Spirituality

A Late-Night Call From GUS

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Cruz Bay off St. John Island slept while I watched the single light in the harbor. It blinked and I tried to catch it’s rhythm, get in its cadence.

It was the middle of the third night of our Virgin Islands vacation and my spirit struggled to transition from my hectic mainland life to our annual island life.

I sat outside, listened to the cocks crowing and wrestled with my unsettledness. Instinctively I knew that I needed these few hours in the dark with only God and the harbor light as company.

Here’s what God/GUS had to say:

Soften your edges, babe. You’re a little too sharp, a little too jagged.

That’s it, just breath as the gentle breeze sweeps across your face. You are here. Just be. Your job, your only job, is to enjoy.

Be in joy.

Listen. Here the distant waves. Let them soften you. There is nothing wrong, love. You just haven’t arrived with your spirit intact.

You are fixable. In fact, let’s say you are fixed. Right now. Just decide it is so.

Can you do that and be pleased with your decision?

There is no happy. There is no sad. Yes, there is morning and night, high tide and low. Those things are fixed. carved into eternal being-ness.

Then there is the finite you. Trying to soften, be more gentle with you. 

Let go. Release anything and all things that block you and keep you from knowing your worth and your beauty. 

Follow your true north. It is here, right where you are–in you, not out of you. 

Soften. Be. Know that you are perfect in my eyes so let go of those error thoughts. They have no place here where you are.

Feel mercy, feel grace. Sit with these things. They are my gifts to you. Let them guide you back to me. 

There are times when the only thing that soothes middle-of-the-night angst is a good, old-fashioned talk with God-Universe-Spirit. GUS tends to ring my bell in that 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. window that closes one day and opens the next.

You know what I’m talking about, right? For me, that mystical wake-up means there is no sleep until I heed the call. Many years of practice leads me to my journal, as it did a couple of weeks ago in the USVI.

I likened my call to write to a drunken headache that nothing but throwing up will relieve. Yes, it’s a gross comparison, but you get the picture.

And so I vomited on the pages, scribbling in the dark, knowing the words would hardly be legible in the morning light.

And yet, I got the message. We get the message when we unplug from the silliness of daily living and plug into the wisdom of the one who grounds us.

Sometimes the force to listen is strong. Forget about hearing. Just listen. If you’ve ever experienced a pre-dawn call from your higher power, you understand the difference.

 

 

Les Brown, Master Motivator, Is The One

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Not many people know that I worked for The Secret’s Bob Proctor years ago when he owned a small company in Kansas City called Life Success Institute. Yep, I wrote promotional copy for his bestselling book, You Were Born Rich.

Back then I was familiar with the work of Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, John Assaraf, Jack Canfield, Joe Vitale and Michael Bernard Beckwith. They all had one common message spoken with different words and energy. I interpreted and internalized the message this way:

If you can visualize your dream and believe with pure conviction that the dream is coming to you, there is nothing that can stop it from arriving. 

Twenty years ago, while learning from guys like Jeff Smith and Jim Bunch who would go on to lead motivational companies and coach thousands of CEOs before it was cool to be a coach, there was one name I didn’t know: Les Brown.

Eventually I learned that Mr. Brown is considered by many to be the #1 motivational speaker in the world.

And we saw him speak this past Saturday night right here in Frisco, Tex. at Elevate Life Church.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so moved, both during the time we shared soaking up his wisdom and in the days to come as I re-examine my hopes and dreams and decide how to take action toward them.

Here’s a bit of what Mr. Brown shared, none of which is really new, but I heard the words in a new way:

Design a life rather than accept the life you’ve been given.

We have to train our minds to serve us.

Someone’s opinion of you doesn’t have to become your reality.

Leap–and grow your wings on your way down.

If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.

If you do what is easy, your life will be hard.

You will fail your way to success.

Ask for help–and don’t stop until you get it.

There’s a difference between delivering a message and being a message.

Live full. Die empty.

The future belongs to those who prepare for it.

It’s not over until you win.

There’s no way I can capture the energy with which Mr. Brown delivered his message. I can tell you he was real and sincere and captivating. I sat, spellbound, tears leaking from my eyes as he described being raised by an adopted mom after he and his twin brother were delivered in an abandoned building in Miami.

His young school years were grueling as he was tagged as a stupid kid, held back in two different grade years.

