Start with Yourself


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There are absolute truths about the human experience that never change, no matter what century you live in or what culture. These truths are immutable, immeasurable and impossible to ignore.

One of these truths is that to change the world, you must first change yourself.

In the Crypts of that grand cathedral known as Westminster Abbey, on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop inscribed in 1100 A.D., are these words:

When I was young and free and my imagination

had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world

would not change, so I shortened my sights some

what and decided to change only my country.

But it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, In one last desperate

attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those

closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my death bed, I suddenly realize:

If I had only changed myself first, then by example I

would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would

then have been able to better my country and, who

knows, I may have even changed the world.

Don’t wait for the last moments of your life to know this truth. You can make a difference right now, in the very moment. Decide to change yourself and you will change the world.

Start with yourself.

What wild and crazy thing is calling to you? To go surf in Hawaii? To run the Paris Marathon? To climb a mountain?

Whatever it is, culture will try to stop you. The rules of the world seem to quash the very thing that makes us human — our spirit. Don’t let it quash you.

If your first thought is to denigrate yourself or your abilities, that is culture talking. You will not live your wild, best life listening to culture.

Just remember, that thing that is calling you…is pointing directly at you and saying, “It’s time. Walk away. Come play with me. You’ll see.”

That thing calling you defies reason and logic (more culture speak). It defines your deepest yearning, that person you were meant to be.

Start with yourself and you will discover that impossible truth that we must all face at some point in our lives. You are here for a reason and only you can express it to the world.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance.

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Moment by Moment


christian-holzinger-433986“Welcome to another moment in life.”

The rustic sign hung a bit crooked on the cracked wall, having seen many years of wind, rain, and sun as it faced the ocean. The outdoor restaurant in Key West was also weather-worn, much like its regular customers.

I sat by myself at a table facing that same body of water, not as sculpted by the elements as I was beaten down by myself.

I was taking a holiday to get away from the muddle I had made of my life. Only to discover that it still lived inside my head, playing over and over again in full technicolor.

A young man with a messy man bun walked up to me, casually holding a pen and a pad to take my order. At first, I didn’t see him, because the view of the beach, palm trees, and the ocean had entranced my attention. It was only after he said, “Ready to order?” that I turned toward him.

“Oh hi!” I said, brightly. My life had fallen apart, and I was still trying to look put together. “I’ll take the shrimp tacos and iced tea.”

He nodded and started to walk away. That’s when I noticed the other signs that hung over the bar, the doors and any spare space on the walls.

“Be who you are. Everyone else is taken.”

“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult; we just need to remember to do it.”

I stood up abruptly, motioning the waiter to come back over to my table. “What is the name of this place again?”

He looked at me a bit warily and pointed to the large sign over the bar. “Now and Zen,” it said in large, simple script.

I nodded and sat back down, remembering why I had come to this island at the southernmost tip of the United States. It was to rediscover who I was before I became who the world told me to be. And coming to the Now and Zen restaurant was the starting point back to myself.

“Is Henry here?” I called to the retreating back of my server. He glanced over his shoulder and pointed to the kitchen.

Suddenly, a face appeared in the small opening between the kitchen and the restaurant. A muffled yell and then…Henry burst forth like a comet, tail blazing with light.

I was enveloped in Henry’s arms, the hug so tight that the air burst out of my lungs. I hugged him back, laughing at his exuberance. He rocked me back and forth, saying over and over, “Oh Mia, Mia! I am so glad you’re here!”

The sadness that I carried with me like an extra layer of clothing disappeared in that embrace. I let myself go and absorbed his love, knowing that it would fill me up like nothing else. My healing began in those few moments of complete acceptance.

Finally, we pulled apart.

Henry looked deeply into my eyes, touching my soul. My initial reaction was to break the contact, but I forced myself to stay still as he took his assessment of my emotional and spiritual condition. Much like a doctor takes the pulse and listens to her patient’s heartbeat, Henry was taking my spiritual pulse.

He pulled me into another embrace and whispered in my ear, “I have to keep cooking, but let’s talk later.” He hugged me one more time, kissed my forehead and went back into the kitchen.

Sometime later, Henry sat down at my table, bits of food stain on his shirt and shorts. His weathered face showed his age, but not his eyes. Deep blue with a calm, penetrating gaze, Henry could look deeply into another person’s eyes and touch their soul.

He reached across the table and grabbed my hands, smiling as he squeezed them affectionately. His low, gravely voice hummed a sea-faring tune that was calming and poetic at the same time. He waited for me to begin speaking, silently granting permission and creating the safe space for me to become vulnerable.

I took a deep breath and nodded, looking down at our hands. His, dark brown and worn; mine, lily white from lack of sun.

