I have two weddings today, with a break in between during which I will do one of my favorite things: have lunch somewhere by myself and read. And this morning I’ve begun the day’s journey with more reading. I love to read. It simultaneously changes my consciousness and gives me ideas. Reading transforms my thinking from doubt, worry, disappointment, dissatisfaction and general malaise to confidence, faith, hope, contentment and general well being. Reading also is part of my research for much of the stuff I get to do in life that pays the bills: the workshops and retreats, and my writing. I take in the wisdom of others, and let it simmer inside of me, like cooking a great meal in a slow cooker, and then, when it is ready, out pops my own unique flavor of wisdom. I have two workshops coming up, one I have designed and completed. It’s actually one I’ve been doing for years, one that was requested. When a workshop I’ve already done has been requested, I simply tweak the workshop to better represent and match the audience. So one workshop is ready to go. The other one is about fear. I only have three hours for this workshop, and fear, well, fear covers a lot of ground. Do we lean into it? Avoid it? Do we believe the teaching that fear and faith or love cannot co-exist at the same time in the same entity? How do we recognize fear in our lives and what does it have to teach us? And what do we do about it when it comes? This promises to be a doozy of a workshop and I am excited to see how it develops. I’ve got a good beginning. I’m also in the midst of creating a series of talks about abundance, and so much of my reading is on that topic. I love the weddings and portrait sessions. When I did that work full time, it not only provided my means to pay the bills, but it fed something within me and I was full up, complete. Now that I do that work part time, it still contributes to paying the bills, but it only feeds part of me. After all the training and schooling, I’ve changed. After all the inner and outer changes in my life, I’ve transformed and thus, how I show up in the world has transformed, and what I need to feel that contentment I spoke of has changed. What really feeds me is the other work: the workshops, the retreats, the teaching. What I have to say to the world is that life truly begins from the inside of us. If we don’t go within, we go without, and everything I do begins within. My life is wonderful, and being able to facilitate this transformation in other people is what truly feeds me now. So on this beautiful fall day I will go off into the world and do some wonderful work, and spend some time preparing to do some other wonderful work. Life is good.
In the comforting sounds of hearing the rain on the roof of my skylights, I contemplate. Contemplation is such a wonderful thing. I don't know about you but this spiritual practice is the one that allows my mind to wander and consider possibilities. Meditation trains the mind and brings focus, while contemplation seems to want to embrace a bigger picture. I read quotes like this one, and ask myself, am I settling? At times in life, the answer has been yes, I was settling. In my fear of the unknown, I settled for what was known, and it was limiting me. I am not settling now and that is a beautiful thing. For me, not settling means being willing to release the limiting known factors of my life. It means being willing to examine and change limiting beliefs, it means setting boundaries and not allowing people to treat me unkindly just because I want them to like or love me. This means stepping into the unknown, which calls for a certain measure of faith. When my spiritual practice consists of a power pack combo of meditation, contemplation and affirmative knowing, I am able to step into the greatest expression of Life! I hope you are doing the same today. Don't settle. Move into the greatest expression of who and what you are!
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Like many of you, and many of the people I know and love, I woke up Wednesday morning shocked, dismayed, and very very frightened.
I consider myself a fiscal conservative who believes in true equality for all. What that boils down to is I think government needs to get out of our personal lives, and stop enabling people by paying for things that, quite honestly, they should pay for themselves. I believe in lending a helping hand. I've taken advantage of those helping hands at times in my life, but while doing so I also took steps to educate myself, and do my inner work, so that I could once again become responsible for my own life. It is very empowering to do that and I am grateful I had people in my life who refused to enable me. But what I believe in most of all, and this....excuse the language...trumps everything else...is equality. I'm so over racism, and misogyny and bigotry and hateful language which very often results in hateful acts. This is a deep value of mine, and one that takes importance over everything else, so when I vote, I vote equal rights no matter what. No matter whether I agree with the rest of it.
I tell you this because I believe it is important we know what our values are, because all of our thoughts, words and deeds stem from our values. I was frightened post election because I perceived that my country had elected a person who, from his words during the campaign, believed in the opposite of equality for all. Not only that, he seemed to embrace misogyny, hatred, bigotry and racism. I'm frightened of that. To be honest, I did not even investigate policy with him, because I couldn't get past the hateful language.
I also believe that after all I've experienced and done in my life, I am not here to live a fear based life. I believe that we either live a fear based life or a faith based life. Living a fear based life means I believe in us and them. Living a fear based life means I say hateful things, take sides, view others with suspicion, and feel a need to protect myself. It also means I judge others who are not exactly like me. It means I can't make eye contact with people I meet on the street. I can not and will not live like that. I choose to live a faith based life. Living a faith based life means I believe in Oneness, there is no separation between me and you. If I say hateful things to you, I am also saying them to myself. And vice versa. In my faith, I have learned that everything I experience has been for the good. And I've experienced a lot that most "normal" people don't. It has all been for the good. Living a faith based life also means that when I'm experiencing fear, as I was the other day, the call is not to declare sides and lash out in anger and blame others. The call is to go inward and investigate what it is I am afraid of, exactly, and why. And do my inner work so that I can move back into faith. And then make amends if, in my fear, I did any damage.
I've done the inner work. I am now back in faith. I now once again remember that outside appearances have no power to affect me except if I give them that power. I now once again remember that we are all one. I now once again remember that blame only keeps me in the problem. Pointing fingers at others only keeps me in the problem. Focusing on what I am afraid of only keeps me in the problem.
I am not advocating spiritual bypass....which is simply an exotic way of talking about denial. What I am advocating is that we stop contributing to the divisiveness in this world and begin to contribute to peace.
It is time for us to do our inner work, and make amends. I've been reading some interesting articles that basically say that Trump won this election not because of his misogyny, bigotry and racism, but in spite of it. He won because he represented change to a people who are tired of not making enough money, tired of things not working right. I'm tired of that too. I'm tired of people telling me they won't hire me as a photographer or wedding officiant because I charge too much. I'm tired of people who value price over quality. I'm tired of people telling me ministers should do the work they do for free. I'm tired of the government telling me what I can and cannot do in my personal life. Don't EVEN get me started on seat belts. My point is here that those of us who say we believe in tolerance and equality have not listened to the cries from "those other people." We've just judged and separated ourselves from them. Part of my amends is that I will no longer do that.
I've received a few phone calls and emails the past few days from ministers and practitioners (spiritual coaches) who wanted treatment (prayer) and help with the fear they were experiencing. I am also witnessing many who are posting things on Facebook that indicate to me they are still in fear. It is time to move out of our fear folks. It is time to embrace what is. Should we hold Donald Trump accountable? You bet. Do we need to ensure that human rights don't take a step backward? You bet. Should we blame and point fingers and say he isn't our president, when he will be come January? No. That is more separation, more fear based thinking, and it will only keep us in the problem.
One last thing: the good that has come out of this? Ernest Holmes, the founder of what we now call Centers for Spiritual Living, said that healing can only come from revealing. For a long time we've been able to hide the fact that there is racism and misogyny and bigotry in this country. Now it is out in the open. No one can deny it. Now that it is revealed in all its ugly glory, we can heal it. That is my job from this point onward. I don't know how I'm going to do this job, but I know I'm going to do it. Won't you join me?
On Sunday, I will be speaking at the Center for Spiritual Living in Carson City about how to survive....and thrive....in this unsettling time. I hope you will join me. Meditation at 10, service at 10:30. 3579 Highway 50 East in Unit 301. We are in the iStorage Business Park across from Goodwill. Don't use GPS to find us unless you want to take a scenic tour.