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How is that I can be a few inches above the ground, floating on enthusiasm one day . . .  the enthusiasm of God filling me to brimming, feeling great and productive, shining that light? And the next day, the sun is gone, the printer’s acting up, the cat is trying, I’m getting nowhere? All my enthusiasm drained out of me.
It happens, I know.  So, what can be done about it?  Perhaps I could have a back up supply ready.  That could be a list of those things that make me feel enthusiastic: my dream, my projects, my loved ones.

It’s true that sometimes I just need a little downtime. When I can’t make things happen, maybe it’s better to not try so hard.  Take a break, breathe a little.  Getting a change of scenery can sometimes work wonders.  

Maria Nemeth, in her brilliant book “The Energy of Money,” talks about energy leaks.  If we can leak money through small, unconscious expenses, we can also lose physical energy with small, unconscious expenditures of fear and worry.

Keeping a watchful, attentive eye on where my energy leaks are can be helpful.  SARK talks a lot about controlling our energy.  But it begins with observation.  Noticing what drains my energy helps to know how to patch it. Taking good care is always a good place to start.  Listening to find out what my body needs

Another solution might be to stoke the momentum that’s already going, using it. If I’m hot into a project, leave a little bit to get me started tomorrow.  Keep my enthusiasm up around a long-term project by remembering why I’m doing it or finding new ways to go.  Acting while the iron’s still hot always works. I could find small ways to keep the fires burning in between sessions with a project.

Just being conscious of where my enthusiasm level is will likely reveal many ways.  

SARK, in her Great Life Letter this week, talked about this.

I, for one, want to always feel good.  If I don’t, I promptly think I’m doing something wrong and want to get out of it as soon as possible.  The truth is, no one feels cheerful and happy all the time.  I think what SARK’s getting at is that, rather than haul yourself out of the funk, get into it.  Make friends with it.

SARK says, “It’s about finding and feeling as many glad parts as you can . . .” But it has to start by being willing to feel what you’re feeling.

I’ve heard it said a lot that the only way to transmute bad feelings is to feel them.  I don’t think I’ve ever fully grasped that.  But I think it’s about working with what SARK’s talking about: That middle point where life is what it is.

Rather than trying to medicate, feed, distract yourself from whatever you’re feeling, you need to face it.  Come to terms with it.  Saying this is where I am right now, feeling this.  Without judgment or plans to escape.  Being with it.

When you do that, immerse yourself, maybe there are spots that feel good within it.  Maybe there’s something quiet, relaxing or exciting about the feelings. Perhaps it says you’re alive.

It’s like anything, you get used to it.  Like jumping into cool water.  It’s a shock at first, but then you even things out and it feels okay.  At work, they changed a site I work with a lot.  When I first started using it, I found a task had become frustrating and tedious.  I had to move through 500 names, 10 at a time, waiting each time for the system to bring up the next names.  Doing this task, I would get bug-eyed and feel like I was falling asleep waiting for it.  But after doing it a couple hundred times, I’ve gotten used to it.  It no longer feels so tedious and difficult.  I believe this is the process of transmutation.

But it takes being willing to dive into that messy, chewy middle of things.  And then, making a choice to be glad, to honor the process of transforming the feelings.

Many people feel that loving yourself completely is selfish and that you’ll be so consumed with yourself, you’ll never have time for others.  In fact, the opposite is true.

When you are fully in love with yourself, you are complete.  You have what you need, so you no longer depend on others to supply you with the love and attention we all crave.  It’s so freeing to release that need.  Is there any more freedom than not needing anything from anybody?

Fully loving yourself means you are aware of all that’s so wonderful about yourself.  You see how special you are, just the way you are.  This gives a grounding, a sense of self esteem that’s solid.  You no longer need to prove it.

When that constant striving is gone, what’s left is a knowing that you truly deserve love and attention.  This makes you completely open to all the good stuff others want to give you.  Rather than doubting or discounting it, you gobble up every bit. This creates an abundance of love building inside you.

