How I Stopped Hating Money!

Producing the Abundant Mystic Series is providing me with wonderful opportunities to look deeply at the remaining abundance blocks hiding in my subconscious mind. While I’m thrilled to be playing in the realm of the Abundant Mystic I’m relatively new to this space. Until recently I was experiencing the ups and downs and financial struggles that so many Modern Day Mystics seem to face. So I’m excited to be learning (right along with you) from the 28 abundant mystic guides and mentors over the next 10-weeks!

This week though, I had the opportunity to look at a lingering and tenacious abundance block. It was actually an attitude I had towards money that was working under the surface of my awareness to keep money away.

no-moneyIt was a feeling of hatred towards money. Now that may sound strong, but it came from a very profound experience that happened a LONG time ago and has managed to stay hidden but still active within the core of my being.

This hatred towards money came bubbling up into my awareness in the last few days when my biological mother, grandmother and brother came to visit for my daughter’s 10th birthday.

Whenever my bio mom comes it’s an opportunity for me to peel another layer of the onion of my belief systems, to let go of what is ready to be released and open to what is ready to be awakened within me.

This time, because I’m preparing for The Abundant Mystic, the energy of abundance and money along with the beliefs that I hold about them are very much alive for me. So it’s natural that any old beliefs or attitudes in that arena would come up.

Sure enough, working with my coach the other day, I tapped into this deep-rooted hatred of money. There is a place inside me, a part of me, if you will, that hates money and wants to have nothing to do with it.

Where does this hatred come from?

When I first met my biological mom, at age 23, I asked her – as I’m sure all adoptees do – why she gave me up for adoption. The reason she gave me was money!

At that time, as a young, single, pregnant woman, she believed she didn’t have enough money to raise me on her own. She felt as if she would either have to move back in with her parents or live on welfare. Neither of which were viable options for her.

So on a core energetic level I internalized a belief that money was the cause of our separation. To that part of me, money was the reason that I was taken away from my mother. That core part of me has held onto the anger, resentment and hatred towards money all of these years, blaming it for our separation and seeking to keep it away.

Now, obviously, something you hate is not something you are going to be very excited to attract more of. So while I (the conscious part of my mind) have been doing everything “right” to attract more money and step fully into the realm of the Abundant Mystic, that energy of hatred towards money has been doing everything it can to block the flow of money into my life.

This is a perfect example of why the Law of Attraction and other manifestation methods don’t always work. When you have deep-rooted, subconscious beliefs that are working at cross-purposes to your vision and intentions, the subconscious beliefs almost always win!

It’s said that our conscious minds are like the tip of the iceberg, comprising about 10% of our total consciousness. That means that as much as 90% of our consciousness is hidden from our awareness and working from the shadows.

If the conscious you (10%) wants to go one way and the subconscious you (90%) wants to go another way, guess which way you’re going to go!

So how do you shift your subconscious beliefs and energy?

There are many simple, powerful tools and techniques that can shift, transform and even transmute the contradictory subconscious beliefs and energy. That’s one of the reasons why I am so excited about The Abundant Mystic series that begins next week. Every one of the 28 mentors, guides and teachers will be sharing practical tools and processes for doing just that. I can’t wait to learn from them right along with you!

In this case, I chose to work with the simple but powerful Ho’oponopono technique, an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.

In this practice you repeat four simple phrases while holding an image of the person or thing you seek to forgive (and seek forgiveness from) in your mind. This process brings about a sense of forgiveness, peace, harmony and love within you and others. You can use this process in your relationships with other people, things, experiences, beliefs… anything that you feel holds some “stuck” energy for you.

Even if you don’t feel an energy of “hatred” towards money, if you are not experiencing as much abundance in your life as you would like, try this process with the energy of money. Here’s how.

First center yourself and call up an image or symbol of money. Hold that image in your mind while you repeat the following phrases:

I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

Repeat those words as many times as needed to bring a deeper sense of peace and harmony. After a few repetitions you will notice your body relaxing as you come into a deeper more open connection with the energy of money.

You can do this as many times as you want. The more you do it, the “cleaner” your relationship with money and abundance will become.

Go ahead and give it a try and let me know what you notice. Leave a comment on the blog post here.

