Friday, May 29, 2009
For Memorial Day I wrote a prayer honoring our Spiritual Warriors, and as I wrote I realized that people who embody the energy of the spiritual warrior (and any of us can) are people I have been able to count on in my life.
Just days before I wrote this prayer, a life coach and friend mentioned an exercise in which she and others were asked to name five people that would be there for each of them in a moment’s notice. While some of them furtively wrote names down, others struggled to even think of five people.
How do you create relationships with others in such a way that you know you could count on them to be there for you?
This has been on my mind a lot lately, and was punctuated by an experience with my daughter. Those of you who know me well, know that many years ago I adopted as a daughter of my heart a young woman whose mother has struggled to stay mentally balanced. As a result of her mother’s fight just to take care of herself, my adopted daughter had frequently been emotionally and physically abandoned by her birth mother.
Because I felt such a strong bond with this young woman, I made the commitment to accept her as my own. I honor and respect her birth mother, while knowing that every young woman deserves one or more mother figures in her life in order to most fully open to her own powerful womanhood. And I was willing to be a much-needed mother, fulfilling her need to be mothered and mine to be a mother.
A few months ago, my daughter sent her daughter (our granddaughter) out to visit Mama Misa and Papa J. She explained to me later that she put our granddaughter on the plane with these words. “I want you to get to know your grandma. Out of all the people in the world, she is the one person who has always been there for me ever since I met her, and she will be there for you.”
When I heard that, I cried. My childhood was challenging, but it doesn’t even begin to compare with the challenges my daughter has faced. She needed someone when I met her at her formative age of 15. I had been helped by so many beautiful men and women in my life that…well…how could I not be there for her when she was in much greater need? Simply—my heart was open to her and so I was there for her.
What my life has shown me is that you create relationships in which others will be there for you by being there for others. You go out of your way sometimes. You are inconvenienced sometimes. But you do it because your heart is open and you are fulfilled in the act of being there for someone else.
People who can be counted on are Spiritual Warriors. They show up when everyone else might go away. They are the people who respond to disasters and emergencies, help friends or family who are seriously sick, take disabled friends shopping, care for the homeless, or offer respite and support to kids in orphanages. They come early to help. They stay to clean up. Spiritual Warriors find solutions to persistent problems. They are the ones who show up even when it is inconvenient.
They are courageous simply because the price of not acting with courage is too high. They give to others from the richness of their lives, and sometimes they even give up their lives for the welfare of others.
My daughter is a Spiritual Warrior and so is my granddaughter. Am I? You bet. I can count dozens of people who can and do count on me. I have learned to be counted on without being co-dependent and it feels great. Can I count on others in return? Oh yes. I have many friends and family who have been there for me. Every one of them is a blessing.
So, if you are longing to have people in your life that you can count on, consider exploring this question first. Who counts on you?
Prayer for a Spiritual Warrior
Friday, May 22, 2009
What to Do When You’re Loosing Your Mind
My friend Cheryl McDaniel and I just did our first radio program together last week where we talked about the Secret Art of Overwhelm at Work and in Your Career. We took a good look at what causes overwhelm, how to break free from it, and how to prevent it.
Just as important are the lessons that come from feeling overwhelmed. We typically get ourselves into positions of overwhelm because some hidden need is being met. Identify the need and you can then release it or meet it in new ways. About a year ago, I got to take a look at the underlying need behind overwhelm in my life.
There I was sitting in the kitchen with my husband staring at the tile on the counter. He was standing at the computer on the counter looking at some vacation options. We had laid out all of the options, pros and cons, and neither of us could make a decision. I was numb—burnt-out numb. He probably could have said, “Let’s go to the North Pole to get a tan,” and I probably would have answered yes so that I didn’t have to think about options anymore.
Now, I am a woman who is pretty darned intuitive, self-responsible, makes my own decisions, and sets my own course in life, but that day I just didn’t want to have to decide anything. I was so fried I had trouble managing to tell him I didn’t want to make a decision. Mustering every little crumb of energy I had, I finally forced myself to tell him I was numb because I was in utter overwhelm.
I knew that feeling numb meant I had pushed right over my limits. I was definitely in the “over” part of “overwhelm.” Knowing this, I asked myself what I needed to be on the other side of this feeling. All I could think about was sunshine. So that’s what I told my husband.
“I need sunshine and I don’t want to make a decision about flights and vacation spots. Could we keep this simple by just getting in the car and heading south to sunshine?” I asked. Since he was also feeling overwhelmed about making vacation plans and wanted an easy solution, that is exactly what we did.
Fortunately, I recognized I was in overwhelm and knew how to guide myself through it. Yet, the question that still needed to be answered before I returned from my vacation and sat down at my desk was, “How did I get there?”
