I was working at my computer in the coffee shop, editing the next book in the Karass series when I overheard a conversation. A stooped older gentleman was leaning over a table of three people. I couldn’t hear what the gentleman said, but one of the women laughed and said, “You must have an understanding [...]
If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. — Aldous Huxley Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if everything you ever thought came true? You could think of true love, and within moments the doorbell would ring, and your personal true love would [...]
One day I heard my grandmother talking. Kinda weird since Mimi has been gone for years. Although sometimes I smell cigarette smoke when there is no one around and I think, “Hey, maybe Mimi is watching over me.” But, it was her voice I heard that day. Mimi was amazing in many ways. Full of [...]
Have you ever asked yourself if it was possible to live human life gracefully? I remember discussing this idea with a friend way back in the early 1970’s. At the time, we both lived on Park Place in Venice, CA. It wasn’t the Park Place of Monopoly; it was the opposite. We were all working [...]
The conference was over, and I was standing in line waiting for lunch. I was in a hotel/casino in Las Vegas. In Vegas, gambling is the product. They want you to gamble. They need you to gamble. There is almost nowhere you can go where there are not flashing lights, smoke, noise and lever pulling [...]
Voice? What Voice? I always find it a bit alarming to know that there are people declared insane because they hear voices. It must be a matter of degree that makes the difference, because we all hear voices. These voices come from many places, and the ones we listen to (perhaps this is the key [...]
John Lennon said, “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright it’s not the end.” I could add this to the many things that John Lennon said that reminds us that we have the power, right, imagination, and ability to shift people, places, and things towards good and away from the [...]
Have you ever had a cha-ching moment? It’s the moment when a new view of what has always been present becomes apparent to you; when something you have been trying to understand flashes through your thinking in an entirely different way and as it does so you “get it!” We have all had those moments [...]
“Don’t waste this moment by wanting it to be over.” We were all in a deep yoga stretch. Deep enough to be uncomfortable when the instructor said those words. It took me by surprise because I realized that I was definitely wasting the moment. I was throwing it away as if it was trash. I [...]
What matters enough to you to give up something else? How much do you care about yourself so that you will do what you want to do? What are you avoiding doing because it might make someone else unhappy? No one is immune to the increasingly complex lists of things that must be done. Everyone [...]
The road into the campground went right by the building where we worked. There was an outer room where visitors entered for their appointment to see one of us. A phone sales team had called them and set the appointment. They had come to learn about owning a membership in the campground. We were on a number system. “You’re next,” was the call to put down whatever we were doing to distract ourselves. It was our turn to sell the prospect, usually a couple, the value of belonging. It was 2001. Del and I had moved to Ohio for a short time to see his family, but I needed to work in the meantime. Years before I had decided that if I knew how to sell, I would always have a job. That turned out to be true in this case. I was hired the day I applied. While we waited for our turn to talk to a prospect, the rest of the sales team spent their time either gossiping or smoking or trying to grab a few moments of sleep. I was busy on my computer.
I stepped into the lovely fall day and was surrounded by leaves. Leaves on the trees, leaves falling like rain, leaves covering every surface on the ground. It was a stunningly beautiful sight! For the next few hours I blew leaves into piles, raked leaves into more piles, and carted leaves to the edge of our lawn to add to the millions of leaves already blanketing the “forest” part of our property. As I moved hundreds and hundreds of leaves to their resting place and marveled at the abundance of leaves a “what if” question formed in my thought. What if we believed that leaves were currency? What if we traded leaves for our food and leaves paid our rent and our mortgages?
Many people that I have told about this series have become addicted to them too. Besides being written with a skill that I envy and creating a community of characters that speaks to our deepest desires, Louise Penny offers profound insights into life using the voice of her characters. One of my favorites is spoken first by the main character, Inspector Gamache. He says, “Don’t believe what you think.” Ah, so true. So easy to remember. And so effective. Effective because we all know that what we perceive, feel, think is reality for us – will be true for us. It’s not a new age idea. It’s a scientific fact that our perception is driven by what we believe, and what we believe is what we see, not the other way around.
