Jack Canfield is Wrong: “So What” Doesn’t Work

There’s a lot that Jack Canfield does right. But there’s one thing he said in the movie The Secret that has been bugging me ever since I first saw it back in 2006.

Do you remember when he said this?

“… most psychologists believe that about 85% of families are dysfunctional, so it’s like, all of a sudden you’re not so unique. My parents were alcoholics. My dad abused me, my mother divorced him when I was six… I mean, that’s almost everybody’s story in some form or not. So that’s just called, ‘So what’.”

It’s that “So What” that bugs me.

Maybe so what worked for Jack… and maybe it works for some people. It hasn’t worked for me… I tried getting “So What” to work for about 20-years: Never did.

Now maybe I was just too messed up… or maybe I just wasn’t ready to let go of my wounding… maybe I was one of those victims Jack was talking about when he said: “You know, a lot of people feel like they’re victims in life, and they’ll often point to past events, perhaps growing up with an abusive parent or in a dysfunctional family.”

Could be. I’m willing to accept that there may be some truth to that.

And… I’m also clear that “So What” was NOT an effective path to wholeness for me. And, from what I can tell, it’s not an effective path for a lot of people including most of the people I’ve coached and guided through courses and retreats.

It took me a long time to let go of “so what” and look for another path, another way out of the cycle of wounding that held me back and holds so many Modern Day Mystics back from creating lives of True Abundance.

A new path appeared for me when I started working with a Somatic Experiencing practitioner. The doorway to a new possibility opened when she saw and acknowledged and reflected back to me the depth of the pain I was holding in the cells of my body.

She could tell by the way my body moved when I entered the “trauma vortex” that my trauma was early, birth and even pre-birth. She was able to see and clearly and compassionately reflect what I had been holding in my body all my life.

My “story,” as Jack would call it, is about adoption . It’s a story that doesn’t lend itself to being a victim because the trauma is pre-verbal, pre-cognition. There is no abuse involved and looking in from the outside there doesn’t seem to be much trauma at all. In some ways you could call it a “silent trauma.”

Try explaining to someone who has not been adopted that being separated from your mother at birth feels akin to death – your death and the death of the one person in your life that you need, in that moment, more than anything – and that the memory of that “death” is encoded in the cells of your body. Most people will nod their heads and say, “that’s interesting.”

So I tried, for most of my life, to get to that place of “So What” since that’s what the world seemed to be reflecting back to me. So What, Edward. Get over it and get on with your life.

Well intentioned advice that completely missed the target.

“So What” wasn’t what I needed. It didn’t help me.

Working with the SE practitioner I finally understood what I needed and what would have helped me. And maybe hearing this – even though the specifics might not be the same – will help you!

If I could go back to my younger self, when I first began my journey of self-discovery, knowing what I know now, here is what I would say:

“Wow Edward, I can see how deeply the adoption experience impacted you. You hold a profound pain inside of you that most likely will never completely go away. It must have been so painful to have your mother let you go at the moment of your birth. I can sense the deep emotions, the grief, anger, terror and helplessness that you’re holding in the cells of your body.

“You will always carry the memory of that experience in your body.

“But you know what else? You can learn to let go of the pain and release those deep emotions so that the experience doesn’t control you. You can acknowledge it. You can learn to accept it as a part of who you are. In time you may even come to appreciate it for the role it has played in shaping you into who you are and who you are becoming.

“And when you do that, Edward, when you acknowledge, accept and even appreciate the experience it will no longer have power over you. It will no longer control your thoughts and actions from the shadows.

“This experience has defined you but it has done so on a subconscious level. Now you get to choose to bring this experience into your conscious exploration of who you want to become. How will you choose to interact with this trauma. How will you choose to let it activate you, open you, awaken you, catalyze you to create something and share the unique wisdom and insights that you carry because of it? That is your choice and that is the path you must walk.”

Now I hope you can see that this is not meant to give any of us license to be a victim or to get stuck in our woundedness. Rather it is an invitation to be deeply witnessed in your wholeness… and your wholeness includes the wounds and past traumas that you carry.

When you are witnessed in those places, when you allow yourself to be seen and accepted in your wholeness you can begin to reclaim the power from the wounded places and bring that power into the light, into your life… and into the world!

So consider this article my way of acknowledging you, of witnessing you in your wholeness, of honoring the pain you carry from whatever traumas you have experienced in the past and of inviting you to bring your power into the world!

The Secret to Controlling the Weather

He stood on the outcropping overlooking the drought-stricken valley below. Crops were withering from the heat and lack of rain. He could smell the smoke from the not too distant fires burning their way through the dry forests and fields.

He stood, feeling the fear of his people, the pain of the farmers, the hunger of the children. He let this fear, pain and hunger flow into his awareness, fill him up, take him over. He allowed the memories of past droughts and the grief they left in their path swallow him. He let the fear, pain and sadness of his people awaken the places of fear, pain and sadness within himself.

He focused on the sadness: Of the mothers who could not feed their children, the farmers who could not provide for their families and communities. He let this sadness grow inside. He let himself open to the cleansing that needed to move through him.

Soon the tears began to flow, just a trickle at first as he opened his heart fully to the sadness and welcomed in the cleansing. And as the tears began to flow, those watching from below saw clouds begin to gather. Slowly at first, then more rapidly, the blue sky turned grey. Darker and darker the sky became until a shout was heard, “Rain!”

Soon others joined in, shouting with joy and gratitude as they, too, felt the drops of rain beginning to bring their cleansing, regenerative power to the land.

