The Healing Code

I had been feeling truly awful. Just about every major joint in my body was aching: shoulders, neck, elbows, low back, and knees. I’ve been watching as each of my beloved activities has become increasingly less pleasurable and possible. Last year I asked for a Lyme test. It came out negative. I figured it wasn’t Lyme and that whatever it was would clear up. It did, more or less, until it came back with a vengeance in February after an upper respiratory tract viral infection which left me in so much shoulder pain that I literally could not lift a cup of tea!

“This has got to go” I declared and committed to see my primary care physician for a diagnosis. He sent me for physical therapy (PT). They sent me back to the primary for a MRI before they would begin. That sent me to an orthopedist who diagnosed the condition as tendinosis (not tendonitis which is a more common diagnosis) and sent me for PT.

Having the holistic perspective that I do, in addition to the PT I made dietary changes (eliminated animal and supposedly acid forming inflammatory vegetable kingdom foods), went for acupuncture treatments, chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic massage, took targeted supplements, and laid off all irritating activities possible. My motivation was HIGH. In addition to the desire to feel comfortable and capable physically I was scheduled for a six-day river rafting trip down the Colorado River culminating with a seven and a half mile climb from the river to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. That’s a 5000 feet uphill! My intention was focused and clear. Two weeks before the trip, in addition to the shoulder issue, my leg “went out” simply by crossing the street and I was unable to walk. I was disgusted and doubled my intention. I was going. I would be on that trip and I would make that climb or I’d be helicoptered out of the canyon!. Either way, I was going.

Peter and I jointed our group of fourteen intrepid adventurers a few miles down from the Powell Dam, at Lee’s Ferry. My shoulder was improved yet continued to hurt. My neck became a focus of pain. I, who rarely take over the counter medications, was resorting to the Tylenol in my first aid kit to be able to sleep on the river’s shores under the canopy of the most exquisite night sky in this most hauntingly beautiful and dramatic environment.

During the days on the river I noticed myself stretching and rolling my neck and shoulders to release the pain they were feeling, all the while listening to the lessons the river, the ancient rocks, and the wind were imparting to my soul. During the hikes I moved slowly with great care, feeling the instability of my knee as I maneuvered over the uneven terrain. The climb out of the canyon was spectacular, with me inhaling deeply and exhaling completely – meditating on the increasing strength of my form while the entire canyon was exposing itself to me step by step. We made it up to the South Rim in nine hours with numerous rest periods, especially as we got to the higher altitudes. The trip was truly exquisite and I was with pain. My knees did strengthen during that climb and their stability reestablished itself. I was amazed and filled with gratitude.

I had a theory. The theory was that if the pain was from enduring stress, stress that I wasn’t aware of carrying, it would have dissipated in the canyon. That did not happen so I was back with stronger knee joints yet persistent pain. As I was inquiring what might be happening in my body I remembered that blood tests for Lyme can be false negative and false positive. Definitive they are not. I am not a newbie to Lyme. I have been diagnosed with it and treated for it three times in the past. I determined to go back to my primary care physician, share what was going on and request the antibiotics to treat Lyme. If it is Lyme, I theorized and the doctor concurred, the antibiotics would most likely do the trick. If it wasn’t Lyme – well no reason to go there until there is a reason. At the same time, my good friend, conscious being and blogger Alison Greenberg Skylar recommended a technique that she and her husband were exploring; The Healing Code.

The basic theory behind the technique, which is explained in-depth in the book of the same name by Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND and Ben Johnson, MD, DO, NMD, is that their “simple’ process eliminates enduring stress which interrupts the ability of the power generating stations within each of our trillions of cells, the mitochondria, from metabolizing oxygen and nutrients properly and thoroughly eliminating the toxic byproducts of cell metabolism. This disruption by the body’s stress response, which has been proven through numerous studies, is perfectly fine if it is for the amount of time it takes us to run from an assailant or swim to shore after being carried out further than we wished by a wave. There is no damage if our cells can’t breathe fully, eat, or take out their trash for two, ten, or twenty-four hours. When there is a prolonged disruption of energy generation in the cell, for days, weeks, months or years on end, the miraculous immune capabilities of the cells diminish and wherever we have acquired or inherited weaknesses disease occurs. The Healing Code restores the tranquil inter-cellular state that allows a full energy feed for the maintenance and repair functions of each cell.

