Thursday, December 31, 2009
As we sat down to write our annual holiday update, we realized this year we have no weddings, no new family members, no trips to Asia, Europe or Yellowstone, and no major home remodeling projects or purchases. It occurred to us, that we might have single handedly brought down the world economy. We apologize for that and will do our best to bring things back in 2010!
You might remember in November last year, Sheryl was laid off from the job she loved at Bluegreen Resorts, due to the unavailability of mortgages to finance timeshare sales and resulting staff cut of nearly 60%. She proceeded to become the busiest unemployed person ever, working as a marketing consultant for three or four companies at a time -almost 7 days a week. Thank goodness, in May she found a job with a company she likes, and a product she believes in – an online homeschooling curriculum – Time4Learning.com. Now she’s only working one job and managing a fun project as she is also developing and teaching email marketing courses for University of San Francisco through Bisk Education. She is much happier with a full-time job!
Toni feels very fortunate to still be with McClatchy Shared Services- this year was 20 years since she started at Miami Herald (now part of McClatchy). Despite tough times in the newspaper industry, Toni feels as strongly as ever about the importance of newspapers, and is glad to still be a part of this newspaper company! She just earned an Executive Certificate in Project Management at Florida Atlantic University and will sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam within the next quarter! (CPAs are supposed to talk that way- marking time in fiscal quarters!
We did have a couple of small trips this year – we went to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival with treasured friends Becky and Melissa and CAMPED out – in a tent- in pouring down rain, thunder and lightning! Toni was a MWMF virgin, though Sheryl has been many times. So Toni believed Sheryl during this 12-hour torrential downpour that if she even thought about touching the inside of the tent that Niagara Falls would come gushing through the tiny breach. It was the last camping trip for Toni who was extremely uncomfortable curled up in a fetal position all night, trying not to touch the inside of the tent. She has since questioned the logic of Sheryl’s thunderstorm orders, and would also have positioned the tent much closer to the port-a-potties.
This year we celebrated Toni’s mom, Patty’s, 84th birthday with a family trip to Orlando with Patty, and Toni’s son Jerry & his wife Tiffany from Chicago. We got to all stay at a vacation rental condo Patty owns in Orlando – so it really felt like a luxury vacation for all of us! We celebrated at a highly acclaimed steakhouse in Old Towne Orlando with nephew Mike & his wife Illham who live in Orlando! We are so grateful that we can all get together to celebrate her each year!!
We had a Labor day trip to Ft Myers for a fun-filled birthday celebration with dear friends Laura, Ginger, Cindy and Blanche, an adventurous road trip to Key West with close friend Julia, and short trips to see Sheryl’s mother and stepdad Bruce in New Port Richey and to spend more time with Toni’s Mom and family members in Central Florida. The good thing about the FL trips is we usually get to bring the puppies! We are still head over heels in love with our 4 legged kids – puppies Maya, Gabriel, and kitties Cassidy and Sundance.
We’ve enjoyed our visitors this year – Toni’s son Tom & his wife Amanda & top dog Joe came to stay a couple of times, and we had visits from Jerry & Tiffany, and Sheryl’s Mom, Bruce and her nieces Lexi & Jessie. Tony & Ryan stopped off as they took a cruise out of Miami. Wing & Cassidy made a quick visit- and we had a great time! We LOVE visitors! Please put us on your calendar to come visit!
Well since we started this newsletter a few days ago, we decided not to live in “fear” in 2010! Yesterday Toni booked an Olivia cruise to the Greek Isles for Sheryl’s Christmas and birthday present- and we will do our best to jump start the world economy! Our best wishes and love to all of you. Know that we love you and that you always have a place to stay if you make it down to South Florida!!
Happy holidays and a wonderful New Year from Sheryl, Toni, Maya, Gabriel, Cassidy & Sundance
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
When the son is thrown from the horse and breaks his leg, his family and friends all say how terrible it is and what a curse the horse is and the father responds, we will see. So when the military comes into town to gather up all of the able-bodied boys to march off to war, his friends and family say how wonderful it is that your son's leg was broken and that he was spared military service and his father responds...you guessed it, we will see.
So the moral of the story is that no matter how good or bad something may appear at the time, it is only perspective that allows us to see a broader meaning or reason for that thing to occur in our life. The thing itself is neither bad or good, only our perception changes bad to good or good to bad. Said another way, we would all be much happier and healthier if we could remember this at times when things appear to be going badly, or even in times when they appear to be going well so we don't get stuck in our mistaken perception.
