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Vulnerability – The Willingness to Feel

Vulnerability – The Willingness to Feel

I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few. Brene Brown

We call them negative feelings because we don’t like to feel them—vulnerability, grief, sadness, depression, loss, and pain. We often work very hard to avoid them by distracting ourselves, drowning them out, or covering them up. We use TV, food, sex, shopping, social activities—any kind of addiction. But the problem with not feeling our feelings and trying to avoid our unhappiness and pain, is that we can’t selectively numb out. It’s like taking a general anesthesia: we stop being able to feel anything, which means we also can’t feel our joy, bliss, love, or peace.

Rather than numbing out, we must become resilient to the bad times and learn to become comfortable with the discomfort. Negative feelings are important parts of the human experience. There is something to learn, or grow from, or practice in every situation when these feelings are present. Remember that feelings aren’t forever—they come and go like waves on the ocean. Everything changes, ebbs, and flows. Only Spirit is forever.

Spiritual Contemplation: What do you do to allow yourself to feel your feelings? Which ones do you try to avoid the most?

Affirmation: I have the strength and courage to feel my feelings. I allow them to ebb and flow like the waves upon the shore. Spirit is the steady, ever-present shore upon which my feelings are released.

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Temper Tantrums

Temper Tantrums

A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough. Bruce Lee

A Zen story tells of a student who came to his master for help in ridding himself of his violent temper. The teacher asked the young man to show him his temper because it sounded very fascinating to him.
“But I don’t have it right now,” the student replied.
“Well then,” the teacher mused, “bring it to me when you do.”
“But I can’t bring it just when I happen to have it,” the student responded. “Anyway, by the time I got it to you, I’d surely lose it again.”
The master gently placed his arm on the student’s shoulder. “In such a case it seems to me that this temper is not part of your true nature. If it is not part of you, it must come into you from outside.” The master took another moment to think. “What I suggest . . is that whenever it gets into you, beat yourself with a stick until the temper can’t stand it another second and runs away.”

Do you allow yourself to be possessed by emotions to the point of losing who you are by behaving or saying things you wouldn’t typically say? You are the guardian of your consciousness and the gatekeeper to the influence of your own behavior. Don’t give that power away to something outside of you.

Spiritual Contemplation: What takes over you that isn’t part of your true nature? The next time it arrives, you might want to try a master teacher’s direction, and see how long it takes to beat it out of yourself before you fall on the floor in laughter.

Affirmation: My true nature shines through all the ways of my world.

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What’s Distracting You?

What’s Distracting You?

For fast acting relief, try slowing down. Lily Tomlin

Lion tamers go into cages with their whips and sometimes a pistol at their side to put on a good show, but a stool is the most important prop of their trade. When the trainer holds the stool by its seat and thrusts the legs at the face of the lion, it’s said the wild animal attempts to focus on all four legs at once. This creates a paralysis that confuses, overwhelms, and incapacitates the beast, rendering it more docile.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by piles of e-mails waiting in your inbox, phone calls needing to be returned, meetings necessitating your planning, staff wanting a moment of your time, bills needing to be paid, and family longing to be with you? When your to-do list gets too long and you’re overloaded with demands for your attention, you can feel incapacitated by the sheer number of tasks awaiting you. It’s time to prioritize. Get help from someone you trust to figure out which tasks you can delegate, those you can dump, and which ones you must address. Always remember that the number one thing is to start every day with a few minutes of quiet time and connect with your Life Source. Making this your daily practice will help you to focus and be more energized which will, in turn, help you to accomplish more.

Spiritual Contemplation: Prioritize your to-do list of tasks. Identify the ones you must do, and do them, and dump or delegate the others, but do it now so it’s not hanging over you.

Affirmation: I am focused!

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Distracted or Staying Focused?

Distracted or Staying Focused?

