.

So yes, I was bonked. I spent the next 2 days driving back and forth, 1 hour each way, to spend the day with my recovering super-hero of a father. I did NOT have any time at all to further prepare for my workshop as I had originally planned on. But in the end, it didn’t really matter.

Turns out, I had everything I needed all along. And luckily, and most importantly, I still have my Papi.

 

Loss is Loss

Yesterday, we had a bit of a trying day with my family. Nothing major, just everyone being in a funk at the same time.

It seems the more people I talk to lately, it’s kind of like a cosmic epidemic of funkiness at the moment. Seems like realities are shifting, systems are getting upgraded, our world is changing and at times it feels like “forward progress is STOPPED” intermingled with “EVERYTHING IS FALLING APART” and a dash of “WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING”. I like to call these “growth periods” because truly that is what they are- an unraveling of the old, outdated systems that no longer serve us making way for a beautiful new, better reality. But the growing pains that come with them are no joke. So it’s safe to say due to this, as a highly sensitive person, my energy lately has been…..far from ideal. It’s kind of like a whirling dervish that just can’t settle down. I try really hard to use all the tools in my toolkit for keeping my own energy body protected, not allowing other energy that doesn’t belong to me negatively affect my own…..I always try. I don’t always succeed.

So back to yesterday. As we returned home from a quick dinner out, we noticed that a pair of turtledoves had built a nest right above our driveway/garage in the rain gutter, and a bunch of debris had fallen down onto the driveway (which is how we realized there was a nest). There was a mama bird proudly sitting on her nest, unfazed by our movement close to her as we made our way in the house. We were excitedly talking about the nest, wondering how many eggs were in it, when they would hatch, etc.  To me it’s a kind of blessing when an animal decides to set up birth shop in my vicinity, like it’s good mojo or something (that could be the doula in me, or the woman in me, or the mom in me….). Anyway it’s safe to say it was a much needed bright spot in my day.

Then this morning, as I walked outside to take my 5 year old to preschool after a not-so-smooth morning routine that left us both rattled and grumpy, I found this:

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My heart at that moment was a shattered as the egg. No mama or papa bird to be found anywhere. The nest had been abandoned. It was done. Over.

And for whatever reason, a deep sense of loss came over me. I felt it in my soul. As if I was connected to the bird, the egg, everyone on the planet at that moment that was hurting. I don’t know if my son saw it (actually I’m pretty sure he didn’t because he would have been in tears after realizing what had happened), but suddenly his mood shifted and he apologized for the crappy morning we’d had and his part of it, and asked if I was okay, if he could see my big smile. I was honest. I told him I couldn’t show him that smile at the moment, I wasn’t feeling it. But I would work on finding it. He responded “Okay mommy. Let me know when you’re ready and then you can show me”. Thank goodness.

I needed a moment to grieve, to explore what I was feeling, what it was bringing up in me. I didn’t want to fake a smile and pretend it was all fine. I also wanted to teach him that it’s okay to have bad/sad feelings and acknowledge them. And he got it, and accepted it, and let me have quiet time the whole ride to school.

That shattered egg  brought up all sorts of stuff. Of personal losses I had felt, big and small. Some that I have finally cleared and move on from, finally feeling healed and whole in that aspect (my mother’s death). Others that apparently I had not.

Such as my miscarriage 6 years ago. It  was my first pregnancy ever, and brought my husband and I so much joy initially. It was unexpected, but more than welcome. I had always wanted a large family……but since life loves to throw us curveballs and provides plenty of opportunities for growth & patience & accepting that things don’t always go as we might want them to, I got started late in the baby-making game. I was “almost 40” when we got pregnant that first time. We had imagined so many possibilities with that baby, so many hopes and dreams and visions. But that egg, just like this egg, shattered early on as well. I had an early miscarriage at about 8 weeks. My world was rocked. Our world was rocked. I allowed myself time to grieve, and processed somewhat. Hearing how “common” it was for women, how “nature has a way of weeding out what isn’t developing correctly”, of how the statistics say that 1 in every 4 pregnancies results in miscarriage did nothing to comfort me. I do truly believe everything happens for a reason in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn’t make going through the process any less painful at the moment.

I have learned that loss is loss, no matter how big or how small. That what may cause insurmountable grief for me might cause you nothing but a brief sad thought. That doesn’t make my grief any less valid, nor make you a monster for not feeling it the same way. Because loss represents a dream we had that will no longer be allowed to live. We have to accept that particular dream is not possible, and somehow be okay and be able to move on from there. Even beyond that, to understand that we are not in control, and that ultimately life unfolds itself just as it should, whether we like it or not.

