Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

"Calm down. Still your nervous habits. Avoid knee-jerk reactions. Silence your judgments. Count your blessings. Empty your heart of expectations. Remember what's truly important. Purify yourself in every way you can imagine."

--Caeriel Crestin, whose fabulous horoscopes can be found in mauitime

Happy 2011 to all. I hope today finds you full of hope and excitement for all this year will bring.

This quote is from an old horoscope of mine, but it seems to encompass most of what I want to accomplish this year.

I found the holiday season, once again, to be a time of pressure and stress, despite having lifted many of the pressures that were acting upon me in years past. Was it just the ghosts of my past stress haunting me? Or had new pressures arisen to take their place?

I can't really say, but as much as I tried to remind myself to let things go, stay in the moment, feel the joy, I still felt the pressure underneath it all...thrum, thrum, thrum....making me just a little more intense, a little more nervous, a little less present.

So I still have work to do. 2010 was not my year to achieve enlightenment, I guess. Maybe next year.  

In the meantime, I will continue to practice and to learn and to purify myself in every way I can imagine.

There is just one thing I would add to this list and that is: practice forgiveness, every day in every way imaginable.

I'd love to know what you are working on and hoping for this year. Know that I am sending love and light to all of your intentions.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saying No

"Never blame anyone for doing what they want to do." 


I had a realization the other day about a friend of mine. 

Whenever I ask him to do something and his answer is, “No,” he ignores my email or text or voice message. Just pretends it never happened. Never mentions it, never says a word about it.

If, on the other hand, what I am suggesting is something that he would like to do, he responds right away.

I love this. Not only because now I know what a non-response means from this particular friend, but because it is such an interesting view into another person’s relationship with saying no.

Which made me think about my own....
My old MO was to say "yes" when I meant "no" and then scramble for an excuse to get out of whatever I had agreed to. 

Sometimes I found one, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes the one I found was "true" (more or less), sometimes it wasn't. I did this for YEARS.

It never felt very good, but I didn't know any other way to do it. Then I met Dr. Cat. 

Dr. Cat is a therapist, shaman, energy worker, seeker and all around groovy gal. I picked up a free copy of her book (Dr. Cat's Helping Handbook) at a local coffee shop where she keeps a basket of them for people to read or take as they will (see what I mean by all around groovy gal?) and immediately starting reading it. 

She talks a lot about saying no: knowing when you want to, knowing that you deserve to, allowing yourself that right, and doing it with integrity. She has mentored me in the art of saying no. 

Take last week for example.

A few weeks ago I noticed that one of my kids' after school activities could use an extra volunteer on hand each week to just sort of be around and provide some consistency to the other parents who were volunteering. I thought that this was something I could do so I talked to the lead parent volunteer and told him I would fill this roll. 

He seemed pleased, but did not force me to commit and said something along the lines of, "That's great and if you want to come for awhile and then not come or let someone else take over after a few weeks that would be fine too."

So I have been showing up each week and helping out, doing what I can even though I am not particularly skilled or adept at this particular activity. 

The next to last meeting of this activity before Winter Break was kind of rough. The kids were antsy, I was tired, and by the time it was over I was done. 
I dreaded going back the next week and knew that I really needed to take a week off so I could come back refreshed after Winter Break, but old habits die hard and I didn't say anything right away. 

The day of the activity I woke up still feeling like, yep, I need a break.

I knew I should call or text the lead parent volunteer right away to let him know that I was not going to be there that day. But I just couldn't. 

I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt like I was letting him down and the kids down and myself down and everyone down and WHY couldn't I JUST show up and do it this ONE MORE TIME before the break. 

But I just couldn't. I just didn't have it in me. 

Correction, I COULD have, but I didn't WANT to. And I know myself well enough to know that when I do something I don't want to do what follows is resentment and anger and a loss of internal energy that I no longer wish to feel. 