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. Mark Twain

How are you are staying focused and on purpose? In some cultures, an elephant walking through open marketplaces is as normal as a curious dog. The only problem is his exploratory trunk that reaps mayhem, knocking over whatever it smacks on its way to pilfer a few pieces of fruit. Knowing that an elephant’s trunk is naturally restless and undisciplined, a wise owner has learned to give his pet a few pieces of bamboo to grasp in his trunk to settle him with purpose and bring focus. No longer distracted by bananas and goodies, the elephant is now able to walk through the bazaar like royalty. In much the same way, circus elephants normally swing their trunks from side to side and would create a path of havoc when they parade through town. But instead, they have been trained to hold one another’s tails, which keeps them occupied.

Your mind without discipline or focus is similar to the curious, snooping elephant trunk swinging all over the marketplace looking for something sweet. There are many intriguing distractions that can and will easily sidetrack you because your mind is inquisitive and can find all sorts of interesting tangents to get lost in. Use your affirmations to reduce distraction from all the interesting expressions calling for your attention in the marketplace of life. Like the elephant’s bamboo, your affirmations will keep you calm and centered rather than scattered all over the place.

Spiritual Contemplation: Where are your thoughts getting distracted by energetically depleting concerns? Create a short positive affirmation that focuses your awareness, allowing you to walk like royalty through the bizarre offerings life has to show you.

Affirmation: I walk with focus through the bizarre offerings of life.

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Keep at It!

Keep at It!

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. Franklin Roosevelt

Too often we don’t make the effort to really push through on accomplishment. We think that if something isn’t easy, somehow it isn’t meant to be. In our instant gratification society, if we can’t look it up in fifteen seconds or buy it in a minute, we can become easily frustrated. Yet we are here to enjoy the creativity of our lives and the power of the creative force as it moves through us.

“Sustained effort” and “trying too hard” are two completely different things. Trying too hard causes you to stop being aware of what’s going on, and you end up feeling like you’re pushing the river. Sustained effort, however, is simply consistent, persistent attention to the issue, so that forward progress becomes unavoidable. It’s like the difference between racing up the mountain and arriving exhausted and spent, or climbing the mountain while enjoying the progress and arriving ready to take in the view and savor the accomplishment.

Spiritual Contemplation: Am I giving up too easily because it “feels hard”? The question is—is it worth doing and doing well?

Affirmation: I know that spirit supports every effort I make to express my creativity and purpose. I am not easily deterred from my goal. I press on in confidence and joy.

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Come Back to the Present

Come Back to the Present

The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present— Pick the day. Enjoy it—to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come . . . and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future. Audrey Hepburn

We humans are time travelers—we get lost fantasizing about the future or are taken hostage by our thoughts of the past. The present is the place of incarnation and creation. So sit down with a freshly brewed cup of coffee and relish the aroma. Sip and appreciate the complexity of flavors. This is possible only in the present moment. If you’re caught up in yesterday’s news, or tomorrow’s to-do list, you’re not here in the present enjoying your cup of coffee. Yes, plan for the future but don’t get lost in it with anxious thoughts. Worry is a waste.

Sometimes you might look down and wonder what happened to that cup of coffee because it’s gone and you don’t remember drinking it. Your life is like that. The accelerated pace you live in requires that you come back to the present; otherwise you’ll look around and it will be gone. The kids will have been raised, the body won’t be quite as nimble, and retirement will be in your thoughts. Being present to enjoy a cup of coffee is an important practice in escaping the prison of the past and the lure of the future. Allow that cup to be a spiritually grounding experience teaching you to be fully appreciative to enjoy the abundance of your life in this now moment.

Spiritual Contemplation: Take a good amount of time to be fully present with that cup of coffee. What else do you want to be fully present to?

Affirmation: I am fully present in the here and now.

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The Rummage Sale

The Rummage Sale

Everything I buy is vintage and smells funny. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a boyfriend. Lucy Liu

One common cultural sign of our day is found on telephone poles with its arrow pointing down the street to the nearest rummage sale. What you’ll find there is a crapshoot; you might stumble onto a gold mine, or a bunch of nothing. Yard sales are actually a wonderful rotation that creates abundance and good feeling. One person’s junk can be another’s treasure. Sellers are happy for a few extra bucks and a good home for their items, and buyers are happy because they get a good deal on a new prize. Rather than ending up in the landfill, a piece finds new life and appreciation in a new environment. Everyone is blessed in this exchange. (Just be sure to get there early or the good stuff will already have been picked through and on its way to a new home.)

