“Are You Going to War for Peace?”

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Don’t worry, this is not a story of the often sad and scary news in our world today. This IS a story about how choosing not to go to war for peace will grace your life with the integrity and the peace you are seeking in life and the world.

10 years ago, my marriage of 25 years ended and I found myself alone with 3 children, the mortgage, and marital assets made unavailable through creative accounting by people considered friends-ouch! Person after person challenged me to go to war (court) for getting back what was mine, misconstruing my reluctance to do so as fear.

So what was my hesitation if not from fear?

I knew what my former husband was capable of (I’m a fast learner), but fear was not what was holding me back from going to court with my former husband. It was my clarity about the price my children would pay if I were to focus my time, energy, and resources on battling in court with someone who wanted a war. My children needed their mother to focus her time, energy, and resources on their needs as children, including peace in their home and in their family. My children needed me to choose war or peace.

I was faced with the choice to go to war for making peace with my finances- knowing my children would pay dearly for this choice- or making peace with life having a different plan for me. My wounded pride and sense of betrayal were romancing me onto war and yet silent on the true cost of doing so. Sound familiar? How many times have you found yourself at war for soothing pride injured or feelings hurt by someone you love? And only later, realized the cost to you or the relationship?

This was my hardest challenge so far in life and many were the days I did not know if I was capable of making a victory from what felt overwhelming and devastating. Yet embracing my faith and demanding grace be made tangible in my life had previously transformed my chronic illnesses into good health, my infertility into 3 children, and being without a home into a lovely abode.So was having 3 children to support, a mortgage, and no job the challenge given by life to break me or simply sacred faith in my integrity and faith?

There is a price for every choice you make; the choices which cost you are the choices out of alignment with your values. Your mind may convince you “it’s ok, it’s just this time, it’s not a big deal”, but your soul knows your integrity just got dinged and your self-respect pays a price. It’s how we find ourselves in a world which considers going to war an acceptable means for creating peace, with civilians and children-the regrettable, but acceptable-cost of peace.

Where in your life or relationships are you living at odds with what you truly want, compromising what is true in your heart and soul?

Where are you going to war and telling yourself it’s for peace? Do you offer yourself reasons practical or personal for doing so, selling yourself or life short? Take it from me, it’s the little choices you make each day which build the muscles and courage of your integrity…..the integrity which gives you the strength and faith for when life challenges you to choose war or peace.

“In a World Often Scary, Why Being Vulnerable is Essential”

 

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In my first article “The Trojan Horse Opportunity, Change, and Transition Offer Us”, I wrote about challenges offering surprising gifts and invitations for increasing happiness and satisfaction in yourself and your life. In the second article “Learning to Trust Yourself and Life Again; Balancing Inner and Outer Authority”, I wrote about how balancing the authority you give others with learning to call on your own (inner) authority, increases your satisfaction and integrity in life. And here is my new article “In a World Often Scary, Why Being Vulnerable is Essential”:

Whether you subscribe to “leaning in”, “leaning out”, or “love will heal all”, contemporary relationship is emerging as more than a role or a status. Contemporary relationship is a a powerful means for transforming conflict, a petri dish for self-discovery and healing, and an essential dynamic for pivoting the out-dated power over of position, privilege, and possessions into contemporary power with our challenges, courage, and creativity. Contemporary relationship embraces the power of our mind as well as the power of our heart and soul, scientific research showing our health and sense of well-being is in part a reflection of the health of our relationship with ourselves and with others.

Relationships take a lot of wear and tear in a world which can hold everything as up for sale. When we pick up our courage for honoring the sacredness, the nobility of ourselves and an other, our relationships begin to offer us what we all long for…..to be safely seen as imperfect as we all are. Our relationships offer us opportunity after opportunity for healing family patterns which create pain, for tending to our self-love and care, and for developing trust and faith in ourselves and with another. Honoring your relationships requires your courage for allowing the vulnerability (From Latin meaning “wound”) essential for transforming the scary into compassion (From Latin meaning “to suffer with”) with yourself and an other.

Choosing compassion when a relationship challenges your inner security is not overlooking the need for change in the relationship. Responding with compassion to emotions which scare you is courageously choosing to honor your relationships as powerful vehicles for tending to the fears and insecurities we all carry. Choosing compassion is not for wussies; compassion requires courage, honestly examining your feelings, and not blaming another for not being the way you want them to be. Choosing compassion is essential for living life less through fear and more through trust of the wisdom of heart to lead.

