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In 2007’s “Evan Almighty,” God says, “Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

As readers of this Blog know, I’ve been doing a lot of work lately.  The 8 Week program with SARK (more on that later in the weekend), The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth, plus my work with Coach by the Lake.

I’ve been waiting for, I don’t know, that warm and fuzzy feeling. For my life to magically transform. To manifest all I want right before my eyes.  After all, I’ve done the work . .  If I was graduating from college would I expect the world to beat a path to my door? Maybe.

As these things start to settle in, I see that I am being offered opportunities to practice what I’ve learned.  I’m seeing things a little differently, opening to new roads, new ways of doing things.

Perhaps it’s a matter of waking up to what is. The clearer you can see what’s really going on, the more solutions come into focus. Finding ways to move forward with enthusiasm, curiosity and maybe some excitement.

Life doesn’t always move that fast in our world.  It might be difficult to pass through the soup of Illusion we live in.  Maya, the Hindus call it.  That which is not.  Since we get to decide what it all means, we can tell ourselves things that make that instant manifestation difficult to maneuver. We may cut ourselves off from the truth that we are all connected.  That manifesting can happen in an instant. Maybe I’m straying too far into the metaphysical here.

The fact is: It can take time to move from here to there, to process these lessons.  In times of change, when you hunger for it to be over, there are often many opportunities at once to be who you wish to be.  You asked for it, you get it.  A prayer of “Help me find my way through this, show me the way,” can bring forth all kinds of ways to get the answers and resources we seek.  Sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming.

The Universe is a work of genius.  All roads lead to the same place: where you need to go.  Some routes are more circuitous than others.  But you can pick up much-needed lessons or supplies you wouldn’t have on a shorter route.

What I’m trying to say here is that though I’m not seeing the changes I want right now, that doesn’t mean me and the Universe are not working our magic, co-creating the next phase of my life.  The opportunities for change are mine for the taking!

The Dream Boogie Class goes into Week 6.  I can hardly believe we’re nearing the end.  I have loved every minute of this class and feel I’ve gotten way more out of it than I expected.  I have learned so much and can feel the changes taking place. 

This week is about building your dream at the same time as you build a life you love.  I feel blessed and maybe ahead of the game as my dream was built from my desire to live the way I choose.  I began with a Lifestyle I wanted – working from home, writing, with time and space for the things that are important to me.  It takes me less than 1 minute to pack my bag and my commute lasts exactly 10 seconds.  I like it that way.  My dream is to find ways to be able to keep this going.

The secret, I believe, the main theme this week, is about practicing upgraded self care.  SARK listed ways we can use to take better care of ourselves in the realm of Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual.  She invited us to choose some of those ways and create MicroMOVEment wheels for them.  (See  In this way we come to know and incorporate these things we need for a balanced life.

The Dream Digging, included in the Boogie Books we get every week, is always my favorite.  SARK asks us intriguing questions to journal the answers.  I love pointed, thought-provoking questions.  Gives me something to sink my teeth into. She wants me to identify what I currently do for myself in each area and then inspires me to think of ways I could better support myself.  At the end I have a neat little packet of action steps to help me create the life I want within the work I do.

Her opening gambit was to present the notion of having someone who monitored you and could remind you, alert you, to when you were experiencing a depletion in one area.  It is ever thus.  You get all wound up in your creative process and your health maintenance suffers.  You give too much Yang and don’t balance with enough Yin.  SARK had us imagine a scale or chart that would do it for us.

It was quite clear to me this week that I was low on Writing.  My niece was with me last weekend and I had several lunch dates this week. I enjoyed all the time with others.  But all that interaction seriously cut into my usual morning writing time.  It’s not always easy to get that chunk of uninterrupted time to write later in the day.  Hence, I found myself with a skinned knee, feeling tired and unsure.  But after a good talk with The Coach by the Lake and some time to write, I felt so much better, stronger.

When I was working full time, I created a Grading Sheet for myself because I felt I needed it to stay in balance.  I think a great way to do it is to use Physical, Mental, Spiritual and Emotional.  They are good categories to start with.  I chose specific projects in each category.  I usually put the category in the first blank, a small box to give a letter grade and a line or so for a comment.  I wish to use it as a gauge, not as something to chastize myself about.  Maybe it would be simpler to just have a list of those things and read them every day, instead of assigning a grade every week. Either way, I create for myself a chart to show where I’m falling short.

I want to say, again, that SARK is a very generous soul.  She gave us all her 20/20 List.  Things she’d do differently.  Her 20/20 Insights.  Wow!  That’s worth the price of admission.  May I tempt you: “Mentor and be mentored consistently by other wise souls.” and “Educate others in how to best support me.”  There are lots more!

This week we’re making sure not to leave anything behind when we take off on our dreams!