I knew I could always just not show up and that I could justify this by telling myself, "He SAID I could do it for a few weeks and then quit or let someone else take a turn....." But I also knew that this was slimy and not how I wanted to handle it. 

So, at the last minute, a little less than an hour before I was supposed to show up I sent him a text letting him know that I would not be there. 

This was less than ideal. Ideally I would have texted him first thing that morning, or called him within the hour, but I did the best that I could at that moment. 

Later that afternoon, when I went to pick up my kids, I walked right up to him and said, "Sorry I couldn't make it today." 

He wouldn't look at me, but mumbled out a few words of understanding, "That's all right. It's a busy time of year." I could tell that he was disappointed, hurt, that he felt that he had been left in the lurch and that got me, right in the gut. 

I started to feel bad: regret, remorse, GUILT....

As we were walking out of the school I ran into another parent whose child we had had over for a playdate the previous week. In fact we have had many playdates with this child at our home, without reciprocation. 
The mom thanked me for the playdate and then said, "Sorry I can't reciprocate right now. Playdates overwhelm me. After about two hours I am done for the rest of the day and I still have the whole night with my kids. So I just can't do it right now."

I knew at that moment what the rest of the day had been about. 

I turned to her and I said, "Don't worry about it. I felt the same way when my kids were younger. Thank you for honoring your feelings and not inviting my child over to play when it is not something you want to do. I think things go better when everyone wants the playdate."

She smiled and said she thought so too and we parted with good feelings on both sides. 

As I walked home I felt proud of myself for honoring my truth  and for supporting someone else in honoring theirs. Now that's what I'm talking about!

(Many, many thanks to Dr. Cat, my husband and my friend LR for modeling this for me!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Where do we go from here?

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love." 

--Martin Luther King, Jr. at

Christmas Eve was rough this year. 

Three out of the four of us were recovering from the stomach flu and we were lying around the house feeling nauseated and headachey. We didn't leave the house all day. 

By evening the novelty of being home-bound was lost on all of us, especially the boys. They were fighting like cats and dogs

I have come a long way in my parenting; spills no longer make me angry, I can look the other way at a massive pile of Legos on the floor, even backtalk can be met with a loving tone, but when my kids are being mean to each other it just sets me off. 

So what did I do? I joined the fray. 

At 7:00 pm on Christmas Eve night I could be found in my bathrobe and slippers, standing in the basement, screaming at my kids, "If you don't stop fighting I'm going to throw out every one of your Christmas presents!"

We could talk for days about the irony, but if I didn't get it then, I'm not thinking I'll get it now. 

One of my New Year's resolutions last year was: Forgive Everyone for Everything. I'm moving it right to the top this year as well. And at the top of my list is myself.

There are lots of different forgiveness processes, some of which I have mentioned on this blog, but my current favorite is called Radical Forgiveness.

Radical Forgiveness was created by a lovely British man called Colin Tipping. He realized that traditional forgiveness (where one person says to another, "I forgive you.") does not really work for most people and we continue to suffer the pain of the "incident" long after we have supposedly forgiven the other person (or been forgiven). 

So he developed a set of tools, in the form of worksheets, to help people achieve true forgiveness and total freedom from the past.

The worksheets are amazing! And many of them are free on his website

There are worksheets for forgiving someone for a specific incident, a worksheet for forgiving yourself, a worksheet for manifesting a new job, he even has a worksheet (called Balancing Humenergy) for when you just don't like someone, but are not even sure why. 

I love this! That has happened to me so many times in my life and I would love to know what might have happened if I could have recognized that energy and cleared it right away. Things might have been very different - and much more pleasant - for both of us.

He also has longer, more intensive programs for forgiving your partner, your parents and yourself. 

I did the partner program earlier this year and it was pretty incredible.