From this overflow you can more deeply love and care for others. When you are full yourself, you don’t demand from others. You have so much more to give, without depleting your own supply. With more than you need, you willingly and easily give.

One of the ways I use to love myself more is to stop seeing myself through my own eyes and start thinking about how others see me.  When I’m churning out phrases like “I’m such a loser,” “I have nothing of value to give,” I change my perspective and say, you know, my friends might see me in a different way.  They might say I do have something to offer.  Left to my own devices I might not be able to see what I have, but taking a different view helps to see the truth.  This clarity will build up over time.

Taking good care of myself helps too.  Whenever I do something nice for me, buy myself a gift, or make a choice that supports my health and well being, I feel self esteem growing. 

Another tactic is to remember to offer myself congratulations when they are earned.  It’s so easy to skip over the successes because there’s always another challenge ahead.  But taking the time to pause and notice what I’ve done creates more fertile ground for the love to blossom.

Listing the things I like about myself is a fun activity.  I start with rote items like a school report card, but then something happens.  It shifts gear and I find surprising things about myself. The more of these gems I can find, the deeper I feel about myself. It makes sense:  when you’re falling for someone you focus on those things you like best about them and your love grows.

SARK likes to give herself hugs.  I’d like to hug her for that one.  She knows a thing or two about loving yourself.

There are so many ways to love ourselves it’s a wonder we don’t do more of it!

In SARK’s recent newsletter, she talked about how taking good care of yourself is more than just deep tissue massages and healthy foods.  The heart of taking good care is in speaking kindly to yourself. I believe that if most of us took a moment to listen to the chatter in our heads, we’d find an endless stream of criticisms and corrections.

Esther and Jerry Hicks have a process they call “segment intending” where you stop and decide what you’re after with each segment of your day.  I’m borrowing that concept by segmenting my day and then asking how I’m doing.  Eckhart Tolle suggested the question.  If the thoughts or feelings I find are not to my liking, I rattle off a few of my favorite things:  a summer breeze, watching a great film, listening to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, crackling fires, a perfect cup of tea.  I’m calling it Segment Check-ins.

I try to set these segments up ahead of time, based on how my day unfolds.  Like, when I’m putting on my jewelry in the morning and when I’m taking it off at night, just before I get ready to drive, when I get into work and settle in, before lunch, etc.  I just take a breath and notice how I’m doing. 

In this way I’m practicing present moment awareness.  I’m also filing my head with good thoughts and improving my mood. 

Sometimes it’s just a matter of slowing down a bit, taking a breath.  I give myself permission to toss out any thoughts that I can’t do anything about right now.  Either there’s an action I need to take now, or there isn’t.  If there’s something I need to do later, I just put it aside.  As Eckhart Tolle says:  there’s nothing you can’t handle right now. When I narrow it down to just those things I can do right now, I feel calmer.  If I can do it now, I do. If not, I dance around in my faves and lighten my day.

It seems everywhere I turn these days, people are talking about relationships.  Books, seminars, lectures, and even classes on how to have better relationships.  Maybe I’ve been especially blessed as I’ve always had lots of relationships and feel fairly contented (at least at the moment) with my significant other.

I just don’t think it’s that tricky.  Relationships are what your life is all about.  The relationship you have with the people, places and things around you, defines who you are.  Every relationship is there to help you wake up and learn something new about yourself.  Everyone is your “Zen Master” as my teacher, Paulette Terrels says. 

So, why do people carry on so about them? Does it say something about our culture that people are so dissatisfied with the relationships in their lives? Or feel so separated and alone?  Can I say all my relationships are perfect?  That I wouldn’t want to tweak a few them?  Of course not.  But I try to use them all as a flashlight to illuminate things I need to learn and experience.

We are social beings and tend to congregate.  If there’s no one in your life, it’s probably because you’re not letting them in.