There is a summer session of this class beginning soon.  Anyone within reach of my words – take this class!  It is something special and offers a big bang for the buck!  Check it out through this link.

Part III: Clearing the Path From the book, “The Energy of Money,” by Maria Nemeth, Ph.D.

This chapter teaches us how to observe and take apart our structures of knowing. “A structure of knowing is a mental model of how things work.” Maria tells us that it “ . . .organizes everything we know about the world.” In other words, our paradigms. What we know to be true about life. We need to learn to see what’s working for us and what isn’t. Those structures of knowing that are holding us back are stealing our energy. “Keep them past their time,” Maria adds, “and you experience stagnation. Dare to release them and you create the future.” As always, it’s about being aware.

How do you know when you have a structure of knowing that isn’t working for you? Usually when you are absolutely certain that what you think and feel is the only correct way, you’re probably stuck in a structure of knowing. Maria tells us, “when your body gets tight and your mind feels overheated,” you are in caught in a structure of knowing.

Use your Standards of Integrity and your Life’s Intentions as a yard stick to measure if what you’ve been telling yourself is relevant. The thoughts that swirl around your head and tell you it’s the only way can be valid, but not necessarily relevant. With Coach by the Lake, I’ve been using the Wheel of Life. How many areas of my Wheel of Life (the areas of my life that are important to me, like career, money, home, friends, etc.) will be affected? Recently I had to make a decision about whether to take a class or not. There were several valid reasons why I couldn’t do it. But, as my coach showed me, this class would fit in several places on my Wheel of Life. It will support my Life’s Intentions and keep with my Standard’s of Integrity. It is relevant. I promptly signed up.

Discovering these things can bring on confusion. Monkey Mind doesn’t like not knowing. But if you allow yourself to be with it, if you accept that state of confusion, and breathe through it, something amazing starts to happen. As you ponder the possibility of something else, you’re likely to enter the state of paradox. Maria defines paradox as “a self-canceling statement or thought that forces the mind into a sort of logical gridlock.” When that happens a new point of view has a chance to arise.

If you can be with these uncomfortable feelings for awhile, before you take action, you create space for miracles.

Miracles are interesting happenings. Something can start out as a miracle. Maria described watching someone ride a two-wheel bike when you were little. How amazing it seemed that they could keep themselves upright! But then you tried it, you did it and it became of your everyday life.

This, to me, sums it all up: “When you discern a miracle and interact with it, the scope of your structure of knowing expands to incorporate the event. If you keep stretching your structures of knowing, there will always be another miracle within reach.”

Now, let’s get to the exercises:

Exercise: Your Structures of Knowing Money
This is an interesting exercise. Some call it mind mapping. You take a big piece of paper and write money in the center of it. Then, draw lines from it and write any word or phrase that comes into your head when you think about money. I circle each one. The idea is to fill the piece of paper with everything you think, feel and say about Money. Your entire structure of knowing about money. Maria offers a few starters to get you going:

  • What it will take for me to have all the money I want.
  • What I know I am right about regarding money.
  • Why I want money.
  • What I must give up to have money.
  • What I think and feel about others who have lots of money.
  • How having more money will change my life or the lives of loved ones.
  • What I will be able to do with more money that I cannot do now.

When you’ve exhausted everything (she suggests giving it an hour’s time) you take colored pens and circle themes and repeated patterns. You are to keep this colorful representation close by and look at it for three days. Observe it, looking for any more patterns. Maria says you can use a red dot on those things that make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy and a blue dot on those things that make you feel good. Two weeks after doing this, Maria wants us to look for miracles around money – how we feel and what we know about it.

I can’t really share my mind map here. But I can say this: I have done work on my money structures of knowing, so most of my mind map was positive. I have had money before and I know all the wonderful things it can deliver. What keeps coming up for me though, is that you have to work hard to have money. I can’t seem to shake that for some reason . . . So that even when the path to money is good and fun, I have to make it hard to make it valid.

Exercise: Dismantling through Authentic Action.

Maria defines dismantling as taking off the cover. If you take the cover off, you can see things much better. She wants us to do something that is totally out of the realm of what we usually do.

1. For three days, resolve to pay for everything with cash.
2. Put all your credits cards in a place where you cannot easily get to them for one week.
3. The next three times you go grocery shopping, put 10 percent of what you just spent in the charity box at the checkout counter.
4. Tell someone you know and trust how much money you make each month.

Write about your experiences doing these things and your reactions. Do they create a shift in your experience of money? What new thoughts or feelings arise?

I don’t have any credit cards. And there just isn’t much to report on the money-making front just now. I don’t seem to have an issue about confessing that, anyway. I will try the grocery shopping donation and see what happens. Not really a big stretch for me. Maybe I can come up with a couple “out of the box” ideas I can use. I will ponder this.