I like to think that my husband and I have a pretty good relationship, but after I finished this program it was like a whole new ballgame. We stopped having the same arguments over and over again, I was able to let things go much more easily and our communication was just on a new and different level. 
The best part is that you can do this process with anyone in your life or past that you hold negative energy around and they don't have to even know about it for it to work. It truly is a miraculous process!
I encourage you to check out his website, try out a worksheet or two, and see how it works for you.

In keeping with my New Year's resolution I will be doing a lot of these this year. And the "Forgiving Yourself" program is right up there on the list too.

Wishing you miracles of forgiveness in 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

"The light of God surrounds us. The love of God enfolds us. The power of God protects us. The presence of God watches over us. Wherever we are, God is...and all is well."

--Unity Benediction

May you be surrounded, enfolded, protected and watched over, today and always. And may all be well in your world. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cats and Dogs

"It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business." 

A couple of weeks ago I was in the kitchen making dinner when I heard a terrible racket outside. It was a combination of squeals and barks and yowls that could only mean one thing: cats vs. dogs.

I ran outside to see what was going on because our cat, despite his advanced age and size deficit, has been known to attack dogs much bigger than himself.

What I saw when I looked in our back yard - two little dogs belonging to our immediate next-door neighbors chasing our cat in a whirlwind that looked like something out of Tom and Jerry - was a shock for a number of reasons.

The most potent one being: We have not spoken to these neighbors in more than seven years.

More accurately, they have not spoken to us. I know this because the last time the lady of the house spoke to me was the day I brought my now seven-year-old son home from the hospital.

She said she was going to come over and see him the following week, after she got over her cold. She never spoke to me again.

At first I almost didn't notice it. I convinced myself she didn't see me or was in a hurry, but after awhile (and a few times when she passed me on the street and looked right past me) it was impossible to excuse - she wasn't speaking to us any longer.

We had no idea what had happened - what we had done - to warrant this reaction. 

Was it that we hadn't brought the baby to see her? Was it that we had taken dinner to the new neighbors, the ones who had bought the house that blocked their view? Was it the fence we had put up the previous summer, even though my husband had worked harder than a Diplomat to a hostile country to meet their demands for the portion that fronted their yard? (This despite the fact that we had not asked them to contribute to the fence and they had not offered...)

We tried ignoring it, but soon that became impossible.

One day I was in the grocery store with my young sons; the younger one still in the Baby Bjorn, the older one screaming down the isles with his little yellow shopping cart full of canned goods and a pumpkin.

Of course the inevitable happened and he crashed and burned. Cans and pumpkin flew out of the cart and littered the isle.

As I bent down to pick everything up, here comes our neighbor down the isle with her kids in tow.

She takes one look at us, turns to her kids and says, "Let's go around these people."

I was livid. "You mean YOUR NEIGHBORS?!" I practically screamed at her.

"Oh, yes. Yeah," she stammered, before doing an about-face and marching her kids in the opposite direction.

That day changed things for me.

I was no longer curious, I was furious.

Every time I saw her I screamed obscenities at her, or flipped her off, in my head. I resisted the urge to really do it, but just barely.

Once I started to work on my anger and do my spiritual work, I began to wonder what to do about the neighbors.

I even asked a psychic friend of mine what was the appropriate response to this situation and she said, "Count your blessings. No contact is better than the alternative with these people."

So I made peace with it and moved on.

I still said, "Hello," to her husband and kids when I saw them and after awhile he began to say, "Hello," back. Her daughter always looked at me with a confused look on her face as if to say, "I don't understand why you are being so nice to me, I thought you were evil incarnate."

So to go out and find their dogs attacking my elderly cat (he's 17) was shocking not just because it was an attack, but because it was contact.

It didn't take long for them to realize something was going on.

The daughter - now 13 or so - was the first to enter our yard.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"Your dogs are attacking my cat!" I screamed as I attempted to chase them away.

The lady of the house followed and they each grabbed up one pup as my cat hightailed it into the house.

I followed, slamming the door behind me.