Spring was barely present when I took my walk on a Wednesday. On Sunday, after being away for a few days, spring had exploded. A riot of color. Flowers, trees, bushes all blooming in every hue and color possible. Even the lawns were sporting color with dandelions and spring beauties. A few days before our trip I found a note that I had carried around for years but had not seen for a long time. It was the lyrics to a Lou Christie song given to us by friends when Del and I were traveling the country. It became our theme song. Finding the note was an example of the synchronicity of the universe. The friends that shared the song with us were the ones we were preparing to take a short trip to the Berkshires to see. Lou Christie sings, “Good-bye to things that bore me, Joy is waiting for me.”
When my children were little, and Christmas was coming, I was filled with happiness and joy as I prepared for their perfect Christmas morning. Joy and happiness lay in the preparation and anticipation. Even working additional jobs took on an element of excitement because I was preparing a gift for their future self. We can all remember a time when all of us found more joy in preparing for our, and others, future selves. Now, we live in a world where we must get things done now. Where we expect immediate entertainment. Where we are so overwhelmed with current tasks, we don’t have the mental or physical space to enjoy preparing for anyone’s future self, let alone our own. But, I propose that preparing gifts for our, and other’s, future self is where happiness lies. We can prove it to ourselves with very simple steps. At night, as I “close shop” in my business and our home, I walk around the house and put things away that we used during the day. I am doing it for my future self. When I get up in the morning, everything is clean and fresh and waiting for me to start the day. If I am the first up, I press the coffee maker button for Del’s future self when he gets up. These are small happiness moments, but happiness lives in small happiness moments.
I got a cold. That nasty one that appears to move in and take up permanent residence. I haven’t been sick for years, so I barely paid attention to it the first day. What’s this? A cold. Heck no, I don’t get colds. That didn’t work. It simply made more noise. I honked, sniffed, and shuffled around for days. Days later, feeling irritated, I got mad and took it out on my sweeper. I yelled at it, swore at it, slammed it into the floor to prove that it lets go of dirt it has swept up whenever you bump it. Getting mad didn’t work. I still felt miserable, although it did focus on the fact that my stick vacuum does not suck. Finally, I decided to do something I already knew how to do but had forgotten its power.
Have you ever said to yourself something like this, “No one commented on my blog. No one noticed that I changed the way I look, no one saw that I fixed a problem.” And if no one noticed, or gave us feedback, do we keep on doing it, or give up? Often, we give up or do it without much joy.
Our modern society has trained us to need outside approval. We have become obsessed with being noticed and known because we believe that it is a measure of our success. I know that I am not alone in worrying if what I am writing, or drawing, or teaching is worth anything if not enough people notice, or comment, or approve. It worries me that it worries me.
I was dreaming. It was a big room, full of people. They were asking me questions about raising children. A man asked about his daughter. He said she was filled with ideas and desires to do things, all differently than what he wanted for her. My answer was, “support her and get out of the way.” We all have children. Millions of them. Ideas. Millions of them. Most of them run themselves as part of our day. What to wear, what to eat? What time shall we leave? Ideas. What about the ideas that demand more from us? Ideas that demand we learn something new. Demand that we grow up. Demand that we let go of what we thought and think differently. When these ideas speak, we have to support them and get out of the way. We support them by learning what needs to be learned. We do our homework. We practice. Just as we did when we were kids. And then we get out of the way.
Everyone knows about breathing. We breathe in. We breathe out. Can’t breathe out first.
That’s the order. Breathe in. Breathe out. Funny how often we don’t apply that to our life. We spend our life, before receiving. I could be talking about money because yes, we often spend before having it. When I was nineteen, newly married with a baby, I wanted a rug for our apartment. Then, as now, I loved designing how rooms look, and I knew that a blue-green rug would be the perfect base for everything else. Hey, it was the sixties! So, I saved. I was going to college, had a child, working part-time jobs after school, and still, somehow I saved enough until I could buy that rug. My grandmother asked me how I managed to have a new rug and I said, “I saved for it,” and she nodded and said, “You’ll be alright.” I haven’t always followed my own advice, but I am returning to it. Because spending before we have it, is like breathing out before we breathe in. You know what happens then right?