So I understand and accept that need to grieve, to honor that feeling of loss.  To look at it head on, in the eyes, and feel it and move through it even though our society tends to belittle certain losses and make them seem common place and therefore lesser deserving of grief.

But loss is loss. And it hurts. And it’s okay to accept and feel it. It’s more than okay, it is necessary in the healing process to do whatever you have to do to feel it and get past it.  The key is not to stay in that dark place for too long, otherwise it becomes harder and harder to climb back out to the other side of happiness, acceptance, joy and inner peace.

Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore–
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 

 

 

Follow the GPS in your Heart

Corn maze 2012

Corn maze 2012

A few weeks ago I had an amazing experience that seems to keep nagging at me, reminding me to put it down in writing and put it out there….so here I go.

I had been invited by a dear friend to go to a women’s circle gathering, and even though it was a crazy busy time for me, and it was located over an hour away from me, in Miami, and I’d have to travel through multiple  highways during morning rush hour traffic…….every fiber in my being said “GO!”. For some reason I knew I just had to go, my soul needed it.

Now, I was born and raised in Miami although I have lived “much further north” now in Broward County for about 20 years. Times have changed, roads have changed, highways have changed…..so I did what every respectable smart phone owner traveling that far would do. I used my GPS.

-HOWEVER-

The trick here is when you sort of know where you’re going…..and you think you might know be the best way to get there…..you sort of remember the area and how to maneuver……you tend to start doubting the GPS. It gets tricky.

Isn’t that always our problem? We always want to think we know best, we are in control, we have all the answers, and be we I mean our minds. We resist, tooth and nail, the surrender.  We want to surrender, we really do, but there is always that last little bit of “yes, but just this one thing, I know it will be better if I do it this way/make this turn/change one more thing”.

But when we really let go…….just completely surrender, no matter how scary it feels at first, how almost counterintuitive at times……it’s blissful. I literally just “let it go” that day and followed the GPS. Even though I thought I knew the best way. In reality, I didn’t. It took me down different highways, express lanes, roads, etc. that I NEVER would have taken had I “been in charge”. And you know the beauty of it was it was literally magical. I was whizzing peacefully next to lanes that were stuck in traffic, great song after great song magically playing on the satellite radio, red lights turning into green lights at just the right moment.  I got to my event not only on time, but early, even though I had just traveled through morning rush hour traffic in Miami. It was insane. And then I had the most amazing time sharing stories, support and love with other amazing Warrior Goddess Mamas.

You see, I learned, REALLY learned in my heart the beginnings of a very valuable lesson that day, a lesson that has kept repeating a few times since then. No matter which roads you take in life, eventually you will get there. All roads lead to “there”. Some are more direct, some more fun, some may be painful, some seem like slow going, long and winding, some  seem like a super-duper fast highway and you arrive in the blink of an eye. But you will arrive, eventually. And the more you “let go” and tune into “divine intervention/providence/source”  as your GPS, the more enjoyable the experience will be.  It all boils down to the same thing. Faith! Trust the process! Trust in yourself, in your inner guidance, that it truly knows what is best. YOU KNOW WHAT IS BEST. You have to have faith in yourself first, take that leap, then the universe will support you in ways you never even imagined possible. Better than what you could have hoped for. But that’s the scary part as well……jumping in without seeing the bottom, working without a net……or so it seems.

The net is there. We just can’t “see” it. But it’s there, not only catching us, but rather rebounding us and propelling us into even greater heights.

So do yourself a favor, the next time you have the opportunity to make a choice…..choose with your heart GPS. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

Where will YOU go?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright...

Tiger, tiger, burning bright…

Every night as part of my son’s bedtime routine, we pick 1 or 2 books to read. My son has loved books since he was a toddler (as do I) and his collection started even before his birth. So the nightly reading can range anywhere from”Everyone Poops” (no I’m not kidding and yes, he’s been potty trained for years) to Ranger Rick magazine, to “The DK Encyclopedia of the Human Body” (limited to 5 pages per night, cuz seriously? Bedtime?), to Dr. Seuss….you get the picture. He gets to choose every night.  Ironically, tonight, on the night before he “officially” starts school (VPK) he chooses “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”.

Have you read that book? Because if you haven’t, you should. It’s not a kids book! I mean of course it is, but not really, as is the case with many of the Doctor Seuss books.  I find it ironic he chooses this book tonight on the verge of this important, significant transition (for us both), because that’s exactly what the book is about- setting out on a bold, beautiful new journey.

