Author Archives: Martina

Evidence of Angels Among Us

There are angels among us. Every day. They take different shapes and forms, and sometimes they appear for only one singular moment of interaction, but they’re there. How do I know? I’ve met them. Or rather, they’ve found me when I needed them.

Angel Wax Painting

“Believe” by Bettina Faulkner

You see, angels aren’t just what we imagine them to be or as we’ve seen in the movies: ethereal winged creatures with some human characteristics like faces and hands. No, angels are better described as moments. Moments that are delivered to us via everything and anything from those ethereal beings to humans themselves. Or dogs. Or birds. Or butterflies. Or anything you come across in your day that gives you exactly what you need to remember who you are, and that you are loved.

Angels are messages of inspiration and hope. They are the gentle reminders that make us smile all the way down to our toes.

I met one such angel the other day. She was offering coconut cluster samples at Costco. I wasn’t even going to go down her aisle, but something made me turn around and walk past her. As she saw me approaching, she left her table and sought me out. She said that she “just had to tell me that I had the best smile” and that I “sparkled.” And then she went on to tell me that she “doesn’t lie, because she’s too old to remember anything but he truth.” (I loved that line, by the way. So humble and witty in a single phrase.)

She was my angel today. In a single moment, when I was feeling tired and low (the result of recovering from food poisoning), she reminded me I was loved and appreciated for just being me. For doing nothing more than walking the aisle at Costco, pushing a cart and turning down an aisle I had no need to visit, for just being there.

That’s what angels do. They remind us that we are magical for just being. That we are worthy for just breathing. And that we are appreciated for simply smiling.

I’ve seen angels all over the world in numerous different forms, and I am always grateful for the love they bring me in a single moment, for the reminders they gift me.

Angel Wax Painting

“Shimmering Angel” by Bettina Faulkner

After our little chat, I asked today’s angel if I could give her a hug, and she smiled back, “yes, of course!” We hugged in the middle of Costco surrounded by gargantuan boxes of snacks, and when I let go I told her “you made my day… I appreciate you.” To which she replied, “that’s all I could ever want.”

That’s all any of us could ever want: to be reminded of who we are, and to be appreciated for it. What a gift! Thank you, my angel.

Creating and Sustaining Change: Tipping the Scales

No matter what you’re working on, when scales begin tipping in your favor that is the time to double-down on being deliberate about your decisions, to recommit to your vision, and above all, practice discernment. Double-check that everything you are doing is aligned and reduce or remove anything that isn’t. It’s inventory-taking time, in order to streamline and ride the wave of the forward progress.

Tipping scales is not a time to go “hog wild” and “all in” on something. Why? Because if you do, you risk breaking. If you suddenly add more weight to a tipping scale out of excitement for forward progress, it will move too fast and tip over. It will break. And then you must start over.

Great change occurs in small, consistent, deliberate steps over time.

Change quote on a desert scene

Recognizing the momentum of change and sustaining it takes patience and thought. It is calculated in its approach. To do anything else, even out of excitement, shifts the energy to one of desperation… and desperation always undermines any target.

Words. Words – words – words…

Why are the words we use so important?

Do you remember being a child and knowing that there were were words you were forbidden to use? Mostly, as a child they were swear words, but there were also a few other words in my childhood that were classified as ‘unacceptable.’

As I grew older, my awareness of language and the acceptability of certain words grew with me. Certainly, as the advent of “political correctness” gained ground even more words were added to the list of unacceptable language… though, admittedly, cussing was more tolerated when I became an adult. In fact, I’d suggest it was almost expected, like a right of passage. But I digress.

The question remains: Why are words so important?

Beyond the obvious, such as not using offensive terminology, I have come to understand through study and experience that words are of utmost importance, because they carry energy. Words, just like everything else in life, have energy.

You’ve probably heard that “intention” and “tone” are what matter behind people’s words, and that’s true. But the words themselves also matter. Because words are the tools that build our life. They are the vehicles of our experience, our reality. In other words:

Your thoughts become your reality on the backs of your words.

Words matter. They are the building blocks of every type of manifesting and creative force in the Universe. Thoughts are integral to the process as they are often the catalyst for change, but it’s words that bring it to life.


Abundance – What is it really?

Abundance is a mind-set.

Let me take a step back. Abundance is one of the most subjective words we can use when talking about manifesting (the Law of Attraction) or simply focusing on what we wish to change in our lives. What’s “abundance” for me may not be “abundance” for you, and vice versa. Nobody’s definition of what abundance actually means needs to be the same, and that’s the beauty of it.


Because Abundance is a mind-set. Abundance is aligned with infinite possibility.

