the choice for inner peace

My mantra about the power of choice was put to the test today. I got fired by my health insurance carrier for late payment. In my total immersion in my latest book project I completely lost touch with the end of month deadline until today, when I realized it was now the 2nd. Well aware of the sticklers they are about requiring check payments to be postmarked no later than the final day of the month, I grabbed the phone to call the COBRA manager. I explained to her how I had forgotten and was prepared to pay over the phone with my credit card. “I’m sorry. Your coverage has been canceled,” she said.

“What!? Canceled!?” I knew I had pushed the envelope yet I didn’t expect the door would be slammed in my face so quickly.

“Yes,” she replied in a tone that told me I was not the first person she’d had this conversation with. She had been trained to not say much.

“Is there anything I can do?” I asked.

“No. I’m sorry.”

My instincts told me there was no fighting this and I graciously hung up the phone. I whipped out my choice to believe that this event was happening for my higher good. My rates had gone up substantially for this coverage that I rarely used and I had been dragging my feet to get another plan in place. Now I’m being forced to do that bit of homework. My next call was to the insurance broker I’ve engaged to asked him to send me the application we’d been discussing. As we explored my other options, he reminded me of a benefit I could take advantage of if I had plans to partner with someone in my business. How interesting that this would come up as I have recently begun talking with a friend about partnering on a couple of projects.

I received the online insurance application and immediately got busy with it. The quick quotes provided showed that I could expect to save a good $100 a month from what I had been paying. My friend and potential business partner happened to call me in the middle of all of this and it expedited our conversations about our projects in a big way.

So here I am now, fully aware that I am running around without health insurance. (Mom, I hope you are not reading this.) Irresponsible? Maybe. But am I at peace? You bet I am. You might wonder how I can possibly be at peace knowing that I’ll be up the creek if something happens to my body. My peace is a result of my choice to believe that something good is going to come from this little incident. I choose to believe that everything will be okay until I get set up on the next program. And hey, it just hit me that I’m saving $351 in the interim.

Am I advocating a choice for no insurance? Absolutely not. What I am promoting is the control that you have in how you experience life through your choices. I know that it is possible for something to happen that will require me to have medical attention in the coming days. I choose to believe it won’t. This choice enables me to sleep at night and be at peace. Yet who knows? I may require emergency attention tomorrow which will have proven me wrong. But that doesn’t take away the night of peace I gave myself.

veto: a lesson in forgiveness

“May God bless our troops.” — George W. Bush

I read the transcript for Bush’s speech explaining his veto of the Iraq Spending Bill with cynicism and his closing statement in quotes here hit me as a most interesting diversion of energy. Then as I invited my mind to analyze why he would bring the love of God into a dialog about the best way to fund more killing, I realized that I did agree with Mr. Bush on one thing. God flows through everything—the good, the bad and the ugly.

This revelation also brought me to recognize the part I play in spreading judgment and anger in my own response to the war. How humbled I was to realize how frequently I speak out of both sides of my mouth. While I’ve answered my calling to teach about love, hope, purpose and change, I’m just now learning another lesson in forgiveness. I may not agree with Mr. Bush’s policies or decisions, yet that doesn’t mean I have to hate him. Like you and me, isn’t he just a fragile human being doing the very best that he can?

Have you ever looked back on your behavior at various points in your life shuddering as you asked yourself the question, “What the hell was I thinking?” If we can learn to forgive ourselves, we give ourselves the gift of inner peace. If we can learn to forgive others, we give ourselves the chance for global peace, even if the actions we’re forgiving aren’t in alignment with it.

war versus the golden rule

 “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” — Jesus

“What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man.” — Hillel

“Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” — Muhammad

“What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.” — Confucius

The Golden Rule is a basic moral principle which has been taught throughout history in nearly all the world’s major religions and cultures.  If we all agree that a fundamental ethic in human life is to treat others as we would like to be treated, why do we continue to be at war?  How do we rationalize doing harm in a way that invites the same treatment back to ourselves and those we love?  What could possibly be more important than life and love that enables us to excuse ourselves for imposing acts of violence and murder upon our fellow human beings?

