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Trust Behavior Over Words

One of the most important things I learned is that love is not blind. People showed me exactly who they were. Too often I preferred to see who I wanted them to be rather than who they really were, even when they continued to show me the worst of themselves.

Part of loving me was learning to see people’s behavior for the truth of what it really was rather than the fantasy I was creating and clinging to in the name of love. The first step was learning to see my behavior for what it really is too.

Challenges are Opportunities

Within the first six months of 2001 I had lost my job, my home, my relationship, and the city where I had lived for almost 20 years.  Almost everything I identified with or cared about was taken from me.  This experience taught me that often it takes our being knocked down by life’s challenges for us to recognize there are changes we need to make.

Nothing we experience in life is without purpose. Each trial and tribulation presents an opportunity for us to learn how to be better people and how to do life better. I learned it is choosing to view the challenges of life as opportunities to grow, rather than viewing ourselves as a victim, that leads to our blossoming.

Look for the Truth

Growing up in the Southern part of the United States I was told, “People who live in California are weird.”  I moved to Los Angeles ten years ago this coming January and it is not at all what I was told it was.  Like most things in life we only get someone’s biased point of view when they give their opinion.  It takes real experience for us to know the truth. That is why I make it a point of knowing as many of my neighbors as possible.

We live together in the second largest city in the United States so we live close to one another.  In my neighborhood there are several apartment complexes along with single family housing. We have business owners with shops around the corner. There are several schools so there are lots of children. We are every color, nationality, religion, and for the most part, we live peacefully side by side.  So I want to get to know them as a part of my neighborhood family.

It is important to feel that connection with one another so we watch out for each other. We take care of one another. We appreciate and respect one another.  My life is so much better because I know my neighbors.  They are wonderful testaments to the peaceful, kind, and compassionate world we are creating. I feel blessed to live where I do.

I am also blessed to have learned that simply because someone believes something does not make it fact. People in California are not weird at all.  Just look at what I would have missed had I believed what I was told growing up. I am so glad to have a rebellious streak – at least when it comes to finding out truth for myself.

The Healing Power of our Natural World

During the period in my life when I suffered with depression I kept myself separate from the outside world. Day after day I plodded along doing what I must to survive while on the inside I was totally consumed with my suffering. I was completely focused on how lonely, sad and miserable I was.

One day I got tired of the drama and went for a long walk around a lake at a National Forest. Immersing myself in nature allowed something within me to shift. Completely surrounded by beauty and the wonders of life for the entire day I hardly thought about my suffering, my aloneness, my depression.

While that one outing did not cure my depression it did open the door to what actions I could take to make myself feel better.  Every day I continued to enter into the natural world.  With each outing I felt freer and more connected to all that is alive.  Simply watching a mother duck and her babies, or a dragonfly, or the sunlight dancing on the lake brought me happiness.  It was a very good start and a wonderfully positive habit that I maintain today.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if all we concentrate on is instant gratification, technology, negativity, and our loneliness. It’s easy to collapse into ourselves, our problems, and the negativity. Simply taking time to sit in nature is often just what we need to open the door to allow light into the darkness so we remember there is a way out.

Living Aligned with Love

I am often asked if I ever get angry. You bet. Today someone forwarded an email to me that was hate-filled and judgmental. It was one of those things you see passed around the internet with photos of certain groups of people with sickening, ignorant and disparaging comments. It made me want to scream for two main reasons.

First, the person who sent this did so without thinking that by forwarding this type trash she is actually condoning the message.  If she stopped to feel what it is like to be the people who were the subject of the photo essay she would be appalled with her behavior. Second, there is absolutely nothing positive that is gained from spreading stereotypical condemnations of anyone.  It’s not innocent or funny or cute. Spreading these type immature and unconscious vilifications actually supports the continuance of ignorance and divisiveness.

Ladies and gentlemen we CANNOT create our best life if we do not think before we act. We must ask ourselves how it will feel to be on the receiving end of our behavior, even if that is forwarding an email. We must have the heart to put ourselves in the position of other people. So what if someone is not like us. Thank goodness we have been, by Divine design, made as individuals unlike anyone else on earth.  What we do share is a heart that is connected to each other so we can feel what we each feel.

It is time you and I stop allowing those within our intimate circles to believe it is okay to send us these type messages.  We must set a boundary, not to change the unconscious and unfeeling, but to change us so we lead with our heart to support our fellow human being’s differences rather than blind prejudice. We must treat others as we want to be treated and be the example of how to create our best life by living aligned with love.

Yes I did set a boundary. Yes I was kind when I clearly and directly asked that she never send me anything like that again. No, I am no longer angry.

Love Yourself First to Love Others Well

Growing up I was taught I had to love God and other people first.  But no one ever told me what that actually looked like.  No one ever answered my question, “How can I love something or someone else if I do not love me?”  Even as a child that logic did not feel right – it simply did not make sense that I could give what was not within me first to give. And, what does love mean anyway when it seemed to be more about control, judgment, telling me how I was wrong, and ridicule.

