Saturday, August 29, 2009

Where Do You Find Hope?

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all. ~ Emily Dickinson

I gave up on hope. Hope it seemed to me was some lofty goal for the future that never seemed to materialize.

For many years, I guess you could say my definition of hope was more like what you might find in the dictionary under unfulfilled hope, and certainly in alignment with the view of Friedrich Nietzsche, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.”

What really bothered me was that deep down I felt as though I was here to share messages of hope, but I couldn’t figure out what purpose hope served other than to stimulate greater misery.

It wasn’t until I started writing my book, “The Root of All Healing,” that a more positive perspective of hope began to make some sense. As I shared stories about the healing successes of people I knew, I remembered the influential, healing power of telling our stories.

I paid more attention when I sat in talking circles. One person would be sharing their story and across the room another person’s eyes were filling with tears. I listened to conversations between people. One would share a success story and someone else who was listening would bow their head and softly smile, as if to say—next time it will be me.

When in ceremony, I watched the children. As we prayed for our world, the children were a living reminder that the future we prayed for is the story we wanted to give to them.

We find hope in each other’s stories. We find our own potential when we hear about how another discovered theirs’. We find the courage to keep going because we realize someone else shared our own doubts and fears, yet saw their way through to the results they wanted.

I doubt that hope can be concisely defined any better than we can define love. But I do know now that hope is not about the future, nor is it about a far-off, unachievable dream.

Hope gives us inspiration, in this moment, to persevere when we feel lost, confused, unworthy, abandoned or hopeless. Sometimes in our most trying periods, we are helped when someone holds hope in their hearts for us. As Charles Allen says so well, “When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you're slamming the door in the face of God. “

When I was a school teacher I hoped without every calling it that. I held each child’s potential as though it was a part of my own soul. I nourished their dreams and fed their potential every day until they were able to take flight on their own.

We find hope when others believe in us. We also find hope from the stories of others. That is why I created this blog at Soul Purpose, the Forums at New Dream Foundation and the blog at Self-Healing Secrets.

In these places we can hold dreams for each other. After all, it is often easier for someone else to have faith in our potential than it is for us. They are also places where we can share our stories—imparting and receiving the hope we need from one another.

Where do you find your hope? Post your experience of hope right here a Soul Purpose.

A prayer on Hope

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Art of Complaining

Complaining well is really an art, I’ve discovered. If you are very skilled at it, you can actually complain without someone knowing that you are disgruntled, while simultaneously leaving the other person feeling responsible and guilty.

Here is the truth, I am a master at complaining and doing so without someone realizing I’ve just blamed them for the entire problem I am experiencing. I spent the better part of my life learning this skill, and now I find the craft has become useless to me. That’s right—completely useless.

When I chose to embrace profound honesty and integrity as part of my spiritual practice, the art of complaining had to go. Complaining is a form of blame and when I complain it means I’m not taking full responsibility for the reality I have created and accepted into my life. Since integrity to me means taking full responsibility, complaining has needed to become an old, but retired practice, or so I thought.

A few months ago, as part of a class assignment on intention, I kept track of my complaints in a single day. I was shocked. I consider myself to be a very positive, supportive, self-responsible person, but my complaint factory was still in operation. Even if I didn’t say anything out loud, the complaint was still there, hanging out in the break-room of my mind. My internal company policy is to live complaint-free, but clearly part of my mind had other ideas.

I couldn’t even say my complaints were about serious global or societal issues. Somehow, I’ve been able to recognize the grander issues as part of greater earthly dysfunctional drama bringing itself to closure. I was complaining about insignificant details in my life, like bread-crumbs being left on the counter.

My inner household law-enforcement agent was on the look-out for any violations of home cleanliness. So my husband was getting busted repeatedly for what I considered to be blatant disregard of the household rule, “Clean up after yourself.”