The opposite of abundance is lack. Lack is also a mind-set. Lack is aligned with limitation, as in, limited resources. Limitation leads to hoarding, guarding, and protecting. Think of the animal kingdom. When one animal has the bone, it protects it (called resource guarding) when it feels or experiences life as scarce. But when there is plenty, resource guarding falls by the wayside. This is the difference between the mind-sets of Abundance and Lack.

Abundance: When there is an experience of plenty (not just “enough”), then there is no guarding, hoarding, or protecting. There is freedom or expansion.
Lack: When there is an experience of not enough (or “just enough”), then there is contraction. 

In order to embrace a mind-set of abundance, there are two things you can do:

  1. Look to your inner circle of friends and family, and identify who already practices an Abundance mind-set. Spend time with them, ask them questions, invite them to mentor you and teach you. Let them share themselves with you (I promise you, they already know that there is plenty for everyone, they will not mind sharing their wisdom); and
  2. Ask yourself the questions: Do I believe there is plenty, or do I believe there is never enough? Do I believe there is possibility, or do I believe that potential is limited? Ask these questions about: love, health, wealth, and see what answers you come up with.

We don’t automatically change a Lack mind-set to an Abundance mind-set by simply deciding to do so. We need to address the systemic obstacles and beliefs that would trip us up and get us stuck along the way. Once we’ve begun this, we can begin to apply all sorts of tools to invite more abundance into our lives, in a way that is meaningful and unique to us. As I said, how abundance manifests for me, may not be the same for you.

But what’s absolutely true is that the energy of Abundance is the same for everybody, and that’s what matters.

“Abundance is aligned with infinite possibility.”

Invite it in, and watch what happens…

When I hung up the new bird feeder outside the kitchen window, this is exactly what I hoped for.

Look at this handsome specimen! Alas, I think the below zero temps have frozen the seed block, but at least he knows where it is now, when the sun warms things up.

I find inspiration in nature, in everything all around me … and sometimes I invite it closer, like with the bird feeder. Sometimes (most of the time, perhaps), the Field of Dreams adage is the one to live by: “If you build it, they will come.”

Make it, build it, create it … it’s all an invitation, isn’t it? Invite it in. Extend the hand, and watch out your proverbial kitchen window, as everything arrives.

What You Do Is Not Who You Are

When we meet someone for the first time, we often ask: What do you do? The response almost always starts with “I am a _________,” which is actually a statement of who we are. But that’s not who we are… that’s what we do.

Example: I am a writer, a life coach, an author, a teacher, a therapist… the list can go on and on. I am a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend. It continues: I am a woman, an optimist, a lover, a truth-teller. You can see where I’m going. But none of those things ARE me. They are what I do, or they are who I am in relation to someone or something else. And it’s the same for every single person on the planet.

We need these titles or labels in order to relate to one another and form some sort of basis for understanding, communication, and connection. However, once that’s established, it seems that we would be better served if we dropped all labels entirely and remember that everyone we meet is a human, who probably experiences a lot of the same emotions and thoughts we experience, regardless of how they define their “what,” how they dress, or even what they believe (to name just a few “categories”).

We are all so beautifully and amazingly different in our expression of self. And yet, at our cores we have uniquely human experiences in common:

  • the shared grief of loss,
  • the unifying joy of celebration,
  • the collective concern inherent in fear, and
  • the contentment of love and connection.

I am fortunate. My work affords me the opportunity to remember this truth time and again. Regardless of all the measurable demographics or categories we have to define ourselves, the commonality of our emotional lives never ceases to amaze me.

In fact, it’s the miracle of being human that we can be infinitely diverse, while also being incredibly similar. Thankfully. Perhaps, then, we can celebrate this gift by asking people what they do, and then following it up by getting to know who they actually are. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  🙂

When the mighty fall… do their words fall with them?

What happens when our “inspirers” fall? Do their words fall with them?

I was thinking about this recently when I was trying to remember a quote that had inspired me. It was Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.

“The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

I wrongly attributed it to Bill Cosby, because he had once said something that felt similar, yet different. (Interestingly, Einstein may not have said it either, as this brief article explains.) The Cosby quote was:

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

See? Similar, but different. Well, in my mind anyway. I love both of those quotes. I also love Kevin Spacey’s quote about what it means to help others when you’ve had success.

“If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”

And this is where I got stuck as I meandered down the rabbit hole of inspirational words. Both Kevin Spacey and Bill Cosby have fallen from grace. I wouldn’t label either one as a mentor or leader, or even an inspirer, anymore. And yet…

And yet, at some point in time, they were. They were inspired by simple truths and in so being, they shared that inspiration in their words to inspire others. Does their fall mean their words fall with them? Are their words less inspiring, because of their actions? 

