Category Archives: wisdom

Perspective and Fitted Sheets

I know how to fold a fitted sheet.

This is not something you hear people say often. In fact, it’s usually the reverse (and there seems to be a sort of pride involved in saying that you don’t know how to do this). But I do. I know how to fold a fitted sheet. For me, it’s completely logical and makes sense.

I didn’t always know how to fold a fitted sheet. But I had an inkling on how to do it, and I wanted to be able to do it – so I sought guidance on how to do it, and then I practiced.

Life is pretty much just like this. It flows in a sequence of

  • Curiosity
  • Seeking
  • Guidance
  • Practice
  • Mastery

Ok, that last step implies that I feel I’ve “mastered” folding a fitted sheet, which I have, and also haven’t. Sometimes it turns out wonkier than others. And if we’re being honest, the space between Practice and Mastery includes an infinite number of trial, error, failure, and success steps before we can actually label it as “Mastery.” However, often when we see someone as “successful” or a “Master” of their craft, we forget the numerous and varied steps it took for them to get where they are.

We lose perspective.

And that’s the point.

When I first started writing this post, I thought it would go another way – I thought I’d be discussing the shame I felt for being able to do something that others seem to ridicule because they can’t (we’ll save that for another day). Instead I’m ending up here, discussing the importance of perspective.

It’s the same old saying: Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.

If someone’s pride (couched as humor or ridicule) causes you to feel shame over your gifts or talents, it’s important to step back and take perspective. Your mastery is a result of curiosity, seeking, guidance, and practice. Their pride and ridicule is usually the result of fear, insecurity, and discomfort. One generates results, the other generates disconnection. Which would you choose?

I choose to be able to fold my fitted sheet.

Folded fitted sheet

Folded fitted sheet

Leading or Paving the Way Forward

Isn’t so much of life about reacting to something, rather than creating something anew?

They say there are no more original ideas. I don’t think that’s entirely true, but I think it’s mostly true. I read the words of poets that are hundreds of years old, and I hear their words echo through the ages in more contemporary authors. Several years ago, in a very vulnerable moment riddled with self-doubt, I once shared with someone who I consider to be part friend, part teacher, and part counselor that I didn’t think I had any hope of a future in writing or inspiring others. I told him I had nothing to contribute to the conversation about self-help that hadn’t already been said.

My friend wisely listened, and then told me this:

“It’s not what you’re saying that’s new – it’s how you’re saying it that’s unique to you.”

He went on to explain that someone out there needed to hear what I had to say in my words, my voice, in order to understand it and hear it for the first time, after not hearing it so many other ways.

I know this to be true, because every week I receive feedback from my readers reiterating what my friend had said so many years ago: They needed to hear what I wrote, and often felt it was written just for them.

This is why I do what I do – this is why I will always do what I do and honor who I am, my path, and my gifts, as they unfold and present themselves more boldly.

But what happens when I sit down to type and the words simply don’t flow?

Last week I wrote about my hope to live more fully aligned with all I am, including my spiritual gifts. I wrote about how easy (and deceptive) it was to play small, without realizing I was doing it. Then I sat down to write for this week, and I stared at a blank screen and an endlessly flashing cursor.

Where do I go from here?

I’m not sure. And that’s the simple truth of it all. There’s this thing called a “visibility hangover” that happens after you’ve put yourself more “out there.” As I’ve learned from my dear friend, Sarah, in her marketing course, after every expansion comes a natural contraction.

Frankly, I think that’s what’s happening this week for myriad reasons. I’m contracting, going within, to regroup, clarify, and clear out some mental and emotional clutter to make a bolder, more structured path forward.

So, I guess, for me, the answer to the blinking cursor is simply: write. Write anything. Just write. See what comes out. See where it leads you.

Sometimes you have to let the path lead you, rather than trying to pave it yourself.

IMG_4966

And that’s pretty much it for this week. Last week several of you were kind enough to tell me you were looking forward to watching, learning, and understanding how this “roadmap of greatness” I mentioned last week would unfold. I thank you. I am, too.

I think, in general, I’ve been hesitant to share too much of my journey as it is unfolding. I often write once I’ve understood, vetted, and embodied something for a while, desiring only to impart the knowledge I’ve gained along the way in the hope that it will help others.

