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I contend that we need four supports in our life in order to feel balanced and keep ourselves in good shape. Balance is so important in life. It is how we maintain and persevere.

Time
We need time to tend to our own care: to eat well, take exercise and nurture our spirit (Whatever that may mean for you – attending church, visiting art galleries, reading good books . . .) What is a good life without time with loved ones? Hearth and Home provide the heart of a balanced life. Time to ourselves for quiet thought, is equally essential.

Money
It is a fact of the life we live, that most of us need money. We must have it for our very survival in this hurry up-keep up world. No hearth, no home without it. Money fuels us. It makes things happen. It creates a comfortable life around us. Money can be very handy for generosity, too. We give more when we have more to give.

Connection
We are all passionate beings at our core. And we crave connection to fully express our love. We truly need each other. Susan Jeffers, PhD. said, “I believe our craving in life is not to be loved, but to love…ourselves and others.” I’m calling this the gravity that holds it all together. Without it life is flimsy and can more easily topple (or turn upside down).

Purpose
There is no more stable ground than purpose. To be of service is what we are all meant to do. Purpose drives us and without it we feel lost. Purpose runs on faith. With faith, belief in something, our lives make sense.

 

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I have been going through A Course in Miracles. Thanks to Chris Cade, an enlightened being who is working it well – giving, selling, and supporting others’ in their work.  Every day I get an idea to work with.  The practice doesn’t take a lot of time but generates plenty of insights.  This Blog entitled Lesson got me thinking.

The Course is rooted in Christianity, at least in its speech.  I tend to shy away from the word God in these writings, but I do, very deeply, believe in Him. Susan Jeffers said, “There is just too much that nourishes and supports us to deny the existence of something . . . whatever that something is.” Surely, the fact that we come equipped with such amazing tools could be seen as proof of His existence.  Every one of us has at our disposal, whenever and wherever we want it, things like Imagination and Curiosity.  We all have the capacity for Courage and Love.  We are well supported by these things that come built-in.  By His nature, God can be anywhere and everywhere.  So, His presence can be achieved with simply a thought.  Barbara Sher offered a tool she calls The Ideal Family.  You pull together in your mind anyone you choose.  Knowing a little something about who they are and what their experiences have been, you can imagine asking them questions.  I know a few things about Marianne Williamson who I have chosen as my ideal sister.  Whenever I have something I’m churning in my head, I can think of her and imagine what she might tell me. Angels and Saints.  Music and Art.  Not to mention all the people I can reach out to with a word, a phone call or an email. All of this adds up to some serious strength at our beckon call!

When it came to the second part, I balked a little.  God has given so many gifts!  I’m healthy, I have a wonderful husband and live in a beautiful place.  I’m able to give of my talents to support others, etc. etc.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe Vision is one of His most important gifts.  We’re not talking about physical sight, but inner vision. So even those who are sight impaired can use this vision.  If I don’t see all those blessings in my life, they don’t do me much good.  The most pervasive change I’m seeing in myself from working The Course is my perception.  It is really all about how I see things.  I don’t know if there’s anything more valuable than being able to see who I really am, the truth of a situation, what I have to give and all that I have.

I read a sad, but interesting story recently in Caroline Myss’ legendary book, “The Anatomy of the Spirit.”  In it, Caroline indicated that though the person in the story was willing, it wasn’t the same as surrendering.  I love those shades of meaning from a linguistic point of view.  But, if you notice your body when you say, “I am willing,” versus “I surrender,” you may see that there is a physical difference between the two, as well.

When you are willing, you’re geared up, you’re leaning forward, you’re ready, you might even be gritting your teeth. Isn’t that often accompanied by a desire to do something, maybe even to get something for it?  What’s really going on, though, could be closer to resigning to it. I’m willing to do it, because it’s for my own good, I know it will turn out for the best … When you surrender, it’s like letting out a long breath. You sink in, you relax, you release, you give up.

We all so love to be in control.  I, myself, am quite fond of predictability.  I like having some idea what’s going to happen next.  And I’ve found that need for predictability can be present whether you’re a home-based worker, a 50 hour a week employee, a new mother, or a trust fund baby.  We are so often scrambling to build predictability into our lives.  It’s hard to give up control, even when we really don’t need to hold on so tightly.

This Surrendering certainly entails faith on some level. Can we say a willingness to surrender?  Paulette Terrels often speaks of being willing to be willing.  That is certainly a step on the journey.  But we just haven’t crossed the threshold until we are ready to surrender. When we can acknowledge everything that happens to us is perfect.  Everything.  Even those little annoyances when you just can’t get the lid on straight!!  It’s Susan Jeffers’ chant that “It’s all happening perfectly.”  Being able to let go, at every moment, and let it be what it is.  Surrendering to whatever is going on.

