Monthly Archives: March 2014

For Love and Wine

How many of you have seen the movie “The Bishop’s Wife” from 1947? It stars Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta young. It’s a feel-good Christmas movie that was remade in 1996, with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston as The Preacher’s Wife. Both great movies that I highly recommend.

What I want I share with you, though, is an often overlooked sub-plot from the original movie.

There’s a wonderful character named Professor, played by Monty Woolley. In a scene with Cary Grant (who is an angel, by the way), the Professor questions his own mortality. He seems to sense that Cary might be from the Heavens, so he simply asks if he will have time to finish his life’s work. Cary reassures him that he will. In that same scene, Cary ‘enhances’ the Professor’s wine so that no matter how much he drinks, there’s always more. The bottle is always full, and he never gets drunk.

He makes it everlasting.

In a later scene, the Professor is marveling at the wine, by explaining to Julia (Loretta Young) how it never empties, never intoxicates, but rather lifts his spirit, warms his heart, and inspires him in his work.

This, my friends, is what Love does.
The wine is Love, and Love is infinite.

When we tap into that source of pure love, and allow it to permeate us, we will always have enough, for ourselves, and more importantly, for others. It lifts us, inspires us, and warms us. It’s everlasting, requiring nothing in return. There’s a song quote along those lines, by Enya:

“You know when you give your love away, it opens your heart, everything is new”

Indeed. It opens your heart…to an endless supply.

Drink the wine. Let it warm you.
Share the wine. Let it inspire you.
There’s always enough.

On Faith and Questioning (and what to do when you disagree)

I recently had the opportunity to meet and do some work with an energy healer who is very good at what she does (ie: she has quantifiable – scientifically measurable – success). I wasn’t planning on working with her, but she asked, so I agreed. Not surprisingly to me, we butt heads. (My initial reluctance confirmed.)

I’ve since reflected on the experience and the “why” of it all, and I’ve come up with this:

She had a very clear and defined view of her interpretation of religious history, its role in energy work and spirituality, and how that plays out today. She said some things so firmly and unwaveringly that I reacted. I reacted not to what she said, but how she said it, following up her statements with a list of her credentials in theology and inquiring about mine.

That was enough for me to simply let it go and step away emotionally, hearing the thought in my head: You don’t want her imposing her beliefs on you, so do not impose yours on her. With that I remarked, “We simply have a different perspective on this, and that’s ok.”

It’s always a “red flag” for me when someone doesn’t seem to leave room for someone else’s knowledge, wisdom or experience. Here’s why:

Faith doesn’t require credentials.

A PhD in religious studies doesn’t automatically translate into greater (aka: better) faith or wisdom. It may mean more book knowledge, but it ends there. All wisdom and all experiences are valid.

Faith doesn’t exclude anyone.

In fact, faith is all-inclusive, opening its arms and welcoming anyone who is looking for its embrace, regardless of which religion, god, or belief you hold.

So, for me, it was an opportunity to renew my understanding, my experience and my belief in what I have learned, what I know in my heart, and what I have experienced – always leaving room for more. Because

faith without questioning isn’t necessarily faith.

This person suggested to me that questioning the words, or the belief, renders it powerless. She said that the minute we question something, it automatically loses all its power and magic. I couldn’t disagree more.

In my experience, questioning has always led to a deeper understanding, and a greater sense of reverence for the belief itself. A deeper connection, if you will.  This is just my experience, and it’s what I know to be true. It might be something different for you, as it is for her. And that’s the beauty of it all.

We each get to have our own understanding and experience of faith and divinity. Where we collectively overlap, we join together and connect with each other. The only times we get into trouble are when we try to impose those beliefs on others, and prevent them from having their own inspired experiences.

Hope, Compassion and Oxygen Masks

There has been a lot of trauma in the world lately: Crimea and the Ukraine, Venezuela, the missing Malaysian plane, to name just a few. There’s fear, anger, hatred, and despair running rampant on our media outlets. We’re being told “what’s going on” without actually having to experience it personally. (Well, most of us, anyway.) Or are we?