And yet, here we are. Everything you’ve read in this blog post has been a complete surprise to me. It’s raw, real, and very much not vetted.

That being said, I think it’s ok, even good, to not always have understanding. Sometimes it’s important to share the process by which the understanding was obtained. Sometimes it’s important to let the path lead you forward, trusting that it will unfold as it’s meant to. I am doing just that.

Getting Real (the real truth behind playing small)

I didn’t have anything to write for this week. I thought I did, but I’m still processing that piece with my mentor. It was longer, and I needed some feedback on whether it was too long for this weekly venue. (I’ve been a little mired in thought.)

I suppose I’m not surprised this has come up. Last week I started a 3-week workshop on being authentic in marketing. It’s about showing up and allowing yourself to be seen as you are. Exactly as you are. (Yikes!)

I’m not surprised that I found this workshop challenging at times; however, I was shocked by what I found surprising.

Firstly, let me say how difficult I find self-promotion to be. In a world where it seems to be rampant, I prefer to sit back, just be who I am, doing what I do, and trusting that the audience/clients/readers who need me will find me. While I don’t think that’s untrue, I also know that it’s not actually being in service of my gifts, or the Universe, to not make it easy(ier) for people to find me.

During the first week of the workshop, we were prompted to make mini-videos about our perceived weaknesses and strengths. We were invited to “get real” in a safe space, in order to normalize and even neutralize our perceptions of self. I thought my surprise would come from just doing videos, or talking about what physical attributes made me feel disempowered – but actually, all that was fine. In fact, it was empowering in a way.

It was only when it came time to discuss my spiritual gifts – my talents, abilities, and presence – that I was shocked by what happened next. I collapsed emotionally, because I had an ‘A-Ha! moment’ – an awareness that I could no longer deny.

On the one hand, I LOVE who I am. I love what I do, and what my soul’s purpose is. I cannot express enough how much I love my path and my journey. I intend to help many thousands, if not millions of people through my work. On the other hand, I hate anything to do with self-promotion, because it’s all so… noisy.

But then it hit me:

By not engaging in (aligned) self-promotion in order to be accessible, I am disavowing my gifts. I am essentially thumbing my nose at the Universe.

“Oh God! What have I done?”

It felt awful. This realization sent me reeling into a massive state of guilt, fear, shame, doubt, and anger and frustration. I reached out to two trusted friends and began the process of wading through the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs surrounding this situation – this realization.

I know now that I need a better plan. I need to find a method that is both aligned with who I am (aka: not noisy) and allows me to be seen fully for who I am, and what I’m here to do – my contributions to the world.

Before last week, I was content to play small, because it was “anti-noisy.” It almost felt altruistic. It’s easy to stay safe and small when you’re against something obnoxious. It’s much harder to do when you realize that by doing so, you’ve actually been going against something even greater. In fact, it was heart-breaking.

So, while I don’t know what all this means yet or how it will unfold, I know one thing is for certain: playing small disavows our gifts, which then disavows the Universe. It would be like someone handing you the winning lottery ticket, and you replying with, “No, no, I’m good…” It simply doesn’t make sense. And yet, we all seem to do it at some point in our lives.

Whether you are an artist, a lawyer, a teacher, a social worker, a parent, a spouse, or anything else you might be – if you’re playing small in your role, you are disavowing the gifts that have been given to you. You’re tossing them aside and taking them for granted. I know. It’s what I’ve been doing. Hurts to say, but I titled this post “Getting Real” for a reason.

So, now I’m off to plan my roadmap to greatness, away from playing small and into a space in which I am embracing my gifts and all the potential that has been given me. A place in which I am visible, accessible, and living my life’s purpose. I don’t know what this map looks like yet, I just know that it’s time to start heading out, deliberately, and in alignment with who I am. (Still don’t plan to be “noisy.”)

And I invite you to do the same. If you’re playing small, and your heart wants you to go big – maybe it’s time to create your own roadmap. And maybe we’ll cross paths on our respective journeys and journey along together for a while. Until then…

xoxo

My Favorite Italian Word

In Eat Pray Love Liz Gilbert suggested we all have a word that defines us or our situation. For her it was “attraversiamo,” which translates to “let’s cross over,” that defined the period of her life in which she wrote the book.

