Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mutual Admiration Society

I’m a member of MAS: the Mutual Admiration Society, and I wish everyone could feel this way. (Wouldn’t that be a game-changer for our planet?!)

I wrote to a friend and colleague last night and shared a few simple truths as I see it, or my two cents. Nothing earth-shattering, in my opinion, no eloquent words or faux-flatterings… just truth from my observations. She woke up to that email. Then I woke up to this:


And now we have both felt WOW upon starting our days. See? Mutual Admiration Society. And all because we shared the simplest of truths: our experience of each other’s loving presence… which is our true nature, of course.

It doesn’t take special glasses to see it in others. It’s not a “gift” – it’s natural. Everyone can do it. The reason we don’t, I think, is because we’re too busy looking for everything else in what we’re seeing, and preparing ourselves to respond to what we think might be there that we don’t like. We’re always on guard. Or, we’re so focused on maintaining our own facades, that we haven’t reconnected with our own loving nature, so we no longer recognize it in others. Neither one of these scenarios make for a very loving society. Alas.

But I know that can change. How? Because I did it myself, and I’m a stubborn reluctant learner. Or I was. I used to look externally for everything, and I was miserable inside as a result. It took me a while and a lot of hard work to come out the other end of the tunnel, but I did. And frankly, if I can – then I know that anyone else can, too.

So, Mutual Admiration Society — who’s with me?? 😁

How do we make sense of the senseless?

How do we make sense of the senseless? (video here, if you prefer to listen/watch)

To begin with, senseless tragedy and violence seem to be all around us. Our nervous systems are on overload, so even getting into a space where we could attempt to make sense of it all is virtually impossible.

In the last week, we have seen violence on a horrific scale. Whether domestic or international, the crimes against humanity – against our very nature – have pushed many of us over the edge of reason and into empathic overload. I have seen many of my lightworker colleagues retreat in the last 24 hours, because of this. I myself, needed to take a step back to gain grounding and perspective in light of what has been going on. But please don’t mistake silence for apathy. In fact, it’s quite the reverse.

During this time I have repeatedly asked myself what is the most important question to answer here? And I kept returning to: How do we make sense of the senseless?

While, it’s not actually the most important question – it was the gateway to the most important answer.

Firstly, we stop trying to make sense of the senseless. When something goes against our very nature, it is often explained away in order to soothe our ache. For example, when a child dies, we say: God must have needed him or her. We do this to create some sort of balm so we can categorize it and store it away and stem the tide of hurt and pain.

When senseless violence occurs, we try to make the same attempt at understanding in order to diminish the pain and fear, but instead we often end up in a loop of emotion fueled by rationalization. We get trapped, because the very definition of the crime is that it’s senseless.

Therefore, we need to stop trying to understand it, to stop trying to make sense of the senseless. The way forward is to name it and label it for what it is (senseless), so we can accept it as is and work to change at its roots, by understanding its genesis.

All violence, in my opinion, has its origins in the energy of Fear, and Fear is taught. Whether it’s about power, frustration, lack, oppression, anger, rage, victimization, etc. – you name it, it’s taught, often through propaganda. These teachings are grounded in the low-vibration energy of Fear, and are then fueled until they manifest in action.

In most of my studies thus far, I have been taught that the opposite of Fear is Love. And while I know that to be true (Love is the energy of creation, and Fear is the energy of destruction) – I actually modify it slightly.

For years I have been writing and maintaining that the opposite of Fear is not Love, but Hope.

Why?

Because in the absence of Love, and mired in the deepest trenches of Fear, Hope remains. It’s that glimmering grain of sand in the darkness that invites Love back into the conversation.

IMG_6684Therefore, if we look at the vibrational energies on a spectrum, we would have Fear on one end (low vibration), and Hope on the other (high vibration). Anything that is of the lower vibrations associated with Fear (anger, hurt, betrayal, rage, etc.) would then be made better by dousing them with the higher vibration energies associated with Hope (Love, gratitude, compassion, kindness, etc.).