Before long, the people in the valley below could no longer see the Rainmaker standing above. He was lost in the rain and clouds. But still, he stood, finding the places within himself that needed to be cleansed, opening himself up to those places where sadness and grief lived within himself so that he could call forth the cleansing rains and bring healing and hope to the land and to the people.

Scientists have told us that it’s impossible to control the weather. There are too many factors and variables. But for millenia, the mystics and shaman of many traditions have demonstrated that it is possible to influence the weather.

Possible. Not possible. Who can really say. All I know is that there sure seems to be a correlation between my emotional state and the weather. Now there is the chicken and egg question that can be asked here: Which comes first, the rain to help remind me that there is some place inside me that needs cleansing or the places inside me that need the cleansing?

It doesn’t really matter, although I admit it can be fun to imagine that my emotional state influences the weather!

What matters to me is that I don’t just dismiss the weather as an unrelated external factor. II believe there IS a connection between what is happening inside of me – and YOU – and what is happening in the world around me, including the weather.

We are all interconnected. You’ve heard the phrase “as above so below” or “get the inside right and the outside follows.” Our inner world and the external world that we see and experience are intimately connected. So whether or not my internal state has an impact on the weather, I have begun looking at the weather as more than a random external circumstance. Instead, look at the weather as a literal barometer and reflection of something inside of me.

For instance, this morning I woke up to a dense fog. Instead of moaning and complaining, I asked myself, what is this fog here to remind me?

The answer came back immediately: “You don’t need to know the outcome, just take the next step.”

So often I find myself wanting to know the outcome, the final destination. I want to be able to see where the path in front of me is leading. There is definitely a bit of that happening in my life right now. Lots of changes and unknown variables have left me feeling a bit off balance and uncertain about how to proceed. In fact, I had a difficult time falling asleep last night because my mind was so busy trying to figure out all the possible permutations and twists and turns in the road in front of me.

This morning, the fog reminded me, in very clear terms that I don’t need to know what happens beyond today, or even what happens beyond this very moment. I don’t need to see where the path I’m on is leading.

I only need to take the next step. And when I take that next step, the step after it will become clear. If I just continue taking one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, I know that I’ll get to where I’m going… even if I don’t know where that is!

So, if you woke up to fog this morning, let go of the need to know where Life is leading you and ask yourself what the very next step is that you can take in this moment.

If you woke up to rain, ask yourself what places inside of you could use a little cleansing.

And if you woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning, enjoy the vista, know that you are in a place where you CAN see the possibilities and potential that awaits you as you move forward. But remember, you still have to take that next step… and the one after that… in order to get to where this incredible Life is leading you.

And remember, it really IS possible that YOU are controlling the weather!

Don’t forget to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about your experiences of controlling the weather!

You Are NOT Alone!

Have you ever felt alone?

If you’re like most of us, the answer to that question is a resounding YES!

How about when…

  • the teacher called on you in school and you didn’t know the answer?
  • or coming home to an empty house after a breakup?
  • or someone you love has passed on?
  • or a friend is late (or forgets about) a meeting?
  • or someone you love forgets your birthday?

Sometimes, even standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, surrounded by hundreds of people, a feeling of aloneness can creep in and we find ourselves retreating further into the perception that we are alone.

To some extent we all feel this aloneness and it impacts every aspect of our lives.

Eckhart Tolle speaks of Alienation, which the dictionary defines as:  Isolation from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved.

He writes:

“Most people are alienated from who they are… Alienation means that you don’t feel at ease in any situation, any place, or with any person, not even with yourself. You are always trying to get “home” but never feel at home.”

I can relate to feeling ill at ease. Here’s one of the strange ways that feeling has shown up in my life. You know those signs in some stores that say, “Please check your bags at the counter?” For many years, I felt so out of place in this world that if a store didn’t have a bag check I would ask if I could leave my bag at the counter anyway. If they said “No,” and I had to walk around the store with my backpack, I would feel paranoid the entire time that they thought I was going to steal something. And no, I don’t have kleptomaniac tendencies! 😉

It was just one of the quirky ways that my sense of alienation manifested.

Now, obviously that particular expression of alienation didn’t have a huge negative impact on my life. But when that deep feeling of not belonging in the world showed up in my relationships, it did!

Because I believed, so deeply, that I am alone, I acted in ways that helped prove that belief. I kept people at a distance. I pushed people who loved me away. I resisted deep connections and intimacy.

Not the most effective and enjoyable way to live!

And while I have gotten MUCH better at opening up to people and loving them and allowing them to love me, I still do catch myself, from time to time, acting from the belief that I am alone.

Now, when I notice myself pushing someone away or holding myself back from a connection, I stop and remember that it’s the perfect time to love myself and feel into the truth that I am deeply and intimately connected with all that is.

Remember that “Contrast” – the things in our lives that we don’t necessarily like – shows up to point out something obvious that we’re forgetting. When I catch myself relating to someone else in an unloving way, it’s time for me to stop and find the place inside myself that feels unloved or unlovable.

The more I do that, the more open I become to truly deep, intimate, loving connections with others… as well as with myself and, most important, with Source or God.

So the next time you feel alone or you catch yourself pushing someone away, I encourage you to take a moment to stop and find the place inside you that is asking for love, that is asking to be welcomed home.

The more that you can remember your connection to all that is the more you’ll shift that feeling of Aloneness to ALLOne Ness!

Stop waiting for your starring role

Do you want to make a difference in the world? Do you want to be a catalyst for positive change?

