Presence and Peace

Happiness is a Circle of Life

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How do you measure happiness?  By the bowl full.

~ Campbell’s commercial

At the start of this month, I drew one of Jodi Chapman’s Soul Clarity Cards.  Embrace this moment, it read.  This is where life lives.  Feel it.  Honor it.  Love it.

I sat with the card for a bit, pondering its meaning.  Two things have been on my mind lately, and this card’s idea of embracing the moment encouraged me to give my mind reign over them.

One is the idea of happiness.  The other is what I call a living circle of giving and receiving.  Each is best enjoyed in an awakened moment, or as the Campbell’s commercial tells us, by the bowl full.

Put on a happy face.

Is happiness an emotion or a state of mind?  Can you strive for happiness?  Is happiness the result of an event or a circumstance in your life?

Happiness is kind of nebulous, isn’t it?  We say we’re happy, but can we really say more about the experience of happiness?

I have this idea that happiness is a byproduct of a circle perfectly balanced with giving and receiving.

Stick with me on this and tell me what you think.

What do you say to the idea that happiness arrives when you believe and understand that giving and receiving are one, that they emanate from the same heart space?

Do I get a hearty YES?  Or are you thinking I’m full of malarkey?

Try this on for size.

Most of us give faithfully, and often unconditionally.  There are people in your life who can always count on you, right?  They need you and you’re there, no questions asked.

You give to overflowing to work, to your kids’ school, to your church, to your best friend from high school who needs support at 2 a.m.

You are a rock-solid giver.

But how are you at receiving?

Does the phrase, “Oh no, I can’t accept ___________ (fill in the blank)” sound familiar?  What about, “Please, you shouldn’t have”?

Do you realize that when you utter those phrases, you are cutting off the giver’s gift?  That you are silencing her joy in giving it to you?

When we refuse to accept a gift, we’re saying to the Universe, “I am not worthy.”  When in such a state, our ability to give unconditionally lessens and the benefactors of our giving receive less of us. The entire circle of life is impacted when we say, “No, thank you.”

Here’s the truth:  I’m really good at giving but I’m struggling with receiving right now.  Too often I listen to my ego which says I can’t reciprocate because I was laid off from my job and my income has diminished substantially.

About a year ago, I contributed a bunch of money to a situation that benefitted my sweetie and me.  She wasn’t in a position to do the same.

I repeatedly said, “Please, let me do this for us.”

Now she’s saying, “Let me do this for you.”

There’s a sphere of grace here that I’ve not been circling very easily.  I’m learning, though, because receiving is an equal part of the circle.  Giving, by itself, will not make the circle go round.

Give, receive, give and receive.

The mystical journey to happiness and lightness of heart.

Join me in the circle, will you?  You each have so much to give (and receive).  And I know you love happiness!

Photo courtesy of doctor_bob

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Trust the Process

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Sunday was an exciting day for me; two of my friends who are Unity ministers as well as a married couple, debuted at the major church near where I live.

The husband in the duo is the former minister of my old home church in Missouri; he’s also a trusted confidante and dear friend.  I have a huge amount of respect for his wife, although I don’t know her as well (something tells me that’s fixin’ to change).

We had a terrific reunion today, lots of hugs and grins and you-look-greats.  As we chit-chatted a bit before the service, Rob mentioned the title of Aliza’s talk:  Trust the Process.

My insides went mushy, my face contorted and I heard myself groan, “Ewwwww.”

Rob said, “Just wait.  You’ve gonna love this.  It will blow you away.”

I did a mental toe stub.  Okayyyyyyy.

An overused phrase

Trust the process.  Geez, it seems like that’s the default phrase for every self-help guru and masterminding group on stage today, not to mention the mantra-like repetitions of people attending 12-step groups.

I mean no disrespect, but as word strings go, this one has jumped the shark.  I believe it’s lost some of its punch simply because people say it in response to everything.

Had a flat tire?  Trust the process.

Can’t decide which running shoes to buy?  Trust the process.

You’re going to have brain surgery?  Trust the process.

Praying for strength and wisdom, for God to lead you?  Trust the process.

See what I mean?  When someone tells me to trust the process, I have the same regurgitating reaction as when someone shrugs and says, “It is what it is.”  Don’t even get me started on that one.

