Friday, December 31, 2010

Flipping Through the Pages

It has become a tradition for me the last few years to flip back through the pages of my appointment calendar on New Year's Eve and reflect on the happenings of the previous year.

After having just completed my flipping process, I am once again amazed how fast the months of 2010 have seemed to fly. Of course, I know clock time does not change, it is just our perception of it, but it does seem to have been a fast moving and very full year.

My reflections span the many categories of life, including events involving family, friends, my work and of course the unexpected.

There have been new adventures, some repeated experiences, some new professional triumphs, challenging medical and surgical experiences and some sad good-byes to friends that have left this world.

I received good news and sad news. I have experienced serendipitous, joy filled surprises and unexpected tragedies.

I have traveled to many places, meeting many new people whom I now consider to be friends.

My son was injured in Afghanistan and treated for numerous traumas, but survived, married and became a father to an 11 year old boy, making me a grandmother.

I have supported others through the pages of their lives as they dealt with challenges like failed marriages, cancer, depression and failing businesses.

I have done work that I love and have been challenged to continue to learn and grow, being reminded I will never be done.

I have been inspired by the kids I work with and touched by their willingness to be open with me and their desire to live great lives.

I have been called forth to play even bigger and to imagine doing things and visiting places that I once have only read or heard stories about.

I have laughed myself silly, cried unexpectedly, and calmly met events that at another time in life would have caused me to scream.

I have read many books, filled many pages in my journals and wrote many blog posts.

I have hugged and been hugged countless times, meditated daily and have said thank you often, both silently and loudly .

I have been touched to the core as I have listened to other's stories, dreams and fears.

I have had many massages and pedicures, napped a lot, danced a lot, walked a lot, loved a lot, forgave a lot and downward facing dogged a lot.

I have worn my many hats as a wife, Mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, business partner, mentor, trainer and coach with enthusiasm and joy.

Yep, I can say with complete confidence, 2010 has been a wonderful and full year and trust that every experience will help me face all that is coming in 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Best Friend

I have been developing a relationship with a new friend for several years now and am truly enjoying our time together. I am growing and learning every moment we connect and am noticing a greater confidence in myself as a result of this friendship.

My friend does not judge me by my mistakes or my successes. Their opinion of me is not affected by how I look, my mood, how much money I made last year or by the thoughts and beliefs others may hold of me.

My friend encourages me to keep on going when I am frustrated or feeling defeated, and to rest when I am simply too tired to do one more thing.

My friend is a great companion since they are fun to be with, a great listener, and extremely amusing, which always brings out the best in me.

My friend makes me laugh and helps me to not take life so seriously.

My friend understands everything about me.....they know my life story and they don't read more into it than what is actually there. They are not interested in the drama....just the truth.

My friend encourages me to do my best, but understands when I don't. I am always encouraged to simply try again.

My friend calls me on my stuff when I'm making excuses or just plain scared, but never insults me or puts me down. I know they are simply calling me forth to live the way I say I want to.

My friend comforts me or gives me a kick in the pants, depending on what I need, and always knows what is truly needed based on the truth of the moment, not a projection of their ego.

My friend inspires me by interacting with me with love, compassion, understanding and most of all, forgiveness. I trust that they will never abandon me or treat me with dis-respect.

My friend loves me, unconditionally and I will never ever doubt it. In fact, it is the how and the why I choose this life I am living.

I know without my friend's loving kindness, life would be harder, more frightening and certainly not as much fun.

This friend will be a life-long companion since my friend is me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Attention Humanity: Sprit of the Season Will Be Continued

Imagine humanity was given notice that the spirit of Christmas will continue past January 1st. imagine what it would be like if our heightened practice of praising Jesus, showing goodwill toward men (and women), generously sharing our wealth with charities, visiting our neighbors with plates of cookies, singing songs of joy, giving gifts to show our appreciation of those we love, speaking to strangers in that merry way that people do this time of year, and basically living our days in a Ho Ho Ho sort of way, could last all year long.

