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This is the perfect time to move within and create a new consciousness of compassion, faith and unconditional love.
You can use this affirmation yourself. Remember that thought plus feeling equals power, so when you are thinking these words, or speaking them to yourself, recall what it feels like to experience compassion for something, and feel that. Recall what faith feels like, and feel that. Recall a time in your life when you have experienced unconditional love for someone, and feel that.

And so ends another month.  As we move closer to the end of 2020, I sense a new hope, a new light, coming into the consciousness of the human race.  I see evidence of this everywhere: some people are putting up their Christmas decorations early; others are speaking positively about the future.  Kindness is returning, compassion is being renewed.  There is a thing called consciousness, and it refers to our entire being:  our beliefs, values, attitudes, which lead to our words and actions.  The thing about consciousness is that it is much bigger than you or I.  Because we are all connected, there is a group consciousness.  A human race consciousness.  And everything begins within.  As within, so without.  What we think about expands.  All action is born in thought.  And this is true on an individual level as well as on a group level.  This past year, I’ve gone into hiding.  The consciousness I saw emerged, I will confess, frightened me in ways I never thought I could fear again.  I became greatly disillusioned with my fellow human beings.  My trust in the basic goodness of humanity was damaged.  Yes, I lost faith and I lost hope.  And I know that others felt the same.  In this way we succumbed to the group consciousness.  But with this new hope and this new light, together we can renew our faith, enlarge our hope, and move once again into knowing that love is stronger than hatred.  Some of you have joined me in November for an annual spiritual practice of deepened gratitude, listing 10 different things each day for which we are grateful. I have heard from some of you, who have reported that it was difficult to come up with 300 things for which to be grateful.  Some of you have reported difficulty in being grateful for the things that truly matter, those inner things like faith and compassion and trust and hope.  I too experienced this difficulty.  I’ve never experienced this kind of difficulty with my gratitude practice, and I’ve been doing this annual practice for decades.  Part of it is the natural process of grief that comes with loss.  The truth is there has been much loss for me in the last seven years.  But most of my own difficulty with the practice came from my own loss of trust in my fellow humans to do the loving compassionate thing. I’ve persevered. I’ve persisted.  I know enough to know that consistency and persistence in spiritual practice always pays off.  It is like one of my old meditation teachers told me once:  we sit, no matter what.  So I persisted, no matter what.  And slowly, surely, my own consciousness is once again morphing back into something I can live with.  And greater.  Because now I’ve seen things.  I’ve witnessed with horror what my fellow humans are capable of.  So my new consciousness, my new faith and trust and hope and love and compassion that is emerging is greater than ever.  I’m still cautious.  Maybe I’m not only grieving the loss of my husband and all the other physical losses, but also the loss of a certain sort of innocence.  What I know is that the new consciousness that is being born in me will result in a new person.  A wiser one.  A more peaceful one.  A more compassionate one.  And because we are all connected, I know that this new consciousness is also being born in you, and in our neighbors.  For Christians, this is the beginning of Advent, a time of joyous expectation.  In the New Thought world, this is, or can be, also a time of joyous expectation.  A time to expect a return to compassion, because we are compassionate ourselves.  A time to return to trust because we ourselves are trustworthy.  A time to return to unconditional love, because we love ourselves that way.  A time to once again simply know that all is well and all will continue to be well.  Because of the group consciousness, if enough of us do this thing, this changing of our own consciousness, together we will change the consciousness of the human race. So this December, my spiritual practice will move from a daily gratitude list to daily affirmation of love, trust, hope, faith, compassion and joy.  Won’t you join me?
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November closed out with 10 weddings, two of which included photography.  One wedding cancelled due the bride getting COVID.  December brings with it 7 weddings, 3 of which include photography, and a return to more ministerial work:  I will be giving one talk in December, and opening negotiations for my next Interim Ministry assignment, to begin sometime in early 2021.  The end of a sabbatical for me.  You can expect podcasts to resume as well.

