Friday, May 27, 2011

In sickness and in pain

"All sickness and pain is there to show you the way you are going in your life is not the way to go. "  

--Inna Segal, at Seattle Unity Church

I have not been myself this week. Or, maybe I have. In any case, I have been sick and in pain.

It started this weekend with swollen glands and a bad taste in my mouth. At first, there were no other symptoms and I just figured I was fighting something off. On Monday night, that "something" won.

By dinnertime, I was wiped out. Completely exhausted. I got the kids ready for bed, set their alarm for 9:30 pm and told them to put themselves to bed (my husband was out for the evening) when it went off. Then I crawled into bed and went to sleep.

I woke up Tuesday morning still feeling lethargic, swollen and achy so I called in sick to work and lay on the couch all day. By that evening I felt a little bit better and on Wednesday even better still.

Thursday it was going to be back to the routine: kids to school, me to work, dinner, baseball, etc. Except...

When I woke up Thursday morning I couldn't turn my head without feeling a shooting pain up my neck. When I took a breath it was the same.

I persevered and made it through the day. Last night I hit the couch again and after that I felt a little bit better, but this morning it's pain in the neck time again and I am feeling a little bit anxious - despairing - frustrated - sad - put upon - down - about it.

I have lost almost a whole week to pain and sickness now. Isn't it time to be "done?"

Obviously not.

This morning I remembered that I had heard a quote recently about pain and sickness. Did I write it down?

Ah, yes, here it is....."All sickness and pain is there to show you the way you are going in your life is not the way to do."

Great! So just what is it I am doing wrong?

When my throat was swollen I was willing to consider that this was a call to speak my truth. I have trouble calling in sick for work. I feel like I somehow don't deserve to, or that I am letting everyone down, that they won't believe I am really sick and that they will think less of me and punish me for it.

Where did I learn this? From the mid-western women I grew up with. I don't think I ever saw either of my grandmothers take a break, take it easy, take a sick day. They pushed on through with chores and meals and laundry no matter how they were feeling.

As a child my mother always encouraged us to "try" to go to school even when we weren't feeling well. To push on through with reading, writing and arithmetic no matter how we were feeling. I do the same thing with my kids. And that's okay in some ways.

Life is, to some degree, about pushing on through, about making the best of it, about "doing" even when you don't feel like it. The problem though, is when it becomes all about that.

Admitting I am sick, admitting I need a break, admitting I just can't do it today is really, really hard for me. It feels like letting others down, it feels like a cop-out, it feels like failure. 

According to Louise Hay, in her book, "You Can Heal Your Life," pain in the area of the cervical spine can be caused by the following thoughts and emotions: fear, confusion, feeling not good enough (check); indecision, out of balance with life (check); accepting blame for others, guilt, indecision, biting off more than one can chew (check); repressed anger, bottled-up feelings, repressed tears (check); fear of expression, rejecting one's good, overburdened (check); burdens, overload, trying to fix others, resistance, inflexibility (check, check, check, check, check).

I can recognize myself in all of these feelings and states of being. My whole neck has been taken hostage by The Universe to show me what I need to change in my life. It feels like the answer is: EVERYTHING.

But the problem is, I don't know what to do, where to start, what to do next. Ironically, I am paralyzed by my pain, which does not make it easy to think clearly and make a move.

Maybe that's the whole point. Maybe thinking is not what is called for here. Maybe I have relied too much on thinking, planning, figuring things out and moving forward from there. Maybe it is time to feel: the paralyzing pain, the uncomfortable feelings, everything I have tried NOT to feel for the past forty years.

Last night as I went to sleep I was thinking all of the above, feeling all of the above, and then I stopped. I lay down and just started to breathe, slowly and deeply, in and out, in and out.....and for a few seconds I felt.....okay. Peaceful. Protected. I felt GOD.

For the first time in my life I felt like God was there, in my heart, and that everything was going to be okay. I felt the Peace of God in my heart. And it was good.

Maybe this pain and this sickness is showing me that the way I am going in my life is not the way to go, maybe it is showing me the way, maybe it is showing me the way to God.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Happiness Project

"An aim is the only fortune worth the finding; and it is not to be found in foreign lands, but in the heart itself." 