The premise is that while there are a myriad of diseases, the single cause of disease is prolonged stress. They further theorize that much of this long-term stress is stress that has been trapped in our cells from past experiences – those that we were too young and inexperienced as humans to process accurately. “Ok”, I said to myself, “Possibly. I will begin using the code and see what happens over the next few weeks and months.” I am a perfect human guinea pig for this, nothing to lose.” To be continued….

 

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Emotional Tsunamis

Sometimes an enormous emotional wave floods our experience.  It may be an unanticipated and prolonged illness of a loved one, an individual we placed our trust in that acted differently than we had anticipated, unhinging our sense of security in the world and cracking a primary relationship, a loss of a job in a global financial meltdown or a self-limiting local meltdown that changes our lifestyle and our dreams in the present, an accident that alters our destiny.

These situations come with little warning, or warnings we were too inexperienced to read accurately. We find ourselves clinging on to whatever remains solid, staying above the emotional tsunami with all our strength while swimming consciously towards solid ground. We stay afloat.  We practice lifesaving for those we care about inundated by the same wave. We swim and cling and find ourselves and our loved ones whole or perhaps less than whole yet on solid ground.  The waters have receded.  We are all here, or maybe one or more of us didn’t make it.

We look around and take our bearings.  The wave is gone.  There is relief.  We fall to the ground. Our emotional arms and legs are exhausted.  We found opportunity in the current, the flotsam and jetsam.   We maneuvered powerfully and discover that now our ability to move is temporarily absent.  Our energy is exhausted.  We look around.  Many of the pursuits we were engaged in prior to the tsunami have been swept away by the receding waters and scattered by the winds.  The work of gathering what remains and creating anew awaits us.

And await it does.  This is the time to be compassion with ourselves and what we have experienced.  This is the time to integrate what we have experienced, to acknowledge our exhaustion, to validate and honor our accomplishment and the energy we expended.  This is the time to allow ourselves to recharge and renew – to celebrate our intentionality, commitment, dedication, and love. Anything less is a betrayal of self and a denial of what is so.

If we allow this time for recharging we will build anew.  We will collect the pieces we desire to create as we are able.  This is practicing wellness, commitment, and vision.  Congratulations.

 

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Living in Circles or Living Progressively

While it’s been generally believed that people in unfamiliar terrain often end up walking in circles, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen,  Germany proved this to be accurate, yet only under a specific circumstance.  Findings presented in a study published in 2009 showed that when the study’s participants were tracked by GPS in two very different yet equally unfamiliar environments, they repeatedly walked in circles when they could not see a reference point.  In this study, the reference point was the sun.  Conversely, when there was a reference point, “when the sun was visible, participants sometimes veered from a straight course but did not walk in circles. They made progress in a specific direction.”[1]

What if this is true regarding how we live as well as how we navigate physically?

I love the concept of consciously “designing a future to live into”.  This future of our design becomes the sun by which we navigate.  It is out there, shining brightly, drawing us towards it.  It is through this envisioned future that we can tell if we are happening off course.  With our reference point we have the capacity to reorient ourselves and keep moving in the direction of our desire.

Without this future, what are we navigating by? If we have no reference point out there, are we expending great effort yet living in circles? Could this be why, at times, we feel we aren’t getting anywhere?  Perhaps living without a designed future becomes living in circles or worse, living towards what was least enjoyable about our past?

When our reference point is how we don’t want to feel, what we don’t want to experience, we are navigating by our past, our pain, and our fears. And if we are navigating by what it is we desire to get away from, won’t that result in circles as well?  We’ll be navigating by where we already are.

I’ve done that mistakenly with my automobile’s GPS, setting my destination to where I am rather than where I wanted to go.  It kept directing me back to where I had been.  Circles are exactly what happened until I realized the glitch!    