This image is part of a series. Periodically, in my neighborhood, shepherds drive the sheep through. The sheep graze the surrounding hillsides and keep the brush down, it is good for fire prevention. I was moved to grab a camera and follow the sheep for a couple of hours as they passed through my neighborhood. Taking these photos was the first time in months that I had the urge to grab a camera and just shoot for the sheer love of it.

Well! It has certainly been a journey! Since I last posted my husband made his transition. Since then I’ve been doing that thing called grieving. Grieving is an interesting thing. It must be done. Actually I think a better way of putting it is that it must be allowed. If one doesn’t fully allow the grieving process, icky things happen. I am a firm believer in living a life of joy rather that a life of ICK, so I took a deep dive into the grieving process.

I let myself cry, willy nilly. Except when I had to go to work. Then I had to shelve those tears for a while.

I let myself nap, almost every day.

I let myself isolate.

And all the while I was allowing these things, I was doing some things too.

Moving my husband’s stuff from the house to the garage to the travel trailer. Somehow, when he first went, it seemed important to me to get his stuff out of the house. Sort of a cleansing ritual I guess. Then I had to move the stuff out of the garage to make room to organize things in there, and to make room for the sale of his boot shop. Yes, my husband had a boot shop. He was quite talented and made beautiful boots.

This is Clint and his significant other. They are from Oklahoma. Clint heard through the boot maker’s grapevine that my husband’s shop was up for sale and he jumped on the opportunity to grab hold of it. They traveled all the way to Nevada from Oklahoma to pick up the equipment, experiencing some adventures along the way. And we loaded the equipment in the midst of a snow storm.

Along with mountains of paperwork, and moving and selling and donating my husband’s stuff, there was stuff going in my life as well. While Floyd was still in home hospice, and on a day when a nurse was here as well as someone delivering the hospital bed, as well as me trying to clean up the latest mess in Floyd’s bathroom, I get a call from my publisher. I did not take the call that day. But in a process that had begun way before Floyd entered hospice, they had called to tell me my book was ready for review, the last step before publication. In addition, I had begun doing a podcast. Plus my little wedding business wasn’t so little. I specialize in elopements. And because of COVID forcing cancellation of a zillion big weddings, all of a sudden my phone is ringing off the hook with couples wanting to elope. They just wanted to get married. In October I officiated 21 weddings. That’s a lot of weddings for a grieving widow. In addition, retirement choices were presented. I had already retired from my photography business but now I was faced with additional choices. I’m still deciding about some of those but the short story is that I’m letting go a quite a few things to leave room for quiet time and ministry.

In recovery there is a saying: “don’t make any major decisions in your first year of recovery.” I’ve taken that and adopted it to: “don’t make any major decisions in your first year of widowhood.” So many of my choices are up in the air but I’ve noticed a few things.

In the stillness I’ve deepened my love affair with myself. And become more willing than ever to honor decisions based on my values. Thanksgiving is coming up. And COVID is still with us. And the Nevada governor has asked us to voluntarily stay home and not do social gatherings. I am honoring that. Even though Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, because it coincides with my recovery birthday. This year, the day after Thanksgiving, I will celebrate 34 years of good, solid, happy joyous and free recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. I’ll be sharing my birthday, via Zoom, at a 12 step meeting that morning. That will be the extent of my socializing for both thanksgiving and my recovery birthday. Quite a change from previous years but I’m welcoming it. I plan to cook a turkey, just like I always do. It will just be a smaller one, with fewer fixings. I plan to, as is my tradition, get my Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, along with making turkey soup and eating turkey sandwiches.

Soon I will resume podcasting my Fearlessly Feral podcast. I’m almost there, I can feel it. Soon I will take on another Interim Ministry assignment. I’m excited about that. Soon I may even start another book. In the meantime I’m just going to sit back and enjoy another stretch of quiet time.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Oh, if you wish to purchase my latest book, it is currently available in print version only (e-version coming soon) from:

My store here on my web site, or from Amazon, or from Balboa Press.

