Monday, July 25, 2016

A bit of R-N-R

I was going to title this post "Gone Fishing," but I don't fish. Nonetheless I am taking some time off from blogging over the next few weeks to spend time with my family and enjoy the summer before it's gone. I will return sometime in August. If you'd like to be notified when I return, please SIGN UP to receive posts via email in the right-hand sidebar. In the meantime I hope that you are spending the summer doing something you love. PEACE ☮

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Everything You Need to Know

On Saturday afternoon a friend and I headed to the spa for a relaxing soak. In order to do this I had to leave my fourteen year old on his own for a few hours. I have done this before and knew he could handle it, but I wanted to make sure that I had my cell phone in case he needed to contact me. I checked my phone before leaving and the battery was at 32%. Not critical, but low, so I decided to plug it in for a few minutes before I left.

As soon as I made that decision I heard a tiny voice in my head say, "If you plug it in you will forget it. Why not just charge it in the car on the way there?" This was a perfectly reasonable suggestion, one which I decided to ignore.

I walked over to my charging cord, plugged in my phone and sat down on the couch nearby to wait for my friend to arrive. When the doorbell rang I sprang up, grabbed my bag, slipped into my shoes and walked out the door - you guessed it - forgetting my phone in the process. Half-way to the spa I realized what I had done and thought about turning around, but that seemed extreme so I had my friend send my son a text letting him know what had happened and asking him to text her number if he needed anything.

A couple of hours into our soak (around dinnertime) I was lying on a lounge chair snoozing when I heard that tiny voice in my head again, "Call your son," it said. I ignored it for a few minutes and so it spoke again, "Call your son."

"He's fine," I responded, "You are just being paranoid. Everything is fine."

And I really felt that, that everything was fine, however, the voice spoke again, a bit louder this time, "Call your son." And this time, I listened.

I got up, threw on my robe, walked to the front desk and asked if I could use their phone. A very nice woman allowed me to use the front desk phone and I called my son. When he answered I asked him "How are things going?"

"Terrible," he responded.

Alarm bells started going off. What could be wrong? Did he hurt himself?! Did someone break in?! "What's wrong?!" I said, alarm in my voice.

"I can't find my wallet," he replied, "and I wanted to buy some pizza for dinner."

"Whew," I breathed a sigh of relief and then smiled. The Universe was taking care of my boy.

I told him where his wallet was (I had picked it up off of the floor earlier in the week) and he got off the phone happily on his way to pizza Heaven. I went back to the locker room just as my friend came to look for me to see if I wanted to get something to eat. She opened her locker to grab her wallet and quickly checked her phone. "There's a message from your son," she said, "He can't find his wallet."

I checked the text. It had come in twenty-four minutes earlier, right about the time I had first heard the message to call my son. I smiled and said, "It's all good. I called him a few minutes ago." And with that, we headed off to dinner.

At dinner we ordered our two favorite dishes to share and thumbed through some magazines while waiting. My friend's dish arrived first and we dug in. A few minutes later my dish arrived except it wasn't exactly what I had ordered, which was the Bi Bim Bop in a hot stone bowl. They had brought me the cold version.

Bummed I thought about sending it back, but figured there had been a mis-communicatoin and decided to try the cold version instead. My friend stopped me, "Wait, what if they brought you the wrong dish and that one is meant for someone else?" I hadn't thought of that, but it was a possibility. We didn't even have time to try and catch our server's eye before she was back, hot stone Bi Bim Bop in hand, apologizing for mixing up my order with someone else's.

As we tucked in to what we had ordered, my friend looked up and said, "I have no idea how I knew that's what happened, I just had a feeling." 

"I just had a feeling." "Something spoke to me." "I heard a voice." These are all phrases we use to explain the unexplainable, to make sense out of that which does not make sense to our thinking mind. We know something we should have not been able to know, we feel something that turns out to be true, we run into someone we have not seen for ages just moments after we have a thought about them.

The Universe speaks to us in many ways, thoughts, feelings, dreams, phone calls, hunches, signs, and only some small part of the time are we even aware that this is happening. The great news is that we can become more aware. We can choose to listen more carefully. We can heed advice that we only half believe in. And we can even ASK for signs and help when we are feeling confused.

Our intuition is a gift that we have been given, all we need to do is LISTEN TO OURSELVES.

I hope you will be inspired to LISTEN more carefully this week and follow the guidance you are being given. I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments. Have an intuitive week everyone!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Inspire-ME Monday #6: INTUITION OR, LISTENING TO YOURSELF

And here we go again! One theme flows from another as we continue the conversation with each other, with ourselves and with the great and powerful Universe which speaks to each and every one of us if we will but listen.