However, I prefer to think of them as a continuum, rather than a spectrum. The reason being is that I know, personally and professionally, that Hope is always present, even in Fear. And it’s a much closer jump from Fear to Hope than it is from Fear to compassion, when it’s on a continuum.

But what does all this have to do with the recent violence and tragedies around the world?

Well, if violence is born of the propaganda and teaching of Fear, then we must teach Hope to counteract it. We must

teach Hope,
speak Hope, and
embody Hope.

What does this look like? Well, for my dear friends who are amazingly powerful and vocal activists, it means speaking out, raising awareness, and lending their voices to a cause. For my quieter more introspective friends, it means sharing Hope by adding beauty in to the world and reminding people that there is much – much – more good than violence and tragedy going on… and everything in between. These are just two examples, amid a world of infinite possibilities.

We know that people listen when they feel heard. In order to even enter into a discussion to create change and foster peace, Hope needs to be restored.

Teaching Hope, speaking Hope, and embodying Hope in our daily lives is the way forward for a more loving and peaceful world that is aligned with our true nature: our divinity and our humanity. We are both, and Hope resides exactly in the center of the two. Hope is the manifestation of what it means to be both human and divine. Hope is at the very core of who we are – and it’s the most powerful tool we have.

A Desert Sojourn

Last week I donned my old retailing hat and went to Vegas to help my friend set up trade show booths for his clients. Before I helped people change their lives, I used to be a Buyer and Fashion Stylist. While I’ve left the retail job behind, twice a year I get to be a stylist again by helping my friend. It’s nice to use a different skill set now and then. Refreshing, even.

What’s more refreshing, however, is taking a break from our daily lives in order to do/see/experience something totally new and extraordinary. On this recent trip, we had just such an opportunity.

We found ourselves with a day off in the midst of the chaos, and so we went out of the city and explored the high desert and mountains surrounding the electrified valley. The juxtaposition was somewhat difficult to comprehend. In hindsight, however, I see it as much more symbolic of our lives than not.

On the one hand, we all seem to live busy outward lives, filled with work, family, friends, technology, physical exertion, and mental exhaustion/ (I know I do.) On the other hand, and in almost the same space, we seek out opportunities for calm, ease, and grace, such as walks in nature, meditation, a massage, long talks with old friends, and breathing. (I definitely do.)

This juxtaposition of inner peace and external stress has become almost common in our culture. It’s a balance that is not always easily maintained, however, because there are no firm lines. Whereas, in the desert, the lines are very clear. You know exactly when you are leaving the external chaos behind and entering the calm of nature, and vice versa.

But, because the line is so firmly drawn, it made it even harder for me to transition between the two last week. Going from a heartbreakingly beautiful landscape devoid of noise or human presence directly into the lines at an In-N-Out Burger was overwhelming, at best. As you can imagine, I didn’t last long, and we moved outside to eat, which was somewhat quieter and easier.

So, I guess the bottom line is this: We all live busy externally-focused lives in one way or another, and we all have an internal longing for or knowing of peace and calm. How we transition between the two is where we find opportunities for change, growth, and understanding. And ultimately, it’s where we will find the answers in how to merge the two into one presence, that softens the inherent juxtaposition.

All this from a trip to the desert followed by a burger. 😉

And now…here are some of my favorite pics from our excursion. Truly, if you ever go to Vegas, it’s worth it to spend a little time outside the city limits. You may feel lost in the vast expanse, but I think you’ll find more than you could ever imagine.

The Importance of Discernment and Taking Pause

This week I want to share an experience with you that I had just a few days ago, and why it reminded me of the importance of discernment and taking pause – especially online. It’s actually a bit long, so I’m trying something new. Here are the practical highlights from the story. (If you want to read the full story in context, it will follow.)