I like the idea of using words to define our chronological life eras (Duh! I’m a writer.) But I like even more the idea of uncovering the words that propel our lives, that guide us, regardless of what era we are in. To me, that feels more expansive, more filled with potential and the essence of What if..?

In the shower the other morning, I found myself muttering “anch’io” over and over again. It sort of just rolls off the tongue… ahn-kee-oh.

I love this word. Always have, ever since I first studied Italian in college. And, yes, technically it’s a contraction of two words (“anche” and “io”), but that’s not what you would ever say, so it’s actually its own word.

Anch’io.

While I was repeating it quietly, feeling the syllables roll around my mouth, I started actually thinking about what it meant. Literally, it means “And I.” But for me it feels like more than that.

Anch’io feels like the most powerful “Yes!” to the Universe’s invitation.

It feels like I’m volunteering to

join in
show up
be present

and participate in life.

Anch’io is a statement, a declaration, that I’m right here, right now, and wish to be counted.

I love that. I love the energy and possibility fueled by one simple word: Anch’io. It may be my favorite Italian word (though gelato is quite awesome too).

Your Way, My Way, and Any Which Way

My friend and fellow author, Brian E. Miller, had this meme posted on his Facebook wall over the weekend.

Nietzsche-Way

I had heard this Nietzsche quote before, but had not remembered it. So, seeing it again was both refreshing and inspirational. As someone who helps other people for a living, either through my coaching or my writing, this simple truth can’t be stated enough:

There is no one way.

I’ve seen it time and again with my clients, as well as in my personal life. What works for me may not work for you, and what works for you may not work for me

In fact, research is basically based on this principal. Only when something works for a statistical majority, is it considered evidence-based. But even in those cases there are always outliers.

So, how do we figure out what works best for each of us as we meander through on this journey of life?

I would suggest that there are three basic criteria that you can use to assess the “thing” that you are trying out to see if it’s in alignment.

1. It makes you feel better/alive/happier/aligned, effortlessly. By answering the question: “How does it make you feel?” you get to identify a tangible result. If something you’re trying doesn’t positively impact your life in some noticeable way, perhaps it’s not the best fit right now.

2. You feel drawn to it. This is about intuitive knowing. some people are drawn to meditation, others are drawn to yoga, still others are drawn to boxing or running. These are all examples of a physical nature, but you get the idea. There’s a voice inside you that says, “Yes! That!” whenever you think about this thing. (Similarly, the voice feels repelled by other things. It’s good to be aware of both sides of this coin.)

3. You want to make time for it. It’s one thing to feel good about something, and even more so if you feel compelled in some way, but actively pursuing something is a HUGE statement of alignment. Making time for something or someone is like highlighting, underlining, and putting an exclamation point on the statement. It’s your body and soul’s way of signing up and showing up.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone (myself included) that if rationalization or justification are involved, we’re not actually in alignment. In other words, I love cake (yellow cake with fudge frosting, to be exact. Yum!), but if I were to use the criteria and say that

a) it makes me feel good (it does, cake makes me happy),

b) I desire it (see previous statement about happiness), and

c) I actively seek it out (well, in grad school I did),

I could then rationalize that it must be in alignment and therefore, good for me… and have it every day. Or I could justify having it more often than I should, based on these criteria. And that would simply be wrong. (Furthermore, if I had it that often, I probably wouldn’t feel good or desire it after a while, so it would ultimately fail the criteria test.)

You can see what I’m saying, right? To better understand the concept, let’s look at it in a more concrete way, using two examplesYoga and hot water with lemon and honey.

– Both yoga and my morning hot water with lemon and honey make me feel good. (criteria 1)

– I wake up and actually want to have my hot water with lemon and honey every morning. My body desires it. Yoga, less so. (Criteria 2)

– Every morning, I make my hot water with lemon and honey and enjoy it before I do anything else. I haven’t been to a yoga class in almost 6 months. (Criteria 3)

From this example, I am nurturing my body with hot water, lemon, and honey daily, because it’s what it needs at this time, which is very clear. In fact, just last year I tried to do this same thing with no success. At that time, this wasn’t what I needed. Today it is.

This is why there is no one way – there is only the way that is right for you, right now. 