The desire to contribute to the highest good of all is strong in most modern day mystics. We see the problems in the world. We feel the pain and suffering of those around us as well as those far away. We resonate with the Earth as she experiences the sometimes devastating changes that our actions create.

In the face of such seemingly overwhelming “problems” the desire to make massive, positive changes can be quite strong. We want to make a difference. But not just a little difference… we want to make a BIG one!

Ironically, it is that very desire to make a BIG difference that paralyzes so many modern day mystics! We wait until the moment when everything feels right and our ducks are all in a row and the guidance or inspiration for action comes and we KNOW that we’re going to make that BIG difference.

But when will everything be just right? When will we feel strong enough, healed enough, focused enough, enlightened enough to make a difference that is big enough? We won’t. Which is why starting NOW is so important.

Have you ever acted in a play? I acted in high school and again after college in several community theater performances. And even at that level it was interesting to observe how we all wanted the starring role!

Let’s face it, most actors dream of being the “star.” Very few people go into an acting career with a vision of making a career as a “walk on” or even a supporting actor for that matter. They want to see their name in lights and be listed first in the credits. That’s a great dream!

But, more often than not, they WON’T get a starring role. It’s just a numbers game: Think about how many starring roles there are versus how many aspiring actors there are!  There just aren’t enough opportunities for everyone to be the star – at least in Hollywood!

And while it can be a bit romantic to imagine that the big stars we see on screen were “discovered” the truth is that most of the big name actors have worked their butts off getting whatever parts they can and showing up fully in the best and biggest way they know how… even for those small and in some cases insignificant roles. They knew that the more fully they showed up for the small parts the more likely it is that they would get noticed and get invited to audition for a larger part next time.

Eventually, if they keep showing up and keep playing those supporting roles in the biggest and best way they know how, they MIGHT get one of those starring roles they’ve dreamed up.

Life is like that. Most of us want to be the star. We want to play a big, important part in this performance that we call life. But the truth is that if you look at our “roles” through our cultural lens of importance, there are very few “starring” roles.

On the other hand, if you look at your “roles” in terms of what really makes a difference, you have the potential to be in a starring role all the time! In fact, no one else in the world, no one else in all of time and space, can play the part that you have been assigned. No one else has the same unique mix of qualities, insights, talents, skills, experiences, and gifts. Only you can be the star in the part you have come here to play.

That part is yours and yours alone. And whether our culture sees it as a “starring” role or a supporting role doesn’t matter. Because, in the end, you ARE the star of YOUR life and you have absolutely no idea how the role you play is going to impact the course of this world.

Native Americans tell us that our actions impact the next seven generations. Can you see seven generations from now? Can you know the potential power of your actions as their impact, like the ripples from a pebble thrown in a pond, grows and spreads out through those next seven generations? Probably not!

What if a simple smile that you share with someone changes the course of their life? What if you smiled at a young man walking down the street, not knowing that he was feeling down, despairing, confused and uncertain what to do next? And what if your smile, for whatever reason, gave him hope? What if that was exactly what he needed to take his next step and enroll in college and get his science degree? And what if he goes on to a PhD program and becomes a core member of the team that discovers the cure for cancer?

And what if you will NEVER (in this lifetime) know that you were the one who gave him the strength and courage to take that next step.

We can never know the impact of our actions. A friend of mine, Liz, recently celebrated her birthday with a Purification Lodge Ceremony. While the fire was heating the stone people, I was talking with one of her friends who had been a student of mine seven or eight years ago. As we talked, she reminded me that she and Liz had actually met at that class and have since become close friends. And she told me that what she had learned in that class continued to influence her work and life and that it had been a key factor in her decision to enroll in a master’s program in transpersonal psychology.

It was eye-opening for me to hear. I had quite literally forgotten about that course and it made me realize just how easy it is to underestimate and even disregard the impact of our actions.

Look, life doesn’t care if you are the star! The truth is, to Life you ARE the star in each and every moment… no matter what you are doing!

The point is, don’t wait for your “starring” role since it might never come. Jump in and give all you’ve got to whatever role you are playing right now. This IS your starring role! The part you play in this life, whether large or small, is absolutely needed. You hold a piece of the puzzle that no one else does. Don’t wait. Don’t squander your time here waiting for the call to come. Get out there and make yourself count no matter how small or insignificant you feel your part is.

 

Lower Your Standards!

There’s a great story about the poet and teacher William Stafford. He’s recognized as one of the most prolific poets of recent times and during the last twenty or more years of his life he wrote at least one poem every day.

Yes… that’s one poem EVERY DAY!

And, much to the dismay of his poetry students at Lewis and Clark University, he assigned them the same “homework:” One poem a day for the entire semester!

I can just imagine the groans and complaints that followed that announcement. But when the students asked how it could be done, he replied simply, “Lower your standards.”

Perfection is An Abundance Killer!

Perfection is one of the most effective abundance killers! I should know, I’m a recovering perfectionist and I can look back and see all of the times that I have let my desire to be “perfect” get in the way of abundance.

When perfectionism takes over, nothing you do or create can ever be good enough. And if you don’t believe that anything you do or create is good enough it’s going to be awfully difficult to feel excited about sharing what you do with others.

And isn’t that what abundance is all about? In order to receive abundantly, you MUST be willing to share abundantly. Perfectionism breaks that cycle before you can even begin sharing! Not a great way to start your journey to TRUE Abundance

When I first heard that story about William Stafford, many years ago, I thought he must have been crazy!  “Lower my standards?”

The thought of lowering my standards flies in the very face of my beloved and comfortable perfectionism. If I’m going to put something out in the world it had better be perfect. And, as far as my inner perfectionist is concerned, nothing will ever be perfect!