Although I don't want to give up my joyful times, I certainly could do with some perspective in my less than joyful or sorrowful times. I experienced this lesson when I was quite young faced with a daunting decision at the age of 15. I found myself pregnant, in a relationship with a heroin addict and living in government subsidized housing. My mother insisted that I go to a convent to have my baby and then give it up for adoption. I knew this would be the end of my education and that I would soon follow in her footsteps and never make it to college even though it was always my dream.
I ran away and was picked up by the police after a few days of living on the streets. I spent several hours speaking with the Catholic Priest who was on call at police headquarters until my mother arrived to pick me up. The Father convinced my mother that she should honor my request to terminate the pregnancy and after she recovered from being told by a man of the cloth to allow an abortion, she agreed. So off I went to New York (this was just before Roe versus Wade legalized it nationwide) alone, afraid and feeling like my life was over in so many ways.
I managed to recover and found new meaning in my life once I was relocated to my grandparents' care. Only a short year later, I was instrumental in starting a community crisis hot line and high school peer counseling center where I personally helped hundreds of girls just like myself through the tough choices of teenage pregnancy. I was able to share the terrible truth of a decision to have an abortion and I know that I had a tremendous impact on those that sought my advice. I also know that I was a role model for girls who thought that suicide was their only choice as their life looked to be too terrible to bear. I assured them that it was only a matter of perspective and that eventually they too would see how this event could positively impact their life or the lives of those they touched. What a wonderful gift this experience was in that it shaped me to be able to return the gift to those in need.
Monday, November 16, 2009
My judgments about the things that happen are just an illusion as nothing that happens is good or bad, it just is. It is my thinking that makes it anything else and I get to decide at every moment how I will react. I am divinely blessed for where on this earth I incarnated. Yes I am grateful for being an American and realize that anything I can complain about is insignificant in relationship to 95% of the rest of the human population.
I was born a Pentecostal, spent many years as an atheist reading books titled “Religion as a Creative Insecurity” and "A Course in Miracles." I also lived for 2 years at a Yoga Ashram founded by a wonderful teacher, Swami Satchidananda. In addition I spent nearly 4 years living overseas in Brussels Belgium where I got to see Americans from the perspective of a non-American and found the experience terribly eye opening and self reflective. I now share a spiritual reality with those who attend the Religious Science Church (sorry, not Scientology) called The Center for Spiritual Living.
I seek to find the day when I can experience peace in all things, no matter what is going on around me.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I remember growing up that prayer was the time when I would be in need and I would beseech an outside entity to please hear my plea and aid my call. It was definitely a child/parent relationship. If I could just find the right way to ask for it, the parent would grant my wish. But then as I got older it changed, the whole pray and though shalt receive didn't seem to be working out so well, and besides, who said I really know what is best for me anyways. Creating the world in my own image is so limiting. I mean reality has much more imagination than I do. Why limit myself?
So then I studied Eastern religions and their method of prayer was meditation, where I learned to find peace no matter what was going on around me or no matter what lack I might perceive that needed to be filled. An hour of meditation a day seemed to make all things fall into place, to help me gain perception and learn how to be grateful instead of needy.
What a better place to come from. So no matter what name you give it, prayer, meditation or just being, Emerson said it best: It is a time for me to contemplate the facts of my life from an out of body point of view. Now if I could just find that hour a day that I need...
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
During my mid-life crisis years it seems I learned a lot about myself and was able to finally put some perspective on things that had eluded me in my youth. Right around this time of my life I decide to take a pre-retirement (retiring when you are young enough to enjoy your time off) and for a year I traveled and visited places that had significant draw and opportunity for spiritual growth. The places I went to included Hawaii (for about 5 months) studying with a powerful Shaman, Findhorn Foundation Spiritual Center in Scotland for about a month, Integral Yoga Ashram in Yogaville, Virginia (just South of Charlottesville) for about 3 months and Palm Beach Florida for a month to heal my relationship with my Dad. What a blessing to have had that year, to work for a company that offered unpaid sabbaticals and to have the savings to afford me this luxury.
In the Hawaii portion of my journey I worked with about 50 other people who committed to 66 days, 22 at a time to do some very intensive introspection. One of the most powerful takeaways was an exercise we did with an assigned partner over a period of 22 days. Our task was to tell our life story every day but each day we had to change the tone of the story. So one day our assignment was tell our life story as if we were a hero in our life, the next as a victim, the next day as a fairytale, the next as a tragedy, again as a comedy, and then a drama - on and on for 22 days, 22 different stories all based on the same factual basis. We could not change any of the facts of our life, only our interpretation of those facts from these different perspectives.