And if you’re excited to learn more simple and powerful processes for clearing your subconscious blocks to abundance, be sure to register for The Abundant Mystic series. It begins next Tuesday!

14 Success Strategies For Highly Sensitive People

This is the second article in a series on Highly Sensitive people.

What does it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person? Do you want to know if you qualify… read this article: 23 Signs That You Are A Highly Sensitive Person.

Click here to receive Your Special Report on How to Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person…

How do you thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person?

Here are 14 Success Strategies for Highly Sensitive People!

1. Accept your sensitivity
Your sensitivity is a gift. I know it doesn’t always feel like it. But it is. I spent more than half of my life denying that I was highly sensitive. Until you acknowledge and say “yes” to your sensitivity you cannot begin to learn the tools that will help you leverage that sensitivity into a positive benefit.

2. Empower your sensitivity
It has taken me many years to get to the place where I can truly claim my sensitivity and use it as a powerful tool on my journey of self-discovery and deliberate creation. As a Highly Sensitive Person in an often over stimulating world, dampening your sensitivity sometimes seems like the best solution. And while that may be helpful, and even necessary, at first, ultimately you want to empower your sensitivity and turn it into a powerful ally in the creation of a truly brilliant life.

3. Connect with other sensitive people.
It is very easy to get caught up in the stress and overload of our frenetic, chaotic world. Sometimes it seems as if there is no one else as sensitive as you. And from that thought it’s a short slide down the slippery slope into feeling like you are crazy or weird or strange. So find some other folks who are highly sensitive and create a support group where you can go for encouragement and to remind each other that you are not alone and that you are not crazy. One important note on this: This group is not a complain and whine group! The point is not to compare notes on how horrible and insensitive the rest of the world is. You connect with other Highly Sensitive People in order to know that you are not alone and discuss ways to leverage your sensitivity to create positive changes in your lives!

4. Hang out with successful, not-so-sensitive people.
I know this seems like a contradiction of the last one. But I have seen it happen (in myself and others) where a sensitive person basically says “screw you” to the rest of the world and all of the less sensitive people and finds someplace to curl up in a little ball and hide. While this can certainly be a beneficial and sometimes necessary short-term strategy, it’s not an effective long-term solution. Those of us who are highly sensitive can learn a lot from people who are not sensitive. So find some not-so-sensitive people who are successful and begin hanging out with them. Observe them. Learn from them. Watch how they move through the world. Not so that you can dampen your sensitivity but so that you might learn how to bring your sensitivity into the world in a balanced manner.

5. Have a regular practice of “mindful exercise.”
Exercise is important for everyone. But especially so for Highly Sensitive People. Moving your body helps to get any environmental, emotional and energetic toxins out of your system. While any type of exercise is beneficial, workouts that incorporate your mind, body and spirit can be especially helpful. Try things like Yoga, Tai Chi, Akido. and Pilates. Dancing and rock-climbing can also be great opportunities for the body, mind and spirit to move. The bottom line is to find a form of exercise that touches YOUR body, mind and spirit.

6. Find successful HSP role models 
Do you know any Highly Sensitive People who have learned to not only survive in this world, but thrive in it? What lessons can learn from them? What life strategies can you emulate? If you can’t find role models in your own life, look in the wider world. What teachers, authors, artists, and entrepreneurs (yes there are successful AND highly sensitive entrepreneurs) can you find? Once you find them, again look for lessons and strategies that they are using to leverage their sensitivity into success.

7. Gently push yourself beyond the level of your sensitivity
Your sensitivity is a gift and strength. But in order for this gift to be of any value to you and to the world, you must learn how to put it into use. That means you have to stretch yourself and bring your sensitivity with you into places and situations where it feels uncomfortable. Just as you build muscle mass through resistance, you increase your ability to bring your sensitivity into the world by practicing and exercising.

8. Know your limits
Don’t push yourself so far that you blow a fuse! Become aware of the internal signals that let you know you are reaching maximum capacity. And when you notice them back off. You want to push yourself and strengthen your sensitivity, but not to the point where it causes you to blow a fuse!

9. Set up a consistent self-care routine
As a sensitive person you need more self care than others. Don’t compare yourself to less sensitive people. Get clear on your needs and take steps to ensure that those needs are met. If you need a massage every week, get one. If you need to take a bath with sea salts every night, do it. Your sensitivity is of no use if you are not able to function in the world!

