Saturday, December 13, 2008

Open for Surprises

This is the season for gift giving and surprises. There can tend to be a lot of suspense as children and adults alike hope they'll receive that special gift they asked for. Many people of all ages cannot take the suspense and will tend to sneak a peek. Others relish the surprise and find the suspense leading up to the big opening to be a major factor of the joy in receiving a gift.

I am, without question, one that truly enjoys a surprise. I love not knowing what I may receive, and in some cases, if I will even receive something. I prefer to not expect anything, let alone a particular item. My belief is you cannot be disappointed, if you are not attached to anything in particular.

If there is a gift for me, I love to be present in the moment wondering what it could be. I'm grateful, not only for the gift itself, but for the fact that someone took the time to think of me and make or purchase something especially for me. My joy level typically cannot be distinguished by the expense or size of the gift, since it is the love behind it that really delights me.

My delight in surprises is also true in life. I love not knowing what is going to happen next. There's a bit of a rush just watching how things develop leading up to an event or a particular experience. There was a time when I tended to plan everything, leaving no room for surprises. Now, I tend to create experiences that will have many open doors leaving room for surprises to enter.

It seems, the more I let go of control and surrender to what is, the bigger the kick I get out of seeing what shows up. I particularly love it when my life experiences surpass anything I could have ever imagined. This is no small feat, since I do have quite an imagination.

I notice I have been influenced by the spirit of children a lot lately, and this topic is no exception. Anticipating whatever is next for me in my life, without knowing exactly what it will look or feel like, makes me smile.

My goal with any of the surprises that show up in my life, is to see each experience as a gift. Part of the surprise may be in how I handle a challenge, or it may be in how fearless I can be, or more importantly, in how grateful I can be.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Child Wisdom

If we adults paid more attention to the natural responses and actions of children, I believe we would all be happier. This, I believe is true on many levels and one specific area I'd like to focus on in this writing is a child's ability to believe.

A frequent side effect of maturity is cynicism. Where we once had amazing imaginations and creativity when we were children, often times as adults we exchange that colorful way of living life for a more practical and sensible way of only just looking at the facts.

One fact may be that your bank account is low. Purely looking at this fact could feel pretty sad...even a bit desperate. The child's view may be one based on the pure ability to believe anything is possible. The child may think, " can't get much worse, it will be great fun to see it now, let's see how can I make it grow?"

If there is some medical insult to an adult's health, they may fear the worse and lose hope for ever feeling better again. A child's belief may include a knowing that all that can be done, will be done and that until they are well again, they will accept what is present and make the most of it. They will also be delighted by any little gift one would give them as they recuperated.

The possibilities for bumps in the road of life are endless and without question, my money is on the children for more consistently believing that all will be well again. If you're thinking that sometimes things don't turn out all right, that is true, yet even when that is the case, the lack of belief and the absence of hope can drain the joy out of anyone very quickly.

The lesson I take from the natural element of a child's wisdom and their ability to believe is to allow myself to feel loved and cared for, and to be open at each step of the journey, knowing that whatever the outcome, all will be well.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Human or Spirit?

In the experience of living my own life and observing the process of life of others, it seems we choose to either see ourselves as primarily human (physical beings) or spirit (spiritual beings). Depending on our focus, our experience of all the "stuff" that can show up in our lives can be poles apart.

I have lived holding the focus of the physical for most of my life and have had my share of challenges and suffering. About 9 years ago, I serendipitously slipped into the self discovery of identifying myself as spirit living in a human body, and that has shown me to be much more in alignment with what I believe to be, the truth. So what's the difference between the two?

Having lived in both perspectives, I can say without question, one allows pain and suffering, the other doesn't. Now, I realize I have arms, legs, gallbladder, kidneys, brain etc., but those organs and body parts do not make up who I am. If for some reason, an organ becomes ill-functioning and is removed, who I am is not changed. If a body is grossly damaged and there is nothing left that resembles the human form that once was, the who of you is unchanged. When one becomes very old and is no longer able to do the things they once did, the truth of them is not changed.

I see this as exciting news, knowing body parts will wear out, we may become ill, we will all grow older, and our bodies will eventually die, yet the spirit of each of us will continue to "be".

I am not one to seek needless suffering, so it is my focus to remember I am spirit, not a body. That which makes up me is actually connected and one with that which makes you. When all is said and done, our experiences in these human bodies give us the opportunity to do our best in letting the two entities meld. When we pay more, (or at least as much) attention to nurturing our spiritual selves, the physical body can also respond in a very positive way. Life can be more comfortable, happier and generally easier.

It is my belief, without question, the better and the sooner we learn this, the more joyful our experience in our physical bodies can be. Would you like to join me in this perspective?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Story

Early this morning while out for a walk, I came upon a middle aged couple walking towards me. We were on a back road with no traffic and no interferences for a friendly connection. In my typical way, I greeted the couple with a "Good Morning". There was no verbal response, only a raising of their eyes from the pavement to me. In fact, there was no sign of a friendly response of any sign of a smile or even a nod of acknowledgment. As we passed, I turned around and wished them a pleasant day, this time, not expecting a response.

In the past, I may have made up a story that this couple didn't like me. Although they were complete strangers, my imagination could have stretched in creating a wild story even about why they didn't like me. Another path my creativity could have taken is that this couple would have been anti-social....or maybe depressed....or perhaps insane and escaped from an institution.