  • Generalized or sweeping statements (especially if they’re extreme), about any segment of the population or subject, are often not based in data and facts. They are a tool used to underscore someone’s opinion.
  • Engaging someone who only wishes to argue and prove their opinion is “right” is a waste of energy. Use your energy elsewhere to create positive change.
  • Practicing discernment is part of self-care. Knowing when to engage is just as important as knowing how to engage.
  • Taking pause before speaking allows you to assess how best to engage.
  • Attacking someone based on their opinion or manner of speech is still an attack and proves worthless in the end. Using facts and data to rebut a generalized claim is a healthy approach.
  • Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. Everyone is not entitled to spread lies based on their opinion. Knowing and understanding this difference is important.
  • Practicing discernment and taking pause is a key component of healthy connection, both with others and with ourselves, especially in heightened emotionally-reactionary situations.
  • Never underestimate the power of choice and the role it plays in the quality of your life.

That’s it. That’s the basis of the story. But if you want the context, and to know what actually happened and how I handled it, then read on. Plus, there’s a great new announcement at the end of the email that I am tickled to share with you! xo

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THE FULL STORY

I was on Facebook, and a friend had shared a political article. It was about Muslims or refugees, the specific details don’t matter with what I am about to relate. In the comments to my friend’s post, a person (unknown to me) shared her opinion on Muslims in America. Actually, she shared her opinion on Muslims around the world.

She made some sweeping generalized statements that are unverified, such as “none of them (the non-violent Muslims) are speaking out” about the violence and terrorism, “which means they condone the actions,” none of which were based in facts or research.

I had two options.

  1. Reply to her comment and provide actual facts with regard to her statements, or
  2. Stay silent.

Lately, with the escalation in hate-speech and fear-based language that I have seen bantered about so freely on the internet, I have chosen to disengage somewhat in order to preserve some measure of my own sanity. For me, it’s Self-Care 101: Be Discerning. My discernment meant being much more in control over my online presence, both in what I was posting, but also what I was reading.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about this, actually. She had read the comments on a thread and became immediately disheartened with humanity. I can relate. So, I told her that I have done my best to only read those types of things when a) I am in a good emotional place and can practice discernment, and b) when I feel like I need to take a measurement of things. In other words, when I want to get a temperature of the emotional climate.

In last week’s instance with regard to this woman’s extreme statements, I was in a good place, and it was a friend’s thread so I read the comments. Subsequently, I chose to respond.

I did not attack the woman. Attacking serves no purpose, and it’s the fastest way to assure that your argument will not be heard. Nor did I attack her values and opinions – they’re hers. Who am I to judge? However, I did decide to correct her on facts, which I think was important.

Where she made sweeping statements not based in fact, I offered data and examples. I shared how I located this information, and suggested that the blame for the lack of widespread knowledge of such (which she had placed elsewhere) resides more with the mainstream media, who seem to choose to focus on the sensational.

Specifically, I mentioned one example of non-violent Muslims speaking out against violence and terror using the campaign Not In My Name to refute her claim that “none of them are speaking out.”

I am sharing this story for two reasons:

  1. We all have choice. Always. It’s one of the basic premises of what I teach. The power of choice directly impacts your life. One of the ways in which to strengthen the power of choice is by practicing discernment. As I said, at other times I have also chosen not to say anything in response to some inciting statements. I have discerned when I think it is appropriate, based on whether or not I can meaningfully contribute. (In other words, if someone just wants a fight, engaging them in that process is often a waste of energy.) I call it seed planting. That also means that I don’t have a specific expectation or investment in the outcome. My goal is to share truth where there are lies, hope where there is fear, and give it time to take root. If I am able to do that, I have done well.
  2. How we choose to engage matters. As I mentioned, if we are employing the same fear-based or emotionally reactionary tactics that we are responding to, then we are perpetuating the situation and potentially escalating it. This holds true whether it’s politics or personal relationships. Reacting from a place of shame, blame, or attack inevitably results in further breakdown.