10. Connect with nature as often as possible
If there is one consistent theme I have found among sensitive people it is the restorative capacity of nature. Even if you live in a city get outside every day. Connect with a tree. If you don’t want to look strange, pretend you’re leaning up against it waiting for some. But while you’re there, feel the restorative, grounding energy flowing through that tree.

11. Create safe spaces
It is very important for sensitive people to have safe spaces to go to when the world gets overwhelming. You need to know that no matter what is happening in the wider world, that you have a safe space, a sanctuary to which you can return and restore yourself. Ideally, your home is your sanctuary. If it’s not, start by taking a small space and turning it into a safe, private, sanctuary where you can go when you need quiet and solitude.

12. Limit your exposure to news
In some ways, this one suggestion may be the easiest and most powerful success strategy for Highly Sensitive People. And yet, I find it amazing how often this suggestion triggers people. They feel that if they don’t read the newspaper they’ll be missing out on important information. My response is that if reading the newspaper makes you feel like crap what good does that information do for anyone. I would much rather see you feeling great and doing positive things in the world, than see you feeling depressed and hopeless because you’re reading too much news.

13. Explore energetic healing modalities.
Try acupuncture, homeopathy, Reiki, energy medicine, flower essences and other forms of energetic healing. When you find one that works, schedule regular sessions.

14. Learn how to create positive energetic boundaries.
There are wonderful resources that can teach you to setup positive energetic boundaries. Read books by Caroline Myss, Donna Eden, and others. Once you venture into this world you will be amazed at how easily you are led to the information and teachers you need to get learn how to thrive in this world!

If you are a Highly Sensitive Person, I encourage you to begin using some of these strategies. Look through the list and pick one or two of these that resonate with you and begin integrating them into your daily life. You may be surprised at how quickly and dramatically your life can change when you actively employ success strategies specifically designed for Highly Sensitive People.

Please leave a comment below and let us know which of these strategies you already use and what other techniques you use as a sensitive person in this world.

And if you want more information, inspiration and techniques to help you thrive in this world as an empowered sensitive person, I encourage you to read my new report: The Energetics of Attraction: Understanding and Applying the Harmonics of Human Awareness and to Compose The Life You Desire.

Click here to receive Your Special Report on How to Thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person…

23 Signs That You’re A Highly Sensitive Person

Sensitive male role models were hard to find growing up in the seventies in a middle-class Boston suburb. So for most of my life I considered myself a fairly thick-skinned, typical guy. “Sensitivity” was not a trait encouraged in men. Stability, strength and steadfastness were more like it. All good traits, but often it seemed like an either or equation rather than a both and.

So I followed in the footsteps of the male role models I had; mostly stoic, emotionally unavailable, intellectually focused men.

That worked for a while but at some point during the past 18 or so years that I have been actively and sometimes intensively engaged in personal growth, I have discovered that behind the walls and under the layers of distance and detachment lives a highly sensitive person.

This awakening sensitivity has, sometimes, felt more like a burden than a blessing. But ultimately, and only quite recently, I have come to accept my sensitivity as a gift and a powerful ally on my journey of personal evolution.

When I began this journey, the term Highly Sensitive Person was not widely known (if at all). But as more has been written about Highly Sensitive People and the concept has gained wider (though certainly not universal) acceptance I have come to recognize and accept myself as a Highly Sensitive Person.

It is estimated that 20% of the human population would test positive for what Carl Jung called Innate Sensitiveness. This innate sensitivity has been well researched and the term Highly Sensitive Person was coined in 1996 by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. and explored in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You

Wikipedia has this definition of Highly Sensitive Person:

A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness as Carl Gustav Jung originally coined it). According to Elaine N. Aron and colleagues as well as other researchers, highly sensitive people, which would represent about a fifth of the population, process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in their nervous systems. This is a specific trait with key consequences that in the past has often been confused with innate shyness, inhibitedness, innate fearfulness, introversion, and so on. The existence of the trait of innate sensitivity was demonstrated using a test that was shown to have both internal and external validity.

While the idea of highly sensitive people is still shrugged off by the mainstream press and health-care community, I have no doubt that, just as people have different levels of visual acuity, hearing, intelligence and physical grace, there are also varying levels of what I call vibrational sensitivity.