--Robert Louis Stevenson from  Essays of travel. 

I found this quote on the website, which is a great resource for increasing YOUR personal happiness. You can also join the 2011 Happiness Challenge. Check it out!

Monday, May 23, 2011


"We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light." 

--Mary Dunbar, from a blank card at Trader Joe's 

I love that inspiration can come in many forms, sometimes when you least expect it. While grocery shopping today I came upon this little bit of wisdom from Mary Dunbar and I wanted to share it with you. 

What is YOUR unique gift? 

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Two-Way Street

"The miracle you are looking for is looking for you. " 

--Paul Tenaglia, founding minister of Unity of New York 

Whenever I talk on the phone with my sister I always come away with at least one gem of an idea or an inspiration or even a quote. 

During our last phone conversation it was this one; a quote from the Sunday service at Unity of New York, which she had attended earlier that day. And a reminder that miracles are a two-way street.

God, The Universe, the Angels, whatever Divine beings or Force you believe in wants to bring you a miracle. So go on, ASK FOR IT!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Don't Know

"I don't have to say, 'I don't know.' I can ASK. I don't have to be lost." 

--Inna Segal, speaking at Seattle Unity Church 

Almost always when I go to church I get something out of it. I learn something or I have a new thought or an idea or a burst of inspiration that I can use. 

Other times when I go I feel like God is speaking directly to me and that I have been summoned for that reason. 

This past Sunday was one of those times. 

As I sat there in the pew, listening to the lesson, rubbing my kids' backs and snuggling (they always parlay the fact that they don't really want to be there into a back rub and a snuggle, which totally works for me), suddenly God was tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Listen up."

This time he did it by mimicking my own words back to me: I DON'T KNOW.

For most of my life whenever the shit hits the fan and I feel like I am spinning out of control and don't know what to do about it, the phrase that reverberates in my head is, "I don't know."


It repeats and repeats and repeats in my head, getting louder and louder until sometimes I feel like I just can't take it any more. I am paralyzed and it is all I can do to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. 

Eventually it passes and I move on, but it always comes back, sooner or later. 

There have been some I DON'T KNOW times as of late and what I usually do now is go lie down and meditate. After twenty or thirty minutes of this I usually feel better and often have some idea of what to do next. 

But this is a somewhat passive process. I lie there and wait for the anxiety to pass or for an answer to come. This Sunday I realized that I don't have to just lie down and wait, I can actively ASK for help. In other words, I can....PRAY.

I haven't really prayed since leaving the Catholic Church a few years ago. When I left I kind of left the ritual prayers behind and, while Catholic, I had gotten away from the free-form, Protestant prayers of my youth (mostly of the help me with _____ variety). 

I realized on Sunday that I don't really know how to pray as a new thought religious adult, but I think that this quote, speaking to me in my own language, was a call to learn. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Care of the Soul

"Care of the soul sees another reality altogether. It appreciates the mystery of human suffering and does not offer the illusion of a problem-free life. It sees every fall into ignorance and confusion as an opportunity to discover that the beast residing at the center of the labyrinth is also an angel. The uniqueness of a person is made up of the insane and the twisted as much as it is of the rational and normal. To approach this paradoxical point of tension where adjustment and abnormality meet is to move closer to the realization of our mystery-filled, star-born nature."

 --Thomas Moore from his book, Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life 

This quote is from an old book (published in 1992) that I just started reading. It has sat on my shelf since sometime in 1993 when I plucked it off of a remainder table at a bookstore I was working at during that time. 

Every time I have sorted through my books since then, to get rid of the ones I have already read or finally realize I am just not going to read, I have given it a look see and then put it back on the shelf thinking to myself, someday.....

A week or so ago that day finally came. 

I was looking around for something to read and going through my non-fiction shelf book-by-book when I happened upon it. 

"Ah, yes," I said to myself, "I think it's time." And I sat down to read. 

A week later I am still at it (having also started two other books in the meantime.....) and its pages are full of turned down corners and underlined words, quotes just waiting to be plucked out, cataloged and someday perhaps, blogged.

For now, I leave you with this one. The one that, I think, defines the book most clearly and also illuminates this human life as well as any quote I've ever read. 