But see, there’s a key component to Stafford’s assignment that my inner perfectionist doesn’t quite get. Stafford never told his students to publish a poem a day. He told them only to write a poem a day, which is exactly what he did.

Crappy Is Good!

I bet if we could see some of his daily poems – the ones that did not get published – we would agree that many of them, perhaps most, were not so good. Some of them were probably pretty crappy! And I’m sure he’d agree with us as well.

But when you write a poem a day, you’ve got a lot to choose from. And out of those daily poems he found enough good ones to publish more than 50 books, one of which – Traveling Through the Dark – won the National Book Award for poetry. He was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and held the post which is now called the Poet Laureate of the United States.

Clearly there’s something to this idea of “lowering your standards.”

Would you like to know how many “unfinished” essays, stories, newsletter articles, course outlines and book chapters I have stashed away on my hard drive? I bet you would! But I’m not going to tell you! Suffice it to say that by lowering my standards, not a whole heck of a lot, I’d have a lot more stuff out in the world.

And what if someone, just one person, happened to read one of those “extra” blog posts or newsletter articles? And what if that article was exactly the thing she needed to hear at that moment? What if lowering my standards helped to change her life for the better?

Is it worth it? Is it worth the risk that I might publish a crappy article every now and then? Is the possibility of being of service to more people worth lowering my standards? You bet it is!

Are You Ready for What God Sends YOU?

And what about you? What “articles” do you have sitting on your hard drive? What creation of yours is waiting to see the light of day because it is not yet “perfect?” What if you lowered your standards? Just a tiny bit. Just enough to finish it and get it out into the world.

Here’s my hope and my challenge to you: Can you lower your standards? Just a bit? Can you look through your hard drive, or your closet or workshop? Can you dust off your chisels or brushes, get out your business plan or novel and reawaken your creative dreams? Can you lower your standards just enough to get those creations, those ideas, those dreams that are waiting inside of you, out into the light?

If you find yourself stuck in the process, wondering if it’s perfect enough, remember this line from the last poem William Stafford wrote on August 28, 1993, the day that he died:

“Be ready for what God sends.”

Indeed, be ready for what god sends, and be willing to let it come through you and out into the light.

I look forward to seeing more of your creations out in the world!

Learning to flow with the rhythms of life

Today was supposed to be the start of the Awakened Man Summit. But due to a last minute scheduling snafu I don’t have a speaker for tonight.

Since I found out about this a couple of days ago I’ve been somewhat – to very – frantically seeking another speaker to step in at the last minute for tonight’s spot. And none of the folks I’ve contacted have been able to make it.

So last night – LATE – I got the message – loud and clear – to let go and trust.

What a relief it always is when I finally do let go and trust in the wisdom of Life! I could feel the tension release from my body and mind. After all, the worst that would happen is I would schedule the speaker for another date during the summit.

And this morning I found out why Life had different plans for me!

My daughter woke up with a tummy ache and ended up staying home from school. With her home, I haven’t been able to get some of the last-minute pieces in place for a call tonight, and she might not be feeling well enough to hang out with a babysitter later tonight.

What a mess that could have been… being on a live call with one of the speakers with a sick kid hanging out potentially needing my attention. Not sure how fully I would have been able to focus on the interview!

It’s just another reminder that Life is infinitely wiser than me!

Over and over again I’ve had experiences that have confirmed the truth that when I trust in the flow and rhythm of Life everything will work out!

And I must admit that I find it rather amusing (when I’m not kicking myself!) that I still have trouble trusting in the flow of Life. When Life has plans that aren’t exactly in alignment with mine I still feel the urge to push against those plans, trying to mold and shape Life to fit the picture I have in mind.

And how amazing it is that Life continues to have the highest good in mind when it “overrules” my plans!

This is big piece of what I consider to be the new model of manhood. In the old model, men were taught that imposing our will over other people, nature, the Earth and Life itself was the way to express ourselves as men. We were taught that we must be able to bend – and, if possible, break – the will of Life in order to prove ourselves.

Well, that model has definitely not worked. And, to be quite honest, I have a feeling that Life has been laughing herself silly watching us run around thinking that we’re getting her to change her course.

Patience is not one of the strong characteristics in the old model of manhood whereas LIFE has infinite patience.

Now it feels like the tide is turning. Life is ready to gently, and perhaps not-so-gently, remind us that force will never get her to change her course.

The way we get Life to change course is to, quite literally, BECOME LIFE. Men (and to a lesser degree women) haven’t been so good at that. Now is the time for us all to learn this new skill, one that will enable us to work in harmony with the flow and rhythm of life to create the New Earth that is awakening.

Have there been times in your life when Life has “overruled” your plans? How have you flowed with that? Are you able to trust in the wisdom of Life? Have you experienced this merging with Life? How does it feel, how do you know, when you are in union with Life?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

And if you’re interested in joining the Awakened Man Summit – that begins WEDNESDAY evening! – you can register for fre-ee here!

Awakened Man Telesummit – Begins Wednesday, may 25th!

Your partner in TRUE Abundance

Edward

Did I Do the Right Thing?

As a child, my father often said, “Do the right thing, Edward.” From turning out the lights when I left a room to sending thank you cards after receiving gifts, he would speak those words.

Back then I did my best to avoid doing the right thing… or at least doing HIS right thing. Certainly, there was a good measure of youthful rebellion in that avoidance but there was at least an equal part of me that felt the mechanical, rote nature of his words. They felt empty and disconnected from a greater rightness that I sensed existed beyond the words.