In November I coached a young woman who was sure what she didn’t want in a partner.  She’d go out in the world and see all these living examples of what she didn’t want, in droves!  She found this over and over, reinforcing more of what she didn’t want.  She was living in a circle. Her reference point? Her past experiences.

I asked her what qualities she did want in a partner.  It was a new inquiry for her.  We engaged in an exercise of identifying the qualities that she desired.  Within a few months she was involved with a partner with the qualities she desired.  She had set her sun in her sky, and she began to move towards it.

We can too, about anything in our lives.  When we put that reference point up there and head out, we are heading in a progressive direction of both our design and our choice.  Happy navigating.

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Dying

I got it, this is not a sexy title for a blog post.  I don’t even like seeing it there.  That word.  It conjures up all sorts of awful images, all matter of diseases and circumstances none of us choose willingly, at least not consciously!  So what’s with the bummer of a title of this blog post?

 

I challenge the way we have come to define and use “dying” as a concept.  I question the legitimacy of the term the way it is used.  I declare that the way we have been taught to use “dying” causes unnecessary and prolonged suffering, for everyone who continues to take breath.  We suffer for the future and diminish the ability to love in the present

 

People do not spend days, months, or years dying.  Dying occurs in a single moment.  All the rest of the time we are living. Yes, we may be loosing functionality yet we are still living.  Yes, we may be in pain yet we are still living.  Yes, we may become dependent in ways that we haven’t been since we were babies and unable to move ourselves independently yet we are still living.  We are still alive.  Our loved ones are still alive.  Be present, be loving, be clear.

 

We have the option to live powerfully until we die powerfully, in that one moment when we’re gone, we’re out, we’re beyond the reach of gross senses, and possibly, where we are simply no more.  Yet, until that moment, we are living.  Our loved ones are living. 

 

We don’t have loved ones who are dying.  We have loved ones who are very much alive in ways we may never have imagined and possibly can’t quite comprehend yet they are living until they are not – a single moment of transition from life to no life. 

 

So to those of us who have or will have loved ones who we find out are closer to making the transition, which is all of us, I invite us to abandon the story that our loved ones are “dying” and love them while they are alive and once they aren’t.  Be here powerfully and lovingly for every moment of their lives and then be there every moment of their beyond life.

 

Or not.   

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Yes and….

Yes and…..

So often when I am listening to my coaching clients I hear “Either or” thinking.  “Either or” thinking goes like this:

  • Either I eat healthy or I eat what I want.
  • Either I work for money or I’m poor doing what I love.
  • Either I do what my significant other wants or I do what I want.
  • Either I go work out or relax with that book I’ve wanted to read.
  • Either I spend time with my kids or I have time for myself.
  • Either I work on this project or I watch a movie with my family.

“Either or” thinking is a zero sum game.  There is always a loss with the gain.  Most of us were raised on “either or” so it is a very natural way for us to think.  While it is natural, it is neither productive nor necessary.  Another approach to life is”yes and”.

“Yes and” thinking goes like this:

  • Yes, I am committed to eating healthy and I am going to eat the healthiest versions of the foods that really please me
  • Yes, having a level of financial prosperity is important to me and so is following my passion.  How can I find or create a livelihood that allows me to do both?
  •   Yes I want to do what pleases my significant other and I also have something specific in mind that I want to do so I will do one of these tonight and one at the next opportunity.  Let’s see what works best for us.
  •  Yes, being fit is important to me so I will head to the gym, work out and listen to that book I’ve wanted to read on my headset.
  • Yes, I will invest my time in my children, take them to that playground they’ve been wanting to go to, and enjoy being in the sunshine while they play.
  •  Yes, this project is important to me and so is watching a movie with my family so I will work on this project after/before/in the early morning, etc. so I can do both!

Everyone who has tried out the switch from “either or” to “yes and” has shared that they have experienced an increased lightness and joy and discovered energy that had been caught up in disappointment.  Those small daily conflicts shrink significantly and can even disappear when we take a “yes and” approach!

The last few weeks I experienced some physical sensations that slowed me down considerably.  In the past I would have felt that either I feel well or I don’t get things accomplished.  This time I used “yes and”.  The result of this switch was that I felt the way I felt and a number of items that I designate as important but not urgent were completed.  It felt good to focus on what I did have the energy to do rather than what I didn’t!

