Friday, February 26, 2010

When You Can't Quite See Far Enough

Have you looked back on your life with regrets because you just didn’t see enough of what was coming to make a change sooner?

I think most of us have regrets. We look back, with so much more perspective, and shake our heads at our own naivity, as if we should have known better. Okay, maybe we really did know better and chose anyway, but did we have the perspective we have now?

If a child made a decision they were regretting, what would you say to that child?

You might say, “Just learn from it and move on,” or you might suggest, “Use that decision to grow and next time make a different decision.” You sure wouldn’t want the child to hang on to nagging guilt would you?

And yet, isn’t that exactly what we often do to ourselves? We tell ourselves not to feel guilty, but feel it anyway.

Recently a wise elder, friend, and professional coach, Sharon Hooper, shared with me something she tells her clients and I found a lot of comfort in this perspective, “We do what we need to do until we no longer need to do it.”

I had been carrying around some regrets in the back of my mind, and the minute I heard her say this, my shoulders relaxed, and I thought, “Yep, I have done what I needed to do until I no longer needed to do it, and now I do it differently. That about wraps it up.”

I got it. There just wasn’t anything to regret. Something is complete when it is complete and not a minute before. There are realizations, perspectives and experiences that simply need to be in place and then we just change.

So until all of that is in place, we do what we do, and quite frankly, as another elder once reminded a group of us, “Most people, most of the time are doing their best.”

That includes me. Most of the time, I’m doing my best, and I’ve discovered she was right. Even when we are making some really interesting decisions, we are usually doing our best in that moment in time.

As I’ve been contemplating the world of regrets, another realization came to me recently. The matrix of life is like a tapestry being woven in the moment. I know I haven’t done all the things I intended to do in the time frame I intended to do them, but I also know that the tapestry is constantly in creation.

There are other actions I have chosen, that perhaps I didn’t intend to do before I came to earth, that have served equally well or better. Perhaps other people have picked up something I had intended to do and visa versa.

Creation is not static. It is in constant process. If I had seen more of my potential life and intentions at a younger age, I might not have learned to trust in the flow of creation and its mystery.

There are streams of possibilities for each of us, and I have learned it is wise not to become attached to any one stream, but rather to engage in the joy of discovery that each moment has to offer.

I have come to believe that my heart offers me a clear path as I learn how to listen to its deeper truths, and give myself permission to courageously follow its drum-beat. The more that I choose from the truth of a heart that is honest, yet without attachment, the fewer regrets I have.

I don’t have to see more of the future, though sometime I may. What serves me better is to live in this moment with the realization that every choice I have made up to this moment—whether I deem them to be wise or unwise—has led me to this perfect moment in which I may once again choose to live fully in my greatest truth, my best right now.

For support in your unique spiritual journey, visit the Foundation Reverend Misa volunteers for: New Dream Foundation

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shaking the Tree

Video By Youssou Ndour and Peter Gabriel; Filmed in Senegal

View here: Shaking the Tree Video

Today I am sharing a video by Youssou Ndour and Peter Gabriel in Senegal , created some years ago. Out of all the videos of this song, I chose this one because it so graphically demonstrates the freedom we can experience when we choose to let go of the limits of our past and embrace our true desires.

Please do not make the assumption that this video is just about our sisters in “other countries.” All of us women around the world have ways in which we need to shake the tree and break from our own self-accepted bonds.

We do not have to surrender our spiritual practices because our husbands don’t understand them, looking instead for a practice he will participate in. We do not have to suppress our intuitive wisdom because our families ridicule what they consider to be non-factual insights. We do not have to attempt to ignore our emotions because our partners find them uncomfortable.

These are the ways we have learned to give up our power in order to maintain our relationships. But what kind of relationships are they, if we surrender our truth in order to be in them? How do we create a better world for ourselves and our daughters if we choose to bind our own hands with the constrained beliefs our fore-mothers felt they had to accept in order to survive?

We can shake the tree. We can break it down. This IS our day to be all we dream ourselves to be. And there are men and women just waiting to support us as we take the strides of our own liberation.

Here are the lyrics for you to read as you listen. There is an extra verse in the lyrics (and not on the video) that was added for a recording made in 1989.

