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If you read this blog regularly, you know that last weekend I went and participated in a ritual that was a culmination of 9 years of study:  I got a Masters Degree in Consciousness Studies.

Before the graduation ceremony began, we were told by a very wise man that we would wake up the day after the ceremony and everything would be different.

He was right, although it began for me the evening of the graduation.  I feel a need to confess:  I was plagued with waves of total and complete unworthiness.  I do not know if that ever stops, but I do know what to do with it.  Sunday morning I made a phone call, and we stopped that nonsense  right then and there.  (if you've ever doubted the power of spiritual counseling, you can use this as an example)  Today, on Monday, I am filled with excitement for the future.

I was asked on Saturday, what's next?  Well, what's next is I get to dive into it!  I've been wanting to expand my private practice, I've been wanting to design and facilitate more workshops, I've been wanting to speak at more places.

So that's what's next!  I'm excited!  I hope you are too!

 

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This is going to be a long post.  I'm not sorry, but I did want to warn you.

Tomorrow morning I will wake up, and after my morning meditation and spiritual practices, shower and breakfast, I will finish packing and take off for a celebration on Saturday in Santa Rosa, California.

I'll be getting my Masters Degree in Consciousness Studies.

It is, quite frankly, blowing my mind.

It has been a nine year journey to that celebration on Saturday.  When I began that journey, I had no clue where it would end.  I am reminded of a saying that I will distort for purposes of this little story:  A Masters Degree wasn't even a gleam in my eye when I began this particular journey.

I just wanted to be happier.

I began my journey by taking classes at my local Center for Spiritual Living.  I was in a place in my life where I knew that there was something more.  I wanted to discover that something more.  So I began taking classes.

I really just wanted to be happier.

I ended up gettting what is called a Practitioner's License.  It's a type of spiritual counselor.  That was a bonus.  I was happier, and I set up a private practice, helping other people to be happier.

Life went on.

Then, the opportunity to go to Holmes Institute presented itself.   Holmes Institute is a multi-faceted sort of program:    graduates not only get a Masters Degree in Consciousness Studies, but they are trained to be spiritual leaders, with emphasis in spiritual psychology, philosophy, science and religion, of all types.  And, graduates become ministers with Centers for Spiritual Living.

I didn't even like church when I began attending Holmes Institute.  Now I give a talk every Sunday, in a Center for Spiritual Living.

And I'm getting a Masters Degree.

I'm still happier.  And more at peace.  Each class I have taken has changed me at a fundamental level.  And I've discovered that something more.

And I'm getting a Masters Degree!

Wow.

What is making it even more "wow" is the celebration itself.  I have people in my life who are driving for five hours to Santa Rosa to watch me get this degree.  I am honored, surprised and truly humbled by that.

There are nine of us graduating.  The choir and band at this celebration numbers at about 80.  I expect it to be a packed house at the Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa, which seats about 500 or so.  I like a big party, and this promises to be one of the biggest.

The emails have been flying back and forth the last few weeks.  The wonderful people who have been putting this thing together and us, the nine graduates, have discussed seating protocol, processional protocol and punctuation protocol. We've revised wording on the program, and been admonished to be there promptly for rehearsal.

My dad, a retired CSL minister, is presenting me.  Yesterday they sent him an email telling him he had three minutes to do so.  Imagine giving a minister three minutes to say anything!  This should be fun.  The other ministers presenting the other graduates also have three minutes each.  I know most of those ministers.  Like I said, this should be fun.

I've done my nails, all 20 of them.  I got some pink highlights put in my hair, and my hairdresser gave me a tiara to wear during the ceremony.  I bought a special dress to wear under my robe.  I don't typically wear dresses.  I'm trying to decide whether to wear my cool cowboy boots or a more comfortable pair of shoes.  My fiance made the cowboy boots, I love them, but I'm going to be on my feet a long time on Saturday.

This is important stuff!  Never mind the nine years of study, or the academic achievement that no one else in my family has ever done, or the incredible training I have, or deep and profound connection I have to god or the something more I've discovered.  It's all about the shoes....and the pink hair....and the tiara.

Actually, it's about the whole package.  All of it.  I'm so excited!  I'm so grateful!  I'm so honored!

Wow.  Just wow.

If you've read this far, thank you!  If  you feel moved to write a comment I'd love to read it and respond to it.....after this incredible weekend is over.

Bye for now!

 

Today is a big anniversary day for me. On this day in 1996, three things happened: I closed escrow on my house and moved in, and my divorce was final. Two years later, in 1998, my mother made her transition.

I am reminded of this quote I recently found in a book I am reading: "when transcendence of our personal history takes precedence over intimacy with our personal history, spiritual bypassing is inevitable. To not be intimate with our past-to not be deeply and thoroughly acquainted with our conditioning and its originating factors-keeps it undigested and therefore very much present, regardless of our apparently capacity for rising above it. Instead of trying to get beyond our personal history, we need to learn to relate to it with as much clarity and compassion as possible, so that it serves rather than obstructs our healing and awakening." From the book Spiritual Bypassing, by Robert Augustus Masters.

What this means is that I can look back on all the events in my life, having achieved intimacy with them, and know that they were not something to move beyond, but something to relate to with compassion. In this way, they are the events in my life, but not present in a way that causes me grief or distress. I feel only gratitude for these events.

As a spiritual coach, I was originally taught that, unlike in traditional forms of counseling, the story is irrelevant. Now I know the story is important, but only as a beginning. We must become intimate with our stories in order to release the energy around them. And in order to become intimate with them, we need to explore them with compassion, not blame, shame or guilt. We simply hold a light to them and expose them, thus allowing the healing to begin. Denying them only gives them more power to continue to hurt us. Becoming intimate with them allows us to acknowledge them and then make informed choices: we can either base our current decisions and thought processes on what happened in the past (filtered through a very inaccurate memory bank) or we can base our current decisions and thought processes on who we are today.

I am grateful that today I have become intimate with my past, and that I base today's decisions and thought processes on today, not the past.

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