I invite you to try out this switch.  Live in “yes and” and get back to me.  I’d love to hear how it works for you!

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Car Follows Focus

I recently finishing reading Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, an amusing and heart warming book.  The art of automobile racing was one of the themes within its pages,  and the racing adage, “Car  Follows Focus”. It says that while racing, the driver’s hands follow her eyes, the wheel follows her hands, and the car follows the wheel or, extrapolating to the broader experience of life, the destination in which you are heading is determined by where you are placing your focus. In the book, a driver avoids a multicar pile up by focusing on the narrow strip of grass adjoining the track and beyond, not on the unfolding disaster in front of him.

I’ve been reflecting on the truth of this adage in my experience.  It is clear to me that when I shift my focus from what I am displeased with to what I desire pathways opens up.  I begin to experience the  freedom to move towards that which I desire rather than being stuck in place with that which doesn’t please me or seeing myself heading towards an experience I would rather avoid.

After I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease I focused on the available information which explained the possible and projected  impact of the disease.  While my focus was there I was a stressed out mess.  When, after months of suffering,  I asked myself what it was that I wanted for my life, I realized that I wanted a life of health and wellness regardless of the diagnosis.  After that realization I headed in that direction and rarely looked back.  Even while planning for open heart surgery and transplantation I kept my focus on that patch of green on the side of the track where wellness was to be found!

It is an investment of awareness and energy to ask ourselves “What is it I really want to experience?”  The return on that investment is a life of unusual and rewarding satisfaction, in all circumstances.

Our lives have strong similarities to the racing experience for the spirit.  We qualify at conception.  Our vehicle is our mind/body.  We pass the starting line at birth.  The track is the seasons through which we go round and round.  Our finish line? Death, at lease with this unique mind/body. Speed is optional and driver’s choice.

On the track, no matter how familiar we may think we are with it, we encounter unanticipated and unexpected conditions.  We take pit stops and utilize teams that assist us with repairs and motivation! To enjoy the adventure of the race, to learn the full capability of our vehicles, to ride all out, and to take our place among the greats who came before us and who will come after us when we cross that finish line – what can be more exhilarating?   This race is about the quality of the ride.

Focus on what inspires and moves you and you will be inspired and moved in that direction!  Simple yet profound.

 

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Eliminating School Daze…

School doesn’t necessarily wait until after Labor Day in September to begin like it once did.  Nor does it mean what it once meant and, while school remains mandatory through the age of sixteen, learning appears to be mandatory for life, if we are interested in the quality of our experience expanding.  Why are we “schooling” ourselves and our children?  It’s worth asking ourselves what is our goal of learning in this digital age where information is available at our fingertips 24/7 and employment does not necessarily follow closely on the heels of knowledge?

I suggest that it is more important than ever to make that inquiry for ourselves and discover responses that inspire and enliven us.  Responding to that inquiry also allows us to provide leadership that our children can choose to follow because our answers are constructed from thoughtful reflection and address the real and easily frightening issues of our time.

The old pat answers like “education gets you a good job”, “education makes you more valuable in the workplace”, “it’s your job as a kid just like mine is to ….”, “it’s the law”, don’t seem to hold true today.  There are multitudes of people who are well educated with years of valuable experience with no jobs or little or no job security. Plenty of kids don’t make it through high school.  Less and less young men are enrolling in colleges, and if enrolled, remaining through graduation. If I heard that line of logic in this day and age I would wonder what hole the adult that was telling me it was sticking his head in.  We have the opportunity to get authentically clear about why learn, and what learning provides beyond a paycheck, just in case the paycheck is long in coming or quick in disappearing!

Utilize the opportunity to reach inside your heart and mind and discover what it is about education that nourishes and empowers, especially when a job isn’t guaranteed. Reflect on what aspects of the education you’ve experienced, in school or out, that has been of infinite value to you.  Be open to your children’s questions of why, and be ready to answer them from your heart rather than some script you heard growing up that is less and less meaningful in today’s world.  Instilling an empowering and evocative story about learning and an experience of learning as vital and rewarding can be the inspiration that keeps the learning mind open even when the delivery system may be less than stellar.