Now, I’m an educator. I learned years ago that you get better results when you invite people to participate and thank them when they do. Complaining rarely gets the results you really want, but there I was violating an even greater principle and that was to refrain from blaming and take responsibility.

How do you reconcile that, when he is the guy making the messes? “Didn’t I have a right to complain?” I wondered.

Fortunately, he was looking at his own complaint ratio, too, since we were taking the class together. So, I invited us to talk about what was going on behind the complaints. I listened to him tell me about how over-worked he was feeling and overwhelmed with the number of business challenges coming up for him.

He listened to me as I explained that being left to clean up after him caused me to feel undervalued, as though my work and service is not as important as his, so it was okay if I did the clean-up.

Of course, our interpretations about what was going on were just that— interpretations. No one was expecting him to overwork or find immediate solutions, and my husband wasn’t expecting me to constantly clean up after him.

With clearer understandings, he stopped complaining about his business challenges, and instead asked me to spend some time consulting with him on a couple of issues. I stopped complaining about household dirt. I invited him to clean up after himself whenever he felt he could spare the time so that neither of us would have to bear the burden later on. I also thanked him whenever he did. And I ignored a few messes.

It’s a lot nicer at our house now. It’s actually pretty darned clean for two busy people, and we are both remembering to embrace the challenges with enthusiasm. I think now I can fully abandon the art of complaining!

Discover some of the wonderful opportunities available for your spiritual growth at New Dream Foundation.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

When to Say No and When to Go

Periodically, this popular topic seems to come up with clients, as it has been lately. So once again, let's explore...

Have you ever become confused when you are trying to interpret spiritual guidance from everyday events? Perhaps you have encountered a situation where you were planning to participate in something, but one obstacle after another seemed to keep coming up?

When you are choosing to do something and it flows with grace, you might feel a sense of confirmation that you are on the right path, and that may be true. Then again, maybe you’ve chosen a path without any challenges to help you grow.

If you are affirming that life be fluid and easy, you might be stunned to discover that it actually becomes more challenging for a while before your goal becomes a reality. Perhaps you have decided you want to heal from a chronic condition once and for all, and suddenly the healing path looks like it is filled with gigantic pot-holes impeding your journey. However, if you choose to meet every challenge that comes up, you could soon discover that the path eventually does get easier and smoother.

Have you ever had a plane to catch and had one heck of time just getting out the door, but finally managed to get yourself to the airport in just the nick of time? Have you ever felt a spiritual calling to meditate, for example, and found yourself frustrated and distracted as you attempted to quiet your mind? Have you known you needed to get some therapeutic help, only to discover that the therapy was downright uncomfortable in the beginning?

Sometimes, when you set a goal into motion, the doubts, fears, and resistance that have kept you from manifesting similar desires rise to the surface to be finally put at ease, so that you can ultimately realize your intention. That means there may be some obstacles to overcome as you step firmly onto your right path.

Easy is not always right and right is not always easy. It is equally true that sometimes what is right is easy. No wonder it is so darned confusing to know when to say no and when to go forward regardless of the resistance and obstacles you may be encountering.

Here is the deal. Using ease as a measurement for what is right by-passes greater wisdom. The greater wisdom lies in your connection to your intuitive guidance from the Divine. When deep inside you know something is right for you to do, uncomfortable or as challenging as it might be, you feel compelled to move forward. The obstacles are opportunities to engage more of your Divine connection and power.

When the path is easy, then you don’t have any fears, doubts, or resistance to overcome. It is not more right because it is easy. It may be evidence of your mastery.

There are also times when something deep inside is telling you this goal you have set is not yours to do. Perhaps the obstacles you are encountering are physical representations of an intuitive knowledge about your right path, rather than a representation of inner resistance to what you know you need to do.

Rather than relying on ease of a situation to determine the rightness of your path, consider developing a deeper understanding of your intuition in recognizing and following your true path. Developing your relationship with your intuitive guidance will help you better discern when to say no and when to say go.

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