What did I learn? That my life story is just that, a story. Every single rendition was true. I didn't change any of the facts but what I did change was the spin on those facts. I changed my interpretation of my life events, which is what we do each and every day. We decide each moment how we are going to perceive every event in our life and it is just that, a perception, a judgment, a spin that we put on the facts or reality of our life.
I was so sick of "my story" at the end of 22 days, 22 tellings, 22 renditions that I didn't care if I ever heard or told that story again. That was all it was, a story. Something I made up about the events that happened around me in my life. None of it was true and none of it was false, the facts just were and my story was something in my mind that reflected those facts but did not take their place or become real just because they lived in my mind. Oh but how real that story had become to me and my emotional body, how much I had invested in it, how much unhappiness it caused me, and for what purpose?
It was about as real as the fairy tales I read when I was a child. A fantasy born out of some experience or idea that has little to do with reality. So my lesson was a reinforcement of one of my favorite historical figures most famous quotes, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be" by Abraham Lincoln.
So what about your story, is it a drama, comedy, tragedy or a romantic novel? Remember, you are the one that gets to write it and tell it any way you want it to be.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
So I did a brave thing when I turned 35 I decided to change my mind about the situation. I decided that his leaving was the only thing he could do at the time. I saw it for the first time as an act of love, to remove me from a bad marriage, from an unhappy couple and from an ill-prepared Dad. I decided in that moment to let down the wall I had built around my heart "for protection" from what he had supposedly done to me and an amazing thing happened.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
"...the important thing is you were trying to do a service to both for the introduction so you really can’t be responsible for the outcome. But you also need to make your own ethical decision on future recommendations of the two parties based on this! "
"As far as ANYONE's REPUTATION being tarnished--of the 3 parties involved, forget it. This is just life. Life happens. Move on and let all 3 parties move on...All three parties are good people. Good people have misunderstandings."
Do you know what I have learned from this situation? That I have amazing friends that help me find my way when I can't see clearly through my emotions or perceptions. The last comment sums it up best, all three are good people and even good people have misunderstandings.
May we each find our way to an inner understanding, even if it cannot be found between those directly involved.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
So I thought it was worth a post. Maya is a Sanskrit word that represents the veil of illusion that we perceive the world through - a filter that is our perceptions, judgments and past experiences clouding this reality, changing it, making it in our own vision but changing it along the way from reality to illusion. For most of us the filter is so strong that by the time an experience gets through to us, it resembles nothing like what actually happened. This is why sometimes a situation will be experienced by two people and it is as if they didn't experience the same thing - because they didn't.
When I apply this to my own life it helps me to let go of things that upset me, things I don't like, things that don't turn out the way I wanted them to turn out. I hop in my car or I check my email and these words all maya remind me that whatever I perceive isn't reality - a reminder that it is all an illusion - all maya - something I made up and my emotional reactions aren't real either. They are merely my reactions to this made up story. It helps put things into perspective.
The great thing about this is that I can make up a different reality for anything that happens, I can choose another illusion and a different reaction if I want to. I did this at one time in my life as part of a 22 day intensive course where everyday for 22 days I had to tell my workshop partner my life story, over and over again. But each day I had to change the theme of my life story; one day to be the victim, the next to be the hero, one day my life as a tragedy, the next as a comedy. Let me tell you, after 22 days, I was so sick of my story I didn't ever want to hear it again. And I realized something even more important - it was just a story. It wasn't real. It was the made up things in my mind that were reactions to things that just happened, neither good or bad or happy or tragic, they just were. What a powerful release that was - to see it all as maya, my own personal illusion that was getting in my way of seeing the world as it truly is.
The tarot deck has a powerful figure that represents this concept, the high priestess. She sits in a place of honor with the scroll of our life on her lap. Behind her is the veil of illusion that once we are able to let go of, will reveal to us our true purpose in life. I like this image and she inspires me to let go of these things that stop me from seeing the world and my place in it for what it truly is and what I can truly be - a perfect child of God.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
And then nothing happens. Well other than the presentations and promises to make changes, at the end of the day and in the midst of an economic crisis, nothing really happens. Okay, lip service might be considered more than nothing by some folks. I mean the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
But it happens to me too. I learn something and know instinctively what needs to be done but then there are always too many things to do and not enough resources to do them all, even in my department of one in my personal life. I look in the attic and know that I need to purge to keep the flow of energy and things moving in the universe but do I do that or pay my bills? Florida Plunder and Loot thinks I can wait to act on my information while I pay my light bill.