The boys and I looked around for kitty and finally found him hunched under the dining room table, his heart beating like crazy, but no visible injuries.

We sat with him for a few minutes and then there was a knock on the door.

It was her. After more than seven years, finally come for a visit.

To her credit she asked about our cat, "How was he?"

"Scared, but fine," I said.

"I don't know how our gate got left open, sometimes your boys leave it open when they come into our yard to get a ball," she followed.

(We do "sneak" over there sometimes to retrieve a lost ball. I thought we were getting away with it, but obviously I was wrong. Nevertheless it had been many weeks since the boys were outside playing ball.)

I was impressed that she came knocking and I wanted to take the high road.

"It doesn't matter how it happened," I said, "What matters is that everyone is okay and that we will both be more careful about leaving our gates open from now on."

We exchanged a few more pleasantries and then parted ways, but the interaction has haunted me ever since.

What does it mean?

Is it an invitation to heal this relationship and to, as the quote says, "...[B]efriend the one who regards himself as your enemy...?" Or is it a reminder that cats and dogs just don't mix?

I feel like this quote (which appeared on my Wisdom of the East Mini Day-to-Day Calendar a few days later) may be pointing to the former, but I'm just not sure I am ready for that.

In the meantime, our paths have not crossed again since this incident, but I am interested to see what The Universe brings next.

[This one is for my friend Tom B who requested more like this one.]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Circle Slash Santa Claus

"There's a precise moment when we reject contradiction. This moment of choice is the lie we will live by. What is dearest to us is often dearer to us than the truth."

--Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

I have a confession to make: I hate Santa Claus.

Not the man himself, but the subterfuge, deception and confusion that go along with the myth.

This is the year that my kids have finally realized that there is no Santa Claus. And I am kind of relieved. I never wanted to do Santa in the first place.

From the time my older son was a toddler and first starting to hear about Santa Claus I told my husband that I didn't want to do the whole "Santa thing" because I didn't want to have to tell lies to my child.

I know this is going to push buttons for some people, calling  the perpetuation of the Santa myth "telling lies." I want you to know that I do not judge anyone for doing this, I just didn't want to do it myself.

For one thing, I am a terrible liar. I have about a million "tells." I pause, I look away, I punctuate my speech with "uhs" and "ums." I am sure my face lights up with a big neon sign that says, "LIAR!" I am just not good at telling untruths.

And I have made a right mess of this Santa business.

The first few years I did okay. A big Teddy Bear around year two was well-loved. The Polar Express train set in year four was a big hit. Then things kind of hit the skids.

Three years ago the boys wanted a Wii.

This was 2008. We were living on half of our previous income. We didn't know if my husband was going to have a job come the new year. Business had ground to a halt much earlier than usual and predictions for 2009 were grim.  We just could not afford to buy a Wii.

So I got online and found what I thought was the next best thing: Swing Zone Sports. It had the same games as the Wii (albeit with inferior graphics) and was on sale for $25.

I was so excited. The kids were going to get what they wanted and we didn't have to go into debt to pay for it.

The excitement lasted one day.

The kids were happy when they opened it and played it all day long. It was fun. It worked like the Wii. It was a win-win!

The next day my older son came to me with a confused look on his face, "Mommy, why didn't Santa bring us a real Wii?"


My heart sank as I scrambled to come up with a plausible story. "Uh, well, um, huh? I guess-s-s....Santa must have run out. Lots of kids wanted a Wii this year and he must have just not had enough so he brought the next best thing. Swing Zone is fun isn't it?"

"Yes, but....I really wanted a Wii."

Double shit.

I apologized and said something about Santa doing the best he could and we moved on.

The next year things were a bit better for us financially, but we still needed to be careful around the holidays and we had started to fight the video game fight in a big, bad way.

Besides a Wii, of course, both boys really wanted a Nintendo DS. We gave each of them a bad habit challenge: if they broke their bad habit, they got a DS. Our older son met his challenge in 4 weeks, so we had to pony up and we became a DS household.