I invite you to step out of the box of how “it” should be and explore learning that has the capability of empowering ourselves and our children to live lives that are spiritually, intellectually and emotionally rewarding, regardless of the financial rewards or lack thereof.  Be open to researching, discussing, and visiting alternatives to the local district school or eventually, the four year college route at the tune of $20,000 – $60,000 per year.  While those may be the choices you make together there are also charter schools, alternative schools, home schooling, and eventually two year county or city colleges, trade schools, making oneself valuable being involved in something for which deep passion is felt through volunteering, and other learning environments you will discover if the intention is there.  You can create wisdom, power, and prosperity from knowledge and so can your children, even if how isn’t immediately obvious.

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Insane/Outsane

Caution – this blog may contain inquiries which may disturb your sense of sanity.

“I am always thinking about how to make my children’s lives better. ”  Of course you are…isn’t this what good, loving, involved, intelligent parents do?

This is a statement well within the paradigm which we  deem “sane”.  Rarely would any of us question that statement if we hear it.  Yet maybe, after inquiry and exploration, it may behoove us to consider going “out-sane”.

In Making Mind Matter speak, I will use the  term “in-sane” to represent where we are when we accept the overarching consensus reality within which we were raised and within which most of us continue to function. I posit that continuing to live in this consensus reality of “sane” is not conducive to our well-being.

What’s another option when living according to the tenets we were taught as sane begin to feel insane?

Well, there is going “out-sane.”  Out-sane is a place of deep inquiry, a place where the obvious is not so obvious anymore and we begin to inquire what new approaches are a close match with our deepest dreams and values.  Out-sane is a perspective where we begin to see that the consensus reality which we were taught to accept as truth boarders on insanity when inspected closely.

Let’s examine this sentiment from an out-sane perspective through inquiry.  I’ll start with “making my children’s lives better”.  Is the inherent assumption that your children need to be better true?  Second inquiry, what constitutes “better”, for whom (your comfort level or the child’s evolutionary maturation?), and based on what criteria?   Third inquiry, how does a parent make their child’s life better in the future?

We will never be with our children in the future.  We are only always with them now, in the present. And, we can not know how to prepare them best for a specific future scenario which may or not come to pass. We can support them in being grounded, innovative, and resourceful in whatever present we happen to be sharing with them.

One of the “tenants of being” in the traditional understanding of “sane” is to learn from the past and teach the lessons learned to those we love as the right and most effective way to live in the present.  If the deep intention we have for our children is their true contentment, self-expression, and creativity as human beings, if we aren’t living that for ourselves, then what are we teaching them is how to reproduce our states of discontent, not the ability to reach into they mystery of life to find true contentment, self-expression, and creativity.

A new level of inquiry beyond what we were taught as the “sane” way to conduct our lives can lead us to strengthen our ability to make choices from different and perhaps initially novel perspectives, thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present that are aligned with  love and commitment to well-being.  Through this we have the possibility for the realization that we as parents are still discovering our way in a quickly shifting world with changing expectations and characteristics parallel to our children’s discoveries.

Returning to the original premise of “making life better for our children”, how do WE feel when we get the message either from ourselves or others that our lives need “improvement” in the present?  How do we feel when we receive the message that we should be working harder, making more money, dressing better, volunteering more often, being nicer, heavier, lighter, more muscled, less muscled, more social, less social, more informed, more involved, less involved, better at sports, at art, at music, stronger, healthier? How do we feel when we contemplate shooting for the top in the championship for everything? And if we take it on, for whom are we doing it?  When we read biographies of those that have been recognized for achieving top performance how satisfied with life are they?  If some are deeply satisfied and some aren’t then the recognition of top achievement isn’t the factor that allows for that deep satisfaction.

Let’s  move on to “always thinking about how to make my children’s lives” ….It is “in-sane” to be always thinking about how to make your children’s lives anything.    If you are responsible for how their lives are, then what are they responsible for?  What aren’t they responsible for if they feel that you are doing the thinking and planning for them?