In this example, I was worried that I would end up in some back and forth with this woman, which caused me some distress until I reminded myself that I get to choose to engage or not. Discernment.

In the end, she actually deleted her comments, which also deleted my reply. I can speculate about what that means, but I am choosing not to. My hope, however, is that I planted some seed of truth that will cause her to pause before making generalizations against any segment of humanity going forward.

And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? That we practice discernment, choose to take pause before we speak, and ask ourselves a simple question: Is this true? And if we can’t answer it with 100% certainty, I would hope that it would prompt more research, thought, and discussion.

In this day and age of reactionary armchair politics and vicarious virtual reality, we have all but removed discernment and taking pause from our interactions. Yet, it’s this power duo that actually allows us to connect, not only with one another, but, perhaps more importantly, with ourselves.

Don’t Shoot the Message

You know the phrase “don’t shoot the messenger?” We say it because sometimes there are folks in our lives who have to deliver bad news or tell us something we don’t want to hear or aren’t ready to hear. Often we lash out at the messenger, rather than the message or the source of the message.

But what happens when the messenger is the problem? Do we throw out the message as well?

I’ve experienced this more than once in my life. In fact, I fear it’s happening too often lately. People we once believed in and/or looked up to have fallen from grace in our eyes, and with them goes their credibility. In recent years I can think of at least a dozen such incidences across a spectrum of industries. It doesn’t matter what work they’re in, whether they’re a liberal or conservative, a celebrity, a teacher, or a guru – when someone we looked up to lets us down, it’s always a shock.

When someone’s work inspires us, we have a tendency to hold them above and apart, separate from the rest of humanity – especially if they’re in the spiritual/self-help industry. It’s the pedestal syndrome. We put them up there because we revere them for their work. But the truth is, it’s actually the work we are in awe of, not necessarily the person. We can respect and even admire them for being available and doing the work, as we should, but reverence is best placed with the work itself, if at all.

The person is the messenger, the conduit, for the truth we seek. They are living in alignment with their purpose or calling. They have made themselves available to receive and impart the information they are sharing, usually after a lot of hard work on their own.

It’s that last bit that we often forget, though – we forget that they’re human, that they make mistakes, and that they struggle and have struggled. Part of the reason we forget is because they have developed a persona that is a bit glossier than their humanity. Part of the reason we forget is because we need them to be glossier than their humanity, so that we have something – a benchmark – to which we can aspire.

So, naturally, when we hear something about the person that has them tumbling off the pedestal we created, it causes us to question their work as well.

And that’s where I think we (okay, I) have gotten it wrong. People are people. They’re human. They will make mistakes. It’s through our mistakes that we are able to learn, grow, and ultimately teach.

I’ve been guilty of doing this, and I suspect I’m not alone. I’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water before, when in fact, what I needed to do was hold on to both. I needed to pick up the baby, and let the bath water settle so that the dirt could be separated from the water, knowing that this was a natural process.

I have learned that if I found the message to be inspired and valuable, there is no reason why that should change if the messenger screwed up or showed me their humanity. Don’t shoot the message.

Similarly, if the messenger is willing to be a conduit, to make themselves available to the rest of humanity, I can certainly cut them some slack when they make human mistakes, if they’ve asked me to. (In other words, if they’ve owned up to their mistake and humanity instead of hiding and/or lying about it.) Don’t shoot the messenger.

Finally, though, I think the most important thing I’ve learned along the way is to get rid of all my pedestals. I’ve heard wisdom from garage attendants that transcended anything I’ve read from a bestselling author. I’ve also been in the presence of world famous individuals and seen them as humans doing their job, just like you and me.

Using a pedestal is what creates a divide.
Using a pedestal is what allows us to maintain a judgment-based hierarchy of wisdom.
Using a pedestal is what keeps us apart from our own inner knowing and gifts.