“I couldn’t help her,” I whispered. The shame and pain of helplessness overcame me, and I began sobbing quietly. Henry moved his chair around to sit next to me, holding me in his arms as I grieved.

When my crying jag was finished, I looked up and understood why I came. My mother’s only brother was the one person who would know why I was punishing myself about her last days.

Henry smiled gently and handed me a napkin. As I cleaned up my face, he spoke softly. “You loved her to the end, Mia. She crossed over knowing that you loved her.”

I nodded miserably, but the shame of old grievances was still there. As I took a breath and looked out to sea, I realized that only I could release this shame that threatened to engulf me.

“I should have been there sooner,” I offered as proof of my guilt.

Henry shook his head. He sat up straighter in his chair and looked at me directly, all comfort and care transformed into a laser focus. He wanted me to hear his next words, and his body language was like a neon sign, pointing to this moment.

“Close your eyes and take a deep breath.”

I did as I was told and waited. After a few deep, calming breaths, Henry continued.

“You are here, right now, searching for answers to a question that has no answer.” His voice was soft but insistent. “Regret keeps you locked in the past. Let it go now.”

I nodded and took another deep breath. I could feel the tension leave my body and I smiled at the relief found in the release. A spark of hope became a flame as I breathed in the salty air, held it and then released it in time with the ocean’s pulse.

We sat that way for several minutes. The ocean was soothing, the breeze cooling and I was loosening. All because I trusted Henry and allowed him to open a space for my healing.

Suddenly, I felt another presence near me. My eyes and mouth flew open at the sight of a seagull perched on the railing, about 2 feet from our table. The bird was staring intently at me, while it fluffed its wings and settled more firmly on the wooden perch.

Henry laughed and nodded. “That’s how you know you released something,” he said with a slight tease in his tone.

I glanced at him but kept my attention focused on the bird. It was still staring at me. It was a bit unnerving.

He added slyly, “When a bird comes to visit at just the right moment, you know it means more than it seems.”

This time, I looked at him directly. “You mean…?”

He nodded. “That’s a sign from your mom that she’s O.K. She’s telling you to stop punishing yourself and accept what happened. It was all in divine order.”

As the words fell from his lips and the meaning entered my consciousness, the seagull stretched its wings, preparing to fly. But just before it lifted off, it did something astonishing. It winked…at me!

“Did you see that?” I exclaimed with wonder in my voice. I could almost hear my mother laughing with me. I stood up and raised my arms wide, receiving the gift she had just given me.

The sun warmed my face and arms as I said, “Thank you!”

Henry grinned and joined me in the celebration. His arm hung around my waist as his other arm raised up. Together, we stood in open gratitude.

He turned and smiled into my shining eyes. His next words were simple, yet profound.

“Welcome to another moment of life!”

 

 

 

 

You are Never Alone


lyndsey-marie-438682My life has changed dramatically. Our only daughter is in college, I left my part-time job to work from home, and I now find myself by myself more than at any other time in my life.

Before this stage in my life, being alone was never a problem, mostly because it rarely happened. Between a busy career, raising a daughter, all of her activities (school, sports, etc.) and our family, being alone was usually not an option. Others came first, and I willingly played my part.

But now all of that busyness is over. In these quiet hours, working from home, I face loneliness. I’m afraid that I will discover myself as less than. Now that I can’t hide from myself, I can either jump into another job or see where this path leads.

I choose to stay…(read the rest of this post inside Medium).

(Medium is a great platform for bloggers to get noticed. If you liked this post, please clap. Leave a comment below if you posted an article in Medium and share the link, and I will return the favor).

Fake News


Dear Fake Forgiveness Human:

Fake news has become quite the topic of conversation. It has entered the conversation and tends to stir up strong and passionate feelings.

Did you know that there is also “fake forgiveness”? It’s been around a lot longer than fake news and is just as destructive.

Fake forgiveness is all about you – it circles back on itself. It never releases the hurt or upset; it only ties it up with a big bow so you can pull it out and show your friends.

Real forgiveness is also about you, but it springs from a yearning to learn from the experience, grow and expand into something bigger. It comes from a heartfelt desire to heal as quickly as possible.

Take a moment and look at this chart that shows the differences between fake forgiveness and real forgiveness.

33-Fake vs Real Forgiveness

Consider the times in your life where you thought you forgave the other person, but the hurt and resentment were still there. Can you see now that you were not really forgiving? Tomorrow I will share the secrets that dogs learn at the foot of their mothers.

Tail wagging furiously,

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P.S. Why not check out my book, Drop the Leash: Let Go of the Past and Love in the Present? It makes a great Valentine’s Day gift for the dog lovers in your life.

Everyone Has a Backstory


Dear Back Story Human:

No one knows the other person’s backstory 100%. And most of the time, we never know the details of that person’s perspective or how they perceive the present moment.

