What Can a Grasshopper Teach You About Life?


Moving through a milestone birthday sparks introspection, analysis and hopefully, forgiveness of yourself and others. The stories you created about past events and the people involved shaped your idea of self. These are the stories through which you filter reality.

When you step back and look at these shaping stories from a different perspective, you suddenly realize that they are no longer true. You have grown past the limiting stories from your childhood or young adulthood, and you didn’t even realize it!

That is the wonder of a milestone birthday. You assess the past to curate the present to create a different future.

What About the Grasshopper?

tobias-knauer-739430-unsplashYou may be wondering when I am going to explain the title of this article. Stay with me and it will become crystal clear.

One way I continue to experience the growth of my self is to read inspirational stories, books or poems in the morning. A poem by Mary Oliver that landed in my inbox this morning is what prompted me to write this post:Grasshopper

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

What a great question to ask at any age, but especially when moving through a milestone birthday!  My answer: to stay awake and aware of the wonder and majesty of everything around me, to allow God’s love to flow through me into the world, and to grab hold of inspired action and see where it takes me.

What’s your answer to that question??? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance.

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!”

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!


Dear Amazing Human:

We are now on Day 7 of this 14 Days of Doggie Love – half-way through. Of course, if you have made it this far, you must either have a close relationship with your dog or remember a time when that was true.

Allow me to share from my book, Drop the Leash:

Dogs live in the space of gratitude and love. It’s who we are. Humans can also live in the same space, but you complicate your life by telling stories about your experience, instead of being the experience. It is precisely that ability to assign meaning to events, people and relationships that humans have to forgive before they can live in gratitude and love.

When you forgive your past, you see your present moment more clearly.

Dogs live in a cycle of love and don’t need to forgive. Humans forget to live inside this cycle. Instead, they think, speak and act from their egos, not their hearts. Ego-speak also creates separation. Love-speak always creates unity.

The love cycle looks like this. Stay in love, and it will return to you multiplied.  When you forget, go spend time with your dog 😊.

In these days leading up to your big Heart day, I asked some friends of mine to help me remind you that you came from love, you are love, and you are seen.

I am living in the love cycle.

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Love you lots,

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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.

What is a Dog’s Purpose?


Dogs are unconditional  love. Anyone who has experienced a strong relationship with dogs recognizes that truth. They are unconditional love.

On January 27, 2017, the beloved novel, A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron will hit the big screens. But a controversy has marred the event and an online petition calls for the filmmakers to donate proceeds to animal welfare organizations.

What does all of that mean for dog lovers who can’t wait to see the movie?

Dennis Quaid, the two-legged star of the movie, said that he “never saw any abuse of any animal. If there had been, I would have walked.”

Watch Quaid’s interview with ET.  Or watch Ellen Degeneres interview Quaid and then make a passionate plea for people to support the movie.

Please don’t believe everything you see in your Facebook feed. Decide for yourself if the controversy is enough for you to not watch a great family movie that tells the truth about dogs.

Dogs are unconditional love. Perhaps more people should model themselves after dogs. kiss-meIt’s just another step in the Heart Dance <3.

Learning to Forgive


Forgiveness is one of those words that has been hijacked by well-meaning parents, teachers and even religions. It is really a simple concept, but we may have forgotten that.

To forgive means that you would have said something differently, taken another course of action or allowed the other person’s view to be the guide.

Please join me as I talk about forgiveness, dogs and how to step into your abundance.

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It’s just another step in the Heart Dance <3.