Here are my humble ways to have good relationships:

1)  Be more conscious in your relationships.  Know that you make a statement about who you are by how you relate to everything in your life.  Pay attention and take steps which reflect how you wish to relate, how you wish to be in relationship to whoever or whatever it is.

2)  Let go of expectations.  People are not put here to live up to your expectations and behave just the way you want them to. It’s a practice in peace to allow others to be who they are. It is also the greatest gift you can give them.

3)  Remember very few of us are mind readers.  Frankly, we’ve all got way too much chatter going on in our heads to allow in someone else’s.  If you don’t tell someone what you need or want, how are they supposed to know?  Be sure to let go of your expectations when you do, though.  Just because you ask, doesn’t mean they can deliver. But you’re surely not going to get what you want by being quiet and hoping the other will just know.

One of my favorite episodes of the old Dick Van Dyke show (from the 60’s) begins with Rob and Laura in the car, coming home one night.  Laura is obviously angry at Rob, but he doesn’t have a clue why.  He recounts the entire evening in flashbacks, trying to find the place where he messed up. They went to the theater with friends and then went for coffee and met some other friends. At the end of the evening, Rob picks up the check and we see that is what has gotten Laura’s panties in a twist.  She thinks he doesn’t love their 8 year old son.  Huh? Why would she think that? Finally she admits, she thinks Rob has jeopardized their son’s college education by  picking up the tab for everyone’s dinner when all the two of them had was dessert. I remember that scene when I am thinking someone should know what I want: Laura spent a lot of time feeling angry when all she had to do was tell him!  “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you,” is a lame excuse and causes far more problems than just saying it. If he had known she felt that way, he wouldn’t have picked up the check to begin with.

4)  Allow your relationships to come and go.  What is the saying that people are in your life for a moment, a season or a lifetime.  When it’s time for a person to leave your life, let them go – whether that’s to college, another plane of existence, across town, or the next love. We cannot hold people with us.  It is the nature of relationships to change.

5)  Appreciate the relationships you have.  There is something to be found in every relationship. I’m in a position right now where I come in contact with a lot of people.  Each one of them offers me something different.  Each one is a gift in my life. Notice how even the smallest relationship – like the person behind the counter at the library – can make your day.

6)  Define the kind of people you want in your life and watch for them. SARK talks about “building platforms of support.”  If you want a strong system to hold you up in your life, order up a platform of support. Who are the kind of people that will bring to your life what you need?  Then just be on the lookout for them.

7)  Open to relationships.  Don’t be so picky about it.  Know that you can learn, grow and have fun with just about anyone. Open your heart to others and they will open theirs to you.


My new coach has given me an assignment.  It’s an abundance practice.  As she tells the story,  I have a rich aunt who gives me a hundred dollars.  The only stipulation is that I have to spend it. Tomorrow, and each day henceforth, she will double her gift to me.  Every day I must spend my allotment.  Okay, so I had some fun buying  new clothes and furniture.  But when it got into the $100,000 range, I got a little stuck.  I decided I’d been greedy enough, now it was time to give.  So, I gave $25,000 each to four different charities – for peace, to fight hunger, Habitat for Humanity, and a foundation for teenage girls.  Low and behold, I was left with $2,400. What to do with it?  How about a nice vacation? 

I liked that.  How much does a vacation cost?  I picked my destination and started looking at luxury resorts.  I found a lovely one by the beach.  I wish I knew how to drop in a picture!  Turned out I had to book one of their best rooms, take the spa package and stay 6 days . . . life is rough!

SARK has an exercise she uses.  I think she calls it an Instant Vacation.  (Not sure of that.)  She has a program called SARK’s Awesome Anytime Adventure.  She is one who believes in such things. 