One day I realized that what I had been taught to believe was not actually possible.  Love is positive behavior like compassion, forgiveness, patience, responsibility, honesty, loyalty, etc. So unless I was compassionate with myself first it was not possible to be compassionate with others. The same is true for all the behaviors of love. I came to the realization loving had to begin with me because unless I loved myself it was impossible to give love to anything or anyone else. I would only be going through the motions but without genuine emotional and spiritual connectedness to the feelings. That is when I realized loving me first is not selfish but spiritually responsible. I came to this heart-awareness by having courage to question what I was taught to believe about myself, others and the world.  Today I believe God is love. So by loving myself first I am being love and that to me is what loving God looks like.

One of the most important spiritual realizations is accepting that because you are taught to believe something does not make it true. And because you are taught not to believe something does not make if false. Lead with your higher wisdom and take charge of questioning beliefs that do not align with the positive, loving, inclusive behaviors of your heart because often it is changing your view that changes you.

The Upside Of Jealousy

At one time in life I was jealous of other people’s good fortune, physical appearance, career, home, car, mate, etc. It seemed I was always finding something to envy in

other people. But jealously made me feel horrible and did nothing to create my happy and fulfilled life. So, one day I intentionally sat down to bravely look my jealousy in the eye.

By taking time to ask why I was envious I realized I was not honestly upset that someone had more money, a better job, a bigger house, or a better car.  I was disappointed in myself for not responsibly spending the money I made. Likewise, I was not envious that other people were more physically attractive. I was upset because I did not value myself enough to appreciate and take the best care of my body.  Also, I was not really jealous of another person’s partner. I was upset because I did not know myself well enough to attract another person with the positive values I wanted in a lasting relationship.

Today I am grateful I had the courage to honestly look at the motivations behind my envy. I learned jealousy is the perfect mirror in which to find a reflection of what I need to look at within myself.

Illuminating Darkness

Imagine living in a society where you have no access to education or the internet, no contact with any views other than those of your political or religious oppressors. Without being encouraged to think on your own or to develop your own views based on seeking truth and fact you would simply recite a jumble of pre-programmed jargon that to others would seem madness.

Let’s keep within our heart the fact that there are people in the world who live under such oppression. Although we do not condone or tolerate violence, hate, or abuse as a result of their misguided agendas, we can have compassion for them.  No matter how unconscious we may evaluate their ignorance and hate to be, the truth remains that they can only do better when they know better. Let’s do better by not stooping to their level. Let’s continue to be strong and faithful representatives of love, the only force with the power to illuminate darkness.

We Are Powerful

When I was 21 I was briefly locked up in a psychiatric hospital. I became severely depressed.  At least that is what I was told I was.  Deep inside I knew that my depression was the result of no longer being able to outrun the personal issues I had struggled with all of my life. Without anyone to confide in and nowhere to turn for help I retreated inward as an act of desperate self-preservation.

At the time I considered life too unbearable to continue. So the answer as professionals saw it was to medicate me and slap a variety of labels on my condition.  But that only served to further distance me from a real solution to my underlying problem – self-acceptance.

While I cannot speak for everyone I have learned many things about the variety of reasons we get lost in the limitations of our mind. With our lives moving at ever faster speeds we are often too quick to reach for a drug, or to give up on ourselves, or to isolate ourselves in an attempt to cope. For me, healing began in earnest when I stopped looking for answers to repair my heart from someone or something outside me.  As long as I continued to give my power away to other people to fix my life, to accept me as I was, or to validate my existence, my life remained broken.

While one size does not fit all when we speak about moving past depression and traumatic issues, I feel it is important to remember that our soul is the force that helps us overcome many challenges that we tell ourselves that we cannot.  While physical and emotional trials are very real, so is our soul’s power to move past them. For me and countless others who have taken our power back we simply want to share our experience of how powerful we truly are when we truly want to be.

 

Stay Agreeable When Disagreeing

Recently I raised my voice in conversation with a young man who would not stop talking long enough for me to speak. I was attempting to change an airline reservation and he repeated the same things over and over without once allowing me to finish a sentence. He kept interrupting, did not answer any of my questions, and then tried to overcharge me for the reservation change.

I listened attentively each time he spoke. I waited patiently for an opening. Yet without fail each time I began to speak he interrupted me. This went on for 15 minutes. Finally I said in a strong voice, “Sir, I certainly am glad our conversation is being recorded because when dealing with the public you need to learn to listen so you can help your customers. I also sincerely hope you still have a job after we are done.” I am certain he did not hear me say this either since he was still talking over me.

There are moments when we must assert ourselves. However, on those occasions when it becomes necessary to firmly set boundaries with those who are rude and uncooperative our goal is to still remain kind and courteous. So, I was very polite when I said, “Sir, I am hanging up now.”