It's ain't always easy this life of ours, but when we realize that, somehow it gets a little bit easier. And sometimes that can feel downright magical.

Friday, May 13, 2011


"We are finally at a place of fully expressing our divinity in a way that expires our old (clearing) contracts and deeply embedded programming that we are here to 'save the world.' There is no saving or service required any longer...we are simply here now to share the part of ourselves that will, by default, uplift others. The shift is important here because when [we] work from a place of 'saving,' we are holding onto the very paradigm that we are now breaking free from.” 

--Lauren C. Gorgo from her blog Conscious Co-Creation Coaching

This blog post preempts a previously scheduled post, but when I read this quote this morning I just knew this was what I wanted to post today.  

(On a side note, you may have noticed that there is no blog post for Wednesday this week. There was, but it disappeared. Not even kidding. I wrote it. I posted it. I even viewed it, but when I came back to the blog today, it was gone. I am going to take this as a sign from The Universe that this particular post was not meant to be. A small anomaly that points to a larger purpose, whatever that may be....)

The world is changing and we are changing with it. These changes are not always comfortable and do not always make sense to our three-dimensional selves, but they are happening nonetheless.  

The great news is that this new way of being in the world means more love and more freedom for all of us. The chance to just BE who we are at the deepest level and to know that that is enough, that that is perfect, that that is all that is asked of us. 

If you are interested in reading more about this shift, click here to read Lauren's full blog post.  

This quote at first may seem like it is advocating greater selfishness, narcissism and isolationism, but rather than a complete disconnect from the altruism and service model of spirituality, I think of it as a subtle shift from SAVING to SHARING. 

It's not that we are not here to help each other out, but that we are not here to SAVE anyone. It is no longer a top down model, but a Oneness model. 

Each of us brings a certain special energy into this world and our job here on Earth is to express that energy to the best of our ability. In that way we share with each other and benefit the whole. We do not sacrifice ourselves for others nor do we ask that they do so for us, but we mutually support each other in becoming the highest expression of ourselves that is possible for the benefit of all. 

What is your highest expression and how are you expressing it?

An example of this for me this week was going to yoga yesterday and being seated next to the most flexible woman i have ever seen. She could pull her foot up and over behind her back and practically touch her head while standing on one foot. Damn her!

I spent a good deal of the time in class trying not to look at her version of each posture, while secretly looking at her version of the posture and hating her for it. 

Finally I realized that she is just expressing who she is. She is VERY FLEXIBLE. It's like her super-power. And her expression of this VERY FLEXIBLE energy makes room in the world for those of us who are less flexible. She is being flexibility so I don't have to be. So I can be my highest expression, whatever that may be (I am still working on discovering my super-power...).

So I paused and thanked her for that and then returned to my own eyes in the mirror. 

That's not to say that I didn't "pop out" of this place of love and appreciation from time to time when my postures couldn't help but not measure up to hers in some part of my comparing mind, but I always tried to return to that place of love and appreciation as soon as I could. 

Her being who she is allows me to be who I am. You being who you are allows me to be who I am. Anyone being the highest expression of themselves benefits all of us. And anyone sacrificing who they are to save someone else diminishes not only the person being "saved," but all of us. 

On a personal note, this quote has the distinct honor of being the 1000th quote that I have recorded. It feels like kind of a milestone and yet, like I still have a long ways to go and many more wise words to absorb. So thanks to all of the writers, teachers and fellow humans who have inspired me thus far. You rock!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Just BE

"Sometimes, I admit, I laugh a little in my head at how seriously you take yourself. At how hard you TRY, when you only need to BE. " 

--One of my readers in response to my post "YTTP!" 

Friday and Saturday of last week were some of "those" days....the ones that make you want to crawl under the covers and never come out.

I don't know if it was the weather (Wednesday was a lovely day, followed by two more days of the usual - cold, rainy, gray), the lack of sleep (I stayed up WAY too late Friday night watching bad TV), or just my biorhythms (it seems like these days come around once in awhile no matter what I do), but I was in a serious FUNK.

Life seemed too hard for words, nothing was going my way and there were disappointments at every turn. 

Saturday morning before work I asked my husband to make me a smoothie. I got ready for work and when I came out into the kitchen my smoothie was all ready, "to go" cup and all. Except....