The theme this week is INTUITION or LISTENING TO YOURSELF. As important as it is to listen to others, it is equally important to listen to ourselves. Here are some of my favorite quotes about listening to yourself. I hope you enjoy them and that they inspire you to pay closer attention to that still small voice inside:

"In our 'doing' society, we have a zeal for sorting out our agenda and implementing it. But in my experience the world is there to guide you at every moment. The world is calling you to come play, to come risk, to come let your heart burn with a passion that will make sense of your life. The world will speak to you as intimately as your mother did when you were a child, if you can allow the body to teach you its different way of listening." --Phillip Shepherd in The Sun magazine
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"If you LISTEN you will know everything you need to know." --The Universe

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"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."--Steve Jobs
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"When we practice listening, we become intuitive." --Unknown, Yogi Tea tea bag

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"Intuition is not something you awaken, it's already there, you simply remove the blocks that keep you from seeing clearly." --David Pond
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"Pay attention to the reactions of of your body. It is the wisdom of the self speaking to you. Be aware of concern, of anticipation, of all the feelings that come from the self. They manifest in the body. What is their counsel?" --Maurice in "Maisie Dobbs" by Jacqueline Winspear

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"I think what I've been saying in my songs all these years is: respect yourself; listen to yourself; you are not crazy." --Ani DeFranco in The Sun magazine
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"I don't have to say, 'I don't know.' I can ASK. I don't have to be lost." --Inna Segal
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"We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be." --Jane Austen from "Mansfield Park"
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For more about listening to yourself, check back Thursday. In the meantime, don't forget to SIGN UP in the sidebar (on the top right) to RECEIVE POSTS VIA EMAIL. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Learning to Listen

"To listen well, we must attend both to the words and the silence between the words." 
--William Issacs in "A Matter of Spirit," the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center quarterly newsletter



Listening well is not easy, but it is a skill that can be developed with a willingness to learn and some practice.

One of the techniques crucial to being a good listener is shutting the hell up. Also known as pausing. It is easy to get on a roll during a conversation and forget to pause and listen to the other person.

This can be especially hard after asking a question. My husband takes a lot longer to answer a question than I do and it can sometimes be excruciating to wait (and wait....and wait....and wait....) for his answer. But it is important to do so.

If you think you may need practice, watch the video above and listen for the birdsong. If it is hard for you to wait to hear it, pausing during conversations with others may be an important skill for you to learn.

Pay more attention than usual during your conversations this week. Do you need to pause more often? If so, try adding a few pauses to the conversation and see how it changes.

Maybe it's the person you are speaking with who is challenged in this area. If so, find a kind way to ask them to shut the hell up once in awhile. (NB When asking someone KINDLY to "shut the hell up" it will be very important not to use the words, "shut the hell up.")

Have fun playing with this listening technique this week. Try not to take it too seriously - and don't take it personally if someone doesn't listen to you well. This usually has far more to do with them than it does with you!

Meditation is, of course, another great way to learn to pause. Sitting for ten or more minutes a day will help you practice the great art of shutting the hell up and also allow you to bring more presence to your conversations. If you would like to try, you can start with this meditation.

Have a great week!

ADDENDUM: In the time since I wrote this post I have learned about something called "Verbal Judo." It is used primarily by police officers to de-escalate highly charged situations, but can be used by all of us to improve our listening skills and our relationships. For more information on verbal judo, check out this blog post or read the book

Monday, July 11, 2016

Inspire-ME Monday #5: LISTENING TO OTHERS

The theme this week follows last week's almost magically. Listening is an important part of any good relationship and it is not an easy skill. It is hard to listen without judgement, to listen without interrupting, to listen without jumping in to share or solve. To just listen.

I encourage you to try it this week and hope the quotations I have chosen will inspire you to listen well:


"To listen well, we must attend both to the words and the silence between the words." --William Issacs in "A Matter of Spirit," the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center quarterly newsletter

"The first duty of love is to listen." --Paul Tillich

"Listen to those who open a path to you; listen and don't say a word." --RUMI

"O Great Spirit help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen with an open mind when others speak and to remember the peace that may be found in silence." --Cherokee prayer

"...[Y]our listening ear is more powerful than you can imagine." --Jackson Kiddard

"Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand." --Sue Patton Thoele

"Part of understanding is being willing to listen to each other's stories." --Karen Lindvig

"Most people listen to reply, not to understand." --Stephen Covey

"Usually when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion. If it agrees with your opinion you may accept it, but if it does not, you will reject it or you may not even really hear it." --Shunryu Suzuki


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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Finding Buddha

Continuing on with the theme for the week - RELATIONSHIPS - I want to share with you another quote that is really speaking to me today. It is from Deepak Chopra's book "Buddha," which is a fictionalized account of the Buddha's life.