Extending to “the other” what you usually demand of them, begins healing wounds of the past, making room for the destiny of the future. Choosing to extend your compassion, your curiosity, your courage to when another triggers you, allows you to pivot fears into learning and allows the vulnerability necessary for true intimacy. When you choose to communicate more for understanding and less for making certain you are heard, you choose connection with vs power over another. Powerful powerful steps for the peace and joy we all long for and I believe, we were born able to create.

Coming next week is my fourth and final article in this series on the art and science of life contemporary. I am excited to share with you how learning to discern, decipher, and delight in the abundant guidance and support life offers us each day, provides support and guidance in a world demanding more than simply the facts of our physical senses. Sensory intelligence is essential for meeting a world awash in fact and figure information, yet challenging us to create solutions to what our minds believe is impossible. Great stuff!

“The Reminder of Fireflies”

I have reached the age where more than 3 hours sleep is a gift and have evolved strategies for being awake when most of my world is not. The strategies vary depending on the season, for the cold of winter invites staying in bed and simply reading whereas the heat of summer invites me to crawl out of bed for a place cooler.

Wide awake at 1:30 am one morning last week, rather than simply keeping company with the haunting thoughts my logic and rational thought could not resolve, I took myself out to our front porch. Stars were visible, the hum of the insects more so, and not a sound of civilization was present. Yet despite this peace and quiet, my thoughts were still full of challenge and fear….and then, as though in answer to a prayer, a most magical delight appeared!

Yogis teach how each part of the day has a unique energy and how each energy supports us in a different way. The early morning (1-4 am) is thought to be the time of day the separation between the world physical and the world of spirit is the thinnest…..when the sacred is but a breath away. No surprise to those who work in hospice or critical care units; the early morning hours are when most people pass over.

Many spiritual traditions respect the energy of the early day through gathering in community and in prayer, for what haunts us in the physical world calls for the power and means of the spiritual world. While I no longer set my alarm for 3 am, I do make certain to awake an hour or two before beginning the daily duties of mom and business. Beginning my day with the sacred, aligns my day with the gifts of faith, trust, and wisdom ….in myself, in life, and in my never being without infinite guidance and support.

Oh…and what was the gift that relaxed my thoughts and replaced my concerns with delight? Fireflies….scores and scores of fireflies, their blinking lights everywhere I looked! No longer was I feeling the weight of my thoughts, for delight was insisting on my attention instead. I laughed and thanked the angels of light, and in lightness of spirit, back to bed I went and slept soundly the rest of the hours of the night.

 

The Power of Contemporary Women….Are You Exercising Yours?

Women have been given valuable social approval and currency for using their power to care for others first and tending to themselves second. This dynamic is partly innate and partly through generations of learning how being “nice” and “good” was preferred by others.  Changes initiated by increased access to birth control and financial created more choices and opportunities for contemporary women….and often our deepest integrity as women was absent in our choices and changes.

One of the challenging truths my clients-men and women-hear me offer is how avoiding exercising our power often derives from a case of the “pleaser first, me seconds”.  And while we may truly believe a lack of conflict equals safety for ourself or a relationship, avoiding conflict is avoiding exercising power.  Not knowing how to exercise our power constructively we often choose instead to suppress expressing ourselves with integrity.  And we all know how well THAT works as a strategy! Conflict is natural, necessary, and an invitation for our power (expression of ourselves) for informing, illuminating, and uplifting ourselves and the other.

So how do you know if you are challenged with exercising your power?

  1. You tell yourself it’s not a big deal when a friend or family member puts you down in front of others-again!-and you don’t speak up (for yourself) for that would not be nice. Instead, you spend the rest of the day silently seething and fantasizing about moving to where nobody in your family will ever find you!
  2. You long for more intimacy with your lover than watching TV together every night and tell yourself to be satisfied and not “rock the boat” as you pour yourself yet another glass (how many is that tonight?) of wine.
  3. You find yourself drawn to tending those at the end of their life, but finding a training program for hospice care that doesn’t interfere with the soccer carpool has been impossible.I mean, how can you ask others to put themselves out with helping you? What calls to you (heart and soul) will just have to wait until the kids are grown up and people don’t need you (never!).
  4. You grew up learning how important making others happy was for making those around you happy in life, so pleasing others is easy. But as you sit in a yet another meeting at a job you truly dislike, you wonder is this really as good as your life gets?.