In my observation there is no diagnostic device presently available that is as sensitive as the human body. When properly tuned, our physical bodies have the ability to perceive and respond to our environment with an accuracy that far exceeds the capacity of our present technology. And some of us have bodies that are naturally tuned to be more sensitive to our vibrational environment.

So, for better or worse, that puts highly sensitive people in the unenviable position of being the canaries in the coalmine. Our sensitivity to the auditory, environmental, and vibrational pollution that is prevalent in our world means that we often display physical, emotional and vibrational symptoms long before others less sensitive than us.

That’s the bad news.

But fear not, there is good news! If you are a highly sensitive person, your sensitivity indicates that your body is more highly tuned than most people’s. And, with a bit of effort, training and regular practice, you can learn to leverage your sensitivity to create success and take your life to the next level. I have! More on that later.

For now, let’s look at some of the “symptoms” of highly sensitive people because, if you’re like I was, you might not even know that you’re highly sensitive. And when you don’t know that you’re highly sensitive it can be very difficult and uncomfortable to live in this world filled with less sensitive people who don’t understand why you have to cover your ears when an ambulance goes by, or leave a restaurant that smells like bleach, or sit under a full-spectrum light during the winter.

So if you have ever wondered if you are highly sensitive, here is a list of signs that could indicate that you are a Highly Sensitive Person. (I’ve added some personal notes to a few of the items on the list).

1. Can you hear things others cannot, especially high-pitched sounds?
Do you hear sirens long before anyone else? Does the high-pitched hum of a partially dimmed light fixture get under your skin when no one else seems to notice? Does the whirring fan in your computer distract you? Is it difficult for you to sleep in the same room as a refrigerator? Do you need to cover your ears when a loud siren passes by? Do you use earplugs at concerts or on planes?

2. Do you notice smells that others miss?
I have a weird olfactory sense: When it comes to nice, natural smells such as roses and lilacs, I have to put my nose right into the flower in order to smell it. But when it comes to not-so-nice smells I am highly attuned. I can smell cigarette smoke from 50-feet away when I’m outside and the wind is blowing in the opposite direction. When I walk into a restaurant that has just cleaned up with chlorine bleach, I often have to turn around a leave because the smell is overpowering. And don’t get me started on some of the unnatural perfumes that have nearly made me… well I think you get the idea!

3. Do you know what other people need before they ask?
This post, Intuition or Observation & Analysis, provides a great example of this.

4. Do you notice the flicker on older computer screens or older fluorescent fixtures?
I’m still amazed at how often I used to sit down at someone else’s computer and wonder how they were able to work on it with the refresh rate set so low. If they were not looking over my shoulder I would usually go in and quickly increase the refresh rate which took away the flicker and provided me with some relief.

5. Do you get “overwhelmed” by joy when you experience great beauty: A beautiful sunset, an incredible musical performance, the smile of your child?
High vibrational sensitivity is not always triggered by “negative” experiences. Positive, beautiful, sublime experiences can also awaken that sensitivity. But again, the difference and occasionally the difficulty for sensitive people is the intensity of the experience. Highly sensitive people can be truly overwhelmed by a beautiful experience, which is fine if you are alone on the beach watching a spectacular sunset, but may not be so great if you happen to look out the window at work just at the peak moment of that beautiful sunset.

6. Do you feel threatened or uneasy in large crowds or big cities?
Sometimes I enjoy going into San Francisco, and other times I just can’t wait to get out. But no matter how I’m feeling while I’m there, I always notice a distinct sense of calmness descending upon me as I leave the City. It’s as if I’m passing through an invisible energy boundary as I cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

7. Do you have “emotional radar” that picks up on what others are feeling?
Do you know what people are feeling before they tell you? Do you ever walk into a room and sense that there has been an argument?

8. Do you pick up physical symptoms from other people?
Have you ever been feeling great and then run into a friend who had a headache and suddenly noticed a headache coming on? I once massaged a friend’s knee after she tweaked it during a yoga class. When I was done, she felt great, but I could hardly walk!