If you had asked me back then I doubt that I would have been able to voice it but a part of me sensed that doing the right thing meant more than turning out the lights and sending thank you cards (although those are certainly good things to do!)

Now, though, when I hear those words coming from within, I find that I am grateful to have internalized this concept of “the right thing.” Not that I believe there is one “right” thing in a situation but because the question, “What IS the right thing?” opens me to bigger answers.

As the start of the Awakened Man Summit approaches and I dive deeper into the research and reading in preparation for it, I’m beginning to understand what it means to be an Awakened Man.

To be honest with you, when I got the “hit” to produce this summit, I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant to be an awakened man. I had a sense of what it meant, but no clear picture or definition. Now, with less than 2-weeks to the start of the summit, I’m starting to “get it!”

Letting Go!

A big part of awakening, as a man, means letting go of the old concepts of the “right thing.”

Until recently most men have chosen to follow a path of rightness handed down blindly through generations of men. This unbalanced expression of the active (masculine) principle that has defined what it means to be a man in our culture has led to violence, war, unchecked growth and the increasingly unsustainable condition of our world.

More recently, some men – myself included – have actively chosen another path, one that disowns the active (masculine) principle and intentionally embraces the softer, receptive, feminine principle.

While there is much benefit in “exploring the feminine” most of these explorations start in reaction to the belief that there is something “wrong” or “bad” about the active, masculine energy. In that place of reaction, where men are actively connecting to the soft, feminine energies and consciously (or not) disconnecting from the active, masculine energies the “right thing” has led to inaction and an abdication of responsibility.

Neither of these paths leads to the Authentic Power that a man can access and wield when he disconnects from the old beliefs about manhood, discovers his true purpose and surrenders his idea of rightness into the service of the highest good of all.

It saddens me to think that my father – like most men – has never explored the concept of rightness unhitched  from the yoke of manhood placed upon him by his forefathers (and mothers).

Rites of Passage

In most indigenous cultures there were, and remain, rituals of initiation to help boys make the transition from childhood into manhood. These rituals involve extended time in the company of men, away from the energy and influence of women. As these boys step through the fire of initiation they are unburdened from the need to act in ways that lead to approval and acceptance from the feminine.

These cultures understand the importance of guiding men out of the “womb” and into the world. For, in many ways, men remain connected to and immersed in the womb of “WOMAN” until consciously and actively choosing to release that connection and step out into the world “naked and alone” as an awakened, conscious, mature man.

Our modern culture lacks those rituals – or gives us watered down versions such as a bar mitzvah. So most men have not experienced the transformative possibility these rituals offer.

Until a man makes this choice and releases his attachment to the energetic womb of “WOMAN” he cannot show up fully as a man in the world or in relationship with a (singular) woman. There will remain within him an urge to answer the question “What is the right thing” based on whether or not it will lead to approval and acceptance from the energy of WOMAN.

The Hero’s Journey

Last night, I saw the movie Thor. It was a bittersweet experience: My beloved and I had been planning to see it together and it didn’t work out that way. We were in the midst of a relational opportunity… to choose to move forward and deeper into trust or to step backwards into distance and defensiveness. The jury is still out on which way we’ll end up going.

[Note that a slight movie “spoiler” follows!]

There is a scene near the end of Thor where he makes a decision to save many lives and an entire world. It is not a decision easily made, for in saving the lives of many he must cut the bridge that connects him to his beloved. In making that choice he knows there is a chance that his actions will forever separate them.

As he strikes the final blow that shatters the bridge he speaks the words, “Forgive me, Jane.”

If Joseph Campbell were here, he would tell us that, with that blow, Thor had completed his “hero’s journey.” He had learned to seek out, listen for and act upon a rightness transcendent to his own personal desires and even those of his immediate loved ones. He had become an awakened man and earned the right to become King.

While not nearly as dramatic as Thor’s actions, I made a decision yesterday to narrow my focus down to a laser point and put all of my time and energy into preparing for the Awakened Man Summit. I felt guided to stand in service of the highest good and consciously devote myself completely to this project.

In choosing that path and sharing my decision I knew that it could create a chasm between my beloved and myself.

It has.

Now I find myself standing at the edge of that shattered bridge wondering if I did, indeed, “do the right thing.”

Was the guidance I received authentic or was it coming from a place of fear?

Was my action truly “Awakened” or was I motivated by unconscious forces?

Will my beloved forgive me or have I permanently severed our trust and broken the bridge between us?

I don’t know the answers but I sense that asking these questions means that I am not far from the right path. My intuition tells me that my guidance was “right” but that I could have found a more graceful and elegant way to navigate those waters as I shared my decision.

Sin and Forgiveness

Sam Keen, author of Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man, and one of the speakers in the Awakened Man Summit, once said, “Sin and forgiveness is a better way to handle relationships than the illusion of perfection. We learn from our mistakes.”

What a relief it was to hear those words and to let go of the “illusion of perfection” in my relationships. And, yet, what a difficult path to walk… to be open to the “sins” of your partner and your own, to be willing to forgive your partner and yourself, and to be willing to acknowledge and learn from your mutual mistakes and use those lessons to awaken more fully. What a blessing. And what treacherous waters you may (WILL) find yourself in when you choose to engage in relationship in that manner.

I have no illusions about being a “perfect” partner (except sometimes when I do!). Nor do I have expectations of perfection in my partner (except sometimes when I do!) To be quite honest, I have no idea what it would look like to BE a perfect partner or to HAVE a perfect partner!