I know that I am in good company with those who abhor the war.  Yet it can be very frustrating because it often seems like it is a matter that is out of our control.  We can continue on subscribing to that mindset and feed our sense of helplessness that nothing will ever change until we get the right person in office.  Or we can take matters into our own hands and make that Golden Rule so strongly prevalent in our society that war becomes an unthinkable act for all colors of states.

We have with us now the challenge to push the power of our human spirit as far as we have seen possible with technology.  Anything is possible if we believe it can be and if we direct our energies towards it.  What can you do today, tomorrow and the days that will follow to promote the Golden Rule?

the mind of a lover

www.sanctuaryforchange.comI was doing my thing on the treadmill at the gym this afternoon while four huge flat screen TVs peered back at me. Two were tuned into CNN and the other two, ESPN. I rationalize my mid-day gym visits as brainstorming sessions for my next writing project, so I was well in the mode to use the time to go within. Yet I happened to look up to the CNN screen to something that caught my attention. It was a header screen which read, “Virginia Tech Massacre: The Mind of a Killer”. Whoa, I thought, as I witnessed this plea to sensationalism. If voyeurism sells to one extreme, why can’t it work for the other? Can we learn to find the mind of a lover just as provocative?

What do I mean by a lover in this context? Someone who shares compassion and love to their fellow human beings. Someone who views the heart of their earthly brothers and sisters as sensitively as they do their own. Someone whose eyes look deeply into the eyes of a stranger, acknowledging their human connection for no other reason than to just share that connection. Someone who takes great joy out of this kind of anonymous touch. After all, isn’t this the behavior that our world desperately needs? Isn’t this the model worth our voyeurism?

It’s been said that we teach what we value. By focusing on killer behavior, we feed it. Yet if we determine that love is what we value, we need to begin to show that we value that behavior. We need to honor what it means to be compassionate. We need to celebrate the act of brotherly love.

I don’t know who you are as you are reading this. Yet if you showed up in my physical space I’d want to hug you and acknowledge our connection in this world. I’ve set the tone for that to happen just by mentioning it. So what if we all set the intention to spread love and human compassion? Like John Lennon said, “Maybe I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”

love in an unvalentine day

I walked into a bank yesterday and was surprised by how festively decorated the lobby was in observance of Valentine’s Day.  There were hearts and bunches of pink, red and white balloons everywhere.  The teller that waited on me wore a red sweater with a colorful heart pin.  As I walked out of there in my black running gear I wondered who was behind all this festivity.  I wondered what had inspired this branch to go all out in its promotion of the love day.

I’d guess you’d say that I am at the other end of the spectrum.  I like to think that I celebrate the spirit of love everyday and feel more authentic by boycotting the holiday.  For me it is like going to church on Sundays. I live my spirituality every day and don’t feel the need to gather in a sacred space with others to feel connected with the divine.  I am aware that connection is with me constantly.

And so it is with love.  We were created from the love of divine energy.  If love is behind all of creation, love is really all that exists.  It surrounds us and flows through us every moment of every day. We just need to tune into it in our hearts and minds and believe in the supportive goodness of this love.  When we recognize that as creations of this divine energy, we are co-creators of life, we ignite the power within us to do, be, have or accomplish anything we desire.  And that is some pretty powerful stuff.  Have you thought about how this love wishes to express itself through you?

unique for a reason 

The other day a client came to me at a crossroads in his work life.  Over the years he had worn a variety of hats and was trying to further develop a business related to the arts. While a part of him enjoyed that he was being of service teaching, the business development side was a struggle that drained him.  What he had come to recognize was that he wanted a work life he felt so passionate about that he would jump out of bed eager to get started.

 As I listened to him describe his situation, I noticed the word “should” popping up.  There was a conflict between this talented musician’s passions and his beliefs that unless he was saving the world, success was to be measured through traditional avenues such as real estate or other business ventures.  A performance musician on the side, he was unable to place value on the great joy he brings to the patrons who come to his shows.  He had been viewing this work only as a self-serving means in which to express himself.  At the end of our conversation he recognized that he had not been placing value on the unique gifts that nature had bestowed upon him.  He was then able to make the leap that there may be purpose behind what he has to offer.