Physical choices were easy to see. We had put our house on the market, were spending too many hours launching new careers, weren’t getting enough social and play time, and had demanded too much of ourselves on short deadlines. The bottom line was that we were doing too much work. That was easy to recognize.
But how did I let that happen? I’m a counselor. I know to take better care of myself, so what devious little belief was hiding back there in my subconscious that was driving me to do more than was good for me. As I meditated on this, lovingly and compassionately holding myself in my feeling of overwhelm, I felt the hidden need behind the overwhelm—the need to be needed.
That sneaky, unconscious need has gotten me into trouble before, but there it was again. It is no surprise when you consider that I grew up the oldest of six kids with a mother who was ill much of her life. I’m used to being needed and so it is natural for me to thrive when I am in service to others. However, if I don’t keep service to others in balance with a need to take care of my more personal needs like rest, play, self-nurturing and such, I push myself right into overwhelm.
That made vacation easy. I gave myself permission to make choices where I would feel nurtured, rested and having fun. I needed me. So during vacation I showed up for myself. When I returned home, I reminded myself that prevention is good medicine. If I choose it, and I do, there is enough time every day to be of service to me as well as others.
To explore more about taking care of yourself and to prevent overwhelm in your personal life, join us Wednesday the 27th at Breakthrough to the Ultimate You! for Extreme Self-Care – Without Spending a Lot of Money.
Friday, May 15, 2009
When I was in grade school, our parish priest would come over to the school to give us our report cards every quarter. For eight years, I heard the same little sermon before he ceremoniously called us up to receive our grades.
“In order to live a good life,” he would say, “you need to work hard, play hard and pray hard.” When you hear something like that 32 times in your life at what were very important moments for a child, you tend to remember it. For me; however, the work hard and pray hard portions of that advice stuck and I forgot about the rest of it.
Well, I didn’t entirely forget about playing, but it wasn’t a regular part of my routine either. It took me some time, and some help from inspiring, playful friends to really get that playing is as valuable as working and praying. In establishing my careers, I became hyper-focused on my work and while I enjoyed my contributions greatly, they were not quite the same as going dancing, shopping at street fairs, hiking in the mountains, or enjoying meals with friends.
What I didn’t understand as a youth was that our parish priest was actually teaching us the components of what I would now call a healthy spiritual first aid kit. Since my youth, I’ve added one more remedy to my kit—rest. And I’ve updated from “hard” to “in balance”. So now my kit looks like: work, rest, play and pray in balance. When I’m out of balance, it is time to pick up my spiritual first aid kit to see what I need.
The symptoms of an out-of-balanced life are fairly easy to recognize. You may notice uncomfortable symptoms like crankiness, lack of efficiency or focus, exhaustion, overwhelm, edginess, perfectionist tendencies, or perhaps you are being a bit rude. When these and other uncomfortable symptoms occur, it is probably time to apply a little first aid remedy.
Knowing which remedy to apply is not as difficult as it might seem. Simply look at your life to see which of these remedies you are not using on a regular basis. Are you not getting enough rest? Create some time on the couch listening to soothing music, watch a movie in the middle of the day, or go for a drive and park somewhere with a view.
Maybe you are not getting enough work time. Consider calling some friends to discuss ways to co-creatively initiate a new income opportunity, hire a career coach to explore possibilities, or do some volunteer work to get you actively involved and feeling the rewards of being of service.
Are you needing more prayer time? Consider taking a spiritual retreat, setting aside specific time each morning and creating your own nurturing ritual, or attending a ceremony that appeals to you to open up your horizons.
Combining remedies can also be helpful. If you need rest, you might want to make sure your mind is quiet enough and you are exhausted enough to rest by combining some rigorous play in nature followed by a nap on a blanket by a stream. If you need more work, try praying in a totally new way that could open your consciousness to opportunities you haven’t even imagined yet.
Because my challenge is remembering to play enough, I consciously create an environment for it. I choose one weekend day—usually the sunnier or nicer day— to get out, away from the computer and enjoy the world. Whenever possible, I schedule get-away time with friends to reinforce me in keeping my commitment to playing, so that I am not inclined to weasel out with some excuse about work that needs to be done. And besides, playing is a lot more fun when I am enjoying myself with friends and loved ones.
How about you? How are you challenged? Are you getting enough rest, work, prayer or play in your life? If you were going through your spiritual first aid kit, which remedy would you grab?
If you happen to be in need of a little more prayer and meditation time in your life, check out our SpiritQuest week in June ;) SpiritQuest
Thursday, May 07, 2009
The concept of Sacred Mother was initially a difficult one for me to grasp. After years and years of introduction to God who was a Father, the idea of Sacred Mother as a part of the Divine was both scary and exciting. For you guys out there, just imagine only being introduced to the presence of Divine Mother, but never Divine Father. In human terms it would be like being told you only have a mother and there never was a father. You know something is missing and the part that is missing is the piece with which you can most identify.
