Presence and Peace

Invictus: Master Your Fate, Captain Your Soul

file000178708081 1024x768 Invictus:  Master Your Fate, Captain Your Soul

Out of the night that covers me, black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud.  Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade.  And yet the menace of the years finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll.  I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

I referenced the above poem about 18 months ago, about how I had to memorize it in my 8th grade English class.

I can’t remember what major life challenge was happening at the time; there have been several in the last three years, but it must have been big for me to draw my heavy gun, Invictus.

The poem has crossed my mind several times in the weeks since my job lay-off.  Today it takes on special meaning as friends encourage me to follow my bliss.

The BridgeMaker blog post

About the time I first wrote about how Invictus impacts my life, my friend Alex Blackwell wrote a post on his blog, The BridgeMaker, called “Don’t Rent Your Life, Own It.”

Alex wrote about his fervent belief in Life Ownership Contracts.  He views his contract as a way to embrace his power, to underscore how he is responsible for making his life what it is and what he wants it to be.

A Life Ownership Contract eliminates your victim status, so if you enjoy being a victim, stop reading now.

However, if you want to jump on the magic carpet ride of life, read on.

As I wrote back then, life doesn’t happen to you.  Here’s the rest of what I wrote (I’ve changed the pronouns from 1st to second-person):

When you take 100% responsibility for every aspect of your life–you find freedom.  You no longer blame others for the perceived wrongs done to youYou quit judging others’ actions because you see what they do as the choices they get to make.  If you have a run of what could be seen as crappy circumstances, you sit back and ask yourself whether a belief, thought or feeling you’re holding is attracting the current situation and if not, what can you learn and then pass on to someone else?

Write your Life Ownership Contract

Happily, the LOC I wrote in 2011 is still good.  I’m renewing it today.  I invite you to create your own, or if you did 18 months ago, GREAT!  Join me in reviewing and renewing it.  Please share it if you choose.  Here’s mine:

  1. I agree to remember the Trinity:  God, myself, others.
  2. I agree to respond rather than react.
  3. I agree to allow transparency when it is appropriate.
  4. I agree to treat people and animals with respect and dignity.
  5. I agree to honor my entire self–from the inside out.
  6. I agree to not take myself too seriously and to laugh often.
  7. I agree to walk lightly and appreciate my steps.
  8. I agree to be present to the people, places and circumstances before me.
  9. I agree to always believe in miracles and to know that size doesn’t matter.
  10. I agree to put love ahead of everything else.
  11. I agree to say what I mean and mean what I say and to use words judiciously.
  12. I agree to remember that others’ thoughts, attitudes and opinions are none of my business and to remember to accept responsibility for my own.

Photo courtesy of hotblack

button print gry20 Invictus:  Master Your Fate, Captain Your Soul
pinit fg en rect gray 20 Invictus:  Master Your Fate, Captain Your Soul

5 Benefits of Checking Your Pooch’s P-Mail

IMG 0250 1024x764 5 Benefits of Checking Your Poochs P Mail

My sweetie and I are just back from  a three-day, birthday getaway to New Orleans.  Cafe Du Monde, The French Quarter, The Garden District, and did I mention Cafe Du Monde?

We both needed the escape since the stress level in our house is a bit on the high side.  I’ve been nose-to-the-grindstone lately as I plan, plot and prepare to launch my new career.

Over the weekend, after a couple of hours of brainstorming, I thought, “I should get out of here for a while.  My brain waves are frying and I need a diversion.  Maybe I’ll walk the dog.”

Usually, when I have such a thought, the next thought loops right back to whatever project I’m involved with and the poor dog goes unwalked.  It’s easy to do one more thing, check one more site or look at one more potential profile.

But not this time.

This time I listened to my intuition.

Strap on the harness, snap on the leash

Since moving into a townhouse with a fenced yard, Jazzy’s formal walks screeched to a halt.  Who wants to deal with poop bags when you can open the door?

Jazzy was nearly apoplectic by the time I got her ready.  We made it to the light pole at the end of the driveway before she stopped for her first P-mail check.

A dog’s sense of smell is her most powerful; did you know as a canine reaches the final stages of her life, her smeller is the last sense to leave her?

I read somewhere that dogs communicate with each other by scent and can tell who has stopped where on any given route.  So if you’re walking a regular path in a neighborhood or park, the more your dog hikes his leg or squats her hiney, the more social she is!  She’s like the gossip queen of the pooch patrol!

Okay, so I made up the last part.  I have no idea about the socialization of smelling.

But I do know that Jazzy is a frequent stopper.  So we figure she’s either a nosey little hound who has to be in everybody’s business or she’s a marketing whiz (pun intended!) who wants everyone to know her business!

Learning the benefits of P-mail

As your dog’s human, you can’t know the canine mode of communication, be it social or otherwise.  But you can learn to put your pup’s behavior to good use.