In this passage Buddha is speaking to his disciple Assaji:

"When you're obsessed with hatred for someone, it's inevitable that you will return one day as his disciple."
“Master, I just hope he's better when he comes back,” Assaji said doubtfully. 
“He will be arrogant and proud,” said Buddha, “But it won't matter. The fire of passion burns out eventually. Then you dig though the ashes and discover a gem. You pick it up, you look at it with disbelief. The gem was inside you all the time. It is yours to keep forever. It is buddha.” 

I have been struggling this week with hatred so this passage really spoke to me. Earlier today I did a meditation in which I spent time inside my heart feeling the hatred and exploring its origins. As I did I felt anger, I felt sadness, I felt hopelessness, and I felt despair.  I thought it would never end, but I kept at it, lying there, feeling all of it.

Pictures came to me as I meditated on my feelings, past lives filled with hopelessness and despair. Hunger, poverty, starvation, loneliness.

In one of these lifetimes I was a baby, left in the gutter to die, hungry and alone. Abandoned, forgotten, unloved. The feelings rose as I watched this scene unfold. There was no way out. I was trapped in this baby body and I could not help myself. I could do nothing but lie there and starve to death. More anger, more despair, more tears.

Eventually the feelings began to dissipate, replaced by numbness.

I kept my attention in my heart, still feeling like there was no solution, no way out, having made a strange peace with this.

Suddenly I felt someone pick me up. A soft blanket enveloped me in a warm embrace. I was being fed. All was well.

I didn't know what had happened. Somehow I had called and someone had answered. I was no longer alone.

I can't say for sure that this was an experience of my inner buddha, but when I opened the book after meditating, this was the first passage that I saw and it spoke something to me about this experience.

Feeling someone pick me up and hold me, love me, feed me, when I had no hope felt like finding a gem. Realizing I could summon this kind of love and care even in the midst of complete despair and hopelessness felt like finding a gem. I hope it is mine to keep forever.

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Apologies if this was not the post you were expecting this week. It was not the post I was expecting either. I have been working on a post about "mitigated" relationships (as teased in last week's post), but it is just not coming together. I will keep at it and hope to post it at a future date. In the meantime, I trust that this is exactly what was needed today. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Inspire-ME Monday #4: Relationships

"Opening to the world begins to benefit ourselves and others simultaneously. The more we relate with others, the more quickly we discover where we’re blocked. Seeing this is helpful, but it’s also painful. Sometimes we use it as ammunition against ourselves: we aren’t kind, we aren’t honest, we aren’t brave, and we might as well give up right now. But when we apply the instruction to be soft and nonjudgmental to whatever we see at this very moment, the embarrassing reflection in the mirror becomes our friend. We soften further and lighten up more, because we know it’s the only way we can continue to work with others and be of any benefit in the world. This is the beginning of growing up." --Pema Chodron

"Fucked up people will try to tell you otherwise, but boundaries have nothing to do with whether you love someone or not. They are not judgments, punishments, or betrayals. They are a purely peaceable thing: the basic principles you identify for yourself that define the behaviors that you will tolerate from others, as well as the responses you will have to those behaviors. Boundaries teach people how to treat you, and they teach you how to respect yourself." --Cheryl Strayed, from her book, "Tiny Beautiful Things"

“...[W]hen you live in close proximity with lots of other people, you are going to bump into parts of them that you don't like (and vice versa). We have group discussions, and things get very heated. Sparks fly. We disappoint each other. Some people do more work that others. We want different things, but we are in a community and so we have to reach some kind of consensus. Being intimate with other human beings is HARD WORK." --Satya Robyn, writer, painter, Buddhist Priest, from her book "Just As You Are: Buddhism for Foolish Beings"

"People are NOT going to do what you want them to do; they are going to do what THEY want to do. You might as well do what YOU want to do too." --The Universe to me while on vacation in Maui, feeling disillusioned by how my husband and kids were choosing to spend their time

"We have to become more sovereign....We've got to meet our own needs. Be our own mother. Be our own father. Be our own best friend.....The more we can really come into relying on our vertical...our spirit connection for our strength, our security, our stability, our warmth, our nurturing our love, the better off we're going to be....We don't need relationships anymore. I don't need you. I've got Spirit. I've got self-love. I'm connected to the infinite flow of the Universe. And the only reason I'm here in this relationship is because I want to be....I receive from all directions." --Kaypacha from one of his Pele Reports