Perhaps perfection is to be found on the path of surrendering the question, “What is the right thing?” again and again, into the service of the highest good.

It seems that my father’s refrain of “do the right thing, Edward” worked, though perhaps not in the way he intended. I truly do long to do the right thing. Perhaps that longing is enough. And perhaps the desire to do the right thing, combined with the willingness to learn from my mistakes will keep me moving forward on the path of awakening.

We’ll see!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!

Lessons in Divine Timing From a Loose Tooth

One night last week as my daughter was falling asleep she called down to me, “Dada, guess what?”

“What sweetie?”

“I’ve got a loose tooth!”

“Yay. I’ll check it out in the morning.”

And, sure enough, in the morning I saw that Ella had her first loose tooth. Now having your first loose tooth is always a big moment for a child. But for Ella it was especially big since every other kid in her first grade class has already lost at least one tooth. So she’s been waiting, not always so patiently, for one of her baby teeth to loosen up and fall out.

And that, no-so-patient part came out the next morning when she tried to get that tooth out of her mouth! She tried grabbing it with her fingers and tugging it, wrapping string around it, eating “hard food” and asking me to wrap a string around it and tie it to a doorknob!

She’s discovering the contrast between human timing and divine timing, between our physical nature and our spiritual essence.

“We are spiritual beings have a physical experience.” I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Our spiritual essence exists as infinite, limitless consciousness outside of time and space. But while we are here, in this three-dimensional realm, having this physical experience we exist as individuals within the context of and seemingly under the influence of linear time and space.

Ironically, it is the very presence of time and space in the physical world that gives us the opportunity to remember and ultimately reunite with the timeless nature of our larger, non-physical essence. Part of our maturation process as spiritual beings involves awakening our capacity to acknowledge, honor and live fully engaged in both of these seemingly incompatible flows: The timeless and the time-bound.

Have you ever said something like, “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” or, “I just don’t have the time,” or, “We’re running out of time?” If so – and, let’s face it, who hasn’t? – you’ve experienced the disconnect between linear and non-linear time. You’ve lived with them out of sync, out of alignment.

When linear and non-linear time come into alignment the feeling that there is “not enough time” goes away. The timelessness of our spiritual nature seeps into your physical reality and opens you to an effortless flow. Synchronicity happens when linear and non-linear time are aligned.

Miracles happen!

Within the context of  our physical, human experience there are many ways that we can perceive and interact with time. In most cases we perceive time from a purely human, linear perspective. We have an agenda and a schedule and a chronological connection to the flow of time. In this place there is little room for the natural flow of life. If an unexpected traffic jam makes us late for a meeting it is difficult to expand out of linear time and open up to the larger perspective of non-linear flow.

Life often has a different take on “right timing” than we have in our minds. Our minds see the trees, sometimes opening up to see the forest. Life IS the forest. But it is also the trees, the fields, the rivers, the mountains, the earth and the sky.

When things don’t happen in your life in thetime-frame you have envisioned it is always an opportunity to open up to the perfection of non-linear or divine timing. I’m sure you’ve had at least one experience where you didn’t get something you really wanted in the time you wanted. And have you ever seen that disappointment open to an even better outcome an outcome that you probably couldn’t even imagine?

That is the beauty of Divine Timing. When you’re anchored in linear, physical time, it is difficult to see all the possibilities. But life’s little, and not so little, disappointments give you the opportunity to let go of your death-grip on linear time and open your vision and perspective to other possibilities and to the blessings and manifestations  awaiting you that are unimaginable to your linear,rational mind!

That morning, last week, I could see Ella grappling with the contrast between the timing of what she wanted from a physical and mental perspective versus the timing of the flow of life. Ella’s human, physical reality timing had that tooth out of her mouth right now! Life wasn’t in such a rush.

Her loose tooth was an opportunity to experience the contrast. And the next day, she got to experience the discomfort that we create when we push against the flow of life.

She was back at her mom’s and absolutely, definitely wanted that loose tooth out of her mouth. So they pulled it out! And since it wasn’t quite ready, wasn’t quite the right time, it hurt her a lot and caused some bleeding in her mouth so she had to “gargle a lot with yucky water!”

Maybe next time she’ll be willing to sit in the contrast and allow the tooth to loosen up until it gently and easily falls out on its own.

That’s the beauty of allowing divine timing to merge with linear time: life unfolds easily and effortlessly as you experience one “miracle” after another.

So today, watch for opportunities to relax into the unknowing of divine timing and allow life to unfold itself. And when you do, get ready for the miracles to begin!

Your partner in TRUE Abundance

Edward

Top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter (So Far)

Children bring a great amount of wisdom with them when they join us here in this world. I have known this for many years and have always loved being around children. But it was not until I became a father, a bit more than four years ago, that I discovered just how wise these little beings really are.

From the moment of my daughter’s birth (and even before that) fatherhood has been a truly transformative experience. It’s rare that a day goes by without learning something about life from my Ella. And in many ways I really do see her as one of my most effective teachers.

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the personal growth lessons I have learned from Ella over the past four years. If you have children you will most likely recognize many of these. If you do not have children, you may find some of these corny or silly. Trust me, they are not. Every one of these lessons has had a significant impact on my life.

So here, then, are the top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter so far!

1. Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a New Day.
When Ella was younger she would ask me, “Is tomorrow gonna be a new day?” I assured her that, yes, indeed, tomorrow would be a new day. Now that she’s reached the ripe old age of four, she gets it. And now she reminds me: “Don’t worry Dadda. Tomorrow’s gonna be a new day!” It’s good to remember that!