Tomorrow, he starts school full time. For the next 14 years the majority of his waking hours will be at school, away from home, and from us. That is the reality. I might wish it were different at times, that we could home school, or unschool, or a combination of both.  But for now, the reality is that’s where he will be. And I have to trust that it will all be okay, because that’s what I choose to think.

So out of nowhere, reading this book, so much comes up inside me. It is profound. It speaks to me right now more than to him I think. Because the other aspect of our reality is my transition, me taking my own journey and leap of faith into following my dreams full time.

The book speaks of walking straightforward into one’s truth, into the unknown.  It speaks of all the wonderful as well as the scary things we will encounter once we do that. Of the times we WILL fail, because it’s the truth, we all do. Except when we don’t, because every failure is a lesson that can teach us how to move forward in a more perfect direction for us, if we have the courage to continue on to follow our own truth.

And the secret is, all we have to do is be ourselves. Unapologetically, authentically, 100% ourselves. It’s truly that simple. Not easy, but simple. Now that is easier to do when you’re a child, especially a young child, when you’re so raw and untainted, before things get too complicated, before you forget who you are, before they tell you who you are supposed to be. Somehow along the way we all tend to get a little lost. We forget to read the signs. We forget what we are here for.

But the beauty is it’s never too late. And boy has that message been coming to me (again!) from all directions.  From songs on the radio, to memes on Facebook, to books that fall into my lap, to strangers I meet.

It’s never to late to be you. To follow through on your you-ness on all levels, as scary and intimidating as it may seem. Because when you do, the places you will go will be amazing.

So now, tell me: Who are you, really? What are you here for? And where will YOU go?

The “Back to School” that wasn’t

Empty class 2

This past week was tax-free saving week a.k.a. back to school shopping week here in Florida. So I did what any respectable parent and teacher would do, go shopping for back to school clothes and supplies. But what you don’t know is for teachers, it is about that same  time where we start to feel the “Oh my God, is the summer really over? Do I really have to go back so soon? What’s my schedule going to be like? How many students will I have this year? How many desks will have this year?”. This is usually accompanied by a big ol’ knot in the pit of my stomach, accompanied by a need to start drinking a nightly glass of wine…..or two…..in order to mentally prepare for another year of “being a teacher”.

Empty class 4

Empty class 3

But this year, want to know what I added to my back to school wardrobe during tax-free shopping week?

Nothing.

Nada.

Zilch.

Ni una cosa.

Because this year, I will not be going back to school. For the first time in forevvvvveeeeer…..sorry, Disney song took hold of me there. For the first time in 15 years, I will not be going back. I chose not to go back. I chose to follow my heart and my soul and my calling.  I listened (finally!) to what my soul was saying, and I prepared, and I have been working hard to create my new reality, which for me includes my new business. I have slowly but surely been building bridges, making connections, starting a client base, educating myself….all that stuff it takes to help me build my dream. Most importantly, I have been doing what brings me the most joy, which is helping people find their peace and their inner power, while still having time to spend with my family. I am helping new parents welcome their children into the world in the way they choose, feeling empowered and supported. I am working with individuals to help them discover who they really are and had forgotten along the way. I am teaching (yes, I know, I can’t escape teaching) parents that there is another way to relate to and connect with their children, one that involves mutual respect, connection, and patience.

Is it easy? Nope.

Is it scary? Sometimes.

Risky? You bet, you could see it that way at times.

But I don’t have that knot in the bottom of my stomach that I used to have every year. I don’t have the dread of “D-day” looming over me (which this year, would have been today).

And what I do have instead is worth all the gold in the world. Freedom. And hope.