Maria ends the chapter by encouraging us to have what the Buddhist’s call “beginner’s mind.” That fresh place where all the world is a miracle!

Next week is about the blessed art of forgiveness.

As my systems get smaller and tighter, support me more, I am feeling a sense of spaciousness in my life.

Being able to find what I need quickly and easily, not stressing so much over busy work, my file decks clear, the natty things I have to do quieted, I have more room in my head and more time on my hands.

My heart feels more open. I’ve been allowing myself more patience.  I’ve long known that my disciplinarian, hard-nosed, ingrained Work Ethic – no doubt pounded into me by my Depression-era parents – doesn’t work for me.  But it’s hard to let go of what seems to be your safety net.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels you gotta work hard, gotta keep up. . .   It is, after all, The American Way.  I’m finding that I attract far more good luck lady bugs with honey.  I feel better and function more effectively under a kinder, gentler boss.  I am more willing.  When I’m easier on myself, I just get more done.  That’s all there is to it.  A little heat can get you going, but the hand of patience can keep you moving forward.  I’ve been easier on myself these days and the results are tangible.

I also find more space in my mind.  For seeing how I’m doing things. And coming up with ways to improve on it, make it easier, more fun.  In the process freeing more time and doubling the feeling of spaciousness and ease.

Sharon Salzberg says, “Courage, spaciousness of mind and compassion are ingredients of lasting happiness.” I always feel more compassionate when I’m aware of that space in my heart.  Spaciousness of mind makes me more present minded – not so easily distracted.  Where there was tension, there is now flow. Creating more willingness and courage.

Coach by the Lake rocks!  She has helped me to get to this point where I’m seeing more clearly what is important, feeling the spaciousness in my heart and my head, and allowing my life to expand in marvelous ways!

The Spring is for renewal and growth.  I am ready.

Moving papers out of my way and tightening up my systems with is doing amazing things for me.  The obstacles in my way are coming into clearer focus.

A project I worked long and hard on that never came to fruition, sits as a dark sadness in my heart, casting a shadow on what I want to do now.  Holding me back, blocking my way. Being more aware, with less distractions, I hear myself mourning like it was a still-born child.

But the truth is, it’s not dead.  Merely on the shelf, waiting for another Time.  The work I have done still stands.  I can hold the knowledge and experience gained in actually birthing it, even if it hasn’t yet blossomed into all it could be.

As I sort through the distinctions in my papers, I see there is a sharp difference between the project that could-have-been and the project that-can-be.  They are not the same.  And need not suffer the same fate.


The undisputed Queen of delightful growth exercises is Julia Cameron.  We are in Week 2 of the classic, “The Artist’s Way – a Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.”  Anyone who does creative activities (or would like to) should read this book and follow the exercises at least once.  It is a 12-week recovery program.  Each week is jam-packed with interesting, thought-provoking and varied activities.  Going through the entire program is an amazing and eye-opening experience.  Ask anyone who’s done it.

Week Two is called “Recovering a Sense of Identity.”  Julia explains it, “This week addresses self-definition as a major component of creative recovery.”  She starts out talking about “Going Sane.”  As you start to change you might feel strange.  “At first flush,” Julia says, “going sane feels just like going crazy.”  Most reassuring to know!  The chapter goes on to talk about the people in your life who may be hurting your growth. Julia warns us, “Be particularly alert to any suggestion that you have become selfish or different.”  We need to keep reminding ourselves, even in the face of resistance from inside or out, that: “The Great Creator has gifted us with creativity.  Our gift back is our use of it.”  Along the way there are wonderful quotes from some very inspirational people like Brenda Ueland, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Shakti Gawain, Henry Miller and Eddie Cantor.

The next section talks about the “Crazymakers.”  People who can take over your life, Julia describes them, “They do things like break deals and destroy schedules, expect special treatment, spend your time and/or your money.”  We all know these kinds of people.  The kind that suck you up and very often spit you out.

Next we have to deal with Skepticism.  Those doubts that creep up inside of us.  About a Creator helping us or even about our own dear selves. Julia explains it so well, “. . .  our reluctance to take seriously the possibility that the universe just might be cooperating with our new and expanded plans. . . .   We still feel too much like frauds to handle some success. When it comes, we want to go.”  We need to just keep opening our minds to it.  Over and over again, as a practice.

Attention is such a beautiful and powerful thing. Where we put attention is where things grow.  “The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.”  We pay attention to the things we care about, the things we choose to put our attention on.  When that comes from a clear place in us, it is truly delightful!  “The reward for attention,” Julia goes on to say is “is always healing.”