Life is certainly a rich tapestry isn’t it?  At least it is for me.  I’ve got some real stuff going on, both personally and of course, at a global level.  At the global level, I am feeling the angst, the dismay, the anguish and the anger of my fellow human beings.  I vacillate between wanting to go out in the world and do things, and realizing I can only do so much.  Every day for me I combat anger the likes of which I have not experienced since before getting sober, which has been over 33 years.  I combat spontaneous tears.  For the first time in over 33 years, I have a fear of people.  Dealing with this is a daily event, every day I must renew my faith.  I know what it feels like to live a fear free life, and quite frankly it is simply unacceptable to be experiencing a return of this kind of fear.  I know what I must do to replace that fear with faith; this is the ultimate in self care.  Not getting manicures and massages, although a massage is currently on my short term list of things to do.  But on this journey, I must remember that these kinds of feelings, the fear, the anger, the grief,  are normal given what is happening, even if they are not fun.  I must honor them, but not nourish them.  Instead, I must take a deeper dive into self care than I ever have before.  This means talking regularly to the person I have chosen to be my counselor to guide me through this uncharted territory. This means accepting offers of help.  It means loving the casseroles that people are bringing over.  That one is not difficult to do.  This means allowing loving people into my life, and eliminating hateful and unkind and ignorant people from it.  I’ve been doing a lot of rearranging on my Facebook page lately.  It means not feeling guilty that I simply do not have it in me at the moment to do more out in the world.  It means changing my thinking on a daily basis, using the spiritual practices of gratitude and affirmative prayer as I never have before.  I’ve been revisiting my book collection, and am rereading some old favorites that have always nourished me.
Yesterday I thanked one of Floyd’s doctors for quickly responding to a request we had made.  She told me not to thank her and I burst into tears.  Why would I not thank her?  I like this doc.  Others, not so much, but this one, I like.  I text her, she calls back within a half hour and our request is honored with one phone call.  She is Hindu, and has an approach to things that is part science and part spiritual, and I really identify with that.  She honors Floyd’s decisions regarding his medical care, and I love that.
Every day is a wild ride of witnessing people doing stupid shit and saying the most outlandish things.  Yesterday I heard a man proclaim, very loudly, that his daddy beat him regularly, sometimes with a belt and sometimes without one, and that he had learned respect because of it, and he was respectful now because of it.  Despite the fact that he was loudly proclaiming his respect in a very disrespectful way.  Sigh.  My anger came back.  The old me would have taken him on and told him to shut up in a physical way.  But that was my old life and this is my new life.  I do things differently now.   And I’m 65 years old and all of 5 feet tall.  I know my limits, and I also know that to engage in such dark behavior leads only to more dark behavior.  I inwardly acknowledged my anger and simply left the area.  Sometimes I bless those ignorant idiots.  But mostly I’m beyond even that now.  I leave them to their misery and move on.  The fact that almost daily there are opportunities to make a choice like that is a very good indicator of what is happening in society right now.  Then I did a wedding.  A sacred and beautiful thing, and I was left with the feelings of wonder and joy and gratitude that I get to participate in such important events in people’s lives.  And that horrible angry man was left behind to his own devices while I moved on to participate in and help create more beauty in life.
Every day I participate in wonderful new beginnings:  weddings are off the charts this year.  And I’ve taken to asking each of my wedding couples, “why now?”  And their response is always the same, no matter what the circumstances are, “it’s time.”  I believe that people want certainty in a very uncertain world, and for these couple, getting married is the way to achieve it.  Tomorrow I facilitate the last of a month long class I’ve been teaching, called “The Art of Uncertainty.”  Yes, there is an art to it.  And a beauty, and when we open up to uncertainty, we experience things we would never have experienced otherwise.  But I’m left thinking if there is such a thing as too much uncertainty?  Who knows?  What I know right now is that this time is populated with a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Daily I experience the kind of anger I haven’t experienced in a very long time.  Daily I cry. Daily I experience joy and gratitude and remember the peace that comes from faith and loving kindness.  Daily I even experience some joy.  Roller coaster.   I used to like those when I was a kid.  Go figure.  
What I know is that with the last class tomorrow, it will be the last class I teach for at least a few months.  What I know is that my interim ministry assignment will end on August 31, and I will not be accepting a new one for at least a few months.  What I know is that I need to spend some time at home with my dying husband.  People are beginning to refer to me as the care giver.  I hate that name.  And yet, because of what I do for a living, I know the important role that care givers play, and I know how important self care is for a care giver.  So I will continue on this self care journey.  
I once created a workshop on self care.  I presented it to ministers, who quite often are not the best examples of self care.  (This is a huge understatement by the way.)  I believe it was a success.  One lady showed up and complimented me.  She said, “if you had begun talking about manicures and massages I would have been out of here.”  No, self care is not about manicures and massages.  It is about self love. It is about self compassion.  It is about mindfulness.  It is about knowing one’s boundaries, and setting them and keeping them. 
So today I do the ultimate in self care, and I hope you do the same.