Nobody asks to be on a pedestal, we put them up there. And if they are asking, chances are they haven’t earned that position in your world. It’s simply easier to remove all pedestals and see each other as we are: humans sharing our gifts, our purpose and our lives, however that shows up.

Power with a P

Last week I shared this photo on my social media, which prompted me to go a little deeper into the discussion of Power.

power

​First, let’s be clear that we’re talking about personal Power. I’m not discussing the use or abuse of power – that’s not Power with a capital P. That’s power as a tool to impose on others. (Sometimes for “good” and sometimes not for “good.”)

Power with a capital P is very different. It’s the personal Power we all have within us that is activated when we are living in alignment with our soul’s purpose. Some call it being in the flow, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s the source of flow.

I was recently asked why so many power struggles persist. I likened it to a tug-of-war game. When both parties are constantly pulling on the same rope, trying to claim their place and space, and take as much of the rope as possible, the struggle will persist. This is power as a tool – as in, “who has the most strength or can last the longest?” This is not Power.

  • Being in your Power is having the ability to recognize you’re exhausting yourself by engaging in the tug-of-war, and dropping the rope.
  • Being in your Power is not picking up the rope in the first place.
  • Being in your Power is not watching the rope game and commenting on it.
  • Being in your Power is not giving your money or your time to the events that host tug-of-war competitions.
  • Being in your Power is standing tall in your own boots, as who you are, living your life in alignment with your core values and your soul’s purpose.

For some this is about being a parent, for others it’s being a doctor, or a writer. For some it’s being an artist, yoga teacher, or an engineer. Whatever your soul is called to do, doing it is being in your Power. Living your life in alignment with who you are is being in your Power. Living in alignment with your core values is being in your Power.

The converse is true, too. When you step out of alignment with who you are and your core values, you are giving away your Power. In that sense, it’s more powerful to be neutral than anything else. And that’s where the picture came from.

I have learned in my own life that neutrality is powerful. It means that I cannot be swayed constantly, like the flag tied in the middle of the tug-of-war rope. It means I am not the flag, but rather I am a tree on the sidelines of the field where the event is being held. I have neither judgment nor investment in the events. I am rooted in who I am, and I live my life with purpose.

(That’s a great mantra by the way: I am rooted in who I am, and I live my life with purpose.)

A tree is a perfect example of standing in your Power. The tree does not judge the rain or the sun. Nor does it pace blame on the snow and ice for damaging its limbs. It stands tall, grows where it can, and draws on the natural resources around it to reinforce its purpose. A tree is neutral and wholly aligned with its nature.

Like the tree, remaining neutral on things outside of your purpose and values is a key to standing in your Power. Staying in alignment with your values and purpose is another key. Your Power is yours. Therefore, it’s your choice whether you choose to stand in it, or give it away.

Stepping Back

Did you notice that InspireBytes™ took a little break? I’m sorry I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks. I had some things to work on that required I take a step back from writing.

Which is the subject of this week’s blog: stepping back.

Ok, so have you ever noticed that you can get lost in the minutiae of life? Or that you feel like the routine you have established is weighing you down? Alternatively, what if you don’t have a routine, because you feel like you’re always behind the 8-ball just trying to keep up?

This is when it’s SUPER important to recognize the impact of taking a step back.

Sometimes we get so mired in the little things that we can’t see the forest for the trees. Life in balance affords us a view of both the leaves and the grove of trees.

I can hear some of you saying, “But, how?” Good question.

The answer is found in taking a step back. For me that meant taking a few things off my plate to create some room in my sphere. Whether it’s emotional room, mental room, or physical room doesn’t matter – it’s room. Room creates space, and space allows for more breath. More breath generates peace and creativity.

For you it might mean giving up your workouts for a week. Or asking your partner to cook dinner. Or going for that long-overdue massage. Anything that creates room in your day-to-day calendar that gives you breath and encourages creativity and peace is taking a step back.