Well, I imagine this quite often and I think it's possible...that is if each one of us remained conscious of living with joy and were willing to love our neighbors indefinitely. The impact would be infectious....just like it is between Thanksgiving and January 1st. If we all agree to practice being kind, respectful, generous, caring, thoughtful, patient, compassionate and forgiving, we can extend this season that feels so good for so many, all year long.

Once we all got the hang of it, I bet we would see a happier world overall. There would be fewer divorces and an increase in number of happy, secure children. Businesses would improve in sales, reinforcing the economy. Politicians would become more focused on doing what's best for the people, rather than their own careers. We'd be taking better care of the planet because more people would sincerely care about their impact. People would listen to one another rather than demanding to be heard. If we maintained the intention of goodwill, eventually wars would end.

Perhaps you think my musing is silly and that it is not compatible with human nature. Isn't it true that when we are stressed, rude, demanding or uncaring we are actually behaving in a way that is incompatible with how we were intended to be?

If my offer to continue in the spirit of the season by living with love and joy all year round appeals to you, feel free to join me. This idea might just spread.....pass it on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

40 Years...Some Things Never Change

I recently attended my 40th high school reunion. I've attended several earlier reunions and have always had a great time, but this one stood out for me. Maybe it's because 40 seems like such a big number, signifying that I would see huge changes in all of my old friends. Maybe it's due to a belief I held while still in high school that celebrating 40 years of anything, meant you were ancient, and I don't feel like that now that I'm here.

Whatever the beliefs I had leading up to this celebration, I was very happy I attended.

This reunion was an informal gathering, which seemed to allow more room for visiting, reminiscing and lots and lots of laughter.

As I reconnected with each of my fellow 40-year grads, I experienced a sort of surreal felt kind of like being caught in a time warp between 1970 and the present day. What I discovered was that even though we have each lived a lot of life since high school, there was a familiar sameness to each person with whom I connected.

It didn't matter what our stories were or how many marriages we've had, what illnesses we have survived, how many children we've parented, where we've lived, what we do for a living or what our plans are for the future. We were all together again as if no time had passed.

Perhaps the greatest difference was that we were now each secure in who we are and did not feel a need to impress or fit in with the crowd. For five hours or so, the clock turned back and I, once again, was connecting with people with whom I had shared a very special time in my life.

At one point in the evening, I sat back and looked around and noticed that each person emitted the same kind of feeling or energy they did in 1970. Mannerisms, facial expressions, the way they laughed and even hugged, was the same. Sure, there was grey hair, different body shapes and facial contours, but the essence of who every one "is" felt the same.

The gift I take away from this experience is the knowing that although we may all be older (obviously), wiser (hopefully) and well-lived (surely), we are still made of the same stuff that was present back in the day when we were first launching into our grown-up lives, not knowing what was going to happen next.

In fact, here we are again, launching into the next stage of life, still not knowing what may be coming next.

Whatever it is, I bet at any point that we reconnect in the future, I will still feel the same "essence" of each of my classmates.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Spirit's Quest

I had lunch with a friend today that will be setting off in two weeks on a spirit quest of sorts. He told me he doesn’t know why he’s going, or where he will go, or even what he will do when he gets there. He just knows in his heart that he is being called to travel around the United States (especially in the warmer southern climates), and be of service along the way.

There have been lots of things to do in preparing for this journey, such as selling his house and belongings, acquiring and learning how to operate a travel trailer, and saying good-by to friends and family before setting off on his adventure. He is trimming his belongings to a minimum, taking only what is necessary.

As my friend told his story which led him to this day, I felt his joyful anticipation, his sureness that he is following his purpose and the fear of taking off into the unknown without a plan. It felt like I was a witness to a conversation between his spirit, who was confidently charting his course, and his ego self, that continued to bring up points why this is a crazy idea. It was clear, his spirit has the most influence on his decisions.

As my spirit tuned into his energy the resulting enthusiasm was contagious. Sitting across the table, seeing the no-kidding sureness in his eyes, I noticed my own excitement about living an adventuresome life. Although our spirit’s quests are not the same, that feeling of joy we have when we trust our true self is within us all.