Doesn’t life feel like that sometimes? It does for me. As the year came to an end, it seemed as if the noise just got louder and louder. Maybe it felt that way because I was hoping that instead of getting louder it would get softer and softer so that the world would pause, get still, be silent. You know Silent Night. For me, it didn’t feel like as if that happened. Some of it was my fault, some of it was circumstances, but the result was I couldn’t help noticing how much noise was coming at me. Everything was too much. Too many requests for goal setting. Too much information. Do you ever feel as if you just want it to stop?
We are the object that divine light shines upon, and in this world, we are the light – the emitters of light, the reflectors of light. As light, we bring light to every situation. We are the beauty of the light revealing all that is good, and we are the light uncovering all that needs to be cleaned. Next time you walk into a room, pause for a minute and imagine yourself as light. Feel what happens. As the light, we can’t withdraw and hide, but we don’t need to work the room either. It’s better than that. We become what we are, the light of the world. Imagine what would happen if everyone chose to let their light shine. In that light, there is no place for evil – by whatever name it is known.
There is only one evil, only one lie. It has many faces. It plays many roles. It speaks many languages. But, it is just one lie.
Although it may appear that we must deny each version of the one lie separately, the truth is, we only have to recognize this one lie for what it is to permanently disable it, and dissolve its power forever. We have reached a time in our world where doing just that is no longer a luxury, but is now an imperative call to action. Not for someone else to do, but for each of us to fight the battle that is required for this enemy of peace and love to be destroyed. Calling it a war is not a good idea; because that implies that we will use the same methods this lie uses to harm us to destroy it. We all know that doesn’t work. Fighting with someone when we disagree never resolves the issue. Each of us has experienced the escalation of the power of this one lie into greater anger and destruction when we fight against it. However, in a sense it is a war and a battle, but not with something or somebody else, but with the idea that the one lie or one evil exists. We can defeat that idea, not from without, but from within. How can we do this?
We can tell we have a broken finger by the pain we feel, and we can tell a broken perception in the same way, by the pain we feel. It is not necessarily a physical pain, although that can be a symptom, it is also emotional pain. We all have both of these kinds of pains at least some of the time. One symptom of a broken perception is the anger that is being expressed these days throughout the world. There is anger over how others think, or live, or act, or what they believe in, or even just what they look like. In our own lives, we feel frustrated by the car in front of us, we snap at loved ones, life feels limited, and happiness starts to seep out of our days. All of this pain because of a broken perception. If we have a broken finger, we take the time to heal it. However, broken perceptions often remain throughout a lifetime, causing pain whenever it touches something. We all know what an unbroken finger looks like, but what about an unbroken perception. What does it look like? In an unbroken finger, all its parts line up perfectly. Everything functions together as one. It works in exactly the same way in an unbroken perception.
Recently I heard someone say,”When you say yes to something, you say no to something else.” It struck me how true this is, and at the same time, how much we pretend that it isn’t. Instead, we do one of two things. We say yes, and yes, and yes, and yes until we are overwhelmed, fed up, irritated, and stressed. We become so busy we forget our personal purpose for doing anything at all. All those yeses become an obligation. Or, we say no, and no, and no, and no until our world has shrunk down to just getting the basics done. We say no to opportunities, new ideas, technology, and staying busy doing the same old thing day after day.
I want to say; I don’t live in these beliefs anymore. Well, I could say it, but I don’t feel it. That’s what I want, I want to feel and experience that I don’t live in these beliefs anymore, ever, not now, not then. Instead, I don’t feel like doing anything. At all. Outside the weather is changing. It’s interesting how much everyone loves the seasons of change. Spring or fall. Spring bursts with bright colors, and more shades of green than we can count. Every day brings new growth. Fall sweeps in with its oranges and yellows and rusts and reds. These colors are everywhere from the sky to the ground. Fall flowers proudly sway in the wind. Trees take turns wearing brilliantly blazing colors and then dropping them, revealing the beauty that lies beneath. But, what about seasons of change within us? I don’t think we like them as much.