After about two weeks I was ready to throw that thing in the garbage.

Although it belonged to our older son, both boys got to play it and there were rules about how much time they had and who got to go first and when it could be played, etc. All of which caused more fighting and anger in our household than we had seen in a very long time.

So when Christmas rolled around again, I was not inclined to add another video game system to the mix.

As "luck" would have it, someone had given us an Xbox earlier that year that we had yet to be able to use (it had come with the wrong cables) so we decided that for Christmas this year we would get the Xbox working and get the kids a whole bunch of new games.

It went down pretty much the same way as it had the previous year. The Xbox was really cool for a few days and then the question came, "Mommy, why didn't Santa get us a Wii? I hate Santa. He never gets us what we want."

Triple shit!

I thought about it for a moment and then I decided I had to take one for the team and let Santa off the hook, so I said, "Honey, it's not Santa's fault. I told him not to bring a Wii this year because we already had an Xbox."

The look on his face was priceless. It is the exact look a child gets when told that their parent has gone behind their back to kill their dream. My son ran out of the room, crying and screaming, slammed his bedroom door and threw himself down on this bed to weep.

It cut me to the quick, but there was no backing out now. I had to stick to my story or kill Santa forever.

So I wiped his tears and soothed his hurt and apologized profusely for interfering in his relationship with Santa and we moved on.

Which is why it came as something of a relief when this year, a few weeks before Christmas he came to me and said, "Mom, does Santa really exist?"

I looked at him and I realized that I just did not have one more believable lie in me and I asked him, "Do you really want to know the truth?" And he said, "Yes." So I gave it to him straight.

He said, "I thought so, because we never got what we wanted. And anyway, last year I got out of bed and saw you and dad putting the presents under the tree so you didn't fool me."

This is the story he is telling anyone who will listen, and his younger brother has adopted it as well, since once the news was out there was no stopping it from spreading.

(I did ask them not to ruin it for kids they know who still believe, but I have the feeling that sometimes they just can't help themselves from spreading the word since in elementary school knowledge = power.)

I feel a little bit sad about the end of Santa at our house, although I am not quite sure what I am sad about. Am I sad that they no longer believe? Am I sad because I totally botched it? Or am I sad because I spread the untruth in the first place, against my gut feeling that it was not a good idea?

I am not against magic and wonder. I want my kids to have that and to have it in spades, but I am just not sure the whole Santa myth is the best way to give that to our children. The whole thing seems set up to wound and disappoint.

Most kids are never going to get everything they want so there is disappointment built-in. On top of that we tie the disappointment to their behavior - Santa would have brought you everything you wanted IF YOU WERE GOOD. Even though this is completely irrelevant in most cases. (I don't know of any parents who give presents based on behavior.)

Why not just tell the story of Saint Nicholas and his good deeds, or the birth of Christ and his life of service, and share the spirit of giving with our children in a way that does not commercialize or stigmatize or disappoint?

I am not sure what I am going to do this year. 

Part of me is tempted to hide all of their gifts, pretend not to get them any and then have Santa come through in the clutch with a bevy of gifts. 

Another part of me is tempted to throw in the towel on the whole Santa thing (no Santa photos, no Santa talk, no Santa books) and try and create our own version of Christmas that includes lots of love and a little bit of magic, but no untruths.

In any case, this year the kids are finally getting a Wii. I hope that feels at least a little bit magical (until the fighting starts).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Emanating Love

"Emanate love to all in your sphere without distinction or prejudice." 

--Sunyata Satchitananda from the website

I went to a Holiday concert this week that a friend of mine and her children were performing in. It was a lovely performance; the director was enthusiastic, the songs were uplifting and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

There was one woman in the choir who particularly stood out for me. She was standing in the back, not doing anything special, but as she sang she just radiated love.