Although I can’t predict specifics, I believe regardless of the experiences my friend may have, he will be enriched, enlivened and an inspiration to others to also follow their spirit’s quests.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Unkindness Does Not Discriminate

I've been thinking about a young friend for the past few days that encountered a blatant and unprovoked experience of racism from a stranger last week.

Naturally, my friend was stunned and hurt as the verbal attacker told her to return to her own country. (My friend is a U.S. citizen and although born in India, was adopted at a very young age and has lived a very American life). I won't go into why this young woman deserves respect, since I believe we all innately deserve this universal act of kindness. What is dumbfounding to me is that this attack was apparently justified in this woman's mind.

Perhaps, this woman believed she was doing and saying the right thing by sharing her racist and discriminatory remarks. I imagine she was simply afraid that anyone that does not look like her may be taking away some freedom or opportunity reserved for only certain people....those that she approves as worthy. Perhaps her attack was simply her fighting against a perceived injustice and my innocent friend got caught in the cross-fire.

I wonder if this woman considers herself to be reasonable, thoughtful and kind. If she does, then does she believe that kindness is discriminatory? Does she believe only certain colors of skin, or certain life styles, or people from select backgrounds, countries and families deserve kindness and respect? Must we prove to one another that we are worthy of respect? If we are all subject to this potential criticism from those that come from different backgrounds, Is there one list of criterion that justifies our worthiness?

At this point in time, it seems, based on this account, that unkindness does not discriminate. My friend's heart, her talents or her contributions to society were not assessed and weighed, otherwise she would have surely passed the test of deserved respect.

I actually feel more pity for the woman that made the attack, since it is she that apparently does not feel secure enough to see beyond her very narrow minded view. My friend, although hurt by the attack, knows and loves who she is and will continue to be kind, respectful and caring about others, even when they don't look like her.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Miracles Happen

Today is my birthday. I happen to like birthdays, even though I'm in the age range where they may not typically be celebrated with joyful delight. For me, celebration of life is always in order as long as I'm alive. This particular blip on the calendar of my sequence of years is noteworthy since a week ago today I was in ICU recovering from an emergency abdominal surgery.

The story actually begins two weeks ago while doing some presentations in Jamaica. I noticed I was having some intermittent abdominal discomfort which was easily ignored. My mild complaints never interfered with the wonderful time I was experiencing in paradise.

After two weeks of living in Jamaican paradise, I was ready to return home to my normal routine, which is exactly what I did for the first two days. After eating a simple bowl of cereal for breakfast, just before my first client for the day arrived on September 29th, the mild discomfort I had been noticing intermittently, amped up considerably and became constant. Since I'm a firm believer in not obsessing about every little discomfort, I did my best through that hour long appointment to stay focused on my client. Before another hour passed, I was in the local emergency room, screaming "Uncle". After assessment, I.V. push pain meds and some diagnostic studies, I was off to the next leg of the adventure, a bowel resection. By that evening I was resting comfortably in ICU, minus 6-9 inches of my small intestine.

The miracle piece of this story is that my onset of severe abdominal pain did not occur while visiting a third world country or on a flight back to the U.S., or while waiting for a delayed flight in the Philadelphia airport. It happened a half mile away from a hospital that was able to treat me with complete and competent care.

Today.....(did I mention it's my birthday?), the sun was shining after a long stint of rain. I accepted it as a gift, even a little miracle. I felt great. No pain, good mobility, and no need for medication. The postman then appeared at my door with a box too large to fit in the mailbox, which is always fun. It was a gift from my friend Molly, which was a small pillow with the embroidered words, "In the presence of LOVE miracles happen".

If you follow this blog, you know love is a major focus in my life. I love love. This little hand-stitched gift felt like it was dropped from the hands of my guardian angel, right into my lap.....just in case I didn't make the connection over the past week.