9. Does reading or hearing about bad news have a dramatic impact on your mood?
Once upon a time I was a news and information junkie. Knowing what was happening in the world was important. As my sensitivity awakened, however, I began to recognize that the news is almost exclusively low-vibration information and had a dramatic and usually negative impact on me. A few years ago I did a week long news fast to see if it would make a difference. It did! Soon after that, I stopped watching, listening to or reading the news on a regular basis. And while I still don’t watch or listen to the news, I am now able to read the paper or gather snippets of news from the Internet without noticing a dramatic effect on my mood.

10. If you see a bad car accident does it affect you for the entire day?
Most people have a reaction when seeing an accident but for some highly sensitive people the effect can be dramatic and long lasting.

11. Have you been diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and/or do you experience a noticeable drop in your energy and mood during the winter?

12. Have you ever had a transcendent or mystical experience?
Highly sensitive people are naturally more open to experiences of bliss, ecstasy and spiritual awakening.

13. Do you have a strong reaction when you drink caffeine or when you attempt to stop?
Everything we put into our bodies has both a physical and energetic effect. For most people the physical effects of caffeine are not that dramatic. But sensitive people also feel the energetic effects of that caffeine and the combination can be quite powerful.

14. Do you have food sensitivities or allergies?
Most of us are putting stuff into our bodies that was never meant to go there. This is fine for people who are not highly sensitive (not really!) but if you are highly sensitive your body may tell you, in no uncertain terms, what you can and cannot put into it.

15. Do you have allergies or asthma?
As with food allergies, environmental allergies can indicate that you are reacting to allergens on both a physical and energetic level.

16. Are you a “lightweight?”
A friend of mine used to say that I could “get drunk from sniffing the bottlecap!” And she wasn’t that far off. My karate buddies nicknamed me Ed “No Mas” Mills because of my tendency to get a little rambunctious after a couple of beers. If one glass of wine puts you under the table you might be highly sensitive.

17. Are you sensitive to over-the-counter, prescribed or illegal drugs?
Can you take half the recommended dosage of a drug and experience a noticeable effect? Have you had an overwhelming experience when experimenting with other drugs?

18. If you have ever had surgery, did it take longer to recover from the effects of the anesthesia than from the surgery itself?
For many sensitive people anesthesia can have a long-lasting and powerful effect. Anesthesia impacts not only the physical body but also the energy body by putting you into a completely unnatural state. It’s a neither here nor there state that can wreak havoc on a sensitive person’s system.

19. Is being in a calm, peaceful environment very important for you?
Does clutter, stress you out? Do harsh, disharmonious colors fluster you? Do you feel at peace in a beautiful garden? Is it important for you to create a “sanctuary” within your home?

20. Do you get claustrophobic when you spend too much time indoors?
For many sensitive people, being inside for too long leads to a feeling of claustrophobia, lethargy and/or irritation.

21. Is it important for you to spend time alone?
Highly sensitive people often feel better when alone. In extreme cases, this need to be alone can be debilitating to the point where being around others is almost impossible.

22. Do you experience dramatic mood swings, sometimes for no apparent reason?
Have you ever been sitting at work, or on the bus, or in a café, feeling pretty good, and suddenly, for no apparent reason, started to feel sad, or angry? Highly sensitive people are more sensitive to both their own emotional content as well as the emotions of those around them. So if this happens to you, you may be connecting with something happening inside of you, but you might also be unintentionally “tuning in” to the emotional content of someone else.

23. Do you know when people are lying to you?
Have you ever just known that someone is telling you a lie, even when you have no “logical” reason to believe that to be so?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. These are examples of possible “symptoms” of high sensitivity. If ten or more of these experiences rang true for you, it’s highly likely that you’re a highly sensitive person. But even if you said “Yes” to just a handful of these you could be highly sensitive. In fact, even just one or two of these, if they are very strong for you, could indicate high sensitivity.

Ultimately I believe that being a highly sensitive person is a gift. It certainly has become a gift to me! And, yes, I know, it does not always feel that way. It can feel like a burden and a curse. But when you learn how to put boundaries and systems into place you can begin to access and harness that sensitivity and use it to create the life you desire.

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!

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.

Vision Quest Journal #6

This morning I was thinking how strange it was that I had not seen, or heard, any raptors since being here. Just now, I saw my first hawk. A small one, slightly smaller than a Cooper’s Hawk with thicker wings. Almost all white or light gray underneath. Slight darker above. No other distinctive markings that I could see. Flight pattern was several quick wing beats with a moderate, circular glide in between. No call that I heard.