Freedom

Life Lessons from a Four-Year-Old, Vol. 1

Last weekend we had a full, fun, exhausting day, which included me attending a birth starting in the wee hours of the morning, then coming home and putting on my “Super Mom” hat, picking up my son and taking him to a birthday party. It was fun, but overwhelming at times. I was beyond exhausted. On our way home, I had to stop at Publix as we were completely out of a few staples my 4-year-old son can’t do without. So as we walk in, he tells me “Mommy, go that way, you need some flowers.” Instinctually I said “No, we don’t need them” but then I got to thinking.  I had actually mentally told myself earlier I’d love to make it a habit of having fresh flowers in the house on a weekly basis, to remind me to take care of myself, do something that brings me joy on a regular basis, and appreciate the beauty around us. So when he insisted, I said “You know what? You’re right. Let’s go get some flowers”. So we rolled over there, and I started to nose around, picking up one bouquet after another, examining their beauty as well as looking at the price tag on each one to help me determine which one to buy. He says “Mommy, what are you doing?” with a voice that seemed to indicate I must be doing something completely ridiculous to him. I explained I was looking to see how much they cost to help me choose. My little sage then says, with a roll of his eyes, “Mommy, that’s not how you choose, just pick the beautifullest one, that’s what you deserve. Don’t think about it, just pick”. And it hit me, he is right. This isn’t a car payment I’m pondering, it’s a freaking bouquet of flowers, from a supermarket no less. I deserve this small token of beauty and love. Even my four-year old sees that. The $5 difference isn’t going to break the bank. I need to always remember to honor myself and the hard work I do, and be gentle and kind, and loving with myself. He knew I needed a reminder, he knew I needed some joy, and beauty, and love. So I picked the most “beautifullest” bouquet and showed it to him. He grinned a big grin, took them from me, smelled them, and then handed them back saying “These are for you, I love you Mommy. I really wanted to get you flowers”. And just like that, he taught me that lesson, on a late Sunday afternoon,  in the middle of a crowded supermarket. I matter. I deserve beauty. I deserve joy. I deserve love. Always. image

“It’s Not You, It’s Me”

Something will grow

Today I want to stretch your spiritual muscles. Stretching is good for you, although it can be difficult at first, and will leave you (possibly) sore for a bit. But think big picture here! Think a little discomfort now for big personal growth later. Are you with me?

Let’s start by playing pretend. You know, like you used to when you were a little kid and you played superheroes using sticks as swords, or played dress-up or something. Good. Now that we’ve suspended our disbelief, anything is possible. So let’s go with that. Let’s pretend that you have the power to create your own reality. That everything you say and do has an impact on the physical and energetic reality of the world directly around you. Your words literally create your truth. Your emotions, which are linked often times to your words, create your truth.

Okay. So given that, let’s look at a scenario…a difficult or painful interaction with someone you love, like a family member or very close friend, that went badly in the past. Let’s re-examine it with fresh, new, childlike eyes. Let’s have a do-over.

Replay the scene in your mind. But this time, try and identify where it went wrong. Maybe the other person got really angry and yelled at you for some reason, went off the deep end, went ballistic… STOP. Hit the pause button and freeze-frame it. Take a deep breath. Now try and connect with that person, I mean really connect, like to their soul. See what is hurting them to cause them to react that way towards you. What is the underlying need behind their behavior? What are they REALLY angry about? What need is not being met? Maybe they are lashing out as a knee jerk reaction to what they perceive as a wrong being done to them and their reality. They are in pain, they are hurting, and the only way at that moment (for whatever reason) they know how to express that pain is through a show of anger. They may shout, they may hit, they may walk away and slam a door, or they may shut down emotionally. Take a good look at them. And then breathe and shift. See past their actions to the root. They are asking for love, for help, in the only way they can at that moment.

So now you have a choice. Match their emotion, and escalate the interaction to an even higher/angrier interaction, OR, realize that YOU are responsible for YOUR OWN EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS. You don’t have to react!!!! You can choose to stay present and calm in your own space! You have your own energetic field around you, and NO ONE can “make” you feel a certain way, unless you let them! You have a bubble of “you-ness” that surrounds you at all times. Some people call this an aura. Call it what you like. Sometimes this bubble is big and happy and huge, sometimes is tiny and quiet and can barely contain your body. But it’s always yours, and no one has the right to take it from you or infringe upon it. They can’t. So it’s all about you maintaining your boundaries, your energetic and emotional boundaries. “Did you forget you had a choice?” as one of my favorite teachers, Jeffrey Allen, says. Choose peace at that moment. Choose to connect with them at a soul level, see them as being in pain, and instead of matching energy, find a moment to send them peace. And love. At that moment, all that might mean is you being quiet. Not reacting badly. Not yelling. Even just taking a breath and letting it out without a word.

Then wait and see what happens. If you can maintain your bubble in peace…a change will come. Either the other person will erupt in fury for not eliciting a reaction, and it will all come out and flow out like lava, then calm down, or, the other person will see you remained calm, and this will help talk them down from the ledge of anger/pain. Mind you, I’m not saying give in to crazy, unreasonable demands here. I’m saying just take a look at the reality of the situation. Don’t paint yourself into a corner. Find a way for you, or the other to save face. Look behind the scenes at what is fueling the fire. Is it really a fire? Or simply a match that was lit, and in your eyes, or his/her eyes, has taken on a new/bigger/more dramatic appearance?