I must say, with all of the excitement, I needed a reminder of what I already knew. Hopefully this lesson sticks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Accepting Abundance

I am currently enjoying my tenth day in Jamaica. As I look around and appreciate the beauty of the resort where I am residing for two weeks, and the many people providing services to me as a guest, I'm noticing a difference in my ability to accept the abundance that surrounds me now, as compared to my first day.

When I first arrived, I was hesitant to take full advantage of what was available. For instance, even though I am on an inclusive plan, meaning I can eat and drink whatever my heart or tummy desires, without any additional cost for me, I noticed I was avoiding the highest priced items on the menu. For the first day or so, I did not order dessert, since my meal tab was already way above my typical top limit. I declined a drink before dinner, knowing the cost was high and I could get by without it. I hesitated to accept a golf cart ride to my room, which is a normal offering from the Resort bellman.

Fortunately, it didn't take me long to understand that I was staying in luxurious surroundings with a limited ability to accept the abundance that was being offered. In order to more fully enjoy what was available, I needed to make a shift in my perspective.

By day two, I began focusing on feeling deep appreciation for every luxury, every beautiful slice of scenery, every kindness given by the wait staff, my maid, the desk clerks and concierge. I focused on the beauty of complete gratitude for all of the blessings that are currently available to me. As I practiced this joyful celebration of all that surrounds me, I noticed I felt more at ease in saying "Yes" to the many amenities that are offered.

I can see this lesson is one that I can take home with me when my life returns to normal and I no longer have palm trees, Mango Coladas and a maid to turn down my bed in the evening. I will remember there is no shame in enjoying the many beautiful gifts that life can bring. I will remember that the more I allow abundance to be part of my life, the more I will have to share. I will remember that my living in lack does not improve the life of anyone else.

Accepting abundance in life is like saying we expect to be happy and will allow it to be present. It acknowledges we see ourselves as worthy of being cared for, loved and served.

What I also know is that the more love, kindness and care I allow into my life, and the more gratitude I feel and express, the sweeter life is and the better I am able to pass it on.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

I read a magazine article today that encouraged practicing compassion. The author noted that although he believed we all had compassion in our hearts, it takes practice to truly use this spiritual gift. I love this concept and just happened to have recently made the same connection in a presentation called "The Art of Joyful Living".

It makes perfect sense to me that to get really good at something, you need to practice it. This is true with playing an instrument, singing, dancing, painting and just about anything else where we have a desire to create and perform at our best.

Compassion, as well as other gifts that may be under-used are love, joy, understanding, peace, patience and forgiveness. I suppose many of us are not practicing using these spiritual gifts since we are distracted by some negative things in our lives that demand our negative attention.

Ironic, isn't it, that most of us are well practiced in being stressed, frustrated, holding negative judgments, resentments and even anger, yet these elements are not part of our spiritual make-up? They tend to be part of our reaction to life rather than a response to living.

I've learned in my own life that whatever I focus on dominates my experience of living. If I focus on being victimized or resentful, the emotions I feel will not be very enjoyable. If I get hooked by the negative actions of others and practice feeling angry, then naturally my natural spiritual gifts of love, peace, compassion and forgiveness will not be felt or enjoyed.

Although being angry can often be justified and we can strongly defend our right to fight, what is also true is that when we demand to be "right" and insisting on someone else's suffering, we will always sacrifice peace.

I know it's not easy, but for me, living in a state of joy and peace with compassion and love are worth the practice.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Upside Down Thinking (The Sequel)

Since My last post on thinking upside down I had some additional thoughts about facing fears.

What I believe made my head stand an approachable fear was that I was in a safe place. Unlike my high school Gymnasium, the Main Street Yoga studio in Mansfield ( was a very safe place for me to stretch way beyond my comfort level.

There was no one present that was about to laugh or make fun of me as I tentatively got into position, which also made it easy to try something new.

I also had help. My yoga instructor, Kath Thompson, had no doubt I could do it and offered, without force, the opportunity to give it a try. For some reason, for many of us, we are hesitant to ask for or accept help. That may have been true about me when I was 16, but now, I can ask for help, even from strangers, if there's no one around that I know personally.