Many people would probably tell me to “just go to the yoga class” because “you’ll feel better.” Thankfully, I don’t listen to those people anymore, and I surround myself with friends and wellness experts who get it and support the innate wisdom of my body and my soul as it expresses itself over time.

That being said, I’m also always open to new things that will enhance my life, which actually might be Criteria #4:

Once you have something that is working for you, don’t do it to the exclusion of trying other things that might also work. 

You just might love kick-boxing, guitar, or Paleo, but you’ll never know unless you try and then ask yourself those three questions after you have given it a go.

At the end of the day, the most important question to ask yourself, though, is simply:

Why?

Why am I doing this thing or that thing? Is it for myself or for someone else? Is it because I’m basing my self-worth on it, or because I enjoy it? Is it something I want to do, or something I feel I “should” do?

We all have things we need to do to live. I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about the things that invite us to thrive. What are they? And how are you going to choose to bring more of them into your life?

Windows of Opportunity

We all have them: windows of opportunity. Often, though, we are looking at them in hindsight with regret, only recognizing their potential once the window has mostly, if not completely, closed.

Why does this happen?
Why don’t we see it, or trust it, when it first opens?

I believe that much of the reason why we don’t jump at the opportunities presented to us is because we simply aren’t ready, and these windows of opportunity arrive in order to help us become more ready over time.

Seeing life in this way instantly turns regret into gratitude. It opens us up to progress, rather than spending our time in process.

When we’re open to progress, we are fine-tuning ourselves through mindfulness and awareness. We’re eliminating the noise of that which no longer serves us in order to make room for the joy of possibility for that which is wholly aligned with our soul.

And that’s when the magic happens.

Once we start shifting our perspective to one of possibility and progress, we allow for more and more windows to open. In fact, we actually start opening them ourselves.

Faith, Spirituality, and Religion (plus my thoughts on their role in terror, violence, and love)

Just after the San Bernardino mass shootings, I queried a trusted group of friends for suggestions for my blog – the one that was supposed to run last week. (Perhaps you noticed that I never wrote one.) You see, I found myself somewhat incapable of writing in the wake of such tragedy and senseless violence, again. Everything I wrote kept devolving into anger and frustration. I was mad. What’s worse is that I was aimlessly mad, and the arrows that were the words I was typing were not hitting any marks. I simply couldn’t coherently get my thoughts on paper without some random rants and expletives in the mix.

Instead of offering suggestions, however, my tribe of trusted souls encouraged me to share my thoughts and my process with regard to the violence. My friend, Tyler, said, I’d love to hear what you’re really feeling and where you’re at and how you’re working through it. The real-er, the better in my estimation.”

At the time, I couldn’t go there. I hadn’t worked through it. Like most of the rest of the world I was in shock and disbelief that yet another report of gun violence and a mass shooting had occurred. I have many more thoughts that I will eventually put to paper, but it would’ve been a disservice to my readers, and indeed to myself, for me to write an emotionally reactionary piece on the violence and instability of terrorism, both at home and abroad.

And then, this past weekend I had my first-ever Ayurvedic consultation. Paul, my consultant, said something so poignant to me that I think I stopped breathing for a moment from the depth and simplicity of the words. He shared a wisdom from his teacher, Maharishi, that went something like this:

‘If you are willing to go to war, kill, and fight in the name of your religion, you’ve misunderstood your religion.’

I am certain I have paraphrased, but you get the idea. Which is what has prompted me to write this week about Faith, Spirituality, and Religion. Because, frankly, I think it matters more than we’re admitting. When people are making statements and taking inhumane actions based on their “religion” it bears taking note and actually discussing the topic.

I’ve tackled these topics before, individually and sometimes together. There certainly is a lot of language “out there” about the difference between spirituality and religion. So let’s start there.

Colloquially, religion is thought of as the practice of one’s faith within set rules of doctrinal teachings, typically conveyed in writing or sacred texts. The best examples of this are: The Bible, The Quran, The Torah, and the Vedic texts. These writings hold the foundational teachings of their respective religions. Over centuries or millennia, they have been shared, taught, and, at times, imposed on people, with the mindset of exclusivity. This last phrase is where we developed our current understanding of the word “religion.” Modern understanding of the word revolves around keeping ourselves separate and apart from each other, by practicing “exclusive” rights to the Divine. (aka: My religion is better than your religion.)