It’s YOUR choice, how you react. And that choice will most definitely define that moment in time, and even the moments that come as a result of it in the future.

Try to remember that we are all humans here, trying the best we can in any given situation. We are all learning to some degree. Some of us need more practice or are more new to the process than others. Some of us have more baggage or more unhealed past hurt than others. But we ALL need love. And compassion. So we all need to give love. And compassion. Let those ripples of kindness and love and compassion extend out beyond our own “bubbles” and vibrate to other bubbles…. and start a chain reaction.

This process is not easy, not in any way, especially at first. But it’s like a muscle. A spiritual muscle we have to retrain, to stretch out and work on so it feels better. So that eventually your whole being feels better as a consequence of it.

I encourage you to try it. Go back and have a mental do over. And then next time you have the opportunity to practice it in real life, in present time, try it. See what happens. What do you have to lose? You’ve done it the other way a million times and it hasn’t worked out great for you, has it? Aren’t YOU worthy of love, of compassion? It all starts with you. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, and those around you. That is not a weakness; it is the greatest strength.

Will you have the courage to try it? I would LOVE to hear your comments, especially after you’ve given it a shot…

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  -Ghandi

And yes, I know, it’s not all just as simple as that “bumper sticker quote”. But it’s a damn good place to start.

East-over at the Temple of Juniper

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I am spiritual,  not religious. I find myself saying that more and more often these days, as it really does best describe my position. It came out of my mouth out loud for the first time as my 4-year-old, always questioning, got upset the other day because he said he had “no religion” and was angry and crying about it. I guess it was being discussed at school with the upcoming holiday, and he has heard references in the past of his Daddy being “Jewish” (not practicing, only kind of sort of) and me being “Buddhist” (I take a lot from Buddhism but wouldn’t consider that a religion). I tried to explain it was something personal, that he would learn about all religions and philosophies in his life.  It is something he could decide later when he was older if he wished. He wasn’t happy with that answer. The explanation that worked for him, for now, was “In our family we are spiritual not religious. We are good people, we try to do the best we can, and we take care of each other, the people, the planet”. Which leads to our “holy” trip.
We had the chance to spend the Easter/Passover (= East-over) long weekend camping at Juniper Springs, FL, which is inside Ocala National Forest.  Being there in nature made me feel more connected to Source/Nature/God than any church, or temple, or any other building ever did. The luxury of having nowhere to be, surrounded by trees, nature, and the natural pure springs solidifies for me that life is too short. We are only on this Earth, in these bodies, for such a limited time. I want more time to spend with my family, enjoying nature. As much time as possible. I’m done with the hamster wheel of work work work, hurry hurry hurry, wash, rinse repeat. I want more nature and simplicity in my daily life.  Less alarm clocks,  less complications….more time paddling a kayak surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, jumping off ledges into a pristine watering hole,  dancing around the fire pit with my family, sharing wine with new friends with kids just the perfect age to play with my son while we all got some “grown-up time”…just a plain, over-all slower life.
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Life certainly doesn’t have to be “painful” or “hard” or “fast-paced”, although sometimes it seems like that. Nope. Not my world. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect in any way. But we forget moment by moment that we have choices. Choices on how we perceive things, how we handle things. For example, the last day of our camping trip, right before evening and after supper, a big thunderstorm rained out our last campfire play date. We had to retreat into our tent and throw as much as possible back into the car to keep dry as quickly as possible. And we sat together in the tent and waited. And waited.  And read books. And played games. And dealt with the many, many leaks from the roof of our not-so-water-proof-it-seems tent (who knew you had to seal the seams?). It could have turned into a big, frustrating downer. But we chose not to let it. We made the best of it. Eventually, when the rain turned into a drizzle, we put on our rain gear and took a family night hike with our flashlights, exploring the wet forest which looks completely transformed by the rain. Washed clean. We jumped through puddles, searched for fireflies, attempted (and succeeded, yay, Daddy!) to make our final fire, our blaze of glory with the rest of the firewood.
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So I am grateful we got to spend this particular, significant weekend at our own spiritual place.  That in a sense, we were baptized by the clear waters of Juniper Springs. The possibility of our souls being reborn into a different reality of our choosing had begun.
Happiness.
Peace.
Love.
And although I felt a twinge of all too familiar heaviness as we returned driving back to the big city, I hope we can all maintain some of the clarity of the water to help us stay clear in our vision.
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