The water is even closer than I thought. I’m sitting on a new rock that’s at the northeast edge of my site and it’s clear that the creek is just a little ways into the brush. Probably no more than 40-feet away.

It’s still difficult to believe that it’s been bubbling this entire time. When I was scouting the site, I walked right over to the edge of that brushy area to see if I could get closer to those big old pine trees. Strange.

[Note. I looked on the map and there is a spring above where I was camped. My guess is that the spring fills up a pool during the night which overflows down the mountain in the morning. But by the afternoon, the sun dries it up. Because by late in the day, the sound of water was gone again.]

|||

Midday. Feeling antsy. Having a hard time finding a comfortable spot. Trying to stay naked as much as possible. But today, without much wind, it’s too hot in the sun and the slight breeze makes it too cool in the shade. I’ve compromised and put on my t-shirt and am sitting partly in the shade.

Antsy too because I don’t know what to do. The excitement of the first day has passed and now I’m in a place of trying to figure out what to do, how to have a vision. As I recall from previous quests, the second day seems to be the hardest.

The first day is new and exciting, in some cases you’re dealing with the discomfort of your body’s detox reaction from the fast. And while that’s unpleasant, it is a distraction from the isolation and emptiness.

Now, near the halfway point of my quest, I begin to wonder why I’m here. I begin to doubt the confidence I had earlier about the hunger as I notice the emptiness of my stomach more keenly. I begin to wonder if the insights I’ve had already are “enough.”

Isn’t it time to end this a go home? And even as I sit in the quiet of meditation I find myself reaching for something more. “Where is the vision I seek?” But nothing comes.

Just the peacefulness of this place. But I am too distracted to let that comfort me. Now I will try once more to drop into that peacefulness and allow it that to be enough.

|||

It’s amazing how quickly your body gets weak when you don’t drink water. I’ve had only 4-5 small sips since last night and my body has definitely hit a wall. It’s an effort just to stay upright. And I’ve spent much of that last couple of hours curled up in a ball on the ground.

Now I’m realizing this is where I’m meant to be. This is the place I’m supposed to get to. This is the place where I realize that I can’t get through this on my own. Alone I’m not strong enough. Certainly the strength of my body, without food and with very little water, is not enough to get me through the rest of today and tomorrow.

This is when I call out to God, Source, Great Spirit. This is when I open myself up to the support and strength of a force far greater than myself. This is when I begin to act in harmony with the words I heard earlier: “It is your vision that brought you here, but it is MY strength that will get you through.”

So now I pray. To God. To Source. To Great Spirit. To the Earth. To that is greater than me. I pray for strength. I sing for strength. I open myself to receive you strength.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

Vision Quest Journal #5

vision-quest-6Sunday, September 20th.

DREAM: Ben Stiller starred in my dream. It was a movie. He was returning home to his family for the first time in many years. His grandfather was dying. He was a military specialist. Like special forces, or something. And he got into an argument with his brother. He wanted to see his sister, but his brother wouldn’t let him. Ben, said that he just wanted to see what he could have been. He could have been like her. Apparently they were twins (???) and both creative, loving, tender, fun-loving children. But his sister had had that side nurtured and encouraged while Ben had been encouraged to focus his creativity into the skills that ultimately led him into the military.

After his brother would not let him see his sister he went for a walk and came across a trailer with security guards around it. Somehow, he knew his sister was being held inside it. So, using his military skills, he broke in and rescued her. I never actually saw his sister in the dream. But I knew that he had succeeded in rescuing her. There were two women who made it official. One was a queen or a senator who allowed him to take her home.

When I woke up from the dream I had a very clear sense that I had just rescued a part of my inner child. That part of me that loves be creative and play and have fun.

|||

It seems as if there is much more morning activity here than yesterday. Almost as if the land and its residents have accepted my presence. And the really interesting thing is that there is water nearby. No more than 100-feet to the north. I hear it clearly this morning. But I have not heard it before this. It’s hard to believe I would have missed that sound yesterday morning or last night in the silence. But, unless it’s some kind of intermittent spring there’s no way it could just started this morning. There was no rain last night. Strange.

