Navigate / search

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.

Question Your Beliefs

When I was young I was taught there is a hell where we go after we die if we are bad while alive and a heaven if we are good.  As a little girl and young adult I lived in constant fear. The images of people suffering and burning haunted me when I was asleep and while I was awake. I once threw a gum wrapper out of the car window and was certain I was going to hell. I lied to my mom or took $5 out of my dad’s wallet without permission and was certain I would burn for all eternity. Overall I was a good kid who was convinced I was doomed from the start. It was an absolutely horrible way to live.

One day in my late teens I got fed up with living in fear and said, “Screw it! I am already in hell living in such fear and dread.” That day I realized how much of my religious upbringing was focused on controlling me through fear. But that did not make any sense to me because fear never aligned with the loving, supportive, forgiving God I knew in my heart/soul.

So I began questioning everything I had been taught to believe. Yes, there may be an all-powerful source that I must answer to when I die, but I have not feared it in years. I decided to live each day striving to be the best person possible. Not from fear of punishment or expectation of reward. But for the simple fact doing my best each day keeps me from living in hell and allows me to experience heaven right here, right now, while I am very much alive.

 

Surrender in Prayer

I pray often, but not like I used to. For many years I prayed for things I wanted. Heal my sick grandmother. Help me get an A on a test. Make someone like me. Make someone stop hurting me. Please give us world peace.  Most of what I prayed for never came about. So I grew resentful and angry with the higher power for not granting what I wanted.

Later in life I realized the Divine of my belief is within me, not something outside me. So through my actions I act on behalf of my higher power. With that “aha” I changed my focus from asking the Divine for what I wanted, to going within to listen for what the Divine wanted from me. To hear my higher power I had to surrender working my will and the idea there was something outside me coming to my rescue that would make my life and the world right.  I had to listen to how I could be of service rather than thinking of ways I could be served.

“Knowing” with Emotional Responsibility

I do not comprehend calculus, theoretical physics, string-theory, or quantum mechanics. But there are lots of people who do. So people who understand these things may think that I should be able to understand them too. Maybe some people think I’m not smart because I don’t. The truth is I’m not unintelligent because I do not comprehend higher mathematics, physics, chemistry, cosmology or engineering. My awareness and intelligence lie in other areas. In fact, each of us is at our own level of intellectual and emotional awareness.

This is important to remember since we often get angry with people because we think they should know something because we know something. Just because you and I may comprehend and care about the downside to negative, rude, judgmental, abusive or self-centered behavior does not mean everyone does.

Yes, I intellectually knew stealing twenty dollars out of my dad’s wallet was wrong, but I did it anyway. One day I woke up emotionally. I put myself in his position and questioned how it would feel to have money stolen from me. Asking ‘how would it feel’ connected me to a new level of emotional awareness, that I am personally responsible for the consequences of my actions.

There are those who know on an intellectual level but do not ‘know’ on an emotionally responsible level how their behavior negatively impacts themselves and others. Accepting that some people are emotionally irresponsible does not mean we condone their unconscious or destructive behavior. It means, instead of approaching them with a ‘you should know better attitude,’ we seek higher, heart directed ways to effectively communicate, interact and set boundaries with them.

When Love Smells like Orange Blossoms

Early spring in my neighborhood in Los Angeles, California is a heavenly time to lay in bed at night with the windows open. The orange trees in front of my apartment building are blooming.  Orange blossoms, while fragrant during the day, become intoxicating at night. The sweet perfume wafts invisibly in on the light evening breeze and collects heavily within my room.

For such a powerful fragrance orange blossoms are actually very small. This past week I spent thirty minutes picking up many of the tiny, paper thin blossoms that had fallen from the trees. Seeing them from the ground in clumps is deceiving.  Only when I was squatted on the ground did I truly appreciate how little the blossoms are.  It takes quite a number of them to fill even the smallest package.  But I carried on determined and stayed bent over, squatting and kneeling under my orange trees until I’d picked up hundreds, cramming the teeny zip lock baggie full until it was bursting. I found a cheerful greeting card, put the sealed package of orange blossoms inside, and mailed it to my mother.

With everything mother has done in her 88 ½ years, of all the places she’s traveled throughout the world, she shared in a recent nightly telephone conversation, that she has never once smelled orange blossoms.  As I sealed the envelop I felt the excitement of her surprise at opening the card. Of her wondering for a moment what in the world I’d sent her.  Of her opening the teeny zip lock package, and for the first time breathing deeply, taking in the intoxicating fragrance, the smell of my love for her in the form of orange blossoms.