Trust was also a big factor. I cannot imagine facing and conquering my fears if I didn't trust those that were anywhere near the vicinity of whatever new thing I was about to try.

I find it interesting that many people sometimes hang around with friends that they don't truly trust. I wonder why they would spend their time with someone that did not want to see them at their best, and perhaps even rather see them fail.

The circle of friends that are currently present in my life all pass the trust test. I'm sure as I continue to knock off fears one by one, my true friends will be cheering me on, as I will for them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Upside Down Thinking

I had an epiphany while standing on my head earlier today in yoga class. You see, this headstand was a first for me and was a pretty big deal.

Forty plus years ago when I was in high school, I used every possible excuse to get out of performing a variety of physically challenging exercises, and headstands were on my taboo list, along with cart wheels, tumbling and the uneven parallel bars.

Since I was afraid of a myriad of results which included breaking my back as I fell to the ground and the fear of getting stuck upside down and being left to die because my class mates were always up for a laugh, I never expected my head would give the mat such a long kiss. Okay, so it wasn't more than a moment or two (not sure how long a moment actually is), but it was long enough to have an inspiring thought.

What popped into my inverted brain was that if I could overcome a fear that was 40+ years old, I can surely overcome the fears that were more recently developed. In fact, it makes sense to me that those fears from long, long ago have more time to expand to reach a higher than normal fright level.

If I could actually look that fear in the eye, then it must mean I can do it again. In fact, I bet I could knock off two or three fears a day if I put my mind to it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sharing the Road

Last week-end my husband and I spent over 10 hours driving a variety of roads between Pennsylvania and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Spending many hours in a vehicle is a great opportunity to muse about life and how we all share the road along the way.

As we traveled at 65 miles an hour, I noticed how seamless the cars merged. Some were going at a faster speed, some slower than the speed limit. Some vehicles exited periodically and some were entering the flow of traffic.

As I wondered where everyone was going and what their stories might have been, it struck me how easy travel can be when we all respect each other along the way. There were a few exceptions where I witnessed aggression and a lack of respect, but overall the roads were running pretty smoothly those days.

To entertain myself, I made up stories about our unidentified fellow travelers. Some, I decided, were also going on vacation. Those vehicles often had extra carriers on the roofs of their cars or beach chairs strapped with bungee cords to their bumpers.

I decided some solo drivers were on their way to work, while others were on their way to check out a potential college choice with their son or daughter.

Some car residents were running away from home. Perhaps they just had their heart broken, or lost their job and were off to start a new adventure in a new city.

I imagined some senior drivers were off to visit their grand kids while a young couple in an old Nissan were on their honeymoon.

The possibilities for each traveler's stories were endless. What I was pleased to see was that regardless of the story, the age of the passengers, or their destination, we were all sharing the road with respect for one another.

So, whether you're on the road with other vehicles or traveling the road of life, remember, like you, your fellow travelers all have a story their living out. Give them some space to travel in peace.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Stress Connection

Earlier today I was preparing a presentation called The Art of Joyful Living: How to Stay Tuned Into Joy in a Stress-filled World. As I organized my thoughts and I focused on the stress element that seems to steal our joy, I realized more fully than I had previously known, how in control we each are of even having stress.

For many years, I have wondered why the psychology experts offered classes on managing stress. I personally am not interested in managing my stress. I'd prefer to get to the bottom of it and eliminate it if possible. What does managing stress even mean? The image that comes to my mind is lassoing my stress so I can control it, only letting it out at certain times. Another image is putting a leash on it and keeping it at my side, like I do with my dog so he doesn't chase squirrels. Things like taking bubble baths or reading romance novels on the beach have been offered as ways to manage stress.

It's not that I don't enjoy bubble baths, juicy novels and the sound of waves rolling up to the beach. I know these elements can bring peace in the moment, but what about those stresses you managed temporarily when you go back to your real world, without ocean waves and bubble baths? Won't those stresses that I managed be back again, running amok through my life, creating mayhem and heart disease?

