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Michael Singer, in his book the Untethered Soul, prefaces the statement in the meme by saying this, "It’s hard to understand how we decided that avoiding our inner issues is an intelligent thing to do,..."

Some of you reading might want to know what spirituality has to do with our inner issues.

I happen to think it has everything to do with it.

I think we are a bit confused.

I'm a minister.  I'll just come right out and say that.  I spent a total of 9 years in school, the last 4 of them in a Masters Degree program, to be able to get that title. But I do not like nor respect nor appreciate organized religion as it is commonly practiced today.  Go figure.  It helps that I'm a minister in a organization that is open at the top, and pretty much says go for it if it makes you happy.  But what it doesn't say is to worship outside things, which is where my problem with organized religion lies.

I don't care if it is crystals or Jesus, or anything else outside of ourselves, if it is outside of ourselves, it is all the same thing, and it is missing the point.  I'll come right out and say it: if it is outside of ourselves, it is still religion, whether you call it the Universe or Wicca or New Age or Christianity.  Nothing wrong with any of it.  But it isn't spiritual.  Spirituality is inside.

Here's another meme:

The Self within.  THAT is where spirituality lies.

And THAT is also where the power lies.

I work with a lot of folks, and when I explain that they need to learn to rely on something within themselves that is their TRUE self, their capitalized Self, they balk.

In the mix of worshipping outside things we have somehow lost the concept of that inner Self, to the point where most people come right out and say, "I'm not even going to go there.  There is nothing inside of me that I would feel comfortable relying on."  Inside is still a dangerous neighborhood for many.

If I could wave my magic wand, religion would be a gateway drug into the inner world of ourselves, where people would feel free to explore the true power in their lives.  There would be a peaceful co-existence between acknowledging that there is Something out there that is powerful (again, it doesn't matter what you call it) but there is also Something inside each and everyone of us that is just as powerful, perhaps even more so, and it is ok to explore that.  And it is ok to explore the concept that the outer power could not exist without the inner.  In this way, perhaps we could come to terms with this separation that exists in life.  The separation that says that power is only outside of ourselves, and the separation that results from that:  someone out there does something that upsets us, and we then attack, rather than going within to discovery what the gift could be in terms of our own personal awakening.

I've been watching the polarity happening in our country, and I've been exploring what a solution could be.  It is very obvious to me that what we have done up to this point is not working.  Somewhere there is a field that we haven't even explored.  It is in that field that the solution lies.  All this attacking and blaming and shaming and bullying is not working.  Let's come up with something new.  First within ourselves, then out in the world.

I am experiencing, for the first time in several years, seasonal burnout.  On the one hand, I am extremely grateful for the business.  On the other hand, this isn't what I thought I would be doing three years after graduation with a Masters Degree.

I'll get to the seasonal burnout in a minute, but first I want to address disappointment.  I'm disappointed.  See.....I spent 4 years getting a Masters Degree. During that time, I focused on my studies, and not my work as a full time professional photographer.  I figured it like this:  the photography industry is going in a direction I don't wish to follow, so this career change is coming about at the right and perfect time.  I will get my Masters, become a coach/retreat facilitator/workshop queen and release with gratitude that other career that made such a good living for me for 30 years.

So I got my Masters Degree....three years ago.  Promptly began marketing myself and my skills as a coach, designing and holding workshops and doing retreats.  Except, I wasn't getting enough business to pay my bills.  Disappointment.  I wrote a book (www.newthought12steps.com) and published it.  Royalties are....well, not what I expected them to be.  More disappointment.

I figured by this point I would be making a living from almost full time work in my new career, and part time work as a professional photographer.  Instead, it is the other way around.  The gratitude is that I am making enough money to pay my bills, the disappointment is that in spite of marketing my little heart out, my new career seems to be stuck in a rut.

But I know a couple of things about disappointment and while I've been known to furnish my ruts, I also knew a few things about getting out of ruts.  I write this to affirm it for myself, and for you, just in case you might be experiencing the same thing.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in our lives by mistake.  All of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the awesome, the beautiful, happens because some inner and much greater part of us has called us to make the decisions we make and do the things we do, to get to where that greater inner self wants us to go.  I am not here by mistake and neither are you.

The key is to, as Henry David Thoreau said, advance confidently in the direction of your dreams.  No matter what.  Never lose sight of the dream.  Never stop affirming it.  Never stop taking the action to move towards the direction of your dreams.

That's what I'm doing and that is what I will continue to do.  My dream is to make a full time living helping people achieve their dreams through coaching, workshops and retreats.  Until I can do that, I will continue to earn my keep through professional photography.  Because ironically, the industry seems to be turning around and once again excellence in skill and craftsmanship seems to be making a comeback.  And....I'm doing a retreat..in October.  You should come, it will be awesome.  Here's the info:  http://karenlinsley.com/?p=2508

And in case you are curious, or you need a professionally done business portrait for your business (because having a good head shot means credibility), or a great family portrait, or some wedding photography, check out my photography web site:  www.imageangels.com

Don't ever forget your dream.  If you can dream it, you can do it, and you are worth it.

Oh...and the burnout?  Take a few days off.  I am!

Last night I had a wonderful conversation with a male friend.  We tend to talk about deep stuff sometimes.  In this conversation, he shared with me that when he was a young man, he was told that men prove their manhood on the battlefield and their masculinity in the bedroom.

Sigh.  I think that is so sad.

Fortunately, he said he has realized that the values he had as a result of those kinds of messages could be changed.

And that is the topic of my post today.  We get messages from lots of places growing up.  Parental units, society, religion.  Much of the time, especially when we were younger, we incorporate those messages into our own consciousness.  They become the foundation for our values.  Most of us never even consider that those values may not be our own.  We never investigate whether they hold true for us.

Why should we bother?  Why not just continue on through life holding those same values?  Well, you could.  Unless you've got some lack, or some limitation in your life.  Then, the place to look for ultimate change is not the outside circumstances, but at what your beliefs and values are.  Change those, and the outer circumstances will follow along.

When I'm working with a client and I suggest that the belief may need some changing, they then ask, how do I do that?  I can be as easy as setting an intention to do, or....it can take some conscious and constant reminding.  I have found that awareness is a great beginning, and once the awareness is there, if there is willingness to consider that a belief system needs changing, then all of a sudden new ideas begin to appear.

Change your thinking to change your life.  It is that simple.

Today, my friend knows that his manhood and his masculinity are proven by how he treats others and he has demonstrated much better relationships as a result of his changed beliefs.

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