On our weekend jaunt, I thought of five benefits.  There is no-doubt many more.

P-mail benefit #1:  You get to notice the season’s first flowers.  I saw a daffodil in full bloom–on February 17th!

P-mail benefit #2:  Since a dog seldom steps in another’s leave-behinds, you get alerted where not to step as well, thereby saving the effort of taking a stick to the crevices in the bottom of your sneakers.

P-mail benefit #3:  Each time your dog stops to check-in, you can do a check-in of your own by taking a deep breath as you turn your face to the sun.

P-mail benefit #4:  There’s lots of gratitude in each of you being able to walk any distance at all.

P-mail benefit #5:  Bonding time.  Can you even imagine how much more your dog adores you for stopping your precious work and taking her out on an adventure?  And vice-versa, of course.

Most of us are addicted to checking our own P-mail (that’s people-mail!) so be a pal and let your pooch out for some social time.  You, my human friend, will reap the rewards.  You can even have your own Scooby-snack afterwards!

button print gry20 5 Benefits of Checking Your Poochs P Mail
pinit fg en rect gray 20 5 Benefits of Checking Your Poochs P Mail

Return to Love Again and Again

file000441924608 1024x708 Return to Love Again and Again

Happy Love Day!

More than two decades ago, I began a one-day-at-a-time journey that I thought was about turning my back on bottles of whiskey, rum and amber brew.

Little did I know that the by-product of not drinking for 24-hour stretches would be the gift of learning how to love.

One year after I got sober, I purchased a book called A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson.  That was in May of 1992.  By the time I met Marianne at one of her early speaking gigs in November of 1994, I was absolutely smitten with the love bug.

Returning to love

Marianne’s book is the #2 book on my shelf that draws my attention when I’m suffering the slings and arrows of an unloving life (the first one being the book called  Alcoholics Anonymous–many of you are familiar with that one!).  A Return to Love covers love in every area of life and offers instructions about how to infuse love into work, relationships, and ultimately your own heart.

Marianne writes, “Love is what we were born with.  Fear is what we learned here.  The spiritual journey is the relinquishment, or unlearning, of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.”

That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

A love gift for you

On this day that celebrates love here in the United States, my gift to you is several key passages from A Return to Love.  I hope they bring you peace.  I pray they ease any struggles you’re having.

Please sit with these words and let them sink deep into your heart.  I’ll be holding them in my heart today too.

From my heart to yours, may your day be filled with love and light.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

To surrender to God means to let go and just love.  By affirming that love is our priority in a situation, we actualize the power of God.  This is not metaphor; it’s fact.  We literally use our minds to co-create with Him.  Through a mental decision–a conscious recognition of love’s importance and our willingness to experience it–we “call on a higher power.”

Love casts out fear the way light casts out darkness.  The shift from fear to love is a miracle.

People deserve our love because of what God created them to be.

Growth is not always about getting what we think we want.  Always, it’s about becoming the men and women we have the potential to be.  Loving, pure, honest, clear.

Finally, Marianne ends A Return to Love with this:  “Dear God, I give this day to you, the fruit of my labor and the desires of my heart.  In your hands I place all questions, on your shoulders I place all burdens.  I pray for my brothers and for myself.  May we return to love.  May our minds be healed.  May we all be blessed.  May we find our way home, from the pain to peace, from fear to love, from hell to Heaven.

To find out more about Marianne Williamson’s work, please visit her website here.

Photo courtesy of clarita.

button print gry20 Return to Love Again and Again
pinit fg en rect gray 20 Return to Love Again and Again

How to Stay in Love and Out of Hell

IMG 0821 1024x768 How to Stay in Love and Out of Hell

We’ve entered the year’s most celebrated week of love, at least in the United States.

If you don’t know that Valentine’s Day is this Thursday, you’ve been living without electricity in a remote cabin since January 2.   That’s the date when the Christmas and New Year’s TV commercials transitioned to jewelry store ads.

I’m not a huge Valentine’s Day fan.  I prefer to celebrate love every day of the year and am opposed to mandatory gift-buying as a means of “showing” love.

However, love is in the air–manufactured or actual–and I’ll take it.  In fact, love pushes to the forefront of mind every time I enter my studio to write.  Hearts are everywhere, along with photos of people I adore and favorite toys and stuffed animals.  I am a child at heart.

I like to make sure that love is all around me because love is my mission and my singleness of purpose.  Love keeps me out of hell.

Hell, you say?

Think about it.  How often do you find yourself in rotten circumstances caused by your unlovingness?  Maybe you involve others but how about all the times you cast yourself into hell with your self talk and self thoughts?

Every time you feel guilty . . .

Every time you judge . . .

Every time you star as the victim in a story you’ve embellished . . .

Every time you undermine your feelings . . .