Souma Yergon, Sou Nou Yergon, We are shakin' the tree
Souma Yergon, Sou Nou Yergon, We are shakin' the tree

Waiting your time, dreaming of a better life
Waiting your time, you're more than just a wife
You don't want to do what your mother has done
She has done
This is your life, this new life has begun
It's your day - a woman's day
It's your day - a woman's day

Turning the tide, you are on the incoming wave
Turning the tide, you know you are nobody's slave
Find your brothers and sisters
Who can hear all the truth in what you say
They can support you when you're on your way
It's your day - a woman's day
It's your day - a woman's day

Souma Yergon, Sou Nou Yergon, We are shakin' the tree
Souma Yergon, Sou Nou Yergon, We are shakin' the tree
Souma Yergon, Sou Nou Yergon, We are shakin' the tree

There's nothing to gain when there's nothing to be lost
There's nothing to gain if you stay behind and count the cost
Make the decision that you can be who you can be
You can be
Tasting the fruit come to the Liberty Tree
It's your day - a woman's day
It's your day - a woman's day

Changing your ways, changing those surrounding you
Changing your ways, more than any man can do
Open your heart, show him the anger and pain, so you heal
Maybe he's looking for his womanly side, let him feel

You had to be so strong
And you do nothing wrong
Nothing wrong at all
We're gonna break it down
We have to shake it down
Shake it all around

Souma Yergon, Sou Nou Yergon, We are shakin' the tree
Souma Yergon, Sou Nou Yergon, We are shakin' the tree
Souma Yergon, Sou Nou Yergon, We are shakin' the tree

Copyright: Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

For a little extra inspiration read: A New Day by W. Heartsill Wilson

Friday, February 12, 2010

Is Real Love About Compromise?

In my first marriage, I was pretty certain that if you loved someone you needed to be willing to make compromises. Well, I compromised myself right out of the relationship.

Here is what compromise translated to for me: “I hear you telling me what you desire, and because I love you, I’m willing to give up my desires so that you can have what you want. After we make sure your desires are met, we can focus on mine.” Only, we never seemed to get around to mine, at least not with the same fervor we addressed his.

Does this sound familiar? I bet I’m not the only one that has done this. And you know what? It wasn’t his fault. I had just bought into the notion that love requires compromise, or another way of saying it is—sacrifice.

A number of relationships later, I have a new view about “real love.” There are times when compromise and sacrifice are appropriate, and it is best if I know what is reasonable and unreasonable for me. In other words, I’m no longer willing to sell my soul to support someone else’s purpose and desires while abandoning mine.

On a telephone date early in the relationship, a friend of mine recently told me, her friend asked her a significant question. He asked her what a deal breaker would be for her in regard to relationship. When she told him, they respectfully ended any further pursuit of a more intimate relationship.

She thought that was a brilliant question, and so do I. Do you know what a deal breaker would be for you—both in terms of the other person’s habits and beliefs, and also your own? Do you know what qualities of interaction simply must exist for you to be happy?

For example, what do these qualities look like and feel like to you in a meaningful relationship: 1) respect; 2) being heard; 3) feeling understood or 4) being appreciated. You can love someone to pieces and know they love you, and not be able to sustain a relationship because you don’t feel respected, heard, understood or appreciated.

Have you developed the kind of communication skills that support you in being able to transform negative feelings that come up in relationship into opportunities for greater respect, understanding and appreciation?

Have you generated so much love for yourself that your world reflects ongoing experiences of respect, being heard, feeling understood and being appreciated with all kinds of people, including a significant-other? If not, this is the ground to lay. As you may already know, the law of attraction applies to relationship. If you want to be respected, you must respect yourself so that you will attract people that reflect this quality in your life.

In order to attract it, you need to know what it feels like and looks like in your world. You need to recognize when it is not happening. You especially need to acknowledge when it is not happening consistently with someone, so that you transform the energy within you. Just living with it in order to continue to be in relationship usually ends up in a lot of emotional pain and difficult separations.

True loving relationships do not come from extensive compromising. They come out of your deep and abiding love for you. They are the external reflection of your internal world. The relationship that counts is the one between you and the Divine.

When you drink from the cup of Divine love, and you drink from it daily—several times a day, here is what will happen. You will have fewer problems because you won’t see challenges as problems. You will see opportunities to drink more deeply—to love more than you have ever loved before.