Life is so much easier when we stop trying to be anything but who we really are and accept what has been given us as beautiful.  One day this past fall I found myself totally fed up with the process of straightening my hair.  I stood there at the mirror and realized that I’d started taming my naturally wavy hair at the time I’d begun to climb the corporate ladder fifteen to twenty years ago.  It was the period of dress for success and I wanted to look the part.  I chuckled to myself that morning as I realized that I had left that coporate life well over a year ago and no longer had to fit into that mold.  With that point aside, I considered that part of why I had been straightening my hair was the fact that straight hair was almost always in fashion and I didn’t think I could be considered attractive if I didn’t sport that sleek look.  I then reminded myself that I am at a time in my life where I am expressing who I truly am and that my wild hair is a part of that.

I felt pretty self-conscious the first few days I let my hair do its own thing and felt better when my friends remarked how great it looked.  The new acquaintances who saw pictures of my straight look expressed disbelief that I used to straighten it.  A couple of people have told me that I should kiss the ground with gratitude for the hair I’ve been given.  Now that other people have helped to validate that my hair is very much okay, I sense that there is a purpose that I sport a different look.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out someday…

no coincidences 

Last night I listened on the phone as a friend opened up his heart about the voice message he had received from a woman who broke his heart a year ago.  It had been many months since they had any communication and there she was reaching out to him out of the blue.  All of the feelings he had over her and the heartbreak had come rushing back.  He was in turmoil.  I sat there on the other end of the phone just listening while he talked about what had come up for him.  I sensed him growing less upset as he let his feelings out.

I found it interesting that another former lover had contacted him just two days prior.  He hadn’t talked to this woman in months either.  That conversation had brought up old issues as well.  It seemed pretty clear to me what was going on yet when I hinted to him, he didn’t seem to get it.  That’s because I was looking at the situation from the perspective that there was divine energy behind what was unfolding here.  I didn’t believe the two calls were random incidences or coincidences.  I believe they had come to him flowing through the energy of spirit.

You see, my friend is about three weeks into a budding relationship with a new woman.  He adores her as a friend and feels that wonderful chemistry, yet he doesn’t want to jump in and declare his commitment to a romantic relationship until he gets to know her more.  He’s told me how different this new woman is in her inner beauty and emotional strength and it is clear that he sees her as strong potential for a romantic partner.  There they were, cruising rather smoothly building a fun friendship and then he gets hit with these two phone calls.  Hello!

Since he didn’t get my hints I tell him more directly about my theory.  Both these women had engaged with him in a way that didn’t treat his heart gently.  One kept changing her mind about whether or not she wanted him in her life.  The other was consistently verbally hurtful.  Here he was with this new woman who he described as being gentle.  For whatever reason, it seemed to me that the universe was inviting him to look closely at the dynamics of the various relationships and perhaps come to some understandings.  By the end of our conversation he did consider that there could have been a divine purpose behind the timing of these two calls.  And I expect he did some deeper thinking into the night.

So what is the benefit of recognizing the divine influence behind these two emotionally rattling phone calls?  There is great peace to be found in believing that we are always under the graceful care of the universe and that what may feel hurtful in the moment may actually be a loving nudge that something better is on the horizon.  Rather than looking at the black and white of what is in front of us now, remember that life is unfolding through divine energy.  This means that everything is connected.  There is always a message or purpose behind what happens.  So when things don’t go the way you want them to, consider what may be going on at a deeper level.  When you can surrender to the idea that everything leads us to our higher good, life becomes a much more peaceful adventure.

spirituality in a nutshell 

As a life coach I have been struggling with how to bring spirituality into my practice without alienating people.  Yet spirituality is a mindset, a way of viewing and responding to life.  I’ve come to recognize that it’s not really necessary to talk to clients about the label of my mindset.  Instead I can simply focus on employing its theories to be effective in easing their challenges.

So what theories am I talking about?  In his bestselling book, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, Wayne Dyer describes spirit as being the invisible energy that is the source and sustenance behind all of life and that every issue can be solved by accessing this power.  This is a fundamental teaching of A Course in Miracles, that we are all connected through the energy from which we were created and as extensions of this energy, we have all inherited access to its power.

