Presence and Peace

Birthday Greetings From the Beach

IMG 0687 1024x767 Birthday Greetings From the Beach

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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The Great Escape

file0001949396999 1024x680 The Great Escape

When I was a kid, Bewitched was a television show about a suburban wife and mom who was normal in every respect except one.  She could twitch her nose back and forth and alter time, space or circumstances.

She also spent a lot of time undoing the spells her mother cast on her husband, Darren.

I loved the show for two reasons.  The main character had a cool name–Samantha–and she could wiggle her nose and poof! a problem was quickly solved or surroundings were swiftly adjusted to protect other characters.

Sometimes all I want is for someone to use their powers to set me free from my problems or my surroundings.

You alone hold the key

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical situation.  You spend several days with family or old friends; people you don’t see often since you moved away from your old stomping grounds.

Once back home, you reflect back and think that mostly, you had a great time, but there were several situations that didn’t feel right.  Maybe someone said something hurtful or you were in awkward circumstances.  Maybe you were slighted or ignored.

You may have, in frustration, said or did something that isn’t usually part of your demeanor and you’re feeling a little guilty.

I’m betting that we all have times when our present is preoccupied with moments described above.  I know I’ve asked myself why certain scenes continue to replay in my head.  Why do I feel so messed up in my head?

Why do I feel this way–after the fact–and why do I feel so imprisoned by my feelings?

Sometimes, after a not-so-great situation (we’re still playing hypothetical what-if’s) you spend days worrying, fretting, feeling guilty.

Here’s the thing:  No one but you holds you prisoner in the cell of you mental obsessions.  You alone hold the key.

Confession time

Here’s me ‘fessin’ up.  The scenario described above isn’t completely hypothetical.  You probably already guessed that!  I just returned from several days of circumstances that found me honestly struggling.  I spent a good deal of the time compulsively obsessing about one aspect of the circumstances.

There wasn’t anything I could do about it then, nor is there anything I can do about it now.  Yet, the obsessing continues.  I could have, should have, would have or ought to have . . . (My former therapist once told me I should erase all “o-u” words from my vocabulary.).

So how do you release yourself from obsessive mental imprisonment?  By the way, “to obsess” means to haunt or excessively occupy the mind.

First, admit that you did the best you could and there is no changing what occurred in the past.  Solution:  Let it go!

Second, realize that your obsession is probably the result of allowing someone else’s needs to come before yours.  Solution:  Do your best for YOU!

Third, accept what you cannot change.  Solution:  Practice the Great Escape!

As cheesy as it sounds, you can escape the grip of your obsessive mind just by wiggling your nose back and forth.  Go ahead and try it.  At a minimum, you’ll chuckle at your own silliness and in that moment, you’ll break the obsession’s spell and become free to move about the universe.

Be careful, though.  Your actions might bewitch others.

Photo courtesy of genieslot.

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Mindfulness in Schools: The Time is Now

file641244237038 1024x685 Mindfulness in Schools:  The Time is Now

I clicked a link on Twitter or Facebook the other day (can’t remember which) and was taken to a Huffington Post article about mindfulness programs in schools, even for kids as young as five.

Right on!  Generations of students have fussed and fidgeted through school, either bored or over-stimulated.  Frankly, you couldn’t pay me enough money to be a teenage student today–WAY too much stress, which is the point of developing mindfulness programs.

While the article focused on teen studies in Belgium and the UK, a mental health survey in the U.S. reportedly found that 10 percent of 13- to 18-year-olds suffer with anxiety disorder.

We have to do something!

Our constantly on, 24/7 culture isn’t all that great for adults, but imagine the pressure on young minds to keep up.  Many of you don’t have to imagine–you live it with your kids.

You can do the research . . . I’m only offering ideas and kicking thoughts around . . . but why would educators and school districts not be open to offering yoga classes, breathing workshops or mindfulness training?

A non-profit organization in California called Mindful Schools teaches adults how to integrate mindfulness into school curriculum.  The group just released results of a 780-child survey in Oakland in which the control group was given only four hours of mindfulness training over a six-week period.