At the present time, I am happy to say, my old story making tendency did not surface. I did not take offense, nor did it disturb me that they did not return my friendly greeting. The truth is I don't know what may have been present for this couple and it actually doesn't matter.

Catching ourselves making up stories is one of the most effective ways to reconnect with the truth of what "is". At times, we can be so convinced that our story is true, our day and even our life can be negatively affected by it.

If you find it challenging to break your habit of making up stories, then I suggest you try making one up that feels good. Often times our stories make us feel scared, confused and insecure and although they are not based on the truth, we can be convinced they are. Exchanging those thoughts with ones that make us smile and even laugh at ourselves can change your day to a positive an instant.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Believe....

We all hold certain beliefs that we feel strongly about. One of mine, based on my experience, is that the teens of today show great promise of being our leaders of tomorrow and that they are much more caring and compassionate than what many believe.

In working with the students of Project: Inside Out, I get to see up close and personal what these kids are made of. Outwardly we adults may have concerns that teenagers only care about themselves and are naturally disrespectful or selfish. It's true we often see some teens behaving that way in the media and sometimes even in our streets. You may even witness some negative behaviors in your homes. What I consistently see, however, is that there is much more to each student than what we often see.

The basis of my belief that there is much to be admired and gratefully acknowledged is based on seeing them show up authentically. When there is a safe space for them to gather, knowing they will not be judged, teased or compared, I see them shine. If there is sometimes negative behaviors that show up in their homes or schools, I believe they are acting out in fear....A fear of losing something, perhaps even their self-respect. In response they may act out aggressively, believing this is their only way to survive and to improve their situations. When a student knows they have greater, more positive powers within that can help them deal with difficult situations in a peaceful way that is in alignment with who they really are, everyone wins.

The topics of our discussions in our sessions with Project: Inside Out cover what I see as being the basic tenets of leadership.....compassion for self and others, owning your own natural gifts and strengths and seeing them in others, awareness of prejudices and assumptions we and others hold, communicating while caring what someone has to say, rather than having to have the last word and being empowered rather than holding your power over another.

I just completed work with my 13th group of students and once again was moved to tears at the natural kindness, consideration and desires they hold in having a positive impact on the world.

So if you have any concerns of this generation, I can encourage you to relax and to look more closely for the goodness in each student. I believe, without question the world will be in good hands.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

No Hub in My Bub

Typically at this point in the holiday season, I have much on my plate and am feeling overwhelmed at varying degrees, depending on the day. A term many of us refer to that seems to capture us like fish in a net, is the Holiday Hub Bub. Every year we may tell ourselves we are going to keep things simple and not lose our sense of joy by doing so much, only to find we somehow get caught up with the doing of Christmas rather than truly experiencing and appreciating the holiday.

For the past 8 years I have been more and more mindful of taking the hub out of my bub, only to find I still get hooked into doing things I think I should do rather than what I truly want to do. I have noticed, however, that my hub level has gotten lower and lower. I only bake the cookies I want to, rather than feeling obligated to do everything I have always done. My list of those to shop for has decreased significantly. My husband and I are not over-scheduled with parties to attend. I may or may not send cards this year. Instead of giving my time to shoulds, I am paying attention to putting my attention to what truly pleases me and brings joy rather than stress.

A remarkable result is I'm noticing the long list of things I held in my mind has been exchanged for one thing at a time. In other words, when I am shopping, I am fully present and enjoying my shopping. When I am baking, I am fully present and enjoying my baking. The bottom line is by being present with what is on my holiday plate in that moment and not stressing over that which is yet to be completed, feels good. The overall benefit I am experiencing is everything I want to get done is getting done, yet I feel relaxed and calm in my process. In fact, I have felt so spacious, I had to stop and think if I was missing some vital part of my holiday preparations.

I realize I have another 2 1/2 weeks to go, but am feeling confident I can maintain this one-thing-at-a-time mentality and only doing that which feels good.

I'm seeing (and feeling) clearly that presence this Christmas is much more desired than presents .

Sunday, December 7, 2008


There are some words in the English language that are particularly appealing to me. Sometimes when I hear a word it makes me pickle. I'm not sure why, it just does. Some words wake me up and make me stand up straight, such as empowered or believe. Some words stimulate me to think, like wonder or create. The words love, peace and joy also have a very powerful affect on me, causing me to remember their essence is always within me. The word I am focusing on today is one that creates ease for me when I see it, hear it, or speak it and that word is simple. Of course I am also fond of the cousins to simple....simplify, simplicity, simply.

So what is it about simple that it has such a powerful effect on me? One thing I know is that I love it when I am living in ease, and keeping things simple helps to create ease. Having reminders of keeping it simple when I am far too focused on a project, rather than the people I am intending to serve, is always helpful. I have signs in different rooms of my home that often catch my eye when I am making things far too complicated that remind me of the power of simplicity.

When I see a reminder of the art of simplicity, I simply slow down...I take a breath and ask myself where am I creating drama and confusion that is not needed, not that drama and confusion are ever needed. Once I get present and see what I am creating in the moment, I let go of something, or at times, just stop what I was doing so I can refocus on what is truly important.

Creating our own chaos and confusion is quite common for many of us. We can tend to live amongst numerous dramas that only pull us away from keeping our lives simple, easy and joyful. The good news is once we see where we are contributing to making life hard, we can change our thoughts about it, stripping away that which is unnecessary, making our lives simple and easy. All it takes is one thought at a time.