One of my favorite things to do in the mornings, after meditating and doing my spiritual study, is to check my Facebook memories feed.  It gives me a snap shot of my life in years past.  This is very helpful because I don’t remember the past.  Not really.  I remember it in very general terms, but specifics are gone.  I once had a friend tell me this was because I live so much in the moment that once that moment is gone, it is truly gone.  I believe this ability is a gift.  I work with so many people who remember the past like it was yesterday, and base their current lives on it, which leads to limitation.  I much prefer not being able to remember the past, because I can dive into each new experience with childlike vision and very little fear.  Except when PTS (I refuse to call it a disorder.  There is absolutely nothing disordered about fearful reactions to shit happening) hits.  The kicker there is that I still don’t remember much of the past, but my body remembers it, and anxiety kicks in, and it is very difficult to replace that anxiety with calm.  PTS is quite inconvenient.  But I discovered something about that PTS, and that discovery came about as a result of a question a prayer partner once asked me.  I discovered that when I am tired, it is as if I’ve left a door open for that PTS to sneak in and take over.  So the key is to stay in balance and be well rested.  And I am lucky because in addition to not remembering the past much, I’m also disciplined.  I go to bed at the same general time every evening, and get up at the same general time every morning.  And on those nights when sleep is a bit elusive, I allow myself to sleep in.  I get up every morning and do the same thing:  I meditate, contemplate and study.  I’ve been doing this for over 30 years.  Such a disciplined spiritual practice is another gift.  I say it’s a gift, but really, it wasn’t given to me.  I developed it.  It just feels like a gift now.  The other thing in my life that is truly a gift is my intensity.  Yes, I realize this intensity scares people and they tend to go away behind that fear.  I’m ok with that, because that intensity has served to allow me to be extraordinarily successful at any endeavor I undertake.  I take a deep dive into everything I do, whether it is cooking or gardening or a career.  Skimming the surface of anything simply isn’t on my list of things to do.  I was reminded of all of this as I reviewed my memories for today.  Going backwards, there are springtime activities, ministerial activities, school activities, photography activities.  With horseback riding interspersed throughout.  A nice little snapshot.  And then there is today.  As people are settling in to sheltering in place, I am beginning to witness in my work all sorts of feelings: boredom, anxiety, confusion, anger.  And then there are the ones who are gleefully taking advantage of the time.  They are getting projects done around the house and beginning to experience what it is like to not be rushing around all the time doing stuff.  They are beginning to experience what it is like to simply be, rather than to do.  I believe this to be another gift.  Beingness is, or can be, a foundation from which we move forward into the world doing.  If we begin with beingness, we then discover who we be as people.  We discover what our feelings are.  We discover what the trend of our thinking is, whether it is positive or negative.  We discover whether that is acceptable to us, and begin to wonder if we can change it if it isn’t.  We might even begin to discover what our values and beliefs are.  And change those if we wish.  Because really, this time is an unprecedented opportunity for us to cultivate a nice little practice of contemplation and inner exploration, to get to know ourselves, and our Selves.  We have the opportunity to change the world right now.  Because we have the opportunity to change ourselves, and that is where change begins.  So the affirmation for today is this:  Today I gratefully accept the gift of being rather than doing, and I experience peace and calm as a result.