I’m not sure I know the answer to this – or rather, I’m not sure there is only one answer to this. I think many people will think and feel differently about it – and that’s 100% correct. Why? Because inspiration is highly individualized. While there is a lot of overlap, there is also a lot of individuation. For example, someone shared something with me recently that they found to be “life-changing” and they couldn’t understand why I didn’t. I didn’t because it wasn’t meant for me. It was meant for them to hear in that particular moment in that particular way on their journey. Inspiration.

My friend, Tom, once shared the best words of wisdom with me, because they were exactly what I needed at that time. He said, “There’s nothing ‘new’ in what people are saying, in what you’re saying, it’s all been said before for millennia. What’s new about you, is how you’re saying it. You say it in your own way, which is inspiring to those who need to hear it… that way.” I have paraphrased him, of course, because it was many years ago. But it was perfect. It was perfect, because it was exactly what I needed to hear. I have since shared those words with others, and it has both fallen flat and empowered. So, yes, inspiration is unique to everybody.

But, I also think inspiration, at its core, is brought forth from something outside ourselves. As such, if it’s palpable, it probably outlives its human source eventually… as it should.

Nobody truly owns the inspiration they’ve been gifted to share, even with all the intellectual property laws we have. As Tom said, there’s nothing truly new in the field of inspiration – only new ways of saying it. So even though it would be nice to say “those are my words,” the truth is more accurately stated: I was gifted with those words to share, to inspire, and to help. So, it was my responsibility and my opportunity to speak them, the way that I did, to meet that end in that moment.

Which brings me back to Cosby and Spacey. If we can separate out the words – the inspiration – from the human, we might be able to answer the question “When the mighty fall, do their inspired words fall with them?” with a simple: No, not if they inspire you.

Gossip, Connection and Feeling Valid

I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day waiting to meet someone, and I overheard the conversation going on next to me. It was two women talking about another woman, who had yet to join them. They weren’t saying anything particularly harsh, but not particularly nice either. When their missing friend showed up, and one of the first two women excused herself to the restroom, the conversation turned. Now the remaining two were discussing the new absentee. Again, not particularly cruelly, but not lovingly either.

I felt genuinely sorry for all three women. As I sat there waiting for my meeting, I found myself lamenting the fact that even the “safe” places we create are not as safe as we might think. And then I thought about gossiping in general and how it seems if someone is willing to talk to you about someone else, they’re probably willing to talk to someone else about you.

So, why do we do this?

Well, I think the answer is simple, yet twofold: 1) we want connection, and 2) we want to know that we, ourselves, matter.

We want connection. This is a simple human need. Brené Brown’s research has suggested that it’s a hardwired (biological) component of being human, much like dogs are hardwired to live in packs, or deer in herds. We’re wired that way. And, in lieu of making positive connection, we’ll take anything we can get – even if it involves disparaging another human in the tribe.

I think it’s that last sentence that gets me. We are willing to “disparage another human in the tribe” in favor of our own self connecting. This puts the individual ahead of the group. Which is somewhat antithetical to our tribal hardwired nature. Which brings me to point #2: We want to know that we matter.

i think we have gotten so disconnected from each other (for SO many reasons I can get into at another time), that we have begun to feel like we don’t matter. Like our lives are not valid. And the way to find validity in a situation like that is to create a hierarchy of worth. Hence, we put people down, in order to connect ourselves up – to belong “more” to the tribe than the other person.

Sadly, this is cyclical and feeds on itself.

So, how do we break the cycle?

  • We reach out.
  • We create deliberate and intentional connection in communities, fellowship, or tribes that share our common values.
  • We seek out connection without hierarchy or measurements of worth.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, we learn to value ourselves enough to not feel the need to put anyone else down and gain some sort of temporary balm from disparaging another.

This is not easy work, but it’s doable. I know, because I have done it. I’m not perfect. I have certainly joined in on my fair share of gossip over the years, but over the years it has decreased more and more as I have become more aware of how it made me actually feel inside (aka: awful).

Years ago, my tolerance for gossip increased like an addiction until I was living almost entirely outside of myself, relying on anecdotal stories from my external world… and I almost died. My spirit almost died, and, frankly, my body probably wasn’t far behind.

While the externalizing (gossiping) has pretty much ceased, my life is still a work in progress as I am still slowly cultivating my tribe, or my community, and that’s ok. I’ve learned to love my own company more than anything, so I rarely feel lonely – which means I rarely feel the need to gossip or disparage another in order to feel worth. It’s quite amazing, really. And the conversation I was unintentionally privy to last week was a beautiful reminder. It reminded me of how wonderful it can feel to love oneself, because it means many of my self-loathing-fueled externalized behaviors have been replaced. Thankfully.