October sings a song. If you listen deeply, you might hear it. In the northern hemisphere, it follows the Beatles’ song, “Let it Be,” with just a one-word change. The trees sing it, the plants sing it, the birds sing it, the flowers sing it. The wind sings it. They all sing, “Let It Go.” Not let-it-go as a sad, lonely idea. Let it go as a beautiful explosion of color and textures. We think letting go is hard because we hold on so hard. I have been practicing sitting in a lotus pose as I do my morning meditation. It’s usually early in the morning so at first, my knees feel as if they are up to my waist. As I practice, I silently sing the October song to myself, “Let It Go.” Slowly my knees lower. And then, finally I let go, and in letting go, I notice that I was working hard to keep my knees up in the air. I was holding on. We work to hold on to things. Ideas. Stuff. People. Memories. Emotions. We work hard to remain still and stationary even though we think we are progressing. There is that last little hold-on-to that we maintain.
No one knows for sure why it’s called the green room. There is a theory that in 1599, London’s Blackfriars Theatre included a room where actors waited to go on stage, and it was painted green. I have waited in many green rooms. I have waited in theatre green rooms, pre-speech green rooms, and green rooms for TV shows. Once I waited in a green room for the Sally Jesse Raphael show. Yes, way back when. A few years ago I wrote a book about waiting in green rooms. I didn’t know it at the time, but recently I realized the habit of waiting is all about green rooms. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.
My dad used to call me a space cadet because I would often drift off while at the dinner table. I was daydreaming. As I grew up, it got harder to find daydreaming places. We can’t daydream while driving our cars, even though I know that you, like me, have found yourself driving somewhere not remembering how you got there. Dangerous right? I love daydreaming. For me, daydreaming is the creative time where what I call Angel Ideas flood into my thinking. It doesn’t happen behind the computer, nor the TV. I can’t force an idea about what to write, or design, or figure out how to do something. There needs to be a storehouse of ideas, the doors of which I can swing open and let the ideas flood out. I stock that storehouse in daydreaming time. I have found small pockets of daydreaming heaven, like in the shower, but this year I unwittingly found the perfect long open space for it. It started back in February when Del and I decided to walk while on vacation. I wrote about the why of that here. When we returned, I kept on walking. I thought I was walking for the health of it. It was a delight to discover that my knees had stopped hurting. But, it turned out that wasn’t the real benefit.
FOR WEEKS THE PHRASE “you can’t push the water” kept popping up in my thinking. I ignored it. I admired it. I wondered where it came from, and finally, I gave up and decided to explore the concept. First the obvious. I tried imaging pushing water. I discovered that internal voice was right, you can’t push the water. What can you do instead? I used to be a fish, or at least that is what my dad called me. I swam everywhere. My favorite was the week we would spend every summer at the ocean. Definitely, you learn to not push the water of the ocean. When a wave comes at you, you can dive into it and feel the exhilaration of popping up on the other side. Or you can ride the wave into shore and experience the sensation of flying, if only for a brief moment. Definitely, can’t push that water.
Back in the city for a conference, I remember what it was like to live in one. East-side Chicago and downtown Los Angeles, my home for ten years, have different views but are the same in many ways. Everyone is going somewhere. Runners, walkers, people heading to work, visitors, shopkeepers, homeless, all together. Energy everywhere. Beautiful buildings. Tiny stores and restaurants tucked into places you least expect. Diversity, getting along. When I lived in Los Angeles, I never thought about mass deaths. In Chicago, after the horrendous things happening around the world, I did. On the stage, at the conference I was attending, more than one black person told stories of how life was, and is, for them. Different than mine growing up in a small college town where white was all I knew, and safety was taken for granted. I heard the idea that stories would be the only thing that changes people’s minds, and how things are …READ MORE
Every nation celebrates some form of independence day. It’s a day to celebrate freedom, and no one can argue against freedom. But, do we really want to be independent? In order to answer this question for ourselves we need to look at what independence means. We think of independence as free; free to do our own thing, think for ourselves, and act for ourselves. But, what about the part of independence that says we are not dependent on others, “not relying on another or others for aid or support.” Here’s the question. How could we ever not be dependent on others?
Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” It’s the power of imagination in action. But, what are we imagining? Are we imagining hate and fear, or love and kindness. Whichever one we choose, we will get more of it. Sometimes when we think we are doing the right thing, we are really responding to a version of hate or fear. These two strong emotions can catch us unawares and make us vulnerable to choosing a way of thinking that does not match our desire to live with love and kindness. Sometimes we choose hate and fear because we are afraid that choosing love and kindness will make us victims of those that live in the survival mode of hate and fear. Often it seems that way. However, Mr Rogers told us this, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” KEEP READING
I told my host that I had watched the sun rise over Lake Erie and he replied, “Yes, it’s paradise here. Not many of them left.” His statement reminded me of the times I have felt that I lived in paradise. I felt that way when I lived in Hawaii and watched the cruise ships go by. They were visiting paradise. I was living there. Or when we lived in Idaho with its beautiful lakes and rivers. Or when we visited Vermont and its rolling hills, or Colorado and its soaring mountains. All paradise to me. Which raises a few questions. Is paradise a location? Can we visit it as I was doing that day at Lake Erie? Can we reserve our spot? Are there really only a few places left that can be called paradise? If where we live doesn’t feel like paradise whose fault is it? Can we change the way we see it? Can we do practical things to bring it closer to our version of paradise? I propose that paradise is not a location at all.
I sat down on an exercise bike at the gym, and noticed that the right peddle was missing, so I moved to the one on its right. Next a friend sat down on the bike, noticed that it was broken, and choose another bike. Then Del sat down on the bike and started peddling. The bike wasn’t broken for him. A few days later I saw a woman sitting on the broken bike pedaling way. It wasn’t broken for her either. The world appears to be broken. It’s so bad I don’t want to hear any side of it. I don’t want to hear the arguments, people claiming to be right, while others claim that they are wrong. It’s absolutely horrible. The only people who might be enjoying it are the people thinking either that they can fix it, or break it some more. It’s the same thing, either way. For you and me we have to do something different. See I figure if you are reading this you are sick of it too. We have to start seeing the world as not broken. It reminds me of Noah and the flood. He built a boat. Read More…
I have been binge listening to podcasts. All kinds of podcasts, including mine where I talk to people from all walks of life about how and why they shifted the story, or a story, of their life. So many common themes crop up. It doesn’t matter whether they are extremely famous, or just like you and me. We all deal with the same issues, many of which I have written about before, and I promise to write about again. But, let’s start with one that always gets in the way of doing what we dream of doing and is really so much fun to get rid of it. It’s the one where we make things hard to do.
For now, let’s not deal with why we do it, let’s just move to the fun part of not doing it. When you have an idea to do something, from cleaning your closet to building a new business, to going on an adventure, there are a few things that happen.
The lilac-purple color peaking out from behind the rock was so beautiful I had to go look to find out what it was. Tucked into the corner of my garden a small grouping of phlox was blooming. I spent a few minutes stooped down next to it, admiring its beauty. I even resorted to petting and talking to it. I thanked it for growing and expressing itself so beautifully and completely.And then it hit me. This plant was completely successful. You might think the plant had no choice but to be successful, but then, you might not know plants as well as you think. This plant chose to be doing its job in nature. It chose to provide us, who see so little, with a stunning display of beauty as part of the package. I sat down beside this humble plant and asked myself, “What if providing beauty was a definition of success?”
I CAN’T STOP THINKING about success. Perhaps it is because it is in our face all the time. You know, the kind of success that is measured by numbers. How many followers, how much money, how many books, how many people are your friends, or how much do you weigh? Success by fame. Success by the size of your house. Success measured. We are bombarded, literally, with emails, ads, and social media promotions that claim success is found only when we follow their prescription for it. We pay dearly for that kind of success. Not just pay for it with money, but pay for it with our time that could be spent doing something that brings joy to our hearts, and peace to our lives. If I pay too much attention to the measured idea of success, it makes me crazy. It makes me feel bad about myself, because I don’t measure up. And I can’t believe that is success. Success can’t be a numbers game, measured by amount, size, or fame. Success can’t mean my success should look like yours. There are many people who agree. People who don’t think life is a paint by numbers kit, and who don’t color within the lines. People who don’t participate in the craziness of greed, jealousy, or competition to be the winner. What if success was as simple as answering “yes” to the question: “Are you happy?”