There is not a woman alive who does not experience insecurity at times with exercising her power…..when to speak up, where to show up, when to stand up.  What creates security and certainly in our expressions of power is new (really old) learning, practice, and the courage to honor power inside as well as outside. Exercising power as contemporary women requires our time and care for listening, trusting, and taking action from wisdom of the silence within ourselves. This is not the power we learned of control over others ….this is the power of the clarity of our wisdom, the courage we commit to living our convictions, and the compassion we offer ourselves and WITH the others in our life.

We live in a time of rapid evolution, our gift of a lifetime for our souls to evolve the sacred marriage of life as human. Whether we live in fear or live in faith and trust depends on our choices of beliefs, skills, and integrity we engage as we navigate our days…..days calling for living our grace in ways practical and for honoring the grit of life as sacred.

“Release and Renew” for a Year New

Happy New Year!  It’s the first week of new year 2012, a time we are invited to let go of our disappointments, our regrets, our sorrows from year past to create room in ourselves for our dreams and visions for a year new.  Unlike New Year’s goals that can fizzle once we go back our days and usual habits, ritual calls upon not only our mind, but the earth elements and the sacred as well for making it so.  And at the end of 2012, when you look at the seeds you wrote down and what that then created in 2012, it will blow you away!  So take 10 minutes to begin your new year anew with the ritual I call  ”Release and Renew”. 

“Release and Renew” Ritual

  1. Write down on separate slips of paper your resentments, your grudges, your anger and rages, the unforgiven, the wrong-doings of others to you, your sorrows, your depressions, the ones you despise….you get the idea.  Make certain each one gets written down on it’s own slip of paper.
  2. Bury the slips of paper in the ground with sage or cedar if you have some, or if not, with some evergreen needles.  (If where you live does not allow you to bury the slips of paper, then burn the slips of paper and bury the ashes).
  3. Write down on separate pieces of paper the seeds of what you will cultivate through this year….commiting to your compassion more than your judgment, commiting to transformations effortless through calling on grace vs believing it takes hard work and luck to create, commiting to being open to more questions and curiosity and needing to control less, etc.  Place your commitment seeds on your altar if you have one and if you do not have an altar, it’s time to create one!
  4.  Pray for the next moon (30 days) on what your heart frowns upon as well as what lifts up your heart and soul.  In the realm of Sacred and Earth, all is energy and simply, our clarity is needed for what is released and what is renewed in our hearts and world.

Our human minds are powerful-and-placing our mind as the driver of our life was never meant to be it’s role.  As we move into our future,  our challenges will need us to meet them with our full capacity as human beings-the wisdom of our heart, the depth of our soul, and the infinite power and reach of our spirit.  As women, our innate caliber and capacity makes us leaders in living more of our depth and dimension as humans for creating the fabric of our daily life, containing the well-being of all in our communities, and allowing nothing save peace and harmony on this Earth.  
 

Make your dreams really really big for 2012, plant your seeds through commitment to your humanity and your divinity, and call upon the sacred to do the heavy lifting.  We are so blessed by our gift of a human life….simply, sometimes we forget we are powerful gods and goddesses walking this sacred ground of Earth.

The “Contemporary” Leadership of Women

 Much has been written, talked about, and even merchandised about the new power and contemporary leadership of women.  As a woman, I initially received this buzz about contemporary women’s place with a “hallelujah”, and now sigh, concluding how like the truism of memos serving the illusion of action, talking often serves the illusion of change.

One of the challenge I offer to those I work with is “how are you taking action on your new awareness/desire/choice/commitment in your daily life?  While words are powerful, using words only for talk diminishes the power and clarity the authentic (root) meaning the word offers us for committing to action.

The root (Latin) meaning of the word “contemporary” is “together with” and I smiled to have found a word so accurate in describing the history of women’s leadership. While the word “contemporary” may currently mean “new/current/fashionable”, women’s leadership throughout history has been “together with” .  

Women for ages have been “together with” the birthing and nurturing of new life, “together with” healing, tending and caring for members of their community, “together with” those in old age and in death.  The leadership of women is not new, ever unfashionable, nor simply the leadership of men with a skirt and lipstick on it. 