Because I love Rob and Aliza, I decided to trust the process on trusting the process.

I listened and I heard.

Not surprisingly, Aliza’s church talk had a twist.  She told a story about a guy telling God that he wanted to do something of significance, so God said, fine, go outside and push that rock.

The guy happily pushed the rock for days and weeks and months until, in frustration he cried out, God, I’ve been pushing and pushing and pushing and nothing has happened!  I quit.

The poor guy mis-heard God.  God said push the rock.  The guy heard move the rock.

The process that he failed to trust was realizing that he couldn’t take all his steps at one time.  In other words, the guy needed to get really good at being in the presence of pushing the rock (or any other singular activity) before he could move the rock even one inch.

During Aliza’s talk, I sat there thinking about my most recent life challenge.  I lost my job then decided the time was right to launch a freelance writing and communications consulting business.

The time is right.  But I keep pushing the rock expecting it to move.  Like the man in the story, I want to meld a whole bunch of steps into one giant leap instead of being with one step at a time.

Why?  Because I need to feel secure.  I need to have financial assurance.  I need to blah, blah, blah.

Aliza spoke about putting aside our needs aside and trusting the process of being where we are.  I listened and I heard.

Today, that is enough.  Today, I’m going to trust the process and commune with my rock.

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Just Another (Birth)Day in Paradise

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I’m grateful that I excel at a few things in life because I really suck at body-surfing.

The above photo, taken just outside our resort in Cancun last week, shows some pretty high waves; even the pelicans struggled to fish.  Thankfully, they have more experience in the Caribbean than I do.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal the day after my big crash and burn in these same waters.

A bit bruised . . .

It’s so very early on this Monday morning but the sea calls and since my sweetie upgraded us to a balcony, ocean-view room, where else would I be at 6:25?

Still waiting on the sun’s entrance–she sent her minions to brighten the high clouds while I wait.  Pelicans glide by in ones and twos; hard to say how good the fishing is when the surf is so high.

The waves crash hard, as I did yesterday.  It began innocently enough and then my sweetie left to get an alcohol-free fruity drink.  I became like an unsupervised child who wonders what will happen if she wades into the water.

First the toes go in and the next thing I know I’m slamming around with waves slapping the back of my head.

The rationale was good, as preconceived, ill-fated notions go, but I didn’t think it through.

History told me that if I waded out far enough, the roughness would abate.  So I tried.  I’m lucky the wave breaks didn’t damage my hearing and pop out my eye balls.

I didn’t get it.  Others were jumping and diving with impunity.  I was a flailing great white shark.

Finally, blessedly, God tossed me on my a**, a little too hard for my taste but at least He threw to the left and not dead center, otherwise we might have a bigger problem this morning.

My a** would still be planted in the sand.  So I’m grateful.

But far from broken

This trip celebrated my 52nd birthday; each year feels like a rebirth of sorts.  I believe a renewal of birth necessitates a new attitude and belief about oneself, a sense of humble new beginnings.  The rest of the day in which I wrote the words above was spent in deep contemplation while we walked the beach in our roles of sun worshippers.

My rebirth may not be as wide and vast as the captivating ocean, but in proportion to my smaller stature, it feels pretty huge.

The rest of the trip held more delights:  a day trip to Isla Mujeres–the Isle of Women; snorkeling with barracudas and a candle-light birthday dinner complete with classy singing waiters delivering tiramisu, and on our last morning, finally, a real swim in the Caribbean.

You know the vacation is good when you return home and resume life with no feeling of anxiety or getting-back-to-work-blues.  We talked about that very thing on our flight home.

When you enjoy every day–live it to its fullest–you don’t mind when a vacation ends.  My birthday, as terrific as it was, didn’t feel any better or worse than any of our other days at the beach.  Consequently, there was no birthday or vacation hangover.

Blessed be.  It’s so good to be me, even at 52.


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Birthday Greetings From the Beach

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When you read this, my dear friends, my sweetie and I will be celebrating my birthday on the beach in Mexico.  The Birthday Girl sends you sunny white-sand and turquoise water greetings!