And so the next time I'm in the attic struggling to find 2 inches of space for a 3 foot by 5 foot box, I get increasingly frustrated at my inability to act on the information I gained the last time I visited this remote region of my home.
So what's the answer? Do something small each day. If you have a choice to do nothing or the choice to do something small instead, do something small. So if you don't have time to completely empty the attic, open each box, purge and cart things off to Goodwill then at least take down 1 box and do that one small thing. At least the next time you are up there, you might have room for the new treasure that is finding it's way to the national storage facility (remember Raiders of the Lost Arc?)
Same thing with the surveys, with anything. Pick one small thing to do and act on that. Once completed you can select another small thing and so on. You will feel better and your frustration levels will subside at least a little and every little bit helps.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I learned this lesson over 20 years ago when I wrote case studies for the Darden Graduate School of Management at UVA. My friends would respond whenever anyone asked me what I did for a job that I wrote term papers for a living. And they were right. Writing case studies is like research term papers due every few weeks, loads of fun collecting the data from interviews with C level folks at the company plus hours at the library ferreting out industry data to put the company in context. And then hours and hours of organizing, formatting
There was this one case in particular that was both intriguing and overwhelming in information, facts and figures. It involved Ohio Arts who makes Etch A Sketch and their decision to license the Disney image of Mickey Mouse to create a younger version of the old standard toy where Mickey's eyes would move when the child turned the drawing knobs. I was under deadline as the CEO of Ohio Arts was scheduled to visit the school in a few weeks to hear the students debate the finer points of his dilemma, to renew the license or not.
It came down to the wire, the last night before the editors needed the final draft so they could do their magic, get it printed and distributed in time for student consumption. I sat down that night with only 10 hours left before the 8 am submission deadline. From writing about 15 of these puppies I knew that I had easily, 40-50 hours of work in front of me before the case would be ready for prime time. I was so overwhelmed that I didn't know where to start. I would pick up one stack of facts and then decide no, better start over here with this stack of interview notes and back and forth and back and forth accomplishing nothing!
I decided that I needed to center myself or this constant back and forth would sap all of my energy and not a word would be committed to paper. So I put my head down on the keyboard in front of me and prayed. I stated out loud that I couldn't finish this case alone and that I needed help. That there was not enough time to complete the task and that it would take a miracle and help from a miracle worker to finish it on time.
I was then very still and I let the calm of something other-worldly wash over me and then I heard it. As clear as if someone were in the room, the words came to me, "there is never a lack of time, only a lack of faith." So simple, so poignant, so matter of fact that all I could do was acknowledge the truth in its simplicity.
I sat up and immediately found the exact opening statement flowing from my fingertips onto the computer screen. Every fact or figure or quote that I needed presented itself to me as if it had surfaced from amongst the disarray on my desk on command. The words flowed, the story unfolded in a way that I almost felt like an observer in the movie that was the writing of this case study. I finished with an hour to spare, time for a quick shower and a cup of coffee before I headed to campus to meet my editor.
The case study was finished on time, the students came to the same conclusion that Ohio Arts did (they canceled the licensing deal) and the case study was voted as the student's favorite for that academic year, Etch A Sketch Meets Mickey Mouse. Even the title was inspired. When I read the case later, it was a work of brilliance, one that I don't remember participating in. But more importantly the case was an important lesson in the arena of faith. I have found that time isn't the only thing that we perceive is in short supply.
This simple truth applies to anything we think is in short supply - money, love, abundance, jobs, hope. I have now had an experience of what this looks like and when I remember to apply those wise simple words, the situation transforms itself right before my very eyes. The truth of the situation is that the process or the outcome may not look exactly the way we envisioned it, but whatever needs to happen will happen in the time, money, job or love allotted. And if we get out of the way it will always be better than anything we could have imagined.
There is never a lack of money, only a lack of faith.
There is never a lack of love, only a lack of faith.
There is never a lack of hope, only a lack of faith.
There is never a lack of jobs, only a lack of faith.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Focus, focus, focus, if I could only just focus. But when we do focus, what is it that we spend our time and attention on? Is the glass half empty or half full? The reason this is important is that what we focus on is what we will create more of in our life.
|Half Full Glass|
How this works is much like the person with arachnophobia who hates hates hates spiders. And how is it that this person experiences more spiders than anyone else they know. It is as if their fear or hate acts like a magnet pulling toward themselves whatever it is that they are focusing on and in this case it is spiders albeit a hatred, it is still an intense focus.