SARK instructs you to get comfortable and imagine your ideal vacation in detail.  It was a Sunday, so I went for it.  I laid down and imagined us arriving at the hotel, a porter, of course, will take our bags to the room.  He explains some of the amenities of the hotel and tells us about some good music in the local town.  I went through each day – one day we walked into town and did some shopping, another day we just sat at the beach, another, we took a boat cruise.  One morning we spent at their gorgeous pool. Every afternoon we went to the spa for a little workout and a massage.  They offered surfing lessons, which we just had to try. Wow, did I feel good!  One evening we went into town to check out the scene.  Another evening we stayed at the hotel and had dinner in their restaurant and hung out the poolside bar.  We took lots of walks on the beach and had a scrumptious time!

I can’t say that after my meditation session I felt like I had been pampered for a week, but I did feel pretty good.  One might even say I was refreshed.

But here’s the kicker.  On the  reality plane, there is no $2400 vacation in my future.  What exists is a long weekend at a friend’s house.  Can’t compete with a week’s resort  stay. 

I don’t understand it.  Maybe it has to do with the body not knowing the difference.  It is the feelings that count, after all.  I’m excited about our weekend getaway – almost as if we were spending a week at the beach.  I’m looking forward to each little detail of the weekend, what I will wear, what we will do, the feel of the water in the pool, the sun on my face, the evening breezes, the fun we’ll have with our friends.  I can’t wait!

Feelings are truly powerful juju.

SARK talked about havens in her last newsletter and I was taken by the concept. A haven is a port in the storm, finally reaching the harbor after a long journey, a place that feels safe.  M-W defines it also as “a place offering favorable opportunities or conditions.”  I like that.  Opportunities of all kinds: to rest, to fuel, to have fun.  A haven brings to mind cozy and comfortable.

Seems, though, when you get down to it, that haven is in the eye of the beholder.  What may be rest to me, may be uncomfortable for you. For SARK it was a high back chair.  What a wonderful thing to ponder!

What if you could find a haven in your soul?  A place you could go to no matter what.  In my work with Libby Gill, she asked us to create a room in our minds.  Make it as cozy and comfortable as you can.  Mine is like a retreat (another good synonym for haven, huh?) You enter through a small porch.  In the center of the room is a large lounge chair.  It looks out at a beautiful lake (or an ocean if I’m of a mood.) The rest of the retreat is surrounded by tress.  On one side is a small kitchen and on the other a sunken bed (like John Lennon’s in ” Help“.) All my favorite books are there. Whenever things get tough or crazy, I can take a break and imagine myself on that lounge chair, breathing deeply and regrouping. What a wonderful (and highly accessible) haven it is!

Havens can be as simple as a hot cup of tea, a dip in the pool or a solo walk.  A haven might be a talk with a good friend.  Maybe it’s a restful bedroom or a cozy window seat, a special corner of your home. Perhaps your haven is under a tree or under the stars, on a boat, at sea.  Sometimes my garage is a haven when it’s raining.

I’m going to keep my eyes open for havens.  Maybe it’s just a quiet moment in the middle of hectic day, a break from traffic when the wind is in my hair and all cylinders are pumping.  A haven could be settling in to watch a favorite show or the comforting cover of darkness when the lights are turned off before bed.

Any ideas?  What is a Haven to you?

I need to find the right word. Energy abators, downgraders, or compressors.

SARK talks about what makes your Energy Contract.  These are the things that bring you down like toxins, exhaustion, isolation, stress, worry, co-dependence .  .  . I’m trying to find the positive slant on this. And settle on a different name: Energy Abridgers, Dwindlers, or Whittlers.

What if you’ve had a busy day?  Maybe even a long one.  You’re tired and you want to rest, but you can’t settle down.  Even if your body is weary, your mind may still be reeling. There are times when you truly just want to relax.

Surely there must be healthy, fast ways to calm down the energy.  To modulate or minimize it when it’s pumping out of control.