What I know about most of the stresses that show up in my life experience is that they are based on fears. I also know fears can be met and even eventually overcome, so why not pay more attention to what my fears are and then in turn eliminate the stresses that are born from them?

A good example is the stress I have when I am required to drive through a city in which I am unfamiliar. My fear is getting lost. Silly, I know. Even if I got lost, I could get un-lost, but it's my fear and it causes stress even thinking about it. I also am afraid of aggressive drivers. What if they scowl or yell at me for going too slow in the passing lane? Yes, I know....that says more about their stress than mine, if they don't have the patience to wait two seconds longer to make their move, but again I sweat even picturing it. I must say this stress is unrealistic since I even have a GPS telling me where to go, but my active mind messages make it real.

It seems the antidote for this particular recurrent stress of mine would be to spend more time driving in cities and getting experience so I don't feel so lost and incompetent. I'm quite certain this recurrent stress could actually evaporate if I no longer gave it so much attention and simply overcame the fear with experience. I could also give myself more positive messages about my sense of direction or my resourcefulness, or I can create a perspective of an adventure where whatever happens is all great food for my spirit.

I am clearly making a connection for myself that my stress is created by me. I am not a victim to it, but rather an accomplice. When I decide that it no longer is one I want to manage, I will let it go. The result will be more room for joy and that is always good for me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making It Up On Purpose

I have never been very goal oriented. It's not that I don't have desires or aspirations, it's just that I have always seemed to dream my dreams as I rolled along in life, rather than set them out way ahead on my path and then work hard to catch up with them. Maybe when I was young I was afraid to be disappointed if I failed, or perhaps I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to even set a goal.

Whatever the reason, my life works just fine playing it out the way I have. My preference is still to feel things out and trust my intuition as I watch opportunities come and go. I focus more on how I want to feel, and then allow ideas to flow that match that desired feeling. My sense is if I was a goal setter, my accomplishments would not be as great as those that were born from inspired ideas in the moment, and the serendipitous results that have come my way. No goals.... just situations, people and opportunities lining up to match me.

My goal-less way of living leaves room for lots of surprises. It's fun making it up as I go. Many times I find myself on a different path from where I started. I know if it is a path worth traveling by how it feels. If it feels hard (like work) and I am not compelled to talk about it with everyone I see, that is not a road I'll want to travel. On the other hand, when I am having fun, even though I am spending countless hours on a project, plus I eat, sleep, breathe, write about and talk about whatever it is, then that's a sure sign that I am in step with my purpose.

If goals work for you and you get excited even thinking about it, then have fun...go for it. If goals seem more like a should than a must, and you feel exhausted with no exhilaration, perhaps making it up on purpose will work for you too.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lost and Found

I recently had an experience of losing myself. I generally enjoy being in the presence of my own company, and when I noticed I wasn't enjoying me, it was a big tip off that I got lost. Fortunately, this separation was brief and after only a few days, I found myself.

This separation occurred when I got ill. It wasn't a major illness, just a simple, run of the mill upper respiratory infection that zapped my energy and stimulated my "poor me" self. In my process of feeling disconnected from my "true self", I had some surprises.

One surprise was that the people that are present in my life including those on facebook were extremely supportive. Although in my mind, I was suffering, I didn't think my condition deserved sympathy and support, so that made me feel slightly guilty since my ill feelings were pretty minimal in the big scheme of things. Feeling even a little bit guilty is a sure sign that I lost myself. My true self knows that guilt serves no one and no thing.

Another sign that I was off my usual JOY track was feeling dull. I'm not just talking about my physical energy, but my inner energy. I was certainly not sharing any of my gifts with those around me. I also wasn't feeling creative or inspired. I believe that was due to my focus being on feeling sorry for myself. It's difficult to be in a state of peace and joy, or feel inspired and creative when self-pity is hanging around.