Les Brown said there is one of two words imprinted in our hearts somewhere between the ages of zero and five years. That word is either Yes or No.

His word was Yes and, as an adult, he burned with passion to speak up, to speak out, to change lives and to encourage others to do the same.

Les Brown leads with love of family and his God. His message of hope, determination and positivity resonated. He left us with this culminating thought:

You’ve got to be hungry. He will never forsake you or leave you but  . . . you must refuse to be denied.

And so it is.

Photo courtesy of BryanHanson

Easter Monday Reflections

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Let me say from the git-go that I’ve never considered myself a religious person, except perhaps in college during a deeply philosophical conversation and far too much liquor. If I ever acted religious, it was for show.

Not being religious gave me a heady, intellectual persona, or so I thought (Alcohol was probably talking again.). With recovery, not only did the alcohol go away, so did the idea that I had to find a religious type.

Instead, I took up with spirituality. People in recovery told me I could live with a higher power–a God of my understanding–and I was good with that.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my Fat Tuesday impulsive decision to write daily essays during Lent based on prompts from Rev. Phil Ressler’s book, 40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond: A 40 Day Devotion Series for the Season of Lent. I set the intention of getting more God in my life.

You see, I was kind of coasting during the early part of this year. Feeling kind of blah for no real reason. You know the story–everything is fine but nothing is really good. I needed a shake-up and now that I’m on the backside of 40 days of publishing 350-500 words each day, I’m feeling pretty darn good.

I wish I could fully express what writing those 40 essays did for me. (To read the series, go to my Facebook Notes page.) It feels like a pretty cool accomplishment and I’m grateful for the reader interaction.

The best part about the practice of letting go of 40 different things–and writing about it–was my heart opened as it hasn’t in a long, long time.

My open heart led me to say yes when my sweetie asked if I wanted to go to a church service on Saturday night. A friend and colleague of hers asked if we would be her guest at the Saturday evening Easter service at Elevate Life Church here in Frisco, Tx.

This is my Year of Yes, so I had to go. My mind was open but I was not prepared for the swell of emotions that washed over me during the evening. From the time we stepped out of the car in the cathedral’s parking lot to the time we stepped out of the ladies room following the service, we felt a genuine welcome and warmth from the multitude of volunteers.

The production of the Easter story was moving and masterful. My eyes leaked torrents of tears from start to finish.

I was surprisingly absorbed by the musical uplift and by Pastor Keith Craft’s message about seeing the proof and feeling the promise of the Resurrection. He said a resurrection plays out for each of us as we feel renewed or restored to our Christ-like selves (not his words, but the words that work for me).

I was carried away from the experience on a blanket of love. I felt (and feel) unstoppable–that word is Pastor Craft’s. I know the power of Christ is deep within me, that Jesus is a part of me. I guess that makes me religious after all.

Who knows what happens next. I don’t much care. I gave up a lot of things during Lent but gained so much more. On this Easter Monday, I am an Easter-sated gal ready to take on the world!

Photo courtesy of lauramusikanski

The Year of Yes!

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January 2016 is nearly old news–wait, WHAT? I haven’t yet written about my word for the year and now you’re telling me the year is 1/12th finished?

My word for the year, by the way, is joy. Seems a little anti-climatic to announce it now, though.

Sigh. I can’t keep up.

Hold on–there will be no sighing or whining. This is 2016, my friends, my year, your year (if you’d like to make it so!)!

This is the year of the double-nickel anniversary of my birth. This is the year of my 25th recovery anniversary. Oh man, and I just heard today that the National Recovery Month BIG rally will be in Dallas this year! My metro!

So what should I do to celebrate? Joy as my word is big, but clearly, I need to go bigger. I know just the ticket–let’s make 2016 the Year of Yes!

The year of what?

Let me explain. A few weeks back, while strolling through Barnes & Noble doing one of my favorite activities, I happened upon a book called Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes.

Rhimes, writer and producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and other dynamite television shows, was an introverted, workaholic, homebody, single mother of three who really just wanted to write her shows and be with her daughters.

During Thanksgiving, 2014, Rhimes’ oldest sister accused, in a concerned, big-sister way, “you never say yes to anything.”