I’m in an interesting place today.  Since December 1, (so basically for three full months) I’ve been so involved in an interim ministry assignment that I’ve allowed my other ministerial activities to take a back seat.  I’ve not worked on my books.  I’ve not made any progress setting up my podcast.  I’ve come to a decision about the name and focus of my ministry, but haven’t taken any action on that decision.  I’ve come to a decision about how I wish to get involved and be active in my organization, Centers for Spiritual Living, and I haven’t acted on that one either.  Instead, I’ve been creating and doing talks, creating and doing workshops, creating and doing a full day retreat.  And I’ve been doing some fairly intense one on one work with quite a few folks.  This is all work I love, and it is all work that I set an intention to do when I was visioning for my ministry.  But also included in that vision was the podcasts, the books, and more blogging.  And UGG, I may have to do whatever necessary to get over my objections to video format, because I’m learning that is the in thing nowadays.  And just by my language, you can tell a lot about me.


OK boomer.

 
Go ahead, you can say it to me, I’m good with it, Ok boomer.
In short, I’ve been a bit out of balance.  And now I am in a blissful almost three week break from intense interim ministry work.  They actually told me they wanted a bit of a break!  Apparently I’ve been working them too hard.  Well, yes, I can see that.  I sort of thought that was what I was there for, but they’ve been working hard right along side me and I’ve learned that most people are not as driven as I am.  Hence, the out of balance.  

Anyway, my intention during this time was to get some things done in the areas I’ve been neglecting.  Plus I have a celebration of life ceremony to create, and several wedding ceremonies to create, and one batch of wedding photos to edit.  Instead I’m contemplating which hot springs to go to and what seeds to plant for my summer garden.  I’m recuperating from a cold.  We’ve had unseasonably warm weather, so I’ve been sitting in the sun a lot.  Just sitting.  
I guess I’m just getting back into balance rather than swinging past it, so I’ll just lean on into this for a bit.  Go with the flow is the phrase of the day today.  There is a spiritual principle inherent in going with the flow.  My friend Jeff Anderson, in his book “The Nature of Things,” says it like this:  “in mind, body, heart and soul we are designed to be supple, to move and to bend in constant movement as the environment and conditions of life change, both around us and within us.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, this concept of going with the flow is described as meekness.  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.“ I say this because the metaphysical meaning of the word meek is yielding, pliable or flexible.  And blessed means delighted.  And the earth signifies our outer experience.  Inheriting the earth thus means we have control of our outer experiences.
So today, I go with the flow.  I remain supple.  I remain flexible.  And soon, I know that from within this suppleness and flexibility will come that state of being delighted.  Until then, flow.  