But anything in life can be like a spider (or a whole herd of them if you really focus). If I am focused on not having a full time job and the fragmentation of having 3 part time ones, then I will get more fragmentation and keep attracting the lack of a full time job. If on the other hand I focus on more abundance than I can imagine from what I am doing now or something better then I have a better chance of drawing that into my life. It sounds so easy but how quickly we slip into our old pattern of thinking...where did I put that flyswatter anyway?
Sunday, May 3, 2009
So one thing that always amazes me when I read about enlightened beings or in the very few times in my life that I have had the opportunity to experience one in person, Swami Satchidananda, The Dalai Lama and Sivaya Subrahmanya Swami,I always marvel at how they got from where I am in my consciousness to theirs and I want to what I can do to get there myself.
One thing they all share in common is a wonderment that is very similar to a child. They see everything in the world as if it were new and beautiful, including even when they are doing something mundane. They also seem to be at peace and in bliss at the same time, experiencing something I recognize but just don't seem to get enough of.
You know those moments in your life when you have an experience of God. It can be a moment of watching the wonder in a child's eyes as they discover the world, that moment when you are overwhelmed with love for someone and you are so full of joy that you could burst with bliss. Or maybe it is a majestic sunrise that takes your breath away due to the beauty it bathes the world in. These are the moments that enlightened beings live in.
So someone told me that the way to get from here to there is to see these moments like a doorway on our dark room that opens a just a crack to let in brilliant rays of light from the outside and then closes again. My goal should be to have more of those moments each month, each week, each day, each hour so that the door opens more frequently. In addition I should focus on keeping the door open longer and longer each time it happens. To stay in the moment, to relish it, to not let the mundane interfere or shut the door. Slowly but surely I can get to a place where the door opens more frequently and stays open longer eventually filling the time of life experiences creating heaven on earth.
This makes it seem more attainable to me, increasing the number and duration of those small glimpses of brilliance a little at a time instead of going from darkness to total enlightenment in an instance. But then again, there is no difference between a small miracle and a large one in God's eyes.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Not nearly as spectacular as the sunset this morning, but still a beautiful gift, I was handed one of those golden moments from the owners of the newly relaunched Z Ocean Hotel in South Beach Miami. They held a party complete with signature blue drinks on a blue carpet (to match their new logo colors), passed around Oprah's favorite grilled cheese sandwiches in the world and fried olives from Table 8 restaurant, peppered in amongst the tomato bisque served in shot glasses and Zushi Flirt rolls. And to top it all off they invited the Bacon Brothers band to help liven up the night with their energy and music. How fun!
What a wonderful gift, one of those golden moments that we need to be fully present to appreciate. Below you can see just a glimse of the brilliance in video and photo. Thank you LGD Communications and Z Ocean Hotel for your many gifts. I feel truly blessed.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I know, you think I'm bad in math and got the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) wrong, but this is the rule that really matters in life, the 95/5 rule.
It is human nature, nothing magical about it, just something we all do in life. We do it with our jobs, our family, our intimate relationships, we just can't seem to help ourselves. Finding fault is not a virtue, it is a deal killer. I see it kill deals every day.
"I hate sitting in so many meetings, I don't like writing status reports, I miss my old boss or my friends back at such and such company" and on and on. Right now we are doing less and less of this at work if we are lucky enough to still have a job, so there is a silver lining in all this economic devastation. We are finally focusing on what is right about our job or our company or our colleagues because we are so thankful to have them.
Relationships are an even juicier outlet for the 95/5 rule. In the beginning our future soul mate is everything we ever dreamed of and more. And the reason this happens is that we have no idea who they are, so they can be whatever we want them to be. We project all of our dreams and fantasies into the knowledge void we have about who this person really is. But then over time the void starts being populated with facts and experiences that are attributed to the real person and we start to pick them apart, finding all of the things about them that are wrong. But the problem with this approach is that we completely miss the 95% of the person and relationship that is absolutely right.
Now of course no one is going to be 100% our dream but in reality, I'm not that great at dreaming and usually the person I'm with turns out to be better than my wildest dream, which is the case with my partner Toni. For me to find relationship joy I need to be open to asking for what I want in life and adding at the end of my endless list of demands the statement, this or something better. Because the person we are in relationship may not match up exactly to our expectations we can become fixated on all of the ways they aren't our perfect match, totally missing how they may in fact be better than we imagined.
I find that this fixation on the 5% starts to consume us, to get on our last nerve as the focus magnifies the differences and makes them take on a life of their own. All of the endearing qualities that our soul mate had in the first months of the relationship now drive us crazy with frustration, but how could they have changed so much?