My husband is known for his experimental cooking. He puts apples in his chili, Marmite on his peanut butter sandwiches, and ketchup and relish on pretty much anything. Nothing pleases him more than coming up with an odd concoction of foods that (in his opinion anyway) works well together. 

I am decidedly NOT of this ilk. I like things the way I like them, the way they have always been, the way they were MEANT to be. That includes my smoothies. I make one every morning, the same way, varying only the kind of frozen fruit I add in at the end. I am Sally to his Harry for sure.

So imagine my surprise when I took a drink of my smoothie and tasted something.....different.

I opened the lid and, sure enough, there were little specks of something white in my smoothie. "What are these?" I asked in a somewhat shrill voice. "Cashews," he replied, with a little glee in his tone. "I thought you might like something a little different."


Different was the very opposite of what I wanted on this particular morning. What I wanted was one damn thing to go my way, to be how I wanted it to be, not to disappoint me. 

I started down the road of, "How could you?! WTF?!" but I didn't really want to go there and besides, I had to get to work. So I kissed everyone - yes, even HIM - and left the house. 

On my way to work I started to go off again, "Can't he just....All I wanted was ....WHY? WHY? WHY?" And then I stopped myself. 

This wasn't helping, this wasn't changing the dynamic of the past couple of days, this was just continuing down the same road. 

So I stopped complaining and started feeling. 

I just felt the disappointment of the cashew smoothie and the past few days as much as I could. I felt it in my gut, and in my back and in my heart. 

It's so funny to me how when something comes up for us our chakras just light up with feeling and how we try and push those feelings away with anger and denial and turning our backs on each other and on ourselves. 

By the time I got to work I was feeling better and after another few minutes I was able to text my husband, "I'm over it. Thanks for the smoothie." 

To which he graciously replied, "I'm sorry....I should have known better....I was trying to give you some extra lovin'. Problem is I was loving you the way I like to be loved, not the way you do." (For a great book on this phenomenon among couples, read the book, "Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples ) 

On the way home from work I was reflecting on the past couple of days and trying to figure out just what had happened, why I had been experiencing disappointment on such a grand scale (keeping in mind that I am fully aware on some level how very PRIVILEGED I am).

That's when I thought back to this comment from a reader and had my "Ah-ha" moment for the day. 

Somehow in those two days I had fallen completely out of the present and into my crazy mind. I was back to doing what I had always done TRYING, TRYING, TRYING. 

Trying to be perfect, trying to make things go the way I wanted them to or expected them to, trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be and do what I thought people wanted me to do and thinking, thinking, thinking all the time about what that might be and how that might look. I was just THINKING, THINKING, THINKING and TRYING, TRYING, TRYING and it was making me miserable. Not to mention exhausted. 

Just BE. Just be here now. Just be in this moment. Just be who you are without thinking or trying or analyzing. Just BE. 

I am not sure how something so seemingly simple can be so damn hard, but for some reason it is. 

And it occurred to me that what happened that morning was the key to it all. I experienced something unpleasant and my first reaction was to yell, fight, project. It was not to FEEL. 

This is what we are taught from a very young age (and what I am afraid my children are learning): Don't feel. "You're all right. It's gonna be okay. Pick yourself up. Put a band aid on it. Have a lolly pop." 

This is what we tell our children. We don't tell them to feel; don't allow them to feel. And we certainly don't allow it of ourselves. But feeling is the key. It is the path. It is the way. To freedom, to the present moment and, I believe, to happiness.

Feelings come up all the time, every day, and unless we allow ourselves to feel them and to express them we are destined to be always living in the past, the future, or fantasy land. Anywhere but right where we are. Anywhere but here. And if that is the case, we will always be TRYING and not BEING.  

Check out my Wednesday post for a meditation that I am trying to stay in the moment. It's called "Past, Present or Fantasy Island."

Friday, May 6, 2011

3 To Live By

"When I leave my apartment I always whisper to myself, do no harm. I seek progress rather than perfection. I wouldn’t recognize perfection if it bit me on my ass. I just try to do better than I did yesterday." 