Every time you lie, cheat or steal (rationales don’t matter) . . .

Every time you participate in character assassinate (deserved or otherwise) . . .

Not much love in any of these situations, is there?  Plus, when you’re active in these scenes, and you sit around wondering about why you’re miserable, don’t you also question if things are ever going to change?

Ah, the old definition of insanity:  Doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results.

Insanity is definitely hell.

Don’t you want out of hell?

I must warn you that getting out of hell and into love takes dedicated work and practice.

Here’s how you start:

1.  Become willing to acknowledge that the responsibility rests on your shoulders.  Please know that I’m not insensitive to issues beyond your control that placed you where you are, especially if you’re a victim of a crime.  However, even in those circumstances, you can take responsibility for how you view yourself and how you choose to treat others.

2.  Understand that you can learn the difference between what you can change and what you can’t.   Sometimes simply knowing that difference is a critical game-changer.

3.  Stop your perpetual motion.  I’ve learned–the hard way, most times–that stepping away from constant action gives me the opportunity for peaceful contemplation.  I feed my dark side less and less each time I choose to grow my peace.

And the big one . . .

Accept your dark side.

We all have one.  We’re human, after all.  Trust me, if you ignore the darkness in you, or worse, pretend it doesn’t exist, you’ll stay firmly rooted in hell.

If you believe that you are a holy child of God (or any other name you choose), you can co-exist with the darkness in you.

Didn’t the lion and the lamb lie down together?

The trick is to trust that your holiness is steadfast, even when you don’t feel like it is.

Rising from hell and into love takes constant practice.  No one claims that it’s easy.

If you don’t already know this, you are worth the effort.  We all are.

Happy Love Week.

 

 

button print gry20 How to Stay in Love and Out of Hell
pinit fg en rect gray 20 How to Stay in Love and Out of Hell

Super Goal Monday!

file2731267334528 1024x793 Super Goal Monday!

For those feeling glum because Super Bowl Sunday in the U.S. is history, take heart, because TODAY begins the countdown to next year’s Super Bowl XLVIII!

Just kidding, at least about the 2014 Super Bowl.

I’m serious, though, about throwing some positive energy into today, the day after the Super Bowl.

You may be one of the legions of folks suffering a let-down from yesterday’s party atmosphere.  Maybe your team lost (Sorry!) or maybe you over-imbibed (Been there!).   Maybe you will genuinely miss the week-to-week combat that marks the professional football season.

Super Goal Monday!

Here’s my solution:  Get serious about how you want to shape the rest of 2013.

The first month of the year is behind us.  The after-the-holidays, back-to-work, throw-away-the-failed-New-Year’s-resolutions-list is, quite thankfully, also behind us.

Now what?

What if we begin today to plan the rest of the year?  I’m excited (and also unemployed, so I may have more skin in this game than most), so much so that I’m calling today my Super Goal Monday.

The first thing I did to prepare for game day was to draw a Soul Clarity card from Jodi Chapman’s enlightening deck. Click the link to check out Jodi’s work.

My card read:

“Ask for help.  We all want to support you.  But first, you have to be brave enough to ask.”

Cool!  There’s a lot of sense in beginning to plan by asking for help.  But for what should you ask?

When I don’t know where to begin, I go back to my elementary journalism training about interviewing–the 5 W’s and the H questions.  In this case, the questions could flow like this:

  • What do I want to know?
  • Who can tell me what I want to know?
  • Where do I need to look to find the information I need?
  • When do I need my answers?
  • Why are my questions necessary?
  • How am I going to figure all this out?

Be open to change

Now that you’ve asked the questions–which takes bravery, according to the Soul Clarity card–you must be open to the change that comes from asking the questions.

The second tool I used to prepare for Super Goal Monday was in Alan Cohen’s writings.

“Many of us have lived for a long time in a world much smaller than the one that is available to us.  We tread the familiar path, settle into routine relationships, and find security in the known.  But to settle on what has been is to settle on what could be.  Imagine that there is an entire unexplored world available to you if you were to reach even a little bit beyond the familiar.  If you open your consciousness, the universe will rush in to show you what is truly there.”

I like that, don’t you?  Be willing to step into the unfamiliar?  Sure, it might be a bit scary, but how can you have the exciting changes in your life without going through a tense and stressful lead-in?

Take action

The final tool to consider for Super Goal Monday is to take action.

Theories and plans are like brand new athletic shoes.  All they can do is sit on the shelf and look good until they’re laced up and road-tested.

For me, it’s super easy to stay focused on the thinking instead of proceeding to doing.  Footsteps–action steps–are the only thing that really makes the shoes feel good.

Ask for help.  Be open to change.  Take action.

That’s my plan for Super Goal Monday.  What’s yours?

Photo courtesy of kakisky

button print gry20 Super Goal Monday!
pinit fg en rect gray 20 Super Goal Monday!