Well the truth is, they didn't. It is just that we know them better now and they aren't the person in our dreams, they are a real person in flesh and blood. And given the chance to interact with my dreams and a real person, the real person wins hands down (no pun intended).
So if your goal is a lasting and beautiful relationship that is better than anything you could have imagined, my advice to you is to mindfully turn your focus each and every time one of those 5% issues rears its ugly head, to one of the many things about the person you love, to the 95% that is right. And before you know it, that 5% will lose its grip on your attention and most likely you will grow out of your need to have everything in life delivered exactly to your specifications. Relationships that last tend to grow deeper into wonderful things that we can hardly imagine but changing our focus is the only way to get to this deeper place.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
A friend of mine reached out to me yesterday for some advice about her work situation. She felt that her boss was trying to force her to resign so that the company wouldn't have to pay severance or unemployment. Things had gotten so bad that she thought her health may be at risk, feeling panic attacks and moments when her heart seemed to be beating in her throat either when she was at work or thinking about it.
She had decided to give her 2 week notice on Friday but wanted my advice before she did that. Myself knowing what a difficult market it is out here and knowing that she just had a baby in the past 6 months and knowing that her job is the one that provides benefits for the family I advised against that move. She then asked about an alternative of going to HR with her list of grievances to see if that would help the situation. Again I advised against that approach.
What I did suggest was that the universe was giving her a wonderful opportunity to learn how to be in the world but not of it, an opportunity to create peace and tranquility even in a difficult situation, to learn that peace is something that comes from within and isn't something that anyone can take away from you without your agreement. I asked her to find a picture of a lotus flower to help visualize what this might look like.
The lotus flower is a wonderful metaphor as it is one of natures most beautiful creations and one that grows best in the most stagnant and putrid of waters. It reminds us that wonderful things can emerge from seemingly terrible conditions. I asked her to visualize herself as that lotus flower, emitting her inner beauty and not reflecting her putrid surroundings. I also said this would help her direct her focus on what she wants to have happen in her life instead of focusing on what she doesn't want to happen.
Whenever we invest energy into complaining or fretting about a bad situation it robs us of the very thing we need to set us on a right and peaceful course in our life. The more time we spend focused on what we don't want there is less focus that we can give to what we do want. So I told her to find a picture of a lotus flower that she could look to for inspiration whenever the putrid waters rush over her. To look within to find the peace and focus to create something better in her life. It is an old Sufi saying that we should be in the world but not of the world which means that we are here to give to life our fullest potential rather than being sucked into anything less which might happen if we let the world around us determine who and what we are.
Of course I also told her to use some of the energy that this would free up in her life to create the next place for her to exercise her creativity. And I'm happy to report she is already seeing improvements on both fronts.
An excerpt from the site I link to about this quote written by A H Almaas about conflict and challenges in our life:
"Your essence is very intelligent, very generous. It has a way of throwing a conflict in front of you, so that by looking at that conflict or barrier you'll find out something you need to know. The situation that you are given is perfect in terms of timing, place, the people involved, your capacities, the capacities of people around you, everything, every detail. The situation is such that if you actually try to understand it, you'll understand something about your essence."
A not so funny thing that we do as humans is that when confronted with conflict or challenge we somehow think that if we can only remove ourselves from a situation, a relationship or a person that somehow we can remove whatever exists within ourselves that called that situation to us. So we throw away partners, jobs and friendships thinking that our problems will be solved when they are gone but then we eventually find ourself facing the same issue in the a new job, relationship or situation. How much easier it would be to understand and learn about ourselves so that we can grow into something even better, no matter where we are or who we are with.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
It was amazing to watch and feel and experience their energy, synchronized drumming is what I call it. The group is Fushu Daiko, a local Florida troop. You can't witness them without being moved by the sound, by the energy by the power of the earth that they call upon to create their sound.
I took a small clip on my camera to share with you. I am inspired to draw on the earth's energy to share with those around me, I hope they inspire you too.
So I try to think of it this way. I'm here on earth stumbling around trying to find my way back to my Godliness and all of the souls in heaven look down and say, hey, who wants to volunteer to give Sheryl a hard time so that she can learn how to be at peace no matter what might be happening around her. And some gracious soul raises their hand and says, "Its a tough job, but I'll do it" and they appear and give me a hard time.
My peace comes when and if I can remember that we are both, all, perfect children of God and no matter what might be appearing otherwise, it just isn't the truth about any of us if it looks differently from this fact. Do people sometimes do desperate or mean things? Of course they do, but if the meaning of life is to give and receive love then those mean and desperate things are only a cry for love from someone that needs it and perhaps they are in my life so that I can learn to give it no matter what they might be doing outwardly.