Hope, Oprah and An Invitation

After last night’s moving speech by Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Golden Globes, I took pause to revisit something I have been writing about and teaching for almost a decade: Hope.

Hope, as Oprah put it, is the one thing every resilient survivor and fighter has in common. Hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a better society. Hope for a better life. Hope.

As many of you know, one of my favorite movie lines is: “Hope, is all prayer is.” It’s from The Preacher’s Wife (a great remake of the classic The Bishop’s Wife).

Hope is all a prayer is, which is why it’s so powerful. In fact, as I’ve often written about, hope is more powerful than love for one reason:

Hope restores love when fear has taken over.

from my archives…

While Love is the core power of the Universe – the source of creation and evolution – it’s hope that keeps Love alive in the midst of darkness, struggle, fear, and even hatred.

Hope is sustaining.
Hope is inviting.
Hope is restoring.

Hope is an opening back to Love.

I was glad to see Hope take center stage last night… it’s about time. Because when all else fails, when life is at its most dark, there is always – always – a glimmer in the midst of the blackness that lets in the light.

That tiniest of objects is simply: Hope. It’s our job to look for it and embrace it. That single action is what makes everything else possible. 


Failure’s Message

Well, I failed my Theosophy exam. I just found out last week, and I was bummed when I opened the email. After 8 months of reading, thinking and reflecting on the materials introduced in the course (and passing every quiz along the way with flying colors!) I was stunned with my final result.

After my initial disappointment, however, I decided to reach out to the course instructor and ask how I had failed. Was it the exam? The coursework over the months? What was the deciding factor? Since he had mentioned it could be a either or a combination of the two in his final email, I thought it needed some investigation.

As it turns out, I was one question off from passing. That’s not to say that I was close to 100% – far from it. I needed a passing score of 75% (or 40 correct), and I achieved just under that. I got 39 out of 53 questions correct.

The instructor considered passing me, he said, but then he reviewed which questions I got wrong and decided to hold the standard. Rightly so. As it turns out the example he gave me of a question I got wrong was glaring. It went against the core teachings of the tradition. And he said there were a few other examples that were similar, therefore showing that I failed to grasp the basic tenets of Theosophy, even if I understood some of the more nuanced pieces.

I have to admit I was shocked. Firstly, I knew the correct answer to that question, so I have no idea why I chose something else. Secondly, I passed the quizzes with 95-100% accuracy, so how could it all go so wrong?

Once my nervous system settled down a bit, I wrote him back and thanked him for upholding the standard (I agreed with that decision), and explained how I can only attribute the wrong answer to user error while taking the exam itself, because I had given the correct answer previously on a quiz, and I also knew it. I haven’t heard back from him, and don’t know if I will. And that’s ok. Because after a few more breaths, I realized something very important:

My failure was a message.

You see, I’ve had a lot on my plate this year and I haven’t always been giving things my undivided attention. Everything from physical health to spiritual health has been somewhat half-assed, just to get through. I approached my exam the same way. I put it off until the last possible weekend in which I could take it and set aside the three hours needed to complete it. But, I wasn’t free from distractions, nor was I 100% focused on the task itself. I knew it when I sat down, but the exam had become something to cross off a list, so I did.

Looking back, I can see that this has become a pattern of sorts in my life. I have been moving through things to get to the place of “being done,” rather than moving through things and being present as I went. In other words, I have been running part-time on auto-pilot, while not actually fueling my vehicle appropriately, or consulting my navigation.

In my coaching practice, I teach my clients the importance of “book-ending” their healthy solutions. It’s a tool that makes everything that much more powerful and successful. As it turns out, I have been bookending my life in the unhealthy way with a combination of distraction and pushing, to simply “get through,” which made it that much more pronounced when I tried to just get something done, and failed.

I’m glad I failed. I don’t see it as a loss, even though I paid for the course. In fact, I still have the knowledge I gained, I just don’t have the piece of paper that reflects that. And that’s ok, because it shouldn’t be about the paper. (Well, not always.) Many times, it needs to be about the process and the intangibles that are learned along the way. And while I learned many other intangibles throughout the past year (which I’m sure I’ll write about later), it was the final intangible of failure that put the past 12 months into perspective. What a gift! Because as I go into 2018, I can now be more aware of how I wish to show up in everything I do, and I can make deliberate choices from a place of empowered knowing, rather than just pushing through.