Herb tea isn’t bad.  I tried a cup of Holy Basil tea last night that worked quite well.  Chamomile might do the trick, too.  Still, it’s not as fast or easy as pouring a glass of wine or opening a beer. And, depending on how late it is, tea can get me up in the night. Meditation would be good if I could sit still long enough for it to take hold.

Foot rubs (or any kind of massage) would certainly downsize or prune my energy level.  But I need to have a willing massager, ready whenever the need should arise.

A heavy meal comes to mind as well, but that doesn’t qualify in the healthy department. Political discussions have the opposite effect.

Any ideas?

SARK is a big fan of these handy tools and uses them liberally. Most of the time you give Permission Slips to yourself. Though they are a generous and often most-appreciated gift to another.

A Permission Slip simply states that you have permission to be who you are and do what you do.  You have permission to mess up, take risks and fall on your face.  You are allowed to feel cranky and tired or elated and enthusiastic. Sometimes I find I have a harder time allowing myself to feel good, to be successful.  It’s good to have a Permission Slip at those times, too.

I’ve been trying to write letters lately. It seems my only way to keep in touch these days.  But between the weather, car issues, life in general, they haven’t been forthcoming.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, for goodness’ sakes.  But there’s something that’s keeping me from doing it.

When I give myself permission to not do it, suddenly, I feel more open.  In this frame of mind I can hear more clearly the fears, doubts and concerns that are haunting me.  I  begin to distinguish the issues: “What if they don’t respond?  What if I say the wrong thing?  What if everyone responds at the same time?”  These are the kind of thoughts that clutter up the mind and mush together into “I doan wanna.”  I can’t really work with that. But when I can see the individual concerns instead, I can let some go as silly and address others like: “I don’t know when I will find the time.”

So, the lesson is that giving myself permission to feel reluctant or unsure actually helps me to do it. Give a child permission to pout or have a fit and eventually she’ll grow tired of it. If you’re not putting up a fuss, she has nothing to be angry about.  Sooner or later you can have a more rational discussion.  Our inner chattering is no different.

So, I send out a blank Permission Slip to everyone who reads this:  It is okay.  No matter what you’ve done or didn’t do.  Whatever you feel or don’t feel.  It’s all okay. You have permission.

Natalie Goldberg has a writing practice where you are to list things that please you and then share that pleasure ~

Tea is a delightful and versatile drink.  I fancy myself a tea fancier.  I do love tea a cup of tea and all it has to offer.

There are a wide variety of teas to pick from.  Shall I begin with the Honorable Green Teas?  Said to have amazing beneficial qualities with antioxidants and all. Helps to maintain healthy weight plus even more positive health effects.  I find a decided difference between Japanese and Chinese Greens. I confess I know much more about the Japanese varieties, as I like them much better.  In Toyko, when you eat at a Sushi place, at your seat at the counter, is a spigot which gives refills of green tea whenever you like.  When you arrive at a hotel, you are served a tray with a pot of green tea and biscuits.  How sane is that? They serve a rather stronger, more potent, version of the Bigelow that I drink regularly.  But Green tea revitalizes me.  It’s small amount of caffeine gives me a gentle lift. A cup of green tea makes my body sing and gets me ready for the day.

Black tea is a different experience altogether.  For the afternoon, I think.  Black tea fills your mouth and offers an energy boost (even if it is decaffeinated). I love a smokey Russian best.  A Chinese Oolong will fill in nicely. There is something in black tea that my body craves. But my only caffeine these days is what I get from my daily Bigelow Japanese Style Green. The stronger stuff is not so easy to come by in decaf. Bigelow has a lot of wonderful black teas, decaffeinated, that sooth my desire. English Breakfast is a good one.