Trust me, the laundry will be there tomorrow, but maybe that movie on the Hallmark channel won’t be. Or the treadmill will still work tomorrow, but maybe it won’t be sunny outside like it is today.

Stepping back allows you to get a broader perspective on life, which helps you keep life in greater balance. Balance is a key factor in health and wellness, as well as happiness.

So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or simply ‘blah’ from routine, see if you can take a step back, clear out some room and allow yourself to breathe a little more. The result might be more peace… and more joy!

Choice, Fear, Love, and Open-Mindedness

Open-mindedness and acceptance do not translate into homogeneity. Instead they promote a broadening of diversity and uniqueness.

I read a friend’s FB post recently that lamented the lack of open minded decisions resulting from the recent terror attacks. I understand it. When the going gets tough and the water gets turbulent, sometimes the immediate reaction is to batten down the hatches. Stay small, stay safe, stay secure.

But that’s a reptilian reaction. It’s a “fight, flight, freeze” response to the extreme stimulus of terrorism. It also has no basis in cognitive thought.

Therefore, in order to promote acceptance and diversity, we need to re-engage our frontal lobes and get out of out lizard minds. We need to do something that alleviates the limbic system’s response.

What does that look like? Well, there are many answers to that question. Here’s mine:

1) Acknowledge the limbic response and fill your heart with gratitude that it exists. It has saved us many a time in dangerous situations. We don’t want to get rid of it.

Then

2) Choose to engage the frontal lobe. This is the thinking/cognitive part of your brain. It’s where mindfulness resides. It’s where you have choice.choice-fear-love

And as you all know, choice is what matters. Choice creates change, and change can be born of love or fear. You choose.

 

Spirituality, Faith and Religion

In light of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and by Boko Haram, I wrote this last week. Perhaps you saw it on my Facebook page:

When you can be murdered for what you believe, say, write, or draw, in the name of holiness or religion, rest assured that this is neither holy, nor religion. This is fundamentalist doctrine born of man, not God.

There is no God, Prophet, Higher Source or Divine Essence that dictates the destruction of another human being in their name. None. Never has been, never will be.

Let us be clear, then, when placing blame. The blame rests with the perpetrators and those who have indoctrinated them. They are acting outside of all law and religion.

Let us also be clear in the solution. The solution is to embrace all people of all religions and beliefs, of all races, as one humanity.

“Religion” means to re-connect. To reconnect with God/Source/Love and with one another. Division breeds fear, and fear breeds opportunity for indoctrination. It is time to lay down the fear and begin on the path of understanding, compassion, and love. And hold those accountable who would choose to do otherwise.

Peace and blessings to all, especially the victims and their families and friends.
xoxo

I wanted to share it again here, because I’ve been reading a lot of opinions on what has been happening around the world with regard to terrorism as an aspect of religion. It occurred to me that an honest discussion and understanding of what it means to have faith, spirituality or religion is what’s called for. To that end, I have started creating a workshop/talk on that very subject that I will most likely present in Houston later this Spring, and take elsewhere thereafter titled Spirituality, Faith and Religion: A Modern Understanding.

I think what’s most important for us to do at this time is to remember two key principles:

  1. All religions (ALL) are about reconnecting to God (Universe, Source, Divine, Love – pick a word, they all work), and
  2. All terrorism is based in fear and a lack of understanding or desire to learn.

They have absolutely NOTHING to do with each other. When one is used to justify the other, not only is it an affront to those who are of the religion being blamed, but it is an affront to people of ANY faith, spirituality or religion, anywhere.

Today, may I suggest that along with our rallies and outrage over the murders and senseless killings, we also take a moment to pause, breathe and reconnect with who we are, remembering that we are all here together, all equal in God’s eyes, regardless of how we get there. From that place, we can go back into the world with love and acceptance, embracing the beautiful diversity of appearance, thought, and belief that HE created and also embraces.