She ends the chapter with box of “Rules for the Road.”  In it she finishes the statement, “In order to be an artist, I must:” and adds 10 tactics, like “Set small and gentle goals and meet them.”  She ends with a suggestion to make a sign for yourself which reads, “Great Creator, I will take care of the quantity.  You take care of the quality.”  A freeing statement that allows you to let go of the outcome and focus your attention, give your care to what’s important, what you have the most control over.

As for the exercises, I can only offer a sampling. Many of the exercises are linked or built on previous ones. Or tied with the regular routine she asks of you.  Every day you are to write Morning Pages.  And once a week go on what she calls an Artist’s Date – where you make plans and take your artist somewhere fun.  A place where your artist can come out and play. Like a museum.  Or even something different like bowling.  Just for fun, for a different perspective.

Here are a few of the fun things she asks of you:

*  Where does your time go? List your five major activities this week.  How much time did you give to each one? Which were what you wanted to do and which were shoulds? How much of your time is spent helping others and ignoring your own desires?  Have any of your well-meaning friends triggered doubts in you?

I’ve been playing with this lately. I do a diary every day. Some days I can pull it right from my agenda for the day, but on others, everything gets changed.  It’s important for me to see the things I’ve accomplished.  I had this idea, working with The Coach By the Lake, to go over my diary and color code to find out where I’m spending most of my time. Noting what did I really want to do – my highest priority items and how much time I spent on lower priorities.  I think it’s most helpful to get a picture of how you’re spending your time.

*  Another exercise is to list 20 things you enjoy doing.  Barbara Sher has a similar exercise.  It’s so much fun to do!  The reality lies in the next step where you are to put down next to the item when the last time was you did it.  That can be sobering! But you end up with a good list for Artist’s Dates and an awareness of some enjoyable activities you can start to add back in your life.

*  Julia goes on to suggest that from this list you might find two things that you could put on your weekly schedule and do.  She reminds us that it can be done in a small time frames, instead of giving up because you don’t have a big enough space for it.

*  I like the Life Pie.  It’s almost like the Wheel of Life.  Check out where you can link to a Wheel of Life you can create.  The by hand version looks like this: Draw a circle.  Divide it into six pieces and label the pieces: Spiritual, Exercises, Play, Work, Friends, Romance, Adventure (or whatever you please).  Place a dot in each slice indicating what degree you feel fulfilled in this area.  Outer rim indicates great fulfilment, inner is not so great.  Connect the dots.  This will show you where you are lopsided.  Again we’re gaining insight into which areas need more attention.

*  Finally, we’re going to list 10 changes we’d like to make.  It’s called “Ten Tiny Changes,” but she says they can go from “the significant to the small.”  I like the idea of listing the tiny things you could do that would have an effect.  Like a Game Changer Goal that you could accomplish quickly and easily and see results.  Julia asks us to pick one of those items and get it done in a week.

I am spending a lot of energy these days on a project I call “Creating Space.”  Working with an amazing coach, Lauren Graham, the Coach by the Lake.  (at  to help me figure out what I need to keep and what can go.  I am creating space around me, in order to create space in my day for the things I really want to do.

I can generate some paper.  And I tend to be lazy about going back over the page and seeing if I need to keep it or not. In taking the time to review what I have chosen to keep (or refused to toss) I’m learning a lot about myself and my priorities.  I find that by doing this, by making choices about the paper, the supplies, the out-of-date magazines, on this small scale, I am making it easier to make choices on a larger scale.  Knowing what supports me and what drains me is drawing a clearer picture of who I am and what I need.

As you make these kinds of decisions, no matter where you make them, you begin to build a structure that is always with you, always helping make choices about what you really want, what will support you, in all areas of your life.  You have a framework to refer to in making far more clear and informed decisions.

Very often, when I’m faced with a decision, I feel like all the 10,000 things spoken of in the Tao are vying for my attention. There are so many choices! I love that scene in 1984’s “Moscow on the Hudson,” when Robin Williams, in New York City, newly defected from Russia, is asked to buy coffee.  Used to buying whatever coffee could be had, at the grocery store he is amazed at the choices and starts reading off the names, “Folger’s, Maxwell House, Sanka, Eight O’Clock, Chock full o’nuts, Hills Brothers, Taster’s Choice . . .” after the 20th brand of coffee, he passes out, overwhelmed by the choices.

These days we have ever-increasing choices. There’s still a dizzying array of coffees, but there are also growing displays of delicious, internet, TV, digital, delectable choices available 24 hours a day. Truly, the 10,000 things. If you can narrow down all those options, knowing what works for you, when something new is introduced, there is less to confuse or distract.

Making choices for what things stay and what goes in my home –  learning what supports and what drains me – I start to make better choices in what I do. Which actions will support or drain me?  The effects of that spill over into making choices that  honor me (that don’t just “treat” myself).  I make better, healthier and more supportive choices for me, for others and for the Universe!

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