I watched her closely throughout the whole concert, trying to figure out her secret. I studied her face to try and see what was different.

Physically, there was nothing special about her face. It was more attractive then some, less attractive than others, but a pretty basic human face. Still, there was something about it that went beyond the physical.

Her face was open. Her face was loose and broad and radiant. Her face was smiling all the time.

I kept finding myself thinking: I want to do that.

And asking the question that followed: How do you do that?

As I continued to look at the woman with the radiant face what I saw was Total Acceptance. Of herself and of others. She truly loved herself and therefore had no reason to hate anyone else.

I know that I am not there yet, but I hope that's where I'm headed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Little Ego Before Breakfast

"True wealth is the ability to let go of your possessions."

--Yogi Tea tea bag

The other morning I was sitting on my yoga mat doing my meditation thing when my husband got up and started to make himself a little breakfast.

He was rustling around in the kitchen, opening packages and clanging dishes and I started to feel the annoyance rising. 

Not, as you might assume, because he was making noise, but because I thought he was helping himself to some of MY special granola.

Ever since finding Thrive I have been trying to eat raw foods a little more often because I like the way it makes me feel. The other day at Whole Foods I saw this raw food granola that looked amazing. I decided to treat myself even though it cost more than twice as much as I usually spend on a box of cereal and is about a third of the size. I did not anticipate that anyone else in the family would want anything to do with my raw food granola.

Yet, there I was - trying to meditate - and there he was, in the kitchen, eating all of MY cereal.

I was completely out of the zone at this point, my mind going crazy with this idea that he was eating my granola.

I think he’s eating my granola.

Why does he have to eat my granola?

Can’t he just eat the other cereal in there?

I’ll bet he’s going to have a HUGE bowl and there will be hardly any left for ME.

He doesn’t even like raw foods.

Can’t he just leave my granola alone?

This went on for awhile before I caught myself.

Oh. Wait. He’s not eating my granola. He’s eating the mini box of Wheaties I got at the half marathon earlier this month and told him he could have.


And then I really caught myself.

WHAT am I doing?

I am begrudging the man I love a bowl of granola.


I started to list for myself all of the reasons that this was completely absurd:

1)       The bag was still three-quarters of the way full;

2)       If he did happen to eat all of it - as unlikely as that was - I could go out and buy myself another bag;

3)       As the primary bread-winner in our household he should be able to eat a bowl of the granola he worked to pay for if he wants to;

4)       I am planning on spending more than $8 on his Christmas present this year. Maybe I should just get him his own bag of raw granola instead;

5)       It’s just cereal. It’s not like he ate the last dark chocolate-covered mint joe-joe (he knows better than that...).

But not even one thing on this list is the real point.

The real point, of course, is that this kind of thinking is exactly the opposite of what I am trying to achieve by sitting there in meditation. And a bowl of granola is such a silly thing to get my mind in a twist about.

But my ego is tricky like that. It likes to catch me off guard in just this way, at just these times.

There I was, sitting in meditation, feeling all at peace with the world and suddenly it’s the Raw Food Granola Crisis.

It’s laughable really.

So when I was done meditating, I went into the kitchen and told my husband about it and we had a good laugh.

(And he promised never to eat my special granola....)

Monday, December 13, 2010


"Joy Alone is the Truth."

--The Universe

This is one of my favorite quotes for the holidays (I used it last year as well), maybe because it is such a great reminder for me to put my focus on the joy of the season rather than the stress. 

In that vein (and in the tradition of 3BTs) here are a few things that are bringing me joy this holiday season:

1) Dark chocolate-covered mint Joe-Joes (like Oreos) from Trader Joe's - best cookie EVER and only available October through December;

2) Hearing songs from A Charlie Brown Christmas and Love, Actually on the radio and looking forward to watching both. (Click here to hear my favorite song from Charlie Brown and here to hear my fav from Love, Actually);

3) Shopping from the comfort of my own home and having the presents delivered to my door;

4) Finding the perfect present for those I love and beautifully wrapping it;

5) Making my own holiday cards (and tee shirts too!) with some of my favorite quotes on them at

What is bringing you joy this holiday season?