So what does going out-sane look like and what kind of stand can we be for our children?  First of all, is the humbling realization that WE CAN NOT KNOW what is “best”, not for our children, not for ourselves, not for anyone.  What WE CAN KNOW is how clear we are in our intentions and values in each present moment and how committed we are in truly listening to what others share with us, in aligning the choices we make regarding what actions to take out of our values and intentions,  and the extent of our commitment to finding ways to communicate ourselves authentically and lovingly.  Then, those who are out-sane give their all and deem “ALL is good”, defined as “there is an inherent goodness in all experience and it is my intention to discover and experience that goodness while being and doing from my values.  Those who remain in-sane are giving their all to creating “all is GOOD”, defined as everyone and everything outside of themselves should be a certain way and that they will live and die trying to get reality to conform to how they think it should be or get angry, bitter, and disheartened because it won’t and they can’t.  An out-sane re-conceptualization of  “I am always thinking of ways to make my children’s’ lives better” might be ” I intend to discover and nurture my inner wisdom, creativity, and inspiration and support my children, friends, family, community, etc. to find  the same for themselves, whatever that might be.  Although I have ideas, I’m not at all sure how to do this yet I am committed to discovering the “how to” in living consciously through the adventure, challenge, and opportunity that is life.”

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On Love, the Unconditional Kind

A topic that comes up frequently during coaching sessions is love.  We toss the concept around regularly; we love people, we love our pets, we love our favorite foods, etc., yet when I inquire into what “love” means to clients or within myself I am often met with an initial silence, followed by “Well, there are all different types of love.  Which one do you want my meaning for?” The one I am interested in exploring now is “unconditional love”, known as agape in Greek.

 

Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē[1]) means “love” (unconditional love) in modern day Greek, such as in the term s’agapo (Σ’αγαπώ), which means “I love you”. In Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros“. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial love. Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for a good meal, one’s children, and the feelings for a spouse. It can be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard.[1]

 

Unconditional love doesn’t play favorites.  While it may prefer certain outcomes it is not attached.  It accepts people and situations as they are and as they aren’t while holding firm to the internal values at our core.

 

In 2008 while in the hospital prior to open heart surgery I had the honor of rooming with an African American woman in her mid sixties.  She was the mother of a thirty-something man, employed, happily married and co-parenting his two children.  At different times during his late teens and early twenties he was incarcerated for petty theft, a drug user and a heroin addict.  She told me that the most important act parents can make for their children is to always believe in them – believe in their ability to transcend their pain and suffering and their joy and pleasure and learn from the choices they make and the experiences they’re living.  She was speaking of unconditional love, accepting and honoring another’s path, even if it diverges vastly from our own.  Unconditional love is continuing to love through pleasure and pain.  It is continuing to love whether the object of our love is alive or dead.

 

At a funeral last week, for a thirty-one year old woman, beloved daughter, wife, and friend to many, the pastor spoke of love being weaker than death in that love can not keep people alive when it is time for them to depart yet it is longer than death.  It transcends the life/death dichotomy.  Unconditional love transcends the condition of life.

 

Unconditional love begins at home.  It begins with practicing accepting and loving ourselves; at the level of education we’ve achieved, the weight and level of fitness we are, the amount of money we generate, the choices we’ve made that have damaged or strengthened ourselves and others, what we excel at and what we don’t, and with the families we were born into and have created.  It includes honoring our path, as windy and unpredictable as it may feel, and being willing to seed and weed while we walk.

 

Unconditional love does not mean that we are stuck with our present experiences or that we can’t evolve and change ourselves and the situations we find ourselves in.  It doesn’t mean that we can’t fiercely advocate for what we deeply hold to be important and sacred.

 

It does mean that we assume responsibility for identifying and meeting our needs and cease to blame others if we are living in such a way that our needs are not being met.  It means that if we feel out of integrity we find our way back, and support others to do the same.  It means we allow ourselves and others to experience the natural consequences of our actions and let go of attempting to control others for the sake of feeling a false security.  It means we live beyond that place of judgment that we are all so familiar with and hold true to our values, letting of right/wrong, good/bad, should/shouldn’t thinking.  It means we stay with “what is” in the present and “what we’re committed to” now and for the future we are living into, regardless if we ever experience it fully manifest or not.