Let me start by saying I’m not advocating ignorance or denial. It’s important that we know what’s happening around us in humanity to develop our compassion muscle. Burying our heads in the proverbial sand only weakens us, and humanity, in the long term.

What I DO want to say is this: everything that’s happening, even thousands of miles away, is affecting us. We ARE experiencing it.

Let’s go back to Einstein for a second – everything is energy. Therefore, everything carries energy about it. And energy can move faster than light. So, it stands to reason that when something “bad” is happening somewhere in the world you can bet it’s impacting the energy fields all around the globe in some way. (Likewise, when something good is happening, the same occurs. Yay!)

So, what does that mean for us?

Well, I’ve noticed lately that as I have felt more and more affected by the tragedy in Venezuela (it’s personal), I felt more and more compelled toward gluttony and devouring everything I could find on what’s going on…until I didn’t. I had to stop. Not because it’s gotten better (it hasn’t), and not because it’s resolved (far from it), and certainly not because I don’t care, but because I don’t want to add to the energy grid of despair, anger, and hatred that is encircling our blue/green orb. I want to mitigate it.

To do that, I need to take care of me. It’s the old “oxygen mask” theory:

Put yours on first, so you can help others with theirs.

I need to take care of myself, my emotions, and my energy in order to ADD positively to the energetic flow. That means I need to stay in balance, know what’s going on, and not react from a place of fear, but rather from a place of hope. In other words,

I need to be a guardian of hope during times of despair.

Hope involves compassion, which includes knowledge. Compassion is about knowing your boundaries, exercising them, and helping others from that perspective with grace, empathy, and understanding. Compassion also requires practice to be its most effective. It also requires self-care, as in the oxygen mask.

We need to be informed, we need to be compassionate, and we need to be breathing in order to be of service to change. Mostly, though, we need to be the hope.

Just Be Yourself

The best and most supportive advice I’ve ever received has also been the hardest for me to achieve. Why? Because it was so simple and paradoxically complex.

Just be yourself.

What does that even mean?!?

Well, for me, it meant being open to the process. A process that is ongoing and has taken several years to get “jump-started.” Much like so many in show business that are classified as “overnight successes” – all the years of hard work and dedication that led up to that point don’t show once the spotlight (finally and luminously) hits them. So it is with authenticity, or being yourself.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. (Unless it’s a gestalt shift, which is possible, but a blog for another day.) Rather, it’s a process of slow, deliberate, and conscious awareness-raising and decision-making.

Recently, though, a dear friend said that awesomely supportive phrase to me again, and I heard it anew. I was asking him what he needed from me in terms of support. (This is common amongst mental health professionals – we’re somehow trained to ask about needs and clarify, clarify, clarify. It’s good for relationships, though sometimes can come across as clinical and/or sterile – or, gasp!, even annoying. But I digress.)

Anyhow, this friend was facing a challenge, and I asked, “What do you need from me? How can I best support you?”

His response?

“Just be yourself.”

At first, I balked, recoiled and tried to rephrase my question to get an answer I wanted. Repeatedly. And then it dawned on me:

Being myself is all I’m ever capable of, and all I’ll ever need to be.
And that’s more than enough, whatever “myself” is.

And I think that, right there, is my spotlight of “overnight success.” It was like finding that last puzzle piece that had fallen under the table. You knew it was there, and the puzzle was basically finished, but the nagging feeling from that missing piece doesn’t leave until it’s put in place.

Years of searching for the absent piece (processing, learning, remembering, unlearning, reading, listening, talking, sharing, growing, crying, changing, fearing, laughing, sorting, and every other “ing” you can think of) have resulted in my finally being able to receive the best advice I’ve ever been given…and embody it! Woo-hoo!

So, my friends, it really is that simple, and it really was that deliciously complicated. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The best paths are the ones we’ve worked for, the ones we carve ourselves – for they are the most lasting, treasured walkways. (Plus, we know them so well it’s easier to find our way back if when we get lost again.)