I couldn't get this video to work of this song by the Roches but it is one of my favorites and communicates this message very well:
Everyone is Good by The Roches
I would like to be a person who does not judge
Free to be me whatever that might be
I don't want to hold a position, don't want to hold a grudge
'Cause it seems to be the cause of a lot of misunderstanding
Looking in your eyes you're different from me
Why does it have to be that one of us is better
Can't we both be beautiful even if we don't agree
Like the flowers in the garden and the animals in the wood
Each one with a purpose and each one is God
Everyone is good
Nobody's God says hate your neighbor
Even if the neighbor doesn't believe in God
Put aside your religion do your God a favor
And wouldn't it be something to be loving and kind
Forgive yourself for everything having once been blind
Everyone is good
Everyone is a perfect child of God.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
No matter how bad my life may seem, lost my job, upside down on my house, my dogs bark too much, I'm not wildly popular or rich, my bananas went limp, I'm behind on my bills, I'm disorganized, I'm estranged from my sister and brother, I'm overweight, all very important things, one thing I'm sure of, there are many people on planet earth that would give anything to have the life I live. I think unhappiness is a lack of perspective. Not having a job is terrible, but having 3 part time jobs is how blessed I am to have 3 people or companies willing to hire me in very tough economic times and pay me a decent hourly wage so I can maintain my lifestyle.
When I watch the news and hear about all of the people who are living in their cars and vehicles because they lost their job, their home and can't even pay rent, then I know that I am truly blessed.
When I see people whose health has failed them, suffering from cancer, recovering from surgery, or are differently-abled in a wheelchair or on crutches for life, I know that I am truly blessed.
When I see a soldier who has returned from duty maimed or injured beyond recovery of their former life just so that I may live in peace in this great country, I know that I am truly blessed.
When I see whole countries that struggle to provide clean drinking water and sanitation for millions of their people, many dying from cholera, malaria, Hepatitis A or AIDS, I know that I am truly blessed.
When I know that millions go to bed at night malnurished, hungry and thirsty not sure what or if they will be able to eat tomorrow, I know that I am truly blessed.
When I look at the numbers of women who are raped or beaten by someone they know or love and fear for their life and the lives of their children, I know that I am truly blessed.
I guess when you put things into perspective, my petty problems are just merely inconveniences in a very blessed life, and I need to realize that I'm doing that human thing where I focus on the 5% that is wrong with my life and not the 95% that is very right. Just going through this exercise has helped me change my mind at least for today.
Jana Stanfield came and stayed with us last fall (2008) and ended up writing a song about our coffee mugs that say "All that we ask is that you stay open to changing your entire life by changing your mind." I hear she recorded it for her next album, can't wait to share it with you.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
So this lesson gives me a glimmer of hope that if I provide this poor decider with the same information and set of facts that I possess they can only make the right decision and agree with me, no? Okay, the logic may be flawed a bit and when I relentlessly harp on the facts and the obviously missing information in their dataset I do understand that I can be a pain, but in my mind I'm sure that I am just one fact away from agreement so why stop short?
Okay the thing that matters most here is for me to realize that maybe the other person has the missing fact that might pull me over to their side, if they could only get a word in edge-wise. My peace and happiness lie in my ability to ask questions, to probe and to uncover the knowledge I lack or to find the weakness in their argument and go for the jugular once I have it in my sights...
Old habits are hard to break.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Case in point, no matter what happens, good or bad, we have an opportunity to grow and become stronger as a result. So who is to say that this so called meltdown is anything but strength training? A much needed work out to make us stronger and healthier in the end.
It is human nature to complain and moan, of course! But the simple facts are this; as Americans we each can lose more in the stock market in one day than others on earth will make in a year, and hardly notice it. Sure I lost 25-50% of the value of my 401K, but even at 50% loss, we as a country are among the richest 25% on the planet consuming 75% of all the resources and wealth. I also know that 56 percent of the world's population lives in extreme poverty surviving on an income of less than $730 per year or $2 per day. Instead of complaining about my American economy, I should be counting my blessings - and I am.
We will get through this even with the Republicans kicking and screaming and resisting all the way. And in the end we will be stronger for it, a stronger housing market, a stronger banking system and a more regulated corporate America even if my investments take a beating along the way. I just need to remember that I'm Rocky in training and a few bruises is all part of the character building.
Rocky theme song -
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Talk about the power of telling a true story and changing lives. We know that Harvey made the ultimate sacrifice of his life by living openly, pursuing his dream of equal rights, giving hope and in some cases saving the lives of those who are in the discriminated gay minority of America.