I the only one hearing a refrain from Little Orphan Annie in the background? “The sun’ll come out tomorrow” Sure it’s cheesy, but there is a lot of power in recognizing that, no matter how difficult today is, tomorrow’s gonna be a new day.

2. Sometimes it’s Better to Make Up Your Own Rules
I already wrote about this one in the post Life Lessons from Candyland. But it’s an important one so I included it in this list.

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s best to throw away the rule book and make up your own!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Your Enthusiasm.
Ella is not shy when it comes to showing her enthusiasm. If someone makes a suggestion that she likes she responds in a number of different ways depending upon her level of excitement. If she likes the idea, she’ll say something like, “That’s gonna be a great idea, Dada!” If she really likes the idea, she’ll nod her head vigorously and let out a loud, “Uh huh!” And if she really, really likes an idea, she starts jumping and galloping around, shouting, “Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh.” over and over and over and over…

My favorite part is when we’re at the dinner table and we make a suggestion (like for instance on a hot summer night when we, very rarely, suggest walking down to the ice cream shop in town) Ella will get so excited that she actually has to climb down off her chair so that she can run back and forth yelling “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh!” Sometimes her excitement is so powerful I’m afraid she’s going to fall off the chair!

Do you ever curb your enthusiasm? I know I do. Somewhere along the line most of us learned that stuff we really wanted or were really excited about could be taken away in an instant. Often the very things that were most exciting to us were used to get us to do or not do certain things: “Get dressed now or you can’t ride your bike today!” Or, “Stop saying that word or you’ll be grounded for a week.”

No wonder we’ve learned to hide our enthusiasm! We don’t want the good stuff taken away from us so we don’t let anyone know what we think is good! How messed up is that.

Well it sure is refreshing to watch Ella express her enthusiasm with no hesitation. Enthusiasm is contagious. People want a taste of enthusiasm. They want to know that it is safe to be happy about something.

So give it a try. The next time you discover something you really like, do a little happy dance and see what happens.

4. Feel your emotions fully.
Ella isn’t always happy. Like all kids she has moments of frustration and sadness. We’ve done our best to encourage her to fully feel those emotions and express them when they’re happening. It’s amazing to watch how Ella has learned to deal with these moments.

If something happens that causes Ella to feel frustrated or angry she’ll go into her room, close the door, lie down on the floor or on her bed and scream or cry for a minute or two. Then she opens the door, comes back out and says, “All better.” And usually she is. The frustration that was moving through her just needed to be let out.

How often have you held onto sadness, frustration, anger or grief? I know I’ve held onto stuff for a long time! And the longer I hold onto those emotions, the more powerful they become.

Much better to just let them out in the moment and let yourself be “all better!”

5. Walk On Walls Whenever Your Have The Chance
When was the last time you walked on a wall? Whenever I’m out walking with Ella and we pass a wall, whether it’s a curb or a retaining wall, Ella wants to walk on it. And now she gets me to walk on them with her: “Come on, Dada!” And I must say, if you haven’t walked on a wall in a while, give it a try. It’s a lot of fun!

The life lesson here is that we adult types tend to pass by opportunities for joy and exploration without even noticing them. These opportunities are all around us all the time. We just have to open our eyes and expand our perception. Hanging around kids (even if you don’t have your own) is a great way to do that.

6. Sometimes you have to do it alone (even if there’s someone right there who could help you).
I often feel a strong temptation to reach out to help Ella put her shoes on or put a puzzle piece in the right place. Simple tasks that I take for granted are a challenge for Ella, as they are for any child. If I were to constantly jump in and say, “Let me do that for you,” it would take her a lot longer to figure out how to do it.

It’s especially tempting to help her when she reaches that frustration point. But I’ve learned that if I let her go a little bit longer, just past that moment of frustration is when she succeeds.

In those moments I sometimes think of the scene in the movie, Ray, after Ray Charles has gone blind and his mother pretends she’s not in the room as he’s calling out for her help. In that moment, he discovers that he’s not as helpless as he thought.

It’s been a powerful lesson for me as a father and in my own life.

7. Know When to Ask For Help.
Now, while this one seems to contradict the previous lesson, they really work hand in hand. Let’s face it; there are some things that a four year old just can’t do yet. Ella is pretty good about trying to do things. And she is also pretty good about asking for help when she has reached the end of her patience: “Please help me, Dada.” Or if she’s tired or frustrated she might say, “I can’t do it, Dada.”

Her willingness to ask for help is a powerful lesson for someone like me: a die-hard do it yourself-er. Countless hours have been spent figuring out something that I could have easily asked or paid someone else to do.

Knowing when, and how, to ask for help is an important life skill to master. And I am learning from a master.

8. Don’t be attached to what you painted yesterday (or 2-seconds ago).
Ella is a prolific artist. She cranks out paintings and drawings faster than the fastest graffiti artist. And the beautiful thing about her creativity is that once she’s done, she’s done. There is no attachment to the painting she just created. She puts her piles of artwork into the recycling bin as easily as the Tibetan monks sweep their intricate sand mandalas back into dust. http://www.artnetwork.com/Mandala/gallery.html

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time letting go of stuff I created 10-years ago! Ella’s willingness to let go of her creations leaves her open to the flow of creativity. She is not attached to what she painted yesterday. She does not compare what she is doing today with what came before. She is free to be open and just let it flow.