Today I pay homage to the great Albert Einstein.  Why?  Because I feel like it, no other reason.  He threw out some gems for us to ponder.  “I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”  “Love is the greatest force there is.”  And perhaps my favorite:  “You can’t solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it.”  
Quotes such as these have great ramifications for us in our lives, if we choose to ponder them for a while.   
For example, rational thinking has its place in the world.  It probably serves us really well when considering things like schedules.  But there is another kind of thinking that I think opens us up to possibilities, and this is what I believe Einstein was referring to.  He also said that “imagination is more important than knowledge.”  I like to play a game I call “What If?”  In this game, I simply imagine how life would be IF.  It is a form of spiritual practice for me.  What if? This game allows me to imagine possibilities.  And here’s the kicker:  if I can imagine them, they can happen.  My job isn’t to know how they can happen.  My job is simply to know that they can.
And here’s where the next quote comes in handy, my favorite.  This quote has also been attributed as saying that one can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it, but I like consciousness better.  Consciousness goes deeper.  Consciousness is not just our thinking.  It is our feelings, our beliefs, our very sense of who we are and how we show up in the world. Einstein is not the only one who told us that if we want to change our life we need to change our thinking.  “Change your thinking, change your life” is the tag line for Centers for Spiritual Living.  
And change your thinking, change your life is the very foundation of all of my own personal work in the world.  Having problems in your life? Change your thinking.  Feeling like life is unbearable, hopeless, not worth it?  Change your thinking.  Having problems with other people, or with relationships?  Change your thinking.  And then I proceed to provide tools to do exactly that.  And again, it isn’t just about changing the thinking.  It is about changing the consciousness.
This is difficult to describe.  I have a Masters Degree in...wait for it.....wait for it.....Consciousness Studies.  And I still don’t quite know what that is.  What I can tell you is that we studied philosophy, science, religion and psychology.  What I can tell you is that incorporating all of those schools of thought and study into my own life changed my consciousness and produced a person who was different than the one who entered that study.  I changed my thinking, and my life changed.

This is why I like Einstein so much.  This guy was a scientist who knew the power of things like imagination and intuition.  He knew the power of love to solve all problems.  Which brings me to his love quote, “Love is the greatest force there is.”  Never mind that the Bible says love never fails. Never mind that it is said that love is a synonym for God. Yes, those all affirm that love is the greatest force there is.  And if you don’t believe that, allow me to share with you another experiment I’ve played with over and over again, and discovered that it works, every time.
If love is the greatest power there is, then love should be able to solve all problems.  But in order to do so, love needs to have a way to express.  That way is through us.  WE need to be the vehicles through which love moves.  WE need to be love.  WE need to have the consciousness of love.  I began to consider, when contemplating this experiment, what love could/would/should look like in my life.  First of all, it is unconditional.  This means I place no conditions on whether I love someone.  It has no exceptions.  This means I love everyone equally.  I’m an equal opportunity lover!  And what does love feel like?   It feels peaceful.  It feels joyous.  It feels relaxing.  And sometime excited and enthusiastic.  Short version:  love is always positive, never negative.  So I began to consider where I felt negative in my life, and I began to replace that negativity with positivity.  I got so good at it that people were calling me Pollyanna.  I did not care.  I intuitively (thank you again Albert Einstein!) knew I was on the right track.  Am I successful at it all the time?  No, but I strive.  I have used this technique when I was ready to divorce my husband.  I’ve used it when I have felt the weight of the world’s ills on my shoulders.  I’ve used it when there has been an antagonist in my life whose seeming goal seemed to be to cause problems for me.  I have used it when I found myself harshly judging others. I’m still happily married and the antagonists always seem to go away.   The others remain idiots but when I stop harshly judging them, I can sometimes have compassion for them, which is another form of love.  I am not perfect at this.  I haven’t yet solved the world’s problems, but you know what?  Love is the greatest force there is and if enough of us embody it, together we CAN solve the world’s problems.
It is time for me to bring this blog to a conclusion, which is sometimes difficult for me to do, because one thing leads to another which leads to another and I could go on and on.  So I will close with another Einstein quote, “creativity is intelligence having fun.”
In this holiday season, I wish you fun, creativity, changed thinking and most of all, unconditional love!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Yuletide Greetings, Happy holidays, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Seasons Greetings!

Whew! I was telling my mentor yesterday that life has come full circle. She knew what I meant, I did not have to explain it. Suffice to say that the last ten years or so have been fraught with major losses and huge changes. Until about two years ago, when things began to settle down. I’ve done my grief and healing work, and been gentle with myself through all of it. Today, everything that has been lost has been replaced, only it is better! Today, I am a different version of me, and life is good and very good. And through it all, I never lost my faith that all of this stuff was happening as an opportunity to move to my next greatest level of existence.