It was Game On for Rhimes.  What follows is a memoir that relates her encounters with saying yes to party invitations, delivering speeches, more play and less work, speaking her whole truth, her body (She lost more than 100 pounds.), letting go of toxic people and the list goes on. Rhimes writes:

Say yes to everything for a year.

This is it. It’s happening. And now that it is here, saying yes stops being just a vague idea. Now the reality of what I am embarking upon sends my brain thundering around inside of my skull.

Say yes?

There’s no way to plan. There’s no way to hide. There’s no way to control this. Not if I am saying yes to everything.

Yes to everything scary.

So it’s game on

2016 is my Year of Yes. Want to join me? Yes to everything scary?

I am the introverted writer who shies away from social commitments and just wants to homebody with the dogs and my sweetie.

Time to stretch. You only turn 55 once.

I’m keeping a weekly list–here’s the simple criteria for making the list (although I’ll say yes to much more): Does the object of the yes create an opportunity for me to mindfully connect with others or will it further my spiritual walk?

It’s going to be fun to look back on this list a year from now in January, 2017. Where will my yeses take me? Who will I meet? Will old relationships become new again? What new relationships will gel? Where will I go and what new opportunities will arise?

I’ve already said yes to more fun, to recovery, to my health and to lowering my defenses and realizing that I need a tribe. More to come on that piece.

Rhimes writes, “This Yes is about giving yourself the permission to shift the focus of what is a priority from what’s good for you over to what makes you feel good.”

Oh that feels good. Are you saying yes? What are you saying yes to? 

23 Gifts of Willingness, Thanks to Recovery

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November 20th is the mid-point in my sobriety year. Three days ago, the recovery calendar turned to 24 1/2 for me.

I think I remember that first six-month mark–24 years ago–because it came right at Thanksgiving and was the beginning of my first sober holiday season.

I remember spending a good deal of time in November and December of 1991 overcome with gratitude. In fact, I don’t think a single season since then has quite captured the magnitude of emotion I felt then.

Now, in full disclosure, I was an emotional wreck in 1991; gratitude was only one of many emotions that lived on my skin’s surface. I was also angry, bitter and self-righteously indignant, mostly with my family. Those poor people.

24 years ago and now

Six months into recovery found me fiery and righteous. I looked and acted tough although my insides quivered in fear of not drinking or smoking pot during the holidays. My God, how would I survive?

Thank you, God, for feeling comfortable in my skin all these years later. I no longer wear my emotions just above my hairline. Sometimes I may still not like the skin I’m in–I’m working on toning and tossing some of it–but I really like who I am today.

Who cares if it took nearly a quarter of a century to get here?

The gift of willingness

Of all the reasons for thanksgiving and gratitude this year, I am grateful for the gift of willingness. This topsy-turvy year brought me to a recent resting place of sorts; a place where I’m settling in and figuring things out. I wouldn’t have this resting place without willingness.

In this past year I have become willing to:

  1. 1. Trust the process
  2. 2. Keep my mouth shut
  3. 3. Let go of outcomes
  4. 4. Cultivate awareness and quiet time
  5. 5. Say, “No, I don’t want to”
  6. 6. Believe in unknown possibilities
  7. 7. Have faith in right outcomes
  8. 8. Love without liking
  9. 9. Look beyond what I see
  10. 10. Try something new, then something else
  11. 11. Sit with uncomfortable feelings
  12. 12. Say, “Yes, I will do the thing I love to do”
  13. 13. Bow my head more often
  14. 14. Leap into adventures
  15. 15. Lend hand and heart in service
  16. 16. Appreciate others’ struggles without fixing them
  17. 17. Reach and stretch mind, body and spirit
  18. 18. Grow where I am
  19. 19. Pray without ceasing
  20. 20. Cherish my family
  21. 21. Turn from the angry and violent
  22. 22. Stay mindful
  23. 23. Caress my heart-mate with tenderness, open arms and a welcome home at the end of each day

God’s grace grants me, not only willingness, but also desire to do each of these things. What a bountiful feast of joyful living!

Feelings of blessing begin with an inner knowing that all is well. I feel well today! My soul feels happy–me, the one who always tried to “figure out” the meaning of happiness. Now I’m basking in pools of heavenly happiness.

My prayer for you during this week of Thanksgiving is that you feel well too. May your soul feel happy, may you uncover your own willingness list and may you grow in your sense of God’s grace.

B Well and Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy of taliesin