Things go better with willingness, that’s for sure. I often marvel at what I can accomplish when I’m willing.  But no matter what I do, how much I can get done, if I look, I will find below the surface, an element of resignation keeping  my hands on the reins.  And no matter how willing I may be, I am always susceptible to running straight into that brick wall.  That one thing where I say, No!  I’m not going any further, I’m no longer willing.

With surrender, there is no limit. There is no stopping point where I can’t surrender any more.  I’ve already surrendered everything.  In that moment.

All writing is telling a story.  We tell stories about people.  Whether it’s an aging rock star in a parallel universe, the only fertile man left on Earth, or a girl who’s actually 300 years old.

Even when we’re writing about green energy, it’s a story of how that affects people’s lives.  There’s a story of fiscal realities in the experiences of a CFO at a corporate meeting.  If we’re selling a product or service, we’re telling a story about the benefits it brings to someone.

Stories are an excellent way to teach and illustrate a point.  There’s nothing quite like touching someone where they live.  When we tell engaging stories, we reach others on a level where they can say, “Yes, I see what you’re saying.”  Stories evoke pictures, allowing others to see what the writer sees, from the perspective of their own experience.

We tell ourselves stories all the time. When we exclaim, “Oh, I’ve never been any good at that,” we are just as much telling a story as I’m this age, have this job and come from this place.  I recently read stories about the Pioneer Women and what their lives were like. The stories their lives had to tell them.  What are our lives talking about today? What are the stories we tell ourselves?

I’m talking about the constant commentary.  Woody Allen wrote in his brilliant film, “Annie Hall,” in a scene at a party with the literary crowd. Woody’s character, Alvy Singer says to his then-wife, “I had heard that Commentary and Dissent had merged and formed ‘Dysentery.’”  Susan Jeffers called it the Chatterbox.  It’s that spewing of thoughts around how this one is that and that one is this. Judgements, gossip and evaluations of everything we’ve done or haven’t done, everything everyone else does or doesn’t.  Interspersed with that is the flotsam and jetsam of random thoughts, like to-do lists.  Emotions bubble up to sometimes yell at us (or someone else). Doubts materialize around whether we can or cannot do this because of this or that thing which happened before.  Doesn’t this add up to a story we’re telling ourselves? There are a million stories in The Naked City.  In a grand way this stream of consciousness story we tell ourselves everyday defines who we are.  We become the stories we tell about ourselves.

Don Miquel Ruiz wrote a wise book called “The Four Agreements.”  In it he talked about how we agree to buy into a belief system, a way of thinking, about ourselves, our community, our planet.  He explained, “The belief system is like a Book of Law that rules our mind.  Without question, whatever is in that Book of Law, is our truth.  We base all of our judgements according to the Book of Law, even if these judgements go against our own inner nature.”  You may always come from a certain place, your race and heritage may not change, but you can always change what you believe by changing the stories you tell about yourself in your Book of Law.

I believe in affirmations.  If you tell yourself a story about how you can often enough, with enough belief, you can.  I think I can, I think I can, I know, I know I will.  Energy and motivation can be had by telling yourself a certain story. There are those who have performed healings, done what couldn’t be done, overcome insurmountable obstacles, because they told themselves they could.  Whether it’s true or not, by the way.  It’s quite astonishing the things we can make ourselves do, simply by telling ourselves a good story.

The troublesome stories are the ones that don’t allow us to do what we long to do. The ones that scream we can’t from the Book of Law.  We need to find ways to break out of those laws.  Stories are powerful.  It’s easy to become attached to them coming out the way we want them to. There’s a real art to being able to move out of restricting beliefs, let go of the outcome, the ending of your story and allow it to take the shape it wants.

I know that emotions are important.  They are like signposts to show us where we are, indicators of our state.  An emotion points us to what we’re thinking.  If I’m sad, I must be thinking sad thoughts.  If I’m angry . . .  Susan Jeffers, the fear expert, said that fear is not the culprit.  It’s how we react to it.  The emotion we generate comes, not from what’s happening, but from our thoughts about whatever is going on.  In this world we live in most things are hard to have control over.  Our thoughts, however, are the one things we can truly control.  We have this great system of emotions to show us what our thoughts are doing.  I often say that emotions, once unleashed, are difficult to tame.  But eventually, their intensity dissipates and we can tackle the thoughts.  In this respect, emotions are critical and important.

One the other hand, my emotions drag me around and get me into trouble.  They interfere with my life and my intentions.  They can make whatever I’m doing that much more intense or difficult.  I need to turn them down, step away from them so I can function again.  Emotions move.  E-motion can take me into places I don’t want to go.

Working on an old wound that hinders my progress, I’ve found that if I turn away from it, along with the associated emotions and just do what I need to do, I’m fine.  Maybe there is no healing possible.  Or I’ve done all I can do.  If I tell those thoughts behind the emotion to just leave me alone, I can often move forward.