There's a new way to show your support for this minority with a small donation and the wearing of a thin white band that says "Never Blend In." The Harvey Milk site is where you can find them and your gay friends will love you for your courage to wear your support on your sleeve, or at least close to it. I also enjoyed hearing the words of Harvey Milk on this site.
Although it would be easier, I agree with Harvey that we can't afford to blend in and surrender our rights. Equal rights should be the right of everyone in America, not just the majority and we need to fight for them until they are granted. Please join me in that fight by doing whatever small part you are called to do. Even if it is as small as speaking up when given the chance to oppose Proposition 8 in California or Amendment 2 in Florida.
We cannot afford to blend in.
Monday, February 23, 2009
You can check it out here:
The song is awesome but the answer to the question is all tied into what matters most. I think the only thing that stops me from doing what I love most is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of what has gone wrong in the past when I have done it, fear that I won't be good enough, fear that I won't be able to make a living, fear that the world doesn't need what I love most -- telling stories that change people's lives.
That's what I would do if I were brave. Like Garrison Keillor on Prarie Home Companion or Dave Barry in his syndicated column, or maybe host a talk show like Bill Maher where I could say exactly what I think and feel and not worry if I offend someone. Maybe on second thought, Garrison's approach would get me fewer death threats.
Story tellers, all of them, and they have changed my life. So this blog is my feeble attempt at getting up the courage to finally do what I would do if I were brave. Today a blog with 3 followers, tomorrow an HBO feature.
What would you do today if you were brave?
I truly believe that if I could remember this at the time I could get to the lesson sooner instead of dwelling on the failure and spend more of my time in joy. At these times this lesson serves me well, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. My failure is only a failure if I fail to see the feedback, to take the lesson and apply it so that it is only a step on the way to eventual success, even if that success looks very different that what my original vision might have been. Funny how my limited vision can be without the valuable feedback I need to see my success a different way.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
And then Al Gore invented the Internet and I finally found my calling. For me, the Web is like marketing on crack. I can have an idea, execute it on my website, measure the results and adjust my campaign all within an hour if I have enough traffic to get statistically significant measurements (which I did at sites such as Travelocity.com and eDiets.com).
So this is my mantra; make timely improvements over delayed perfection. It fits with my belief that there is no such thing as a new idea but what defines success is in the implementation. Most ideas have been thought of before but few people are great at executing. Perfectionists tend to want to wait until their plan is perfected, their execution fully routed, proofed and tested and everything is tied up with a nice bow. But in the web world implementation and feedback can dramatically change your plan or send you down a different path altogether. But not to worry, you can always change it in about an hour or so. You gotta love it!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Monday, February 16, 2009
What a relief that I don't need to figure out why my job was eliminated, how I'm going to make ends meet, why the stimulus package wasn't supported by any Republicans, how in the world will the health care crisis be solved. Michael suggested that any problem we are struggling with already has a solution, that the answer is within us. But we won't find it out there, the issues and problems I am dealing with are opportunities to go within and to go beyond my small view of myself to realize something even better. Even delays or obstacles along the way each deliver an important piece of my unique experience puzzle that will eventually complete a whole picture that I just can't see right now.
So I need to go beyond that which is directly in front of me to see something larger and bigger than what my small focus may not be allowing me to realize. It isn't about obsessing on the stimulus package or my lack of a job but rather the time I have in my life right now to find a larger definition of who I am and how I will earn the energy/money I need to realize my true potential.
I choose today to focus on how I can outgrow the obstacles in front of me to become something better and bigger than any problem in front of me now.
To see the hurricane in action yourself check out his presentation to the proposed new government office of The Department of Peace!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Sometimes I forget this and think that whatever stage I'm on is the important thing, like selling timeshares or servicing owners or making a widget or seeing the Himalayas but then something will happen to remind me that those are all just the props, the set, the backdrop to do the important work of our time on earth -- to give our gifts and receive gifts from others.
Not gifts like packages, tied up in a bow, but gifts of caring, love, laughter, joy, sharing, connection - all of the things that define us as God having a human experience. I heard a great performer this weekend, Amy Carol Webb (she's the one on the left with the mug) and she sang a song called "God Has No Hands But Ours". It was a great reminder that if those gifts are going to make it to those of us on earth then it is up to me to deliver them and to receive them no matter what perfect child of God shows up to bestow them.
And if I'm caught up in whatever stage or drama that I happen to be involved in at the time, then I might miss that opportunity. So do me a favor, help me remember that life is just a stage where I am called to give and receive my gifts.