 

Loving unconditionally is ultimately believing and honoring the deep integrity in ourselves and each other, no matter what actions are taken – even if those actions result in removing ourselves from situations that are unsupportive of our or another’s well being.  Unconditional love is not a formula for a storybook life.  It is a way we can choose to become for an exceptionally deep, creative and rewarding life, illuminated by a rainbow of relationships, experiences, and emotions.

Maybe what we sacrifice in that New Testament definition of unconditional love is our ideas of duality and limitation.

What meaning do you give love? May you experience a depth of capacity from your inquiry.

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Vacationing Well

It’s summertime!  It’s a time we plan to vacate our usual routines and the places we routinely live our lives.  Yippee.  Pack the clothes, the food, the sunscreen, the insect repellent, the toys (adult and children’s) and we are off to our destination of choice to enjoy ourselves.

Yet vacations can also be a time of stress and disappointment, especially when they include being with other people whom we may not normally be around as frequently or as long in duration.  Even interacting with loved ones can result in upsets when the situations are ones that are unfamiliar, like getting ready for a day’s outing when you and your kids aren’t the only ones going or choosing how to spend a given day when you want to fish, the kids want to go on a bike hike, and your significant other wants to go to the beach TOGETHER! So what’s sunscreen for exposure to other people’s unique ways of being and, if you feel overexposed, what’s the healing salve for interpersonal rub burns?

First of all, clarify for yourself why you are going on vacation.  Is it to relax and enjoy being away from the usual?  Is it to have fun and enjoy the people you’re with? When you are crystal clear on your intention for your vacation, even if you are staying home, you can better detect if your reactions are leading you off course from that intention and recalculate your route. If you’re the one always in charge and always in the know do you really want to take this with you? Can you leave it behind to collect upon return?

Second, if you are going away and will be with family and/or friends under different circumstances than usual, recognize that there will be a learning curve for making yourself understood and understanding others the first few days you are together.  What people say and how you interpret what they are saying may be quite different.  When you feel the hairs rise on your neck, remember to ask for clarification.  Perhaps they are not saying what you are hearing and if they are, whose issue is it?  If it’s not yours, how can you stay out of the way? If it is yours, is it worth diving into when your intention is to enjoy yourself? The more you can observe and learn about your new environment and the new ways people show up in it, the more proficient you can be in thriving there.

Next, remember that by choosing to plan and go on a vacation you are choosing to mix things up a bit.  Neither you nor any of your vacation mates are in their “normal” routine. If you can, be gracious with yourself and others by allowing for some chaos and confusion while everyone figures out how to settle in.  Your largess may dampen any emotional sparks flying around just enough to put them out before the kindling ignites.

If the kindling does ignite yet you remain intent on having an enjoyable experience, consider viewing the situation as a sitcom (or drama) for which you have front row seating.  Depersonalize the action.  By removing yourself in this way you are in a better position to see the show and continue to be a fan of the performers.  After all, the show is a limited engagement.  If you don’t want your experience wasted, it’s up to you to find a way to enjoy it.

Communicate in advance the types of amusement you would like, and find out what the others you are going away with want.  With advance communication you can relax and so can everyone else by creating a plan in which all feel included.  It’s important to clarify that inclusion means being considered, not having every whim and desire met by others. You can even offer people the opportunity to consider what they would want to bring to amuse themselves or how they can adapt gracefully when the activity planned is not their favorite.   This way all of you can consider in advance approaches to situations so they have less of an opportunity to turn into problems!

And finally, if there is a disagreement or blow up of some kind; go easy on yourself and everyone else.  Consider the role you played in the upset, and apologize if you feel that you over reacted or misunderstood.  Apologies are an opportunity to be bigger than you were if you catch yourself being small.

Remember the toilet paper, the sunscreen, the first aid cream, your favorite books, movies, snacks, toys, tolerance, and love. Have a great vacation!  With these suggestions it just may last long after you arrive home.

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