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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.”

An Intimate Heart-Moment

Today I was eating at a local restaurant when a young woman in her early twenties sat on a bench outside the window.  She had several suitcases and other stuff.  She held a small neatly printed sign that read, “Pregnant and trying to get home to Seattle.” After a few minutes as people passed they put dollar bills in a cup she had next to her.  She thanked each one. Some stopped to talk with her.

Thinking she may be hungry I asked the waiter to take her a menu. I finished my lunch just as he took her the food and drink she’d ordered. I could tell she was asking him who bought her lunch but I’d asked him to say it was an anonymous friend.

As I left the restaurant she was enjoying the meal. I smiled at her and she smiled back. As I passed I put $5 in her cup. She reached up touched my arm and said,”Thank you so much.” “You are welcome please take care of yourself,” I said. She said, “I am. I’m going back home to people who care.”

Buying food for the young woman felt great.  Giving her money also felt good. But the most fulfilling part was sharing an intimate heart-moment in conversation and that gentle touch. It made my soul sing and it will each time I think of her and our exchange.

Broaden Your View

Have you ever seen a dog with a plastic collar? Sometimes they must wear it after surgery or when they have an injury so they do not lick the wound. But the collar severely restricts their vision to only what is directly ahead of them.

For many years I went through life wearing an invisible collar. My focus was so narrow I could only see my point of view. My thoughts, preferences, desires, and goals were the only ones that mattered. What other people thought or felt was not important because I was always right. My egocentric tunnel vision view caused me to believe I was the center of the universe. But living alone with my personal importance was not satisfying or easy. It seemed I was always in conflict. I had to defend myself against people who challenged me. I found fault, tore other people down in a need to be better, different, and special. It was a lonely and angry way to live.

One day someone close to me had the courage to tell me how self-absorbed and narrow minded I was. At first I was defensively angry. Later I realized I was hurt and embarrassed. Eventually I became grateful because she was right.

It was the painful wake-up call I needed to take off my “it’s all about me” collar. Only when I was free from the narrow view of “me” did my heart open so I appreciate the greater wisdom and power of “we.”

 

Patience is Power

It took me a while to learn how to live patient in the present. I had convinced myself that impatience effected change and got things done. But I slowly learned that was not true.

Being impatient did not result in taking purposeful actions that resulted in my best life. The exact opposite was true. Impatience caused me to be disconnected from the present moment and from the wisdom of weighing the consequences of my actions before I took action. Being impatient got me into trouble, created stress, worry, and did not create positive change.

It was not easy to move myself into a new lifestyle of being patient. My mind fought me every step of the way. But I did not give up or give in. I remained determined to teach myself to remain patiently present in the now.

Next time you feel impatient, stop and take three deep breaths. Intentionally ground yourself in the present moment. Teaching yourself to remain patient is one of the most important actions you will take to create the life you really want.  When you are patient you are in control of yourself and in control of the actions you take or decide not to take. When you are patiently in control of your now moment actions you can string those intentionally present moments together to create your best life.

The Actions Behind “I Love You”

It is easy to say, “I love you.” It is more challenging to actually love because to give and receive love we give and receive positive behavior.

Giving love is being kind, peaceful, loyal and honest. We are faithful, compassionate, supportive, and patient.

Receiving love we feel valued, heard, and appreciated. We feel nurtured and accepted.

We feel love through receiving positive behavior. Someone we love knows we love them through receiving positive behavior.

It is giving  and receiving positive behavior that gives real meaning to, “I love you.”

Remember Your Actions Teach

In my experience abuse and domestic violence are often passed on from parents to children. So when I hear people say they cannot leave an abusive relationship because of the children, my heart breaks.

No, setting a firm boundary against abuse is not easy and often requires intervention. But not setting a boundary to do things differently lets the children in the situation know it is acceptable to take a lack of self-respect and self-control out on others through abuse.

Anytime we are up against a hard decision we must ask ourselves what our behavior is teaching others. To stop generational abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and the handing down of misguided beliefs someone has to bravely stand up and say no. Someone who courageously does stand up against abuse is not only doing it for themselves but also for their children and the generations to come.

We are the ones we are waiting for to end domestic violence, bullying and child abuse.  We must look at what our actions teach others about what we truly value. We must be the one who bravely go first by courageously standing up to do things differently.

A Movie to See

Last night I watched the movie “The Impossible.” There were three or four coming attractions and a request to support a related not for profit organization then the menu shot appeared. My hand shook as I tried to press play, then I began to sob and could not stop. It was only a picture of a peaceful beach but for about five minutes I was overwhelmed with the sadness I felt coming back into my heart.

I remember December 26, 2004 and the Indian Ocean tsunami like it was yesterday. And, it has taken me years to prepare my heart to go back to that space of raw terror and desperation for those who survived and sadness at the loss of over 230,000 of our brothers and sisters and so much life.

Watching violence or people getting hurt is so hard for me. I watched to be reminded what is truly important in life. I wanted to witness the miraculous and gut wrenching true story of María Belón Alvárez and her husband and three sons. My heartbreak for all those who suffered was tempered by engaging in the love, determination, faith, generosity and gratitude of the human spirit.

I watched this film because I wanted to remember, to be there in a way, to crack my heart open wider. This film did that, and so much more. I am forever changed, in a very good way.

Put Yourself In Another Person’s Shoes

I often keep the front door to my apartment open in the mornings and my little dog lays in the sunshine. Today a cable TV technician, who I did not know was around, abruptly left my next door neighbor’s apartment and startled my dog who let out one loud super big bark. Startled he screamed, very loudly and with much anger, “SHUT UP!” at her as he passed.

His tone of voice was so sharp it felt like being hit in the stomach. Had I not stayed in control of myself I would have said something to him. But I did not allow myself to react. Instead I took a deep breath and put myself in his position.

Although my little dog was inside our apartment I would have jumped too had I passed by and she barked loudly at me. She is and always will be protective. While I appreciate the “doggie job” she does I can certainly understand how startling it is when out of complete silence she barks. The same thing has happened to me when UPS sneaks up and I do not hear them approach the door but she does and lets out an ear-piercing warning bark. It sends me sky high. So taking time to relate to the man’s startle is what allowed me to let his screaming harshly at my little dog go.

I cannot tell you how dramatically my life has improved for the better since I learned to stay in control of myself. I really concentrate hard on no longer reacting without thought. I learned that by taking a moment to place myself in the position of another person I am able to see their side, which combined with my own observations leads to determining when to say something, and as in this case, when not to say anything. However, I did get up and shut the door so my dog, and I, and the man stayed peaceful as he passed by three more times.