So the next time you hear talk about the new and contemporary leadership of women, smile at knowing just how contemporary women’s leadership is and commit yourself more to taking action “together with” your deepest values and what is sacred in the life you lead as a woman.

 

The Contemporary Spirituality of Women

 I am blessed by my work of guidance and support with women transforming challenges to their happiness through the strength and skills of their spirit….or as I say, “taking the grit life delivers to us as our divine instructions for engaging our grace!”.  I remind women how spirituality is not following rules and obeying authority outside herself; it is actively living her deepest values and visions and making her choices with integrity. I remind her how spirituality is not something separate from her daily life; her spirituality is lived in showing up, speaking up, and standing up right where she has been planted.

Contemporary spirituality is conscious partnering with our spirit and soul for practical guidance and support in our daily life. Contemporary spirituality is living grace that is practical and honoring the grit of life as sacred.  Contemporary spirituality honors the teachers that are animal, plant, and “the other” and contemporary spirituality honors our body as not simply a vehicle, rather as a teacher and healer divine.

Contemporary spirituality demands we update our beliefs, definitions, and concepts for daily living of our active, embodied, and emboldened spirituality as women.  Ask yourself these questions-your answers create your choices for living your life: 

  • If you knew you were always being divinely guided and supported, how would you live differently your life?
  • If you were to embrace “where you were planted”-to the beauty, to the challenges, to the gratitude-what would be different? 
  • If you took 100% responsibility for your life vs deferring your power to “karma” or “God’s will” or “I have no power to make things different” where would you take up your voice, your power, your outrage? 
  • If you truly honored your spirit and soul as your most intimate partner in life, how would the priorities for your time change? Would time for meditation, prayer, and self-care become less luxuries and more essentials in your daily life?

Contemporary spirituality is not about furthering our means of control; it is daily living our power, our purpose, and our presence as guardians for all life.  Contemporary spirituality honors relationship, integrity, and creativity and where these are lacking, the responsibility for bringing them forth. Contemporary spirituality is living there is truly no separation between what is spiritual and what is not spiritual….and that our humanity is simply divinity in a body.

 

Summertime’s “Essential-Sensuals”

Living in New England, where our summers are so very short,  a day at the beach every couple of weeks has become a priority on my summer to-do list (yes, the irony does not escape me). The warmth of the sun, the sounds of the waves, and the delicious hug of the water is not only sensual,  it is essential for my happiness and well-being. A few years ago, my summer flew by without a single visit to the beach-there were so many more important things to do!-and the ensuing long and cold New England winter taught me the error of concluding my sensual needs as optional.  

Here are suggestions for honoring summertime’s “essential-sensuals”:

  • Indulge in what delights your palate in the bounty of summertime foods!  Eating watermelon outside on a hot day, with it’s juices dripping down my chin and onto the ground delights the kid in me who still loves to make a mess!
  • Know what delights you in Nature’s summertime offerings; while one of my summertime’s sensual-essential is a day at the beach, a day hiking in the mountains or canoeing in a lake may be the delight your body and soul will hallelujah with!
  • Honor your summertime essential-sensuals as a top priority on your to-do list, receiving any feelings of resistance or pesky inner nay-saying voices as simply your invitation to meditate or journal on what challenges you in living your delight or essential pleasure!
  • Be open to the “ah-has” which come through your physical delight and pleasure as essential wisdom for yourself and your life.  Our body’s wisdom is profound in it’s clarity and intelligence and learning to respond in our life with the “non-logical” wisdom of our body have a magical way of increasing our happiness and well-being!

Taking delight and pleasure in the sensations of our body is essential for not only our physical health and ease, it is essential for the fulfillment of our heart, soul, and life. We are beings that need food as well as nourishment through our sensual experiences.  When we honor our sensual as essential for creating happiness and well-being in life, a day at the beach becomes less a luxury and more the priority on the to-do list for every season!

Holy Is Everywhere

 Its a beautiful Sunday morning in June, a day inviting both the slower pace of a Sunday as well as the invitation of Mother Nature beckoning with her delightful June temperatures and low humidity.  A day holy with my rituals of Sunday, a day holy with the temple of Mother Nature in June, and a day holy by commiting to receive all that the day brings to me as a blessing…as hard as that is for my mind to wrap around at times! 

Growing up