I was talking with a friend today who warned me that what I was doing could turn out badly.  When we got off the phone I got to thinking about all the ways it could go wrong.  Fear took hold.  Later, I discovered someone hadn’t done something.  I felt hurt that my request had not been followed.  Normally it would’ve just gone by with nothing more than a note to ask again.  But on top of the earlier fear, it really hurt.  Before I knew it, I discovered that there was something I had forgotten.  Now I was angry at myself.  It felt like one of those nasty punches someone whips up from spit, rotten vegetables and motor oil and then asks you to drink it on a dare.

I understand the value of emotions.  But damn they make me mad!

In her book, “The Feel the Fear Guide to Lasting Love,” Susan Jeffers suggests that sharing what we know is a good way to show we love someone.

She was speaking about our traditional roles as men and women.  Men, easily, seem to know how to fix things. Where women are more practiced in the art of nurturing.  What if we made a conscious effort to teach each other what we know?

What a win-win situation this is!  I get to talk about something I know well and you get to learn something new.  Something in that process passes between us and strengthens our relationship.  Making us more than the sum of our parts.

I can think of no better way to give something of ourselves.  And won’t the receiver be so much richer for getting something so precious?  It is a yin-yang balance that just feels right. Doesn’t it just feel ancient and wise to pass along what we know?

This sharing of knowledge has plenty of benefits.  It makes us all more well-rounded, more capable people. It allows us to meld our complementary skills and talents.  Creating a better world for it. Surely, it would enhance the education of any child in the vicinity!

Even more importantly, it creates a bridge of understanding between us.  As I learn from you, I get a clearer picture of who you are and how you operate.

It’s a chance to show and tell how you see something.  Sharing your passion and wisdom on a subject.  People love to talk about themselves and their lives.  We all, in a way, really just want to be heard.  This transferring of a skill, talent or passion is a way to be heard while giving something in return.

Can we put a value on education?  On expansion?  The cost of a college degree or a certificate program?  What about a lifetime of learning, person-to-person, me to you, you to me?  As free as love.

Everyone’s talking about it.  It is the backbone of the Law of Attraction.

It’s a theory that says if you can act like it’s already happening –  already in your life, you are already the person you choose to be – you create a better conduit, set up better causes and conditions for it to manifest.

Susan Jeffers explains how it works, in her book Embracing Uncertainty. “If you act-as-if long enough, your mind lets in the possibility that something is so. And, ultimately, you are able to embrace the reality that it is so.”

I’ve recently been introduced to “Ted Talks.”  I listened to a brilliant talk by Amy Cuddy called, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” She is an expert on hormones and has done extensive study on body language and how the movement and placement of your body can greatly effect your mood and your life.

She spoke about “Faking it until you make it.” Her theory was that some people feel like a fraud doing this.  Her turn of the phrase adds an intention to “Fake it until you Become it.”  If you are striving to become something, it is not being a fake.  And that is really the heart of Acting as If.  Not to fool anyone – least of all yourself – but to practice until you become it.

Many spiritual practices and teachers, including the Buddha, tell us that which we want is always waiting for us to just see it.

The great writer and teacher, Dorothea Brande said, “All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail. That is the talisman, the formula, the command of right about face which turns us from failure to success.”

Even C.S. Lewis had something to say about it. “The rule for us all is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

I believe it was Caroline Myss who said that money is a substance that faith attracts.  Believing the money will be there, acting as if it is,  is a strong indicator that it will be.  Why the rich tend to get richer and the poor stay the same.

It all adds up to the Conversations With God teaching about how most people say, “Well if I had this, I could be that and then I could do what I need to do.”  But what if we change that up and call it Do Be Have?  If we do it first, if we act as if it’s here already, fake it until we make it, we will Become it and then we will have it.  It’s not hard to believe that could greatly speed up the manifesting process.

Susan Jeffers wondered what we could accomplish if we acted as if we truly made a difference in this world.  Can you imagine?

Embracing Uncertainty” is a wonderful book by Susan Jeffers, PhD.  This woman made a lifetime study of fear.  “Embracing Uncertainly” teaches us how to let go of our fears, handle, deal with, wrangle the fears.  I like the vision of loading up the backpack with your fears and moving ahead with them, if you must.  As in, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” Dr. Jeffers’ landmark book. The title that became a cheer.  Pack em up and keep on trucking.

It’s so easy though to get attached to our fears, to be driven by them.  Making it sometimes hard to get out of it’s hold. I have a dear friend who is negative about just everything.  His name could be Yes But.  Nothing is ever good enough, nothing can ever work for him. That’s just the way it is.  And he lives his life, hoping against hope that his worst fears won’t come true, again.  He doesn’t know what will happen in the future, but his best guess is that it’s not going to work for him. He’s not alone.  I know many people, including myself at times, who are poised and ready to tell you (and themselves) all the reasons why not.