Most of the people who come to me for coaching don’t arrive seeing their issues from a spiritual perspective.  That’s because our culture hasn’t quite embraced the spiritual side of life.  We’ve been conditioned to look at ourselves as separate bodies whose life experiences are made up of millions of random events that have no deeper meaning than what lies on the surface.  Yet when we begin to view life from a spiritual perspective, we acknowledge there is spiritual energy behind what is happening and accept that it has meaning and purpose.  By looking at our lives as if whatever is unfolding has a deeper meaning, we recognize that we are being divinely directed.  Rather than constantly use our intellect to drive our lives, we can surrender to the wisdom that lies inside of us.

One of the most common issues with clients who come to me is the desire to travel down a new career path, one that will provide them with a greater level of satisfaction and passion.  They express their frustration at how hard it is to figure out what exactly the new career might be.   We derive satisfaction and passion when we are aligned with our heart, the spiritual center within our body.  So rather than look to external resources to find one’s true path, I invite clients to look inside for the answers because they are all there.  It’s like being a detective looking for clues.

I find it very interesting that every one of us is unique in talents, skills and attributes.  Might there be a reason for this?  Might the intention behind our creation be that we use our unique packages to be of service to the world in the way that only we can?  As we begin to view our lives as having purpose, it becomes much easier to pick up the clues and run with them.

You will experience a new level of passion and sense of purpose when you give your existence credibility.  It’s the difference between jumping out of bed with a focus on how you can express your unique gifts in a way that is of service versus operating in machine mode with an eye just to get through the minutia of the day.  Like any new habit, this shift probably won’t occur overnight, yet you can begin by acknowledging that you are an extension of the creative energy behind all of life.  Then look at the package of who you are and have some fun with imagining what this energy had in mind when you were created.

why this blog? 

Have you ever felt an insight about something in the depths of your being that you know you didn’t conjure up yourself?  That perhaps that insight is about something that you feel you are supposed to do or be, yet you can’t remember having consciously chosen the assignment?  That’s exactly why I am coming out with this blog.  Slowly but surely I have been feeling pulled to share some understandings that have come to me that promote inner peace and our vast human potential.  The timing feels right.  We’ve evolved as a society that throws the word “spiritual” around.  Yet we talk about it so lightly that it is as if it were a food preference.  Why is it that we let ourselves be more educated about the journey to the Super Bowl than the powers of the universe?

Nearly twelve years ago I was hijacked onto a spiritual path when my then husband abruptly left me for another woman.  In one evening a bomb seemed to blow my life into pieces and I was left with the task of putting it back together.  I was in so much pain that I didn’t know how I would make it through the early days.  I kept asking myself why it happened to me.  And now I know.  In order for me to be doing the work I now do, I had to experience the journey.  I had to be shown how much peace can be found through a strong belief is a divine energy that knows more than I do about what is best for me.  I had to have my heart hurt badly so that I can feel compassion for others.  I had to be given reasons to experiment with my spiritual power in order to believe in it myself.

Twenty months ago I said good-bye to a successful 20-year corporate marketing career.  The money was good yet it no longer fit who I had become.  I had grown to recognize that there is a purpose behind why I am here.  As much as I wanted to hold onto my paycheck, I could no longer live with myself knowing that I was not doing what I am here to do.  So I quit.  I figured that if I show up for the role I am supposed to play in this grand scheme of life, the universe will take care of me just fine.

I am a certified spiritual counselor and life coach now.  I absolutely love my work.  It’s an extension of who I am naturally.  I can’t tell you how many times I shake my head in gratitude for being able to do what I am doing.  It is my soul’s work.  Yet I needed to come to certain understandings about the spiritual side of life before I could get to where I am today.  Somehow I feel called here to translate these understandings in a way the average person can relate to and perhaps even have some fun with.  So why do I feel called to talk about spirituality?  Because everything behind life is spiritual, whether we open our eyes or choose to remain blind to it.  If we all recognized what wisdom, power and peace can be received by accessing the spirit that flows through all of life, the topic would be far more popular than the football playoffs.  So I invite you to join in, comment or ask questions so that more and more of us can turn up the spiritual light on this planet.  After all, it is pretty dark around here right now.