In addition, walking through the slew of stuff sprawled out for the picking can be a journey back in time, filled with recollections and smells triggering lost memories, each piece with its own mysterious history. Most important, circulating and repurposing what once had value in your life is a great way to create space for what is to be new in your world. Letting go and making room is an important spiritual practice. So stay healthy, take some deep breaths, drink lots of water, and clear the clutter.

Spiritual Contemplation: Circulate some of your old treasures that have lost their value in your world. Watch the joy you bring to others and notice how good it feels to be a blessing with that which blessed you.

Affirmation: It’s a joy to share my treasures with others.

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Finding a New Idea from a new level of consciousness

Finding a New Idea from a new level of consciousness

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.  Albert Einstein 

Creativity comes in all forms when you operate from a new level of consciousness. Solving a business problem in a new way; looking at a situation from a different perspective; trying out a unique way to talk about something, all become possible because you are standing in a different place. These are all ways you are become creative when you operate from an unlimited, spiritual level of consciousness!

Limited and negative thinking will never create abundance and joy. Turn your thinking to universal spiritual truths. Focus on them as much as you can while thinking about what you want to have different. You are always co-creating with the Universe, so try a new thought, a different perspective, or a unique point of view. This is how you create something new in your life!

Spiritual Contemplation: What problem are you trying to solve with old solutions or from a habitual level of consciosness? What entirely new, spiritually grounded idea can you try?

Affirmation: I stand on Universal Truths, finding new ideas and a different perspective. This brings new solutions to the challenges at hand.

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Being Yourself

Being Yourself

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

This statement by Churchill was my favorite as a teenager. It continually reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect, it’s okay to make mistakes, and all I really ever need to do is give it my all. I also discovered that this meant I had a lot more opportunities, and many more cool things happened to me than most of my peers. I was simply willing to try! I learned that if I have the courage to try, somehow the universe will conspire to support me.

So now I say to you: You are more supported than you know. The entire universe is designed to assist you in becoming all you want to be, and to live a life of meaning and purpose. God’s dice are always loaded, and they’re loaded in favor of more life, love, peace, abundance, and joy. Let all that support lift you through the past and into your greater yet to be!

Spiritual Contemplation: Where are you holding back or not moving forward out of a fear of either success or failure?

Affirmation: I am here to be me, Spirit as ME. I have the courage to be me. I am no longer afraid.

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Boxed In or An Artist?

Boxed In or An Artist?

Every Child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.  Pablo Picasso

Was there a point in your growing up that the fire of your self-expression went out? When was your joy to dance through life extinguished—your knowing that you are a creative expression in manifesting art or business magic, enchanted relationships, or abundance? The singing stopped, and you put your paints and pens in the closet with the canvas of life aching for your attention again. You once were poetry in action, then the fire went out. You put away your dancing shoes and got cleaned up so you could be acceptable, fit in, and make a living.

Question anything that causes your life to diminish the artist in you or breaks your spirit, like antagonistic pressures that box you into some inferiority complex. Remember, you don’t have to remain in that corner or closet. Be careful not to fall prey in this weakened state to false enhancements or to accept your less than glorious life. A soul that has been repressed will often seize upon some poor choices in order to escape the pain. It’s easy to forget the Divinity within you and has chosen you as Its artist of life. You can break the mesmeric trance, “not by might or by power,” but by understanding and remembering who you are—and becoming the artist of your life once again.

Spiritual Contemplation: What can you do to let your creative expression out from the closet? Do it today.

Affirmation: I am poetry in action. I am the creator of my life. I am an artist of co-creation!

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Meaningfulness Matters!

Meaningfulness Matters!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

You are here to manifest the glory of life as you! Cultivating meaningful work gives you a place to give your gift and shine your light. Don’t just go to a job. No matter the tasks, find the purpose and the gift that your work is to others. Large or small, you can always make a contribution that matters.