For years, I only addressed the unknowable, indefinable expression of God as Mystery, Spirit or as I do now—The Divine—because when I sit quietly inviting the essence of the Source of Life into me, it seems to be beyond being identified by gender. That said, there is a comfort in identifying with the Divine as loving parent, and such an interpretation deserves to be honored.
I finally began getting comfortable with gender identification when I attended a church service where the minister addressed God as Mother/Father God. Something clicked for me. I could imagine myself being lovingly held in the arms of a mother and father and it felt really good. I remembered how it felt as a child to entrust myself to the care of a loving Father and recognized that I had not allowed myself to sink into the experience of God as a loving Mother.
“What could it hurt?” I asked myself. “Aren’t all these ways in which we identify with the Divine worthy relationships?” Sometime after this, I encountered a little known prayer offered by Jesus at the same time he introduced his listeners to the prayer we now name the “Our Father.” This additional prayer honored the Sacred Mother, much in the same way indigenous people around the world have continued to honor Sacred Mother. There is a link to this little known prayer at the end of this article. I encourage you, if you haven’t already read the “Our Mother,” to take a look at it.
There are days when I look at the condition of humanity living on this planet and shake my head. What I see missing is the loving nature of Sacred Mother. Then there are other days when I look around me a smile as I witness the energy of Sacred Mother coming alive through us. What is this nature?
Sacred Mother is the energy that listens with compassion, attends to intuitive insights, and honors the mysterious and yet unknown. The core nature of Sacred Mother is, as I have come to know it through my visions, loving acceptance and understanding. Sacred Mother is pregnant with the hopes and dreams of all the possibilities we could create. Sacred Father in contrast? Well, the energy of Sacred Father creates from the womb of all possibilities.
This nature of Sacred Mother lives within each of us, doesn’t it? We are the living legacy of the power of compassionate understanding, of hopes and dreams waiting to be born, and the acceptance of all our unique expressions. Just like the human mother who lovingly carries her child in her womb—carrying with that child all his or her hopes or dreams, an acceptance of the unique nature of the child within her, and compassion for the challenges this child will face.
On this Mother’s Day, please allow me to acknowledge the Sacred Mother inside of you—the one who is compassionate, accepting, and full of dreams and hope. Humanity, Mother Earth and the nature of the Divine itself is enriched by the presence of Sacred Mother within you. Namaste.
Prayer to Our Mother Earth by Jesus
Friday, May 01, 2009
When do we truly need a little distraction?
I can be one of the most serious people I know. There are times when my tendency to be serious is quite valuable. When something is important to me and I’m being fully present with someone or a situation, I can pay undivided, thoughtful attention to the matter at hand. When I set a worthy goal, I take it seriously and am dedicated to meeting it. When there is a crisis, my mind is sharp and astute in addressing the challenge. Seriousness is a gift—most of the time.
Then there are times when I’m taking life too seriously. I’m so busy in my focused, dedication to something that I become tense. I neglect to notice the humor in any given moment that might be right there on the surface, waiting to be acknowledged too. My seriousness can sometimes actually pull me out of the natural flow of creation rather than deeper into it, because when I’m overly serious I’m often trying to control everything.
I used to be so serious that if I was sharing information and someone interrupted me to point out a humorous view regarding my topic, I ignored them and went right on as if they hadn’t said anything. Ohhhh, I was stiff. I eventually figured it out and learned to at least allow others the space to enjoy the moment, and in time I discovered that sometimes there was greater wisdom in the humorous observation than there was in my serious diatribe.
When I was learning to do certain Native ceremonies, my elder taught me to create an opportunity for everyone to laugh at the very beginning. She explained that laughter breaks the tension and helps us relax into what we were about to experience together. Because I wanted people to have a positive experience, I learned to loosen up and in doing so I discovered I had a more enjoyable experience as well.
Now, one of the regulars to my ceremonies is a man whose spiritual name is Divine Interference. I don’t think he has ever participated in a ceremony without catching a pun or a funny innuendo and sharing it during ceremony. His interference, or distraction, has showed me to allow room for Divine flow rather than control in ceremony. Best of all, I have learned to laugh with him, and his presence teaches me a great deal about how to engage and enjoy greater trust in the natural rhythms of ceremony and life.
The wisdom he brings through his humor is usually priceless. His timing is impeccable. He never interrupts someone’s profound, serious moment with Spirit including mine, but he does break group tension, help us all feel at ease, enjoy the day and the moment, and create an environment for joyful acceptance of ourselves as we are—experiences that come through the Divine distraction of laughter.
He brings balance to my life and to the ceremonies. Because of him I’m even learning to create moments of Divine Interference with my own humorous quips during ceremonies and throughout my days. It is good to be serious, focused and dedicated. It is also good to recognize the gift of healthy distractions, and time for humor is one of the best.
For a little prayerful inspiration about laughter visit: Laughter