I also noticed I looked forward to a drug induced "high". I looked forward to downing my nightly dose of cherry Nyquil with probably a greater intensity than most people typically experience. Since I normally don't require use of even an aspirin or ibuprofen, my body felt chemically dependent on my drug of choice. As with any un-natural element (even those purchased over the counter), the good feeling didn't last. My drug induced peace left me feeling even more off balance and lost in the morning.

All of these signs created dis-ease for me over the week until I reconnected with my true self (which can feel peace even when the body doesn't feel well). This reunion with the real me occurred when I decided I had enough of my mini siege of suffering. I remembered that I am not my body and that my mind and spirit can over-ride the belief that I must suffer.

Later that day, my body responded in-kind. Symptoms dissipated. I can't say my body felt better because my mind said it was time and I realigned with my "True self" or the bug ran it's course. All I know is losing, and then finding the peace within me that never leaves, is surely best for all that may ail me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Answers to My Wonders

Since my last post and my list of wonderings, I have done some thinking and believe I have the answers to my least to most of them. (

What I believe is that whenever we humans are behaving in an irrational way, we are responding to some sort of fear. It doesn't have to be of the knee shaking variety of fear, it can be more subtle. In fact, most of the time, I don't believe most of us even know any fear is present.

For instance, my question about why people wear sunglasses indoors or on cloudy days tells me that the person is afraid of being seen as they truly are. They may be hiding behind dark lenses, or perhaps are just trying to appear to be cool to those around them. In either case, if they knew they were perfect the way they are, they wouldn't need sunglasses when there was no sun.

Some of my listed wonderings involved a lack of respect for others. Again....fear is my answer. When we are afraid to be with ourselves in an unconditionally loving way, we will surely have judgments about others. We may also fear that someone will get ahead of us in line or in traffic, or we may fear being taken advantage of, or perhaps overlooked. When we're fearful in anyway, we react. Often times it is unreasonable and sometimes even borders on silly.

I can go on here about my overall logic about fear, but I would like to address fear's opposite, which is love.

When we are in a state of love, we are naturally joyful, patient, forgiving, understanding, compassionate and fair. We are also in a state of peace when love is where our mind and heart happens to be resting.

If I am loving myself, I have no fear about what other's may think of me. I have no fear of how I look. I have no fear for the future or of anyone taking advantage of me. If I am not judging myself, I am also not judging others. Love is that soft and lovely place in my mind and heart where I know that all is well with me and matter what.

Of course, like the rest of my fellow humans, I slip into fear from time to time. The good news is that I'm usually aware when it happens. As long as I know I'm in fear, I can always find my way back to love.

How do I know when I slipped into fear? doesn't feel good. Love feels much better.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Just Wondering

My mind sometimes gets on a tangent of wonder. Many of the things I wonder about aren't exciting or potentially life changing, but they do amuse me. Here's some things I'm wondering about today.

  • I wonder why people wear sunglasses on cloudy days or indoors
  • I wonder why parents scream at their children to stop screaming
  • I wonder why drivers yell obscenities at other drivers for committing a rude act while driving
  • I wonder why people order whipped cream on their Skinny Lattes
  • I wonder why people order a diet soda with their Whopper and Fries (super sized)
  • I wonder why people complain about being stiff, yet never stretch
  • I wonder why people say they are good Christians and are following the teachings of Jesus, yet judge other people
  • I wonder why people complain about having wrinkles, but don't wear sunscreen
  • I wonder why people smoke, yet complain about being out of breath or coughing all the time
  • I wonder why people complain about the high cost of food and still buy empty calorie snacks
  • I wonder why people claim to be exercise fanatics but will drive around a parking lot repeatedly waiting for a closer parking space to open up
  • I wonder why people cheat on their calorie counting
  • I wonder why people share their email addresses, but never check if they have messages
  • I wonder why people say yes when they mean no and then complain about doing what they said yes to
  • I wonder why people complain about being depressed and continue to focus on things that are depressing
  • I wonder why people lament that they have no friends, yet never make a move to be friendly to someone else
  • I wonder why people complain about rude or mean things people may say to or about them, yet continually say similar or worse things in their own mind
  • I wonder why people complain about other people (loved ones, co-workers etc.) behind their backs, but don't tell them directly what it is they expect, or how they feel
  • I wonder why people stay in relationships, jobs or habits that are not at all fulfilling and make no efforts to improve their situation
  • I wonder why some people call themselves fearless leaders, but are afraid to tell the truth
  • I wonder why people demand respect, yet don't show respect to others or even themselves
  • I wonder why people avoid eye contact with another while they long for connection
Yes, I know these may be some of the great mysteries of life, yet I will attempt to answer them, since wondering for me always takes me somewhere else. Stay tuned for the next post. I invite your responses in the interim.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Hug Connection