Two other things I’d like to share with  you today:  First, it feels a little crazy to fly to Cancun so recently after my job lay-off.  Although I’m having a blast developing my freelance communications business, the money isn’t exactly flowing on streets of gold . . . yet.

Since the business is brand new and ripe with opportunities, I’ve decided to have fun growing it.  I’m also trying an experiment:  For the first time in my life, I’m looking at this new chapter like it’s a Fun and Fabulous Game.

Why not?  Mom always said I could do anything I wanted with my life, so why not create this portion without worry and fret, free from doom and gloom and an “oh-my-god-what-if-this-tragedy-happens” mindset?

We’re going to play the penultimate game of Act As If.  Have you ever played the game?  You’re welcome to join me if you like!

The second birthday share

Since my mom passed away nearly three years ago, springtime and my birthday are kind of bittersweet.  Mom’s birthday is exactly four weeks after mine and this year, Mother’s Day is two days before her birthday.

I vividly recall April 16, 2010, the last year of her life, when we spoke.  I was in Key West and read aloud the birthday card she and Dad sent while we talked on the phone.  I’m sure she said to me what she said every year, that I was her beautiful little girl.

Mom died two months after that birthday greeting.

In honor of the woman who gave me this Fun and Fabulous Gift of Life, I’d like to share with you a poem that my sweetie sent me a few days after Mom’s death.  It was originally published on this blog in late July 2010.

Please enjoy. I’m taking the rest of the week off and will see you back here next Monday.

Your Mother is Always With You, author unknown

Your mother is always with you…

She’s the whisper of the leaves
as you walk down the street.

She’s the smell of bleach in
your freshly laundered socks.

She’s the cool hand on your
brow when you’re not well.

Your mother lives inside
your laughter. She’s crystallized
in every tear drop…

She’s the place you came from,
your first home. She’s the map you
follow with every step that you take.
She’s your first love and your first heart
break….and nothing on earth can separate you.
Not time, Not space…
Not even death….
will ever separate you
from your mother….
You carry her inside of you….
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God is Everything, Even Goat Poop

 God is Everything, Even Goat Poop

“We had to fearlessly face the proposition that god is either everything or else He is nothing.  God either is or he isn’t.  What was our choice to be?” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous

At my regular Monday night 12-step meeting, the topic was every-day gratitude.

The meeting leader began by asking everyone to consider the good in their lives.  She said that she (and we all related!) can have a great day filled with positive, enjoyable experiences, but if there’s one thing that is the least bit-negative, she obsesses on that thing.

That one thing–whether it’s a phone call, an exchange at the grocery store or, heaven forbid, goat poop in the living room (true story, see my friend Julie Langdon Barrett’s post)–spins a sweet day 180-degrees until it becomes sour.

What do you do when a goat poops on your day?

Do you: A)  Share an evening beverage with your sweetie while relaxing and sharing the joyous moments of your day, or, B) When you lay eyes on your sweetie, exclaim, “The friggin’ goat pooped in the middle of the floor!”

That was certainly me a few days ago.  Metaphorically, I had a huge pile of goat poop in my living room.

My recent trip to Kansas City was peaceful and affirming in every way but one.  Several gatherings of old friends, a much-needed massage from Missouri hands I miss in Texas, a 12-step meeting at my old home group, my beautiful niece’s wedding were rejuvenating for me.  Then there was the goat poop thing.

It took days to get the goat poop swept from my mind.

The topic of gratitude

So back to my recent Monday night 12-step meeting.  People shared about expressing gratitude for the good in their lives and really feeling it moment-by-moment.

Someone mentioned focusing on the assets of his day, rather than the defects.  He spoke about learning from the defects but realizing that it’s the assets that buoy him so that he knows his day is good.

Another person in last week’s Kansas City meeting said, “I take care of the possibles and let God take care of the impossibles.”

I particularly like that last reminder because it brings me back to my center, back to God.

God (or whatever you choose to call your Higher Power), is everything or nothing.

I prefer choosing “everything,” don’t you?  Everything is everything, even goat-poop things.

Who knows why goat poop happens (still being metaphorical!)?  You don’t have to know why; but in order to live peacefully, you do need to accept that do-do has no power over you-you!

And that is something to be grateful for every day.

Photo courtesy of taliesen.

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