With that little amount of training, the results seem staggering to me.  Behavioral improvements like paying attention went from three percent to 10 percent and showing care for others from three percent to nine percent.

Imagine if the time frame were longer or if parents/caregivers became involved.

Then there’s the big picture

What if, over time and after incorporating mindfulness training into schools, incidences of  bullying and violence went down?  What if sitting in silent, guided meditation caused drug usage to drop and attendance rates to rise?

Maybe I’m pie-in-the-sky here, but WHAT IF?

I understand there are dictums in place and that we can’t have a bunch of rogue teachers professing the attributes of practicing mindfulness.

Or can we?

What do you think?  I’m interested in the conversation around this issue.  Let’s hear from some teachers and parents.  Is this a crazy new-age idea or an idea whose time has come?

A principle in the UK said that “mindfulness is a discipline that can help us tap into our students’ potential.”

I say what are we waiting for?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo courtesy of kakisky.

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The Ultimate Get Rich Quick Scheme

file000263365523 1024x764 The Ultimate Get Rich Quick Scheme

I’ve done it!

After years of old-fashioned hard work to make a buck while keeping my eyes peeled for an easy way to score thousands of dollars quickly, I’ve finally landed on a guaranteed-to-work plan to get rich.

Want to hear about it?

First, some background

I grew up with a work-hard-for-your-money ethic.  I believed the bull poop that anything worth having required hard work.  Even if your rear end was falling off, you put in your time, gave it your all and grabbed the paycheck every couple of weeks.

My parents were far from poor but family summer trips were definitely not extravagant.  Our vacations were usually camping trips to Colorado or California or Texas in a little pop-up borrowed from Grandpa.  We made some good memories.

Helping me pay for a college education was a stretch, but my folks were willing.  I screwed up though, and after nearly flunking my first semester (ah, budding alcoholism, but that’s another story!) they invited me to get a job and pay my own way.  I finished college with loan debt, a degree I couldn’t believe I had and dreams of making tons of money as an award-winning journalist.

Flash forward 30 years.  Lots of life circumstances behind me but finally, finally, the financial circumstances were looking good.

Not to brag, but I was probably making an annual salary that was nearly double what my father ever made in a year.   As Bill Wilson wrote in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, “I have arrived.”

Then one day in the recent past, the job was gone.  No fault of my own; the company just decided to lay me off.

Plus, the great state of Texas declined to pay unemployment into my coffers (which you would think from the words written two paragraphs before, are considerable–they’re not).

Now, the details

The knowledge about this get-rich-quick scheme first came to me a few days after the letter from the unemployment office arrived.  Bits and pieces of information then began to trickle in from additional sources.

Are you sitting down?  This is big!  What I’m about to share with you will change your life in addition to making you incredibly rich.

You ready?

First, here’s the information that my friend Megan provided while I was whining about the unemployment.

Megan said, “Who cares about the unemployment?  God is your employer.”

On that same day, the Daily Word spoke loudly to me, “God is my prosperity.”

The next day, I read Alan Cohen’s daily meditation in A Deep Breath of Life.  He referenced Proverbs 8:18, which reads, “Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and prosperity.”

Is this not the ultimate get rich quick scheme?

OMG!  If you’re not sighing deep relief right now, you should be!  You can stop obsessing about your financial future!

For the most part, I have.  Within about 36 hours, I really heard the truth in the above statements.

The energy of money ebbs and flows like every other form of energy in our lives.  Opportunities sometimes knock on my door and sometimes they skip my house and go to yours.

But the omniscient GUS (God, Universe, Spirit–my personal nickname) is unchanging.  Again, the Daily Word reads, “Knowing God as infinite source is the key to abundance consciousness.”

There you have it, the perfect plan for prosperity and riches.  If you’re having some doubts, that’s okay, but do yourself a favor and don’t discount the scheme entirely.

Maybe you could start with practicing Wayne Dyer’s words, “You’ll see it when you believe it.”

B in peace!

Photo courtesy of clarita

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