Friday, December 10, 2010

You just never know...

"The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful." 

When I told my husband I was going to use this quote on my blog this week his first response was, "She was mean you know."

"What do you mean she was mean?" I asked.

"Elizabeth was mean to John. She was horrible to everyone on his staff. She was mean-spirited and a first-class [beast]."

I'll admit that it gave me pause. For about thirty seconds. 

And then I thought: Who isn't mean? Or hasn't been at one time or another? 

Is there a person alive about whom it could not be said: She was mean to her spouse. He was horrible to people who worked for him? She was mean-spirited. He was a first-class [jerk]?

What is the "truth" about Elizabeth and John Edwards? Was she mean to him because he was a philanderer or was he a philanderer because she was mean to him? 

The "truth" is, we can never know for sure.

There are two sides - at least - to every story and a multitude of ways to sum up a life. This was how Elizabeth summed up hers and whatever the "truth" behind her life, I find it inspirational. I hope you do too.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WWBD (What Would Buddha Do?)

"A philosopher was asked: 'What, then, is our duty?' And his answer, in short, was: 'It is what the day requires.'"

--From an article by Cheryl Christy, a breast cancer fighter for 17 years.

The other day I set out from home with a "to do" list six hours long and three hours in which to accomplish it. 

In addition this was supposed to have been a "writing day," and I was hoping to get home "early" and squeeze in a hour of writing before I had to go and pick the kids up from school.

Needless to say, things didn't work out quite as I had planned. 

Everywhere I went there were people who needed me: I ran into a friend of a friend who had just been laid off and needed a hug, I ran into a grocery store worker who just needed someone to talk to, and as I pulled up outside of my house, I ran into a neighbor who needed some sympathy. 

Each time I saw the person right before they saw me and thought to myself, "Ooh! There's so-and-so, they are probably going to want to talk. I don't really have time for that.....doh! They saw me."

At that moment I could feel my stomach lurch and my heart sink, knowing I was caught. 

But I also knew that "caught" was where I was supposed to be. 

It's all very well for me to sit here with my laptop, typing about Oneness and Unity and Love; it's quite another having to put it into practice in the world. 

What do you do when the day doesn't go as planned? When what is required is talking to someone in pain when you don't have the time? Staying home with a sick child when all you want to do is get some work done? 

What I used to do is get angry and rail against whatever - or whomever - it was that got in my way. Sometimes an interrupted plan could cost me a whole day of anger and frustration. Sometimes I would get so angry I'd feel like I had an anger "hangover" the next day. 

Now it's just uncomfortable. My chest gets tight, my stomach feels queasy, my breathing quickens and I know I need to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that my meditation practice and my reading and my writing don't mean a thing if I turn my back on a person standing in front of me with pain in their heart. 

Sometimes what the day requires is putting aside my "to do" list for the one God has written for me. I imagine it would go something like this:

Love Your Children
Love Your Husband
Love Your Friends
Love Your Neighbors
Love Everyone
Then do the grocery shopping.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What to do when you don't know what to do....

“When someone you know is overwhelmed by life, confronted by obstacles that are a little too heavy to carry alone, it’s easy to feel unsure of how to respond. That’s the time to remember it’s not what you do, but that you do something.  Often, we don’t realize that what may seem like a small gesture or an insignificant act to us can actually make a meaningful difference in someone’s life....There are no perfect words, no perfect gestures.  Simply reach out and touch someone’s heart.  Be brave, be a little more generous, be kind.”

--From Gwyneth Paltrow's blog GOOP about the book Do Good: 201 Ways to Lend a Hand by Marcy Silverman and Cindy Sacks

I love this. It feels a little bit like an instruction manual for life, in one short paragraph. 