I think after my quest I’ll go visit the little creek and see what it has to say.

Now I’m sitting on my sun welcoming rock. The sun rises in a perfect spot, between two stands of pine trees below me and just in the notch of two peaks across the valley. I could not have planned it more perfectly.

Last night saw two beautiful shooting stars. And I’m still amazed at how clear the Milky Way is up here. All the branches and arms reaching out like tendrils of smoke, but not changing.

I feel good this morning. I don’t think the fasting is going to be an issue. I notice a low-grade hunger. But it is not intense and it certainly is not distracting. My body is definitely weaker than normal. I noticed that climbing up to my sun welcoming rock. But that doesn’t really matter since I’m not expending a lot of energy while I’m here.

I did have a little scare yesterday. I went to purify water from the big guy and put it into my drinking containers. The filter didn’t work. I wasn’t so worried about my time up here since I had already toyed with the idea of not drinking water during the fast. But the thought of hiking out without water didn’t sound like such a great idea. I worked on the filter for a while and finally fixed it with good old duct tape! The o-ring inside the pump handle was not making a vacuum seal in there. So wrapping a layer of tape around it fixed it.

After that I decided to drink a…

Good morning Sun!

|||

The sun took me by surprise. I wasn’t watching the trees to see where it was and all of a sudden, there it was shining out from across the valley. Feels good. And what I was saying about water is that I’m going to drink as little as I can today and tomorrow.

Today there is no wind. Wonder if it will come up later in the morning. Perfectly still now. Not cold. Probably will get hot later.

Now I’ll meditate for a while.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

Vision Quest Journal #4

The wind here is alive. It can be completely quiet and calm here, then, I’ll hear the wind awakening the trees in the valley and I can follow its journey up the valley and up the mountain until it arrives here….

Hello my friend! It’s as if you knew I was writing about you. You almost blew these pages right out from under my hand. Thank you for welcoming me to your home.

It’s hard to think of myself as alone here. There are so many “friends” around me. The trees, the stones, the flowers, the birds, the insects, the sky, the clouds, the sun, the wind, and of course, The Source of it all that flows through me even as it flows through all that surrounds me.

It’s interesting that just when I looked up from writing that the first chipmunk came out to say hello. I have heard them scurrying around but none have come out to say hello, until now!

+++++++

The sun has gone down behind the ridge to the west. There will still be sun in the valley for a little bit and it will be at least 2-hours before the sun leaves the peaks across the valley.

Time has taken on a totally different meaning and texture here. I move from one spot to another as I feel like it. When I’m hot I move to the shade. When I get cool I find the sun. When I’m cold I put on more clothes. When my back gets sore from sitting, I stand up or lie down or stretch. When I feel like meditating I do. When I hear an interesting sound I watch to see what it is. When I feel like writing, I do. There is no structure or framework, other than the movement of the sun across the sky.

And even though this is such a drastic shift from the pace of my “normal” life I have not felt bored today.vision-quest-5

In so many ways THIS feels more normal to me than the way I live out there. Perhaps one of the lessons I am to take back with me is finding a way to integrate this sense of peacefulness and fluidity I feel here into my daily life.

Or perhaps it is the importance of creating opportunities to reconnect with this peacefulness on a regular basis.

Could this experience be the belonging I am so wanting to find? Could it be this simple? Perhaps.

It gets cold here when the sun drops behind the ridge. The wind still blows strong until the true sunset. Last night I crawled into my bag for a couple of hours until the wind died down. I’ll do that now too.

+++++++

The silence, when the wind completely stops is profound. It becomes clear just how loud and constant it has been throughout the day. And as if to emphasize that point, my friend, the wind, blows once more through the trees.

The silence is like those moments at the ocean’s edge when all the different areas where the waves break simultaneously fall into silence. That brief but profound silence is so deep I sometimes feel as If I am falling into it. And here, as we head into evening and night, the silence will be longer but no less deep.

Broken, now, by the sounds of the day critters making their final preparations for the night.

The sun is almost gone now. Just the very tip of the tallest peak across the valley still shows the light of the sun. But we’ll remain in the dusky transition for a couple of hours before the stars come out. Though the bright star, and especially the planet that lights up the South East sky will show up fairly soon.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.