Tomorrow is Winter Solstice, then we have Christmas, then the New Year. All of them metaphors for new beginnings and new light coming into our world. It is a beautiful time of year and I am enjoying it immensely.

If we wish to have new light and new beginnings in our lives, chances are there is some work to be done. My greatest pleasure in life is to see people move to their next greatest level of existence. So I provide ways to facilitate that: individual coaching services, classes and workshops.

Coming up, I am offering a brand new class. This class is designed to help the student move into a new and greater and better way of living. Basically, if there is one thing (there can be more, but let’s start with one) you wish to change in your life, take this class. In this class you will learn a process that will not only allow you to change that one thing, but you will be able to utilize this process anytime you want to for the rest of your life.

All the details are listed in the storefront. I hope to see you in class!

I’m not strong.
No, really.
I’ve recently had some conversations with a couple of folks that tell me that how people perceive me is not how I feel.
If that makes any sense.
One mentioned to me in an email that it was a good thing I was strong.  The context was that I would need to be strong to handle a project we are both involved in.  While I responded that yes, I had my strong moments, inside I was thinking that strength was not what was needed in this project.
Compassion, unconditional love and firm boundary setting is needed, but not strength.  
Then I was discussing the same project with another person, who asked me, “did it even occur to you to be concerned about driving over the pass in the winter time?”

I paused, smiled, and said, “NO!”
She laughed and I laughed.  Because really, it didn’t.  And she knows me pretty well and respects me enough to ask about things rather than make an inaccurate judgment call.  And several other people have asked me about that as well.  They’ve got an excuse, they just met me.  But I’m puzzled.  I’ve got a 4-wheel drive pickup with snow tires.  And over 30 years experience living in and driving in snow.  Why on earth would I be concerned?
They see it as strength.  I see it as a natural outcome of a strong foundation in spiritual practice.  This practice results in me having an endurable and very capable connection with That Thing that is the true strength, the true power.  
No, I am not strong.  I’m just connected.
I’m not busy either.
I get that a lot.  “You’re so busy!”  The other day someone asked me how I did all the things I do.  I explained to her that I never did anything that wasn’t fun (I do, however, see a lot of things as fun) and never did anything I didn’t want to do.  And that I really wasn’t that busy.
Let’s face it, I get to do a lot of cool stuff.  Both professionally and personally.  I believe life is full and rich and should be experienced to the max.  Lived full on.  I love that Hunter S. Thompson quote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow!’”
I like to proclaim “wow!” On a regular basis.  And WEEHAW!  And WOOGIE!  Because some years back I made a commitment to myself that I would not argue for my limitations.  This means I refuse to say no if it means experiencing another aspect of living life full on.
Do I have times when I must retreat and hide under the covers and lick my wounds?  You bet.  It’s called grief work.  It’s called forgiveness.  It’s called taking personal responsibility.  It’s called a lot of things and  we all have to do those things or we simply shrivel up into miserable old excuses for humanity.  Hateful, judgmental, suspicious, fearful.  Then we get sick and die.  I don’t want to live like that.  So I take care of my wounds, and then come out, once again living life full on, saying yes to what comes as a result of my spiritual practices.
No, I am not busy.  I’m just connected.  
And I also know that when we label others with descriptions like these, those descriptions speak more to ourselves than the people we are labeling.  
Just sayin’.
So, I do the work that ensures that I stay connected.  Then I say YES to life, and because of that connection, I know that all is well and all will continue to be well and that my YESSES are supported.

Our nos are supported too, by the way, but that’s a topic for another blog post.  

My latest purpose, passion, mission and vision statements. Do you have yours? Do you know what your purpose and mission in life is? Do you know what your passion is?