Is it about risk?  What am I willing to risk to have what I want?  I have been known to over dramatize the possibility of risk.  Be careful, I tell myself.  It’s wise to be prepared for the worst.

But does this keep me focused, then, on the things that can go wrong?  It seems so easy for us to come up with disaster scenarios.  Why can’t we prepare for the positive possibility?  Better still, find that Middle Way to accept and embrace the uncertainty of what is to come.  “What will happen to me today?” has a much better ring than “What disaster might befall me today?”  When we embrace the uncertainty we ask the kind of questions Susan points out from “A Course in Miracles” such as,  What will you have me do today?  Where will you have me go?

Even if we’re going to work as always, we can be open to where our hearts and minds are.  Not just accept, but reach out for the unknowable, embrace the fear and move with it.

Part 1 of 2

Susan Jeffers, in her book, “End the Struggle and Dance with Life,” talks at length about being a workaholic.  I figured that if I was addicted to work, I’d have more money right now or achieved more.  But in pondering it I think that most of us, whether we are willing to carry the sign of addict or not, have issues around work.

My particular addiction entails always needing to be busy.  Not necessarily in income-producing activities, but that’s important, too.  Susan calls it a poverty fear.  I don’t know, but I do tend to feel guilty if I’m not doing something.  Even when I try to take a day “off,” I’m doing household chores or long put off personal projects.

If you find yourself in a cycle around work where you’d prefer not to be, Susan has some intriguing question to ask yourself: “What am I trying to mask?  What am I trying to avoid?  What am I frightened to look at in myself?”

When we over work it may be because we’re afraid of the quiet.  Are your thoughts trying to tell you something that you’re not listening to?  Work is a perfect way to mask that.  If you’re too busy, you can’t take the time to get quiet and listen – much less act on what your thoughts are hoping you will do.

If I try I can hear a slave driver in my head saying I must keep busy.  Other voices might push you since you have others to support.  Or because you want to live a better lifestyle.  Maybe it’s telling you to go back to school and get your degree or learn how to play the clarinet.  It could be telling you to slow down and have some fun or just rest.  You’re likely to find that something isn’t getting proper attention in some part of your life.  It’s very easy to fill that with work (or whatever).  Under all that chatter and busy-ness is  an imbalance at the heart of it.  Something’s missing.

It may be difficult, but it is wise to find the time to get quiet and listen to what you’re saying to yourself.  Don’t be afraid.  It’s just you in there.  You may find that it’s not true at all. That you’d really rather work than learn to play the clarinet. That was something you wanted to do years ago.  It’s all up to you.  But if you find you’re working too hard or stressing too much because you haven’t given enough time to your creative side or that you need to rest more, this is very valuable information.

Susan gives us more questions to ask at this point: “How can I make myself feel good enough?  How can I begin creating more balance and trust?  How can I fill the emptiness?

I love how, once you figure out what’s going on, there are always these practical solutions. Identify the problem and then find ways to solve it. See what is and do what works.

So, you have this imbalance.  Some things are not getting the time and attention they are calling for. So what are you going to do about it?  How do you choose to deal with this situation?  What can you do to make things right?  If you will allow yourself time to think about this, the answers are right there, in your head. Calling out to you.

 

As my 30 days of giving closes I’m pondering what I learned from it all ~

I have to admit, I wasn’t successful in all my attempts.  I was pleased to find, however, that many of the spots at food banks and such were already filled. This is a popular time of year for these things.  In some cases, I had to step out of the box of traditional giving.

What I discovered is that if you hold the intention to give, if you go at your whole life with an eye for ways to give, things will magically appear for you to do. Sure, it helps to have a plan.  It pays to sign up and get on lists, but sometimes the most wonderful opportunities are the ones you simply stay open for.

The giving attitude can grow. This intention gives you room to acknowledge when you give. This has the effect of increasing good feelings on both sides, but also, more opportunities to serve. Just noticing is an amazing expander.  It works well for gratitude, as well.  You can feel good by giving, by seeing the effect of that giving and in the reliving of it as you write it down and notice all the ways there are to give.

Giving is like a bunch of roses. Susan Jeffers, in her most elegant way, suggests pretending someone gives you 50 roses.  From her book, End the Struggle and Dance with Life,” you are instructed to find people you can give these loving roses to.  She also adds to write down and keep track of the 50.  She says you won’t need to be given any more. By the time you’ve given away 50, you’ll be on a roll and just continuing to look for recipients of your kind and loving roses.  I like that!

I hope that I can continue my attitude of giving into the New Year. I’m going to start the year with 50 roses and see where it goes!

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