You will care equally about others in measure for the depth of care you have for yourself. You will think less in terms of either/or and look for ways to ensure everyone’s needs and desires are met, creatively and lovingly—including your own. You will judge yourself and others less often and compliment more frequently. You will not be inclined to sell your soul in the name of compassion, but rather hold everyone in compassion until solutions show themselves.

You will laugh more often and from deep in your belly. You will hear yourself singing and feel yourself dancing. You will relish every chance to play. Life will be an adventure and you will cherish the playmates that want to join you. You will look in the mirror to admire your smile. You will see not only your perceived imperfections, but you will see your perfection as well. Your cup of love will overflow and you will not be able to help yourself from sharing the outpouring of your love.

Consider letting go of compromise and instead drink in love. Then imagine the kind of relationships your love will draw to you.

John Brown of Rooms for Peace shared with us this inspiring poetry by Sufi poet, Hafiz—“I Know the Way You Can Get” (Drink of Love).

Friday, February 05, 2010

Create Relationships That Work—At Work!

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time...But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. —Aboriginal Woman

This powerful quote has practically become a mantra in my life. As I look for opportunities to expand and grow, I also open to relationships in which our partnership allows us to grow together, whether I’m co-creating volunteer projects or income-generating programs.

A friend stayed at my home this weekend and we enjoyed one of those long discussions into the night, mostly talking about how to consciously fulfill your calling through business relationships.

We talked about a rather revolutionary approach to business and project development where you focus your energy on supporting others in their endeavors before asking for help with your own. From a spiritual perspective, this model provides: 1) a basis for trust to develop and 2) sets positive karma in motion.

I’ve used this model with success. It is wonderful to watch someone’s eyes light up when you ask them what you can do to help them in their endeavors and then actually follow through. It is really fun to see someone become successful in some way because of your support.

Most good-hearted people look to see what they can do to return the favor, and voila—you are enjoying an environment of true support and cooperation.

When I launched my book in December, I experienced the power of this approach from the other side of the equation when friends and colleagues went out of their way to let people on their mailing lists know about my book, and purchased multiple copies to give to friends.

It is very cool to experience the spirit of generosity and enthusiasm that ensues from this approach to business relationships and development. The challenge that comes with this kind of generosity, is that if someone is helping but the support does not further their fulfillment, the relationship tends to be short-lived.

Some time after I began practicing this model of business relations support, I was introduced to the statement from the unknown Aboriginal woman quoted above. Her perspective blew me away and the missing piece from the previous model fell into place.

Magic happens when I meet someone, and we discover to our delight, that our mutual purposes are met by working with each other. These typically turn out to be long-term, mutually beneficial relationships because we are doing more than helping each other. We are freeing ourselves through a greater expression of our combined purposes.

Now, when someone approaches me about volunteering for the New Dream Foundation, for example, I take time to find out how their involvement might help them in furthering their own goals and purpose. I know that if someone is just interested in helping, it won’t last very long. But if New Dream provides an environment through which they can fulfill their calling, we will enjoy a rich and meaningful relationship.

The same is true in profit-making endeavors. The best relationships I have are with those colleagues that are invested in the success of both of us, and our clients, because when everyone is successful, we are all fulfilled.

These tend to be unique relationships in which I don’t need to be concerned about looking out after my own interests or watching my back, because our business relationship is founded on mutual regard for our long-term benefit.

If my project partner has put in more work than I have, I willingly make sure they get a greater percentage of profits. And when the opposite is true, and I have been giving extra effort, I know they will look after my interests, and they do. Because our ultimate fulfillment and freedom is bound in each other, we take care of each other.

I weave these two concepts together into one seamless philosophy that brings spiritual consciousness into business relationships in a magnificent way: 1) Look for ways to help another before asking to receive help and 2) Work together with people whose liberation is integrally connected to mine.

With these two philosophies in motion, I attract remarkable, long-term business partners and clients, and New Dream Foundation attracts the most incredible, dedicated volunteers and members. Now that is a business paradigm I get excited about.

Meet some of the incredible people that are co-creating mutually beneficial relationships in service to our global family here at the New Dream Foundation. Then see if you are being called to join the team. New Dream Community