But years ago, I attended a lecture by Pittman McGehee, D.D. at the Jung Center in Houston, and he proposed an alternate definition of religion that restores it’s original intent based on the origin of the word. Religion is akin to religare, which means to reconnect.

From this perspective, religion is about the act of reconnecting to that which we hold to be true and know in our hearts, which resides outside of us, and is not exclusive, but rather inclusive. For me, this is how we currently define spirituality.

Spirituality is, in my opinion, the knowing that there is something greater than yourself, that you can’t touch, see, or quantify, but is connected to all things, inclusively. The Druids knew this as the inherent wisdom in Nature. The Abrahamic religions refer to it as God, Yahweh, or Allah. Spirituality is an act of reconnection. It is an inclusive practice that recognizes the collective above all things, allowing each to practice his or her own faith, with respect for the intention of reconnecting to something greater, something to which we all have access, in myriad forms.

So, what is faith then?

Historically, and currently, faith has been used as a scapegoat for war, terror, violence, and oppression. “People of faith” have committed atrocious acts of horror in the name of their beliefs. Five hundred years ago, the Christians persecuted non-Christians during the Spanish Inquisition. Seventy years ago, the Jews were practically decimated, and now a statistically small group of Muslims are terrorizing the world in the name of their faith. But it’s not their faith that’s driving them. It’s their beliefs.

Is faith belief? No. Belief is a choice. Faith is a knowing, a knowing that transcends choice. Faith is, above all else, a feeling that requires no justification or defense. It simply is.

Which is why I needed to take pause and write about this trifecta of theology. I think the horrific events in the world have caused many of us, myself included, to dig deeper into my faith, into what I know – and, more importantly perhaps, to challenge what I’ve been told (or taught) to believe. Beliefs can change. Inner knowing is constant. It’s what gives you hope when times are at their darkest. Faith is the seedling of Hope. It’s the flint that creates the spark that leads to the fire. And faith is all-inclusive. We can actually use logic to understand this concept.

Let’s assume for a second that I am God. If I were God, and I wanted all of my creations – but specifically my human creations – to find their way back to me, would I limit the paths to just one? Or would I want every human on earth to find me in their way, from their hearts? Would I plant a seed within them that would one day rise and grow? I would. I would be that smart. I would know that it would take billions of seed plantings – one for each human – to ensure each one had a path back to their knowing, to me, however that shows up for them, as they are ready and able to receive it. For some this is religion, for others it’s nature. For everyone, though, it involves some measure of faith.

So, logically, faith is infinite. Faith is what some call the God gene or the Divine DNA. We all have it within us. It springs to life in different circumstances and at different times, as we need it or pursue it. I’ve created an acronym to define faith. You may have seen me use it before. Faith is

Feeling
Alive
In
The
Heart

At this holiest time of year, celebrated from Pagan times as the Winter Solstice, on up through the various holidays we enjoy today, we find opportunities to explore and restore our faith, in ourselves, in each other, and in humanity. We are being called to unite as one, to hold onto hope in the light of tragedy, and be the beacons that guide others to that same light when they are shrouded in darkness. A darkness I found myself flirting with after the most recent tragedy at San Bernardino.

The process of restoration that I’ve undergone in the last 10 days has involved a fair amount of numbing, distraction, reflection, self-care, and pursuit of joy. I have taken walks, taken pictures, enjoyed a lot of tea, as well as a salt bath, listened to music, and restored my connection with myself, and with what I know – with my faith. Faith in action is my spirituality. As I explored and embraced what faith means to me, I wrote about it. I share that writing with you here.

What Faith Means to Me

Faith gives me something to hold onto
when I feel like I have no strength left in my hands.

Faith brings me peace when everything around me,
outside of my control, is in chaos.

Faith restores me to my heart when I’ve lost my way.

Faith reminds me of what’s important, what’s less important,
and helps me create those two lists.

Faith shows me what’s possible in a world
that would have me believe otherwise.

Faith inspires me, every day, to be the best I can be, even when that “best” involves staying in my pajamas all day, behind closed doors, licking my wounds. Especially then.

Faith fills me when I’m running on empty.