--Frank Ferrante of the movie May I Be Frank 

Frank Ferrante was an overweight drug addict barely living when he walked into a raw food cafe in San Francisco and was asked this question by the server: "What is one thing you want to do before you die?" 

His answer: Fall in love again. 

He knew it would never happen if he didn't make some changes. So, with the help of the server and a couple of his friends, he did. He practiced gratitude. He ate only raw food. He had a weekly colonic. 

And he transformed his life.

I can't wait to see this movie when it is in wide release. Until then, I take Frank's words to heart: Do no harm. Seek progress rather than perfection. Do better than I did yesterday. 

And I am asking myself: What is one thing I want to do before I die? 

My answer is: Achieve enlightenment. Get over myself. Transcend my ego, if only for a moment.

What is your answer?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Total Freedom

"The only relationship that can make both [people] happy is one in which sentimentality has no place and neither [person] makes any claim on the life and freedom of the other. " 

--Milan Kundera

I had a bit of a shock today. When I went to tell my kids it was time to get their shoes on to go to school, my older son was nowhere to be found. 

Not in the house. Not in the yard. Not down the street. Gone.

His backpack and shoes were gone as well so I had a pretty good idea where he was, but still it gave me pause. 

In the past week or so my older son has begun to want to walk to school on his own. He doesn't want to wait for me or our "walking bus" to be ready to go. He wants to leave on his own time and walk by himself.

A couple of years ago this would have freaked me out, but he has matured a lot and so have I. I have also read, "Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) by Lenore Skenazy so I know that a lot of my fears are unfounded. Still. 

I have the somewhat irrational fear that if my kids are out of my sight they are not safe. On one level, I know this is not true, but on another level I am not so sure. 

When I called my husband to tell him about the incident (after I drove to school to confirm that, yes, he had made it there and gave him "the talk" about letting me know when he was leaving the house), he was very sympathetic....with my son. 

He has always thought that I am too cautious, too worried, That the boys need more room, more independence, more FREEDOM than I give them. 

We talked about it a little bit and I found myself getting really upset. Feeling like men (and boys) don't care about women, about our needs for communication and checking in, that they just want to go off and leave us in the dust, hunt some elk and come home when they damn well please. 

My husband confirmed that this was pretty much so. BUT, he said, the important part is that they DO come home and that they WANT to. 

So I have been thinking about freedom today. What it means, how much I want, how much I can give to the men in my household. 

The idea of everyone coming and going without any communication is frightening to me. It's anarchy and that just doesn't feel like a family to me. But perhaps we are in need of some adjusting of expectations. 

For the past nine years I have done everything for my kids. Made their meals, changed their diapers, washed their clothes, picked up after them. I have been feeling lately like they need to take more responsibility for their things and their bodies and their lives, so it only make sense that as I ask more of them, they ask me for more too. More freedom. Of movement, of control, of decision-making. 

It's an intricate dance we are all doing together, this dance of freedom. Always trying to decide what is too much, what is too little and what is just enough.

I have to admit I do like the feeling of TOTAL FREEDOM. I got a taste of that when I was in Paris a few weeks ago. Just being able to go and do completely on my own time was something I had not experienced in a long time. It felt great and I want that for my kids and for my husband and for my family. BUT...

There is such a strong pull towards being in control, being in charge, being "the one" who is doing it all, holding this whole thing together, that it is hard to let go and just let everyone be. Be themselves. Be who they are. Be in each moment with total freedom.

For the past nine years that has not been possible. For me. For them. For us. But now freedom is looming and I am not quite sure how I feel about it.  

Monday, May 2, 2011


"The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day." 

--David Foster Wallace from my Free Will Astrology horoscope for the week of 4/19/11

If this isn't a definition of motherhood, I don't know what is. 

I read this quote in my horoscope a couple of weeks ago and thought: all the meditation, all the practice, all the work I need to do is built into my life EVERY SINGLE DAY. If I don't do another thing, but do this with intention that would be enough. 

Sometimes I see it and sometimes I don't, but I believe this quote is a reminder - to all of us - to take the raw material of our own lives and turn it into a spiritual practice. A practice in becoming more aware, more awake, more alive, in every moment. A practice in showing more kindness, more love, and more compassion, EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Let's start now. Go!