Then there are the herbal teas.  These tend to fill your soul with an inner glow.  So many choices in the herbal realm!  Fruity or woodsy.  I go for the woodsy myself. Alvita is my favorite brand of herbal tea.  A Nettle of the afternoon.  A rich Dandelion is quite nice in the fall.  In this category are the medicinal teas.  Traditional Medicinals makes a line of teas that are as tasty as they are healing.  Echinacea, in a few varieties.  Lots of female teas.  By the way, herbal teas can be very powerful.  Women who are pregnant should check the herbs they choose. Stick with gentle ones like mint and chamomile.   Nothing more gentle than those.

There is a bit of skill (and art) to making tea.  As in any good ritual, there are rules to the game.  The first, as we begin, is to always boil fresh water.  If it’s already been boiled, water the plants with it.  Please, don’t use it again. (I’m a little fussy about using a tea bag a second time, but that’s an individual choice.)  When you pour the freshly boiled water, there is an adage about bringing the pot to the cup for herbals and greens and the cup to the pot for blacks. The idea is that you can pour a rolling boil over the heartier black teas, but you want to wait for it to calm down a bit before dousing the herbs or the greens.  Most instructions say to steep from 3 to 5 minutes for the average cup of tea.  I set my timer for 4.  Tea houses say you must remove the bag promptly for Green tea.  I follow that rule for Black teas as well, as an over-steeped cup can become bitter.  I read somewhere that if you let the water boil too long it will make your tea bitter, too, but I’m not sure why that is.  Herbal teas have a lot more play in them.  An herbal tea bag can sit way over time with little ill effect.

Teas can also cure what ails you.  The Medicinal teas, however, take a little more care.  They often want to be covered and can steep as long as 15 minutes.  If you’re using fresh herbs (rather than the neatly packaged store-bought ones) you might extend that time. Be sure to squeeze the bag (or strain the herbs) well to get every bit of goodness from them. There’s nothing quite like a hot drink when you’re not feeling well.  Like a warm blanket.

As for dressing your tea.  I am of Russian descent so I prefer my tea simply adorned. Maybe a little lemon, but mostly as is. I used to be a big fan of granulated sugar in black tea, but now I prefer the full bodied flavor without it.  A dab of honey never hurt an herbal tea, but the aroma and taste are much more enjoyable without it.  I admit a sharp Ginger tea does go down easier with a spoonful of  honey.  And if you have a sore throat, honey can be quite soothing.  I once, at a bar in Chicago, had a cup of your basic black tea with a shot of Amaretto (in place of the honey), when I was coming down with a cold through one of  their bitter winters. I’d call that medicinal!

There is a perfect temperature for a cup of tea.  I can’t name the degree, but I calculate it’s about 5 minutes or so after it is has completed steeping. When it’s still on the side of hot, but not so much that it burns your tongue. Sometimes the heat, the flavor and the atmosphere come together perfectly and a humble cup of tea becomes a bold restorative.

Tea works at any temperature. It’s amazing when it’s hot, but also quite good after it’s cooled, still in the cup. The flavor takes on a different dimension. Who doesn’t love a refreshing glass of iced tea?  What a marvelous sensation when you pour still hot tea over ice.  You create that delicious combination of warm and cool.

Tea is revered and honored in many cultures.  It has been associated with magic and poison.  But most would agree, it brings people together in a welcoming atmosphere.  SARK likes to have people to tea – real and imaginary. I can’t think of a better way to gather folks together than around a steaming pot of tea and something to nibble.   Light fare for warm companionship.

What would you like?  Cranberry Peach Pomegranate?  Or perhaps you would prefer a cup of Red Clover, which is said to have blood cleansing properties. Maybe you’d like the essence of bergamot in a stout Earl Gray. I also have a lovely Japanese Bancha tea, which will awaken all your cells.  There’s some fresh mint iced tea to pour over ice.  Not feeling well?  Try the Traditional Medicinal Breathe Easy.  Or maybe the calming Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime – one of my favorites.  It doesn’t knock you out for sleep, but instead eases you from head to toe.

Any way you look at it, tea has much to offer.  Excuse me. That’s my timer.  Tea is served.

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