9. Singing Makes Everything Better.
No matter how traumatic a situation might be, whether it’s an overtired and cranky before bed tooth brushing meltdown or a big boo-boo, singing makes it better. Ella and I sing together on our way to preschool. We sing the silly tooth-brushing song we made up together. We sing the pee-pee song. We sing our favorite bedtime songs. Just about anything that you can say can be sung (hey, didn’t the Beatles write something about that?).

Singing is fun. Singing makes you smile. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s research showing that singing releases endorphins. And most of us adult types tend to sing far too little. The 7-Dwarfs knew what they were talking about when they whistled while they worked! So try adding a bit more singing into your daily diet.

10. Dance like no one’s watching (even when you’ve made sure that everyone is!)
Like most houses with young ones, the phrases, “Watch Dada. Watch Mama. Watch everybody!” are heard on a regular basis. Ella loves to dance. And when she does, she lets it all hang out. She makes up new dance moves on a regular basis: There’s the running back and forth dance, the sneaky dance, the jumping up and down dance, the spin around until you fall down dance, and of course Ella’s famous Jiggy-Jiggy dance!

Somewhere along the way, most of us lose that uninhibited ability to express ourselves. The voices of self-doubt come in and we become self-conscious of our performance. Watching Ella dance with all her heart, whether she’s alone or in front of a crowd, is a great reminder of the innocence and joy that we all have inside of us. Isn’t it time we start letting a little more of it out?

So there are the top 10 life lessons that Ella has helped me learn so far. What lessons have your children taught you? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below and share your lessons and stories.

51 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone

Most of us love the familiar. Whether we realize it or not, we put a lot of work into ensuring that certain things in our lives remain constant.This personal “comfort zone” is the invisible, but very real area that defines the boundaries of what we know and understand. By staying within this comfort zone we reassure ourselves that we are safe. And as long as we are safely held within the walls of what we know we feel secure and confident.

As we move closer to the edges of that zone we begin to feel a bit shaky and unsure of ourselves. But those edges are where we grow. And by stretching those boundaries we increase our ability to receive.

T. Harv Eker, the author of The Secrets of The Millionaire Mind has said that our comfort zone equals our money zone. In order to have more money in our lives we must expand our comfort zone.

I would add that our comfort zone equals our joy zone, our love zone, our fulfillment zone, our spiritual connection zone, you name it.

So if you want more of anything in your life, the place to start is with your comfort zone. By expanding your comfort zone you will get more of what you want. It’s that simple.

Now it sounds easy enough, but most of us have built up some pretty sturdy walls around our comfort zone. Pushing them out or breaking them down requires conscious, concerted effort. And I have found that it’s easier to expand the comfort zone in small, steady, steps than in great big leaps. But in order to do that, you need to intentionally take expansive action on a daily basis.

So to get you started, I’ve created a list of 50 actions that might expand your comfort zone.

Keep in mind that the parameters of everyone’s comfort zone are different. So if you already love to Scuba dive, number 30 on this list isn’t going to expand your comfort zone very much! But there are most likely other items on this list that will work for you.

Also realize that many of these can, and may need to be, turned around to work for you. For example, number 6 is “Be the first to say, “I love you.” But if you’re the one that always says I love you first, you’ll need to turn it around to “Let the other person say ‘I love you’ first.” For some of you that’s going to be quite uncomfortable, especially when the other person doesn’t say “I love you!”

This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list. It can’t be. Instead, it’s a catalyst and a reminder for you to take small steps each and every day that expand your comfort zone.

Here’s the list:

1. Try some new food.
2. Go on a silent retreat.
3. Ask for a raise.
4. Smile at strangers.
5. Say hello to people in the grocery store.
6. Be the first to say “I love you.”
7. Perform at an open mike night.
8. Eat at a local restaurant by yourself.
9. Take a day off from work to volunteer at your child’s school.
10. Go back to school.
11. Start a new business.
12. Moonlight as a waitperson.
13. Unplug the TV for a week.
14. Write in a journal every day.
15. Learn to surf.
16. Go to a different church/temple/mosque each week.
17. Get your news from different sources.
18. Live in another country.
19. Do a house-swap for a month.
20. Use public transportation.
21. Wear an outrageous outfit.
22. Meditate for 15-minutes a day.
23. Put your cell phone in a drawer for a full week.
24. Make a fool of yourself – on purpose.
25. Call someone you admire in your community and ask them out for lunch.
26. Ask someone you admire to be your mentor.
27. Switch sides (of the bed) with your partner.
28. Confront a phobia.
29. Jump out of a plane (with a parachute please!).
30. Learn to scuba dive.
31. Say I love you to your parents/children/siblings/friends.
32. Admit you were wrong.
33. Go to a movie by yourself.
34. Take responsibility for something you didn’t do.
35. Give away all one-month’s income.
36. Give a public talk on a topic you’re passionate about.
37. Join a networking group.
38. Disconnect the Internet for a week.
39. Ask for help.
40. Get a part time job as a checker at your local grocery store.
41. Enter an art show.
42. Forgive someone.
43. Join Toastmasters.
44. Start a blog.
45. Ask for a partial or complete telecommute arrangement at work.
46. Take lessons in something you’ve always wanted to try (art, music, woodworking, dancing, etc.).
47. Learn a foreign language.
48. Read a book in a genre you don’t usually read.
49. Delegate more of your work.
50. Get up an hour earlier than usual.
51. Try a therapy or modality that seems a bit “out there.”

Which of these have the most potential for expanding your comfort zone? Which ones made you gulp or start to sweat a bit?

Which actions did I leave off this list that, for you, are particularly effective at expanding your comfort zone?

Leave a comment below and share some of yours.