Dogs don’t have this problem because we see the best in the person and don’t worry about their past. Humans hang onto their past and don’t see the person, as they are in the present moment.

That is why forgiveness is so important. You never forgive because the other person deserves it. You forgive because it releases you from the past and allows you to be present, right here. When you don’t forgive, you remain anchored to that painful event, and you miss all of the beauty and grandeur of the present moment.

Humans have been called “meaning making machines.” When something happens, you will create a story about that event. A story is the meaning that you assign to a situation, person or event about what it means to you. That story becomes the filter for the next moment.

Dogs love unconditionally, in the here and now. Dogs don’t know forgiveness, because to a dog, there is nothing to forgive. To a human, everything is a call to forgiveness.

Dogs stepped into the light of the campfire all those centuries ago to remind humans of a grander vision of life. We know how to live in bliss, happiness, and joy. Humans have forgotten, but with our help, you can remember and join us in the Heart Dance.

I know

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Love you tons,

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P.S.  If you have never started or been able to practice a daily meditation and journal ritual, I may have the solution. Click over to 21 Day Heart Dancing Challenge and join their email list. You will receive a daily email with a short lesson, a meditation, journaling prompts and intention setting tools. It could be the start of a life-long journey!

Here to Serve


Dear Ego-Based Human:

One of the significant differences between dogs and humans is the mental construct called “Ego.” Humans create their egos, and it is the single, most destructive psychological device that leads the most people away from themselves.

What is Your Ego?

Your ego is the image of you have yourself. It is your social mask, the face that you show to the world. Ego is concerned with the preservation of itself and causes separation and discord. You know when your ego is talking when:

  • You are caught in circling thoughts;
  • Your emotions are the lens through which you interpret and judge the world;
  • Your worth is dependent on events, people or things outside of you; and
  • Your attempt to control or manipulate events, people or things to validate yourself.

Dogs don’t have egos. We know we are love on four legs and we are here to love in every moment. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It is for us; you as a human have to end the war with your ego and reconnect with your soul.

What is Your Soul?

Your soul is the Source of Unconditional Love. It is the bridge between your humanness and your beingness. It never changes, cannot be destroyed and will always be part of who you are.

When you spend time in stillness, silence, meditation or journal writing, you are reconnecting with your soul. When you walk in nature and feel a presence surround you that flows through all living things, you are in touch with your soul. When you listen to your intuition and don’t question its advice, you are aligned with your soul.

The easiest way to tell if you are living from your ego or your soul is to check in with your feelings. Are you feeling constricted, limited, fearful or judgmental? You are listening too much to the seductive voice of your ego. When you only concentrate on what is good for you, it’s your ego.

Your soul work is the exact opposite. Feelings of expansiveness, abundance, love, and light always accompany soul work. Putting the welfare of others before yourself and serving others are beacons of soul work.

Remember that you are love on two legs. See the world from your love perspective, and your life will change forever. When you are love, you freely share your energy with others, serving them instead of your ego. When you share your soul place (the home of love), you open yourself to receive. It’s a never-ending cycle of love energy that you choose in every moment.

And as a last resort, spend time with your dog. He can help you restore your relationship with your soul.

Love is my middle name2

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Love you to the moon and back!

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P.S.  If you have never started or been able to practice a daily meditation and journal ritual, I may have the solution. Click over to 21 Day Heart Dancing Challenge and join their email list. You will receive a daily email with a short lesson, a meditation, journaling prompts and intention setting tools. It could be the start of a life-long journey!

From Head to Heart


Dear Head-Based Human:

When was the last time you spent 10 minutes outside, just enjoying nature’s activity around you? That thing you always carry with you was left inside, and all you had to do was to sit and watch the show. The more you paid attention, the more you noticed the bee buzzing around the flowers, or the caterpillar inching his way across a blade of grass.

Can you remember the last time you allowed yourself to just be, in the moment?

That, my friend, is the difference between dogs and humans. Dogs don’t think about being in the moment, we just are. You tend to think about your past or future so much that there is no present moment in your experience.

Staying in your head 100% of the time is something that humans get very good at, and are even encouraged to develop as a useful skill. The costs of head living are never discussed, only noticed when loneliness, frustration and a sense of worthlessness rise to unacceptable levels.

To be fully embodied, your head and your heart must be used. Each domain has its own language, and are part of a balanced and centered human.

Dogs know this instinctively. Humans forget.

That is when its time to just be in nature. Take several deep breaths and let go of your frustrations, doubt, and shame. You are a marvelous creation of nature; celebrate it!

Then go spend time with your dog. He will open up your heart again.

A shared heart connection

You can become the person your dog knows you are.

Tail wagging,

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P.S.  Why not check out my book, Drop the Leash: Let Go of the Past and Love in the Present? It makes a great Valentine’s Day gift for the dog lovers in your life.