It really spoke to me because I do feel like that in the face of someone else's pain. Paralyzed. 

It's the same way I feel in the face of my own in fact. I just go flat and I have absolutely no idea what to do or what to say. 

I think this advice works equally well for others and for self when fear and pain and overwhelm come up: "...[I]t's not what you do, but that you do something....Be brave, be a little more generous, be kind."
And it feels like a good thing to keep in mind around this time of year when it can feel like there is just way too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it.
(BTW...This book is on sale right now at for $2.40. $2.40! For a book!) 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Open Your Eyes!

"Love lives in everything -
Little or big.
Open your eyes."

--Unknown, from the guest book in the ladies' room at Thrive Cafe

Every time I go to Thrive I make sure to include a trip to the ladies' room to read their guest book. I always find something worthwhile written there. 

On my most recent visit, it included this little gem of a reminder. I feel like it's like a love poem from The Universe to all of us. 

And I believe it has worked on me in the days since I read it. 

A couple of weeks ago I was walking home from dropping the kids off at school, texting and emailing as I went, when I suddenly looked up and saw the beauty all around me - the pure blue sky, the dark green foliage, the fresh clean air - and I realized I was missing all of it. 

I couldn't remember the last time I had made that walk without my head in my iPhone and that struck me as a little bit sad.

So I decided to try and "just walk" for the rest of the year, whenever I was walking. 

I did well for about a week and then the pull of old habits sucked me back in, so far that I didn't even realize it until I sat down to write today, found this quote, and remembered that I was supposed to be opening my eyes. 

So today I recommit myself to that and ask you to join me. What beauty - what love - in your life are you missing? Open your eyes to it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Speaking Diamonds

"As a girl, I would imagine myself in this world, and I'd wonder: Did I speak diamonds or snakes?....I am no longer scared of the girls, the ones with diamonds or [snakes]. The secret is, both of those girls could be me. I choose diamonds."

In the essay she contributed to this collection, Hannah Pine tells of a fairy tale she read when she was a girl about two sisters: one who spoke snakes and toads, one who spoke diamonds and pearls.

Growing up she was afraid of these girls because she thought she knew which one she was and nothing good came to the girl who spoke snakes.

As she became an adult she realized that she had a choice, to become the girl she wanted to be, and she chose to become the girl who spoke diamonds. As that girl she says, she lives by kindness and by her brain. That is, she tries to think kindly.

I thought about this quote yesterday without remembering where I had heard it (thank goodness for Google!) because I caught myself speaking snakes again and wondering why.

Even after eight years of practice, I still find myself saying things - and, oh yes, thinking things - that are unkind, unnecessary, sometimes even untrue. And I am always surprised at myself, even as they come out of my mouth, thinking, "Aren't I past this yet?"

How long, I wonder, does it take to break the habit of speaking snakes?

Maybe as long as it took to get into the habit? 

The first time I can remember "speaking snakes" was in third grade. I lied to my best friend. I told her that I would choose her to help me pass out the snack and then I chose JD, the boy I had a crush on, telling her that the teacher had said I should choose a boy. 

It felt bad to lie, but exhilarating to choose him, and thus began a long series of lies designed to get what I wanted without having to speak it directly.  (If that isn't speaking snakes, I don't know what is....)

I think of these snakes as the small garden variety that almost slip out of your mouth. What about the huge pythons that slither and writhe as they come out? 

The, "Can you believe he.....You'll never guess what she.....What a....!" that peppered my talk throughout high school and college and beyond - way beyond. 

The kind of snakes that I still find sometimes spring forth from my lips when I least expect it. 

And then, there I am again, stuck trying to shove a writhing, six-foot, poisonous snake back into my mouth. It usually doesn't work. 

I guess the only thing to do is to kill those snakes. Slowly, over time, with practice. With kind thoughts, with kind words, with lots and lots of diamonds and pearls.