Today is an anniversary for me. It marks 5 years since becoming a Religious Science minister. They say that in order for something new to be born, one has to make room for it. This is the principle behind the decluttering movement. I always thought that I would be a photographer until the day I died. I’d be chasing babies and pets and families and ladies in white dresses with my camera, even if I had to hire someone to carry the equipment for me to do so. I did not realize it, but my soul was calling me to do and be something entirely different. I fought it. I became a Practitioner and was very happy there, with a teaching and coaching business. But soul said, “It isn’t enough. There is more!” And more stuff happened to make room for the new that wanted to be born. One mentor of mine called it a dismantling. I was not happy with the dismantling and complained and bitched and ranted about it every step of the way. It wasn’t just one loss, it was a series of them, and they kept coming at me over the space of about ten years, and I did the grieving process through out it all, with bargaining (maybe if I tried THIS it will work!), anger (at THEM), no small amount of depression, and finally, acceptance. It was almost impossible for me to deny the cold hard realities of what was happening so I didn’t do much of that. Today I live in a different place, both metaphorically and physically. I make my living in a different way, as a minister. I always thought photography would be my one passion in life, and it still is, but there is another. Did you know that there is always room for more love and passion? That passion is burning hot and strong, and I love it, and I am so grateful that I get to fulfill that passion. Recently I took a class, the first one since I graduated with a Masters Degree in Consciousness studies 5 years ago. In this class we got to do our personal mission and vision statements. I’ve always had a personal mission statement. This process expanded it a bit, and I discovered that my mission statement has changed a bit. Go figure! Life is good and very good and today I am grateful for all that has transpired, including the losses. And I am a glorious embodiment of Spirit, teaching others to be the same!

On this Memorial Day, it is rainy and cloudy and windy outside my home. Most likely snowing at the higher elevations. My cat is vacillating between climbing on me, purring and snuggling, and looking for trouble. He is still very kitten-ish, but beginning to show signs of adulthood with increasing times of purr-in-the-lap snuggles. I am preparing for two upcoming talks and a workshop. And basking in the glow of a great time of fellowship last night. I am now hosting a once a month pot luck in our new home, a practice I used to do when I lived at Tahoe, and last night about 15-20 people showed up with all sorts of wonderful things to eat. And we talked. We indulged in that ancient practice of breaking bread together. There is something magic that happens when we do that. Some sort of bonding, a creation of good relationship. We have only one thing in common, and many things not in common. Yet we break bread together and get along just fine. And I had a chance to practice something new in an interaction with someone. Instead of digging in my heels, claiming my rightness and judging the wrongness of the other person, I took some time to practice what I’ve been preaching for almost two years now. I’ve been preaching that we need a new way to communicate, a way that does not claim a side but instead seeks to find the common ground. A way that does not blame but instead seeks to find a solution to a problem. A way that does not make one of us wrong and one of us right, but instead seeks to find a compassionate way of viewing why the other person might have said or done what they did. I purposely sought all that. I fought through the layers of self righteousness and ego seeking rightness and superiority and anger that makes me feel powerful, but only for a little while before it turns into sickness. And I went deeper, into compassion and a common ground. And discovered that common ground. Turns out the other person wants the same thing I do: inclusion. No exclusion. And together we found a way to implement it. And this brings me to the explanation of my meme, because you know I just can’t post a meme without an explanation, right? One of my upcoming talks is about a deeper sort of prayer, the sort that gets things done. The powerful sort of prayer that all the great sages of the world used to heal, change conditions, and make life bearable. This goes way beyond a beseeching to an outside entity. This is the kind that changes our own minds. This is the kind of prayer that does indeed have the power to move mountains. This is the kind of prayer that has the power to eliminate all the sad, dismaying, hateful, judgmental shit that is going on in this world, and to replace it with love, compassion and hope. And it begins with each of us. It begins when we approach prayer with openmindedness and willingness to have our own minds be changed. To move from our own judgement and rightness and anger and into a way of being that embodies compassionate acceptance, a seeking of common ground and a releasing of that anger. I dream of living in a world that works for everyone. I happen to think it is possible. But only if we change our ways. And it begins inside each and every one of us, with a way of living that embodies a prayer that we be open and compassionate. Become what you wish to see and experience, and you will have learned the secret of powerful prayer.