I have always been a hugger...friends, clients, seat mates on long flights...doesn't matter. It's easy for me. In fact, sometimes I have to stop and remember that not everyone is comfortable being hugged. I realize personal space issues may preclude some from opening their arms to another, and I respect that, although I believe everyone is longing for connection, rather than separateness.

My hug value was recently stimulated when I saw a You-tube video of a young man holding a sign that read "Free Hugs" while strolling a busy thoroughfare. At first, he was ignored, but eventually the hug fest began and grew quickly. If I was on that street, I would have surely accepted his offer. I loved watching the easy connection these apparent strangers made with the hugger when they let down their guard and allowed themselves to be hugged.

After enjoying and watching it several times, this hug video stimulated an idea for a fundraiser for my Relay for Life team that raises money for the American Cancer Society. There were quite a few tourists in town this holiday week-end, so sidewalk pedestrians were in high number. We set up on the sidewalk on Main Street with a sign that advertised Hugs for a Cure and a bucket to accept donations. It turned out to be an even more inspiring time than I had anticipated, and not just because we collected a nice sum of money for our cause. What I did not expect was how uplifting it would be to hug so many people. I noticed my joy soared with every hug I gave.

Some of the huggees were friends, but most were total strangers. As I offered hugs, many a passerby did not even look my way. Others, glanced in my direction and said "No, thank you". When someone responded to my offer with "Sure, I'd love a hug", my heart sang. What I soon realized was that it was the shift from anonymity to connection that touched my heart. Part of the joy for me was to know that many people are willing to reach out, be touched and to touch another....without knowing each other's life stories, let alone approving of one another. It was a great example of unconditional connection.

The more I greeted pedestrians, the more I enjoyed the experience. Those stepping up to be hugged were from all age groups. Some were fellow cancer survivors like the woman that is now in remission after Stage 4 ovarian cancer. We held on to each other for an extra long time.

One woman shared she was on vacation alone and now she didn't feel alone. She came back for a second hug a bit later.

One woman wept on my shoulder as she told me how much she missed her mother who passed away a few months ago.

Another was an elderly man that dropped twenty dollars in our bucket, holding back tears as he shared his daughter's cancer story.

Several of our huggee donors were wee little ones that would drop a dollar in the bucket and then oh so sweetly wrap their little arms around my neck as I stooped down to their height. One little girl (that I will never forget), joyfully leaped into my arms and hung on. She apparently had no personal space issues.

At one point, a group of a dozen Harley motorcyclists were waiting for the traffic light to change so I called them to stop for a hug. One fellow while on his bike, put out his arms to mimic a hug, so I ran out to the street and filled the space he offered.

Another young man that I pre-judged to not be a likely hug candidate due to his multiple piercings, tattoos and hard edge style of dress accepted my hug offer without hesitation. Sweet.

During both days of my hug shifts, I was exhilarated. It became easier and easier to offer a hug and remember not to take it personally, if I was turned down. Missing out on some hugs did not detract from those that occurred. Those that chose to engage with me, hopefully walked away feeling the same joy of connection that I did.

So if you ever see me on the street, in the airport, conference room, theater lobby, grocery store or anywhere else, feel free to open your arms and offer a hug....I will surely accept.