We went away for a month. We had a few things in mind. Get away from the cold. Live someplace beautiful and quiet. Visit the west coast part of our family. Celebrate our granddaughter’s sixteenth birthday. Our biggest intent was to discover what we really like, want, and feel. We figured that would include breaking some old habits, making some new ones, and keeping the ones that work. We certainly got away from the cold. We loved seeing our family. We definitely stayed someplace beautiful and quiet. Although I lived in California for thirty years I had never visited Fallbrook, where we stayed. (In the Morro Hills area.) We used Airbnb and Del found us a quiet, out of the way place, with a stunning view. It was an extraordinary beautiful place to walk and say hello to lovely people, loud peacocks, peaceful horses, friendly dogs, and sky floating hawks, and have huge stretches of thinking and quiet time. Did we discover what we want, like, and feel? Did we break old habits, keep ones we liked, and make new ones? Yes and no.
Core values, family history, worldview agreements, and personal habits all come together to produce a movie we call our life. If these ideas come together to form a pretty picture then life is good, when they don’t then life is not so good. In the not so good times, we stand in the middle of this movie, like characters on the screen, and try to change it. We try to adjust the picture on the screen forgetting it is a projection. We forget that the movie and the movie viewer are one. It is a projection of our point of view and belief systems. This is not a whimsical idea. This is fact.
That’s what we have been dealt. A winning hand. I know sometimes we don’t think so, but it’s true. And knowing that, we know for sure that there is always a solution. If we trusted this truth wouldn’t we play the game of life with more persistence and faith. Life is not a lottery, where the chances are a gazillion to one to being declared a winner. We already are a winner.
Each of us has been gifted with all that we need in order to live a happy and purpose-filled life. No matter how difficult the game of life may appear at any given moment, knowing we have a winning hand, we will look for the solution.
Sometimes loved ones leave. Sometimes they leave by choice, either ours or theirs. Sometimes they leave when it is time for them to leave. Sometimes they leave a relationship with us. That means it is possible to see the again. Sometimes they leave by dying, and we miss their physical presence. Choice or time, physical or not, all forms of leaving have a few things in common. One Truth underlies it all. Although loved ones may leave Love does not. We are never alone, or abandoned, or lost, or unloved. Our emotions may tell us otherwise.
Considering all the bad news reported every day we could begin to believe that there is so much evil going on we will never be able to stop it.
Not true. That’s the first thing to know. It’s not true. It’s a lie. There is only one evil. It has many faces. It plays many roles. It speaks many languages. But, it is just one lie. It may appear that we must deny each version of the one lie. But, the truth is, we only have to recognize this one lie for what it is. Then we can permanently disable evil, and dissolve its power forever. We have reached a time in our world where doing just that is no longer a luxury, but is now an imperative call to action. For each one of us. We can’t go to war against evil. Because then we would be using the same methods the lie uses. It doesn’t resolve the issue, it escalates it. But in many ways it is a war and a battle. Not with something or somebody else, but with the idea that the one lie, or one evil, exists. We can defeat that idea, not from without, but from within. How can we do this?
It was a beautiful fall day, a perfect day to work in the garden. My plan was to move two hosta plants that were growing in an area that received direct after noon sun, and move them to the morning sun area of the garden, their preferred location.
I prepared the new holes for both hostas and then went to dig them up. The first hosta released its roots easily and quickly and within a few minutes I had it resting happily in its new home. The second hosta, planted in the same area, would not let go. I struggled with trying to dig it out while talking to it saying, “Please let go, I am moving you to a happier place. You are hurting yourself by holding on. Please just let go!” Every minute that went by was harder and harder on both me and the plant, until finally I was able to pull it free. Although now planted by the first hosta I know one of them will have an easier time of recovering from the move. Isn’t this how we are sometimes? We won’t let go.
This rule is so important it is more than a rule. It’s more than the law. It is even more than a commandment. It is the underlying way of being that we must choose if we want to not just survive but to thrive. The rule is found in almost every religion and philosophy throughout time. It is called The Ethics Of Reciprocity. We often think of it as the commandment, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
What makes so many of us fans for so long? Perhaps it is the level of imagination, the drama, the characters, and special effects. And it is the qualities of honor, love, courage, and loyalty. But there is something more. It’s the theme of light versus dark, good versus evil. It is the mystery of the Force.