Spiritual Contemplation: Are you manifesting the Glory of You?

Affirmation: I am here to make manifest the Glory of God—at work, at home, in my life.

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The Creativity Juices

The Creativity Juices

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. Steve Jobs

Creativity is inherent in the Universe. It is in the Nature of Spirit to create—all of creation. It is in the nature of life to create—new life, new ideas, new forms. You are made in the image and likeness of Spirit; you are Life made conscious. Therefore, it is in your nature to be creative.

You may have come to believe that you are not creative. This is not true! You may not be artistic, but you are creative. Every time you imagine a new idea, think of a solution, or try something different, you are being creative. And that’s how things change. Exercise your creativity every day!

Spiritual Contemplation: What kinds of activities express your creativity? Art, new ideas, puzzles, solutions, decorating, baking . . . where do you express your new ideas?

Affirmation: I co-create my life with the Universal Principles through my new ideas. I am Creative.

Having It All

Having It All

You can have it all. Just not all at once.  Oprah Winfrey

“You can have anything you want. You just can’t have everything you want all at the same time!” I found a great deal of comfort in this revelation in the years I was raising a child, and working full-time at a job I loved, and volunteering at our national organization. But I also wanted to travel, get my PhD, and write a book. Whenever I found myself frustrated with all the things I wanted to do but couldn’t at the time, I remembered that I had decided to make raising my child a priority. My time was already maxed out, and if I was going to enjoy what I already had, I needed to keep myself from becoming exhausted and overcommitted.

Now that my son is grown I’ve written my third book and traveled, and I’m considering going back to school. It’s always just a matter of priorities. Although the universe is infinite, we manifest our lives in a finite space/time continuum. Everything here takes time to experience. So yes, we can have anything we want, right now! We just have to choose what to focus on and make our priority. Remember, this doesn’t limit you. It actually allows you to fully engage in your current reality while knowing you can choose something else in the future.

Spiritual Contemplation: What are you carrying around as a “want” that simply isn’t a priority right now? Are you trying to be and have and do too many things all at once? What are your priorities now, this year, this time, in your life?

Affirmation: I can have anything I want right now. I choose wisely and create a balanced healthy life.

Too Much Sitting

Too Much Sitting

Have you ever thought about all places you sit through the course of the day: at the breakfast table, in your car, at your desk, on a couch in front of your TV, on a chair in front of your computer. Do you spend the majority of your day sitting rather than being active? And if you sit in one place for too long, you just might feel your back, hips, shoulders, or neck crying painfully—Enough! Sitting for more than half your day is just not the best thing for your body, which wasn’t designed to be idle a majority of the time. Lack of movement is unhealthy. Even if you are fast paced and hyper-productive, you still could be living a sedentary life.

Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death. Blaise Pascal

Spirit is about flow. Regeneration doesn’t take place in stagnation. Rest is important but so is movement. Are you on your butt, or your feet, more than half your time? Are you reading this on the treadmill, or a couch? How about doing a moving meditation or a stand-up meeting? If your work is not physical, how can you build some physical activity into your day? Can you stand at your computer or park your car farther from the door? Did you take a stroll this morning or were you just too busy to care for yourself by moving your body?

Spiritual contemplation: How can you adjust your life to get some more movement into your body?

Affirmation: I honor my body! I love to move my body!

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Work Hard—Play Hard

Work Hard—Play Hard

When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.  Theodore Roosevelt

Work can be fun and enjoyable, and even have elements of play; however, we are at work to work—not to goof off, talk on the phone, read FB, chat with friends, or try to do as little as possible. So work hard, not as in struggle and suffering, but as an effort toward accomplishment.

On the other hand, and just as important—play hard! Take time to play, be silly, laugh out loud, and do frivolous things that are not sensible. Having fun is another way to rest. Do something completely different from your normal routine—break out, be free!

Spiritual Contemplation: How do you like to play? When do you take time to play?

Affirmation: I make time for play. This brings balance and joy into my life.

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