Faith offers me abundance when I’m feeling less than worthy.

Faith grounds me in who I am, what I do, and where I’m going.

Faith shares wisdom and truth with me through beauty and through pain.

Faith leads me forward through darkness, fog, and broken terrain,
as well as the smooth pathways and flowing pastures.

Faith provides me with a sense of self, a sense of purpose,
and a sense of inner peace.

And mostly, Faith offers me all these things and asks nothing in return.

Faith, spirituality, and religion have been used for good and for evil. They have been the life jacket and the straight jacket, the prison and the freedom. The difference in how they manifest lies in the practitioner, resulting in love or terror. When respect, inclusion, understanding, and unity are their hallmarks, this trio of theology is the very definition of possibility, hope, and love. It is up to us – all of us – to ensure this is the way forward.

Wishing you many blessings for a joyous and loving holiday season, however, you choose to celebrate. May the light of the season be yours, and may you spread that light forward in peace.

When the Teacher Becomes the Student

I have a belief: We are all teachers, and we are all students.

This was never more clear to me than in the past week when I was reminded of how I am always learning, even while I’m teaching… sometimes on the exact same thing.

So, what happened?

Well, for the past few weeks I have been on the first leg of my inaugural book tour for my new book What if..? How to Create the Life You Want Using the Power of Possibility. Over 24 days, I traveled up and down the eastern seaboard from CT to VA, meeting with media, conducting events, and speaking with individuals and organizations. I have been immersed in imparting the tools and theories I share in my book for creating the life you want through manifesting and authentic alignment. One aspect of this includes teaching others how important language is when using the law of attraction to create what you want.

And that’s where my learning opportunity came in: I had made my own mistake, and I didn’t see it.

During the past couple of years, as I have been focusing on the short- and long-term goals for my work, I have been using two very specific phrases to describe what I wish to happen. The first phrase was “grassroots,” which I used to describe how I envisioned my work unfolding and reaching a wider audience.

Well, have you ever seen grass grow? It’s not the fastest event on the planet. So, my using this phrase has actually set a nice SLOW and limiting process in motion, when what I really meant to say was “organically.” I would like my work and audience to grow organically – meaning, naturally, and without influence from anything fake. This seemed like an easy fix.

However, the other phrase gave me greater pause, because for the last 6+ years I have used it quite regularly, without realizing the limits I had set on myself.

Since 2009, the motto for my blog and coaching practice has always been:

“Changing the world, by changing lives, one person at a time.”

I believe this – I believe that we change the world by changing ourselves. I know this to be both possible and true. Over the years the core remained the same, though I have modified it slightly:

Changing the world, by changing lives, one word at a time.
Changing the world, by changing lives, one moment at a time.
Changing the world, by changing lives, one word, one moment, one person at a time.

That last version was the one I have been using most recently. But I am now changing it again. Here’s why:

I now realize that I have been limiting myself by using the phrases starting with “one.”

Even though I know that we create lasting communal and global change by starting with the individual, I see that I have limited the scope of my work by ostensibly saying: I only want to do this one thing at a time.

Therefore, the Universe’s ability to help me create my platform and reach a wider audience was restricted by my words. I asked, and they complied. As a result, some of my events these past 2 weeks have had only two or three people at them, instead of the projected 30-40, which dumbfounded me.

Naturally, I felt all the associated human emotions of failure, frustration, and doubt. I questioned whether what I was doing was right (don’t worry, I know it is), and exploring what I could have done better.

Gratefully, I always quickly circled back to something my colleague, José Stevens, shared with me, “even if it’s one person at your table, you offer them your mastery.” And I do, lovingly and joyfully. I know in my heart, and from years of experience, that the one person in front of me is the one that needs what I am offering, and I honor that. I am grateful for those opportunities and value them.

Simultaneously, it was frustrating to be on tour, have realistic expectations based on feedback for bigger gatherings, and have only “one” person show up. And yet, that was exactly what I had asked for… for years!

So, that’s where I found myself one afternoon last week as book tour was coming to a close. I meditated in my friend’s yard, grappling with my frustration and fear, as I stared at myself. With question marks swirling in my head, I suddenly realized what I had done:

I limited myself to “one person at a time” through my choice of words. Holy cow!

The minute I understood it, I sat in silence, awe, and humility. The teacher became the student in a nanosecond. I know the importance of words (heck, I teach this!), and yet I was blind to my own word choice.

On some level I suppose there was a sense of honor for me in the words I used. However, I also now recognize that they are out of alignment with my mission and path – with what I am called to do. Of course, it’s possible for me to go about my work one person/event/word at a time, but I think the earth is evolving faster than that, so I needed to get on board.

And I did.

In the end, it came down to reconciling my mission (changing the world by changing lives) with a limiting belief (“one person at a time”). Therefore, I have modified my phrase to something more clear, expansive, open, and fueled by possibility:

Changing the world, by changing lives.

This simple adjustment invites the Universe to figure out the “how” while allowing me to stay in alignment as I continue to show up in every aspect of my life, as both teacher and student.

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.

The Importance of Tools

One of the things I focus on in my work is the importance of helping my clients expand their toolbox. In fact, I’m always doing so myself. Having an extensive toolbox is a cornerstone to growth, in my opinion. So, when I recently read some work by other coaches/writers suggesting that we shouldn’t listen to others, and only listen to ourselves, I got concerned. Here’s why:

We all need tools on our journey. Everything you learn along the way that propels you to your next lesson is a tool, regardless of where it comes from. To not listen to others is to deny yourself the gift of others’ wisdom and experience. It limits your toolbox. Tools are what strengthen your connection to your inner knowing and voice, and provide for your growth. These tools are what allow us to progress.

Similarly, we all need teachers – someone to say “Hey, this worked for me, and now I’m sharing it with you.” You’ll know when it’s someone to listen to, or someone to walk away from. A good teacher will help you strengthen your voice, not silence it.

Therefore, to dismiss tools and/or teachers as a vehicle of silence is to do yourself a disservice. Nobody came to their inner knowing, their connection with Source, without learning along the way and filling their toolbox, often from exposure to others’ voices and experience. Nobody.

Not every tool is right for you, that’s for certain, but every tool has its purpose: to help each of us, in our turn, as we continue to elevate our consciousness and ascend on our path in our vibration; to reconnect with our Self and Source.

I believe each teacher along the way is a steward; there to shepherd you through whatever pasture you find yourself in. No one teacher is THE teacher. Everyone is there to share and help each other along the way. As Ram Dass said, “we are all just walking each other home.”

I get concerned when I read other thought leaders either dismissing the importance of tools/teachers or encouraging the use of ONE tool above all others. Neither is the path to Self. The path back to that power, that inner knowing, that connectedness, is paved with everything you pick up along the way. Nobody can tell you what to pick up, but the offering is what matters. It’s there to support you in your journey, not withhold you or provide obstacles for you. If it is doing either, it’s not the best for you, right now.

I agree entirely that the ultimate goal is inner knowing and connectedness, and therefore an ultimate independence from tools and teachers. This is the goal, whether it’s a reality is another question. Think of it this way: even the Dalai Lama meditates, and meditation is a tool.

From my own experience, and knowing that I am human, I am certainly incredibly grateful for my extensive toolbox and the extraordinary stewards I have met along the way. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am. Their guidance helped me find strength in my voice, in my Self.

Furthermore, because I am human, I know that life will get messy sometimes. I take great comfort in knowing that I have a toolbox that I have built, that can support me through challenges and create opportunities. And if you think you don’t have a toolbox of your own, I beg to differ. Here are just a few of the tools that I have available to me at a moment’s notice. I suspect you have some of the same:

Breath
Art
Reading
Walking
Playing with my dog
Workshops
Holistic doctor
Trusted friends
Manifesting
Affirmations
Supplements
Water
Music

Without tools and teachers in your life, your path to connectedness would not be possible. There is no magic teleport that will take you from your humanity to your divinity without at least a few lessons along the way – no teleport other than bodily death and the transition to spirit. Tools make the journey. Teachers provide companionship along the way.

So, if you come across tools and teachers that share their wisdom with you, feel grateful, stop, take a seat, and listen. If it’s for you, you will know. If it’s not for you, you will know. Then you can exercise your free will and power of choice to move on to the next.

Finally, tools are there to help you co-create with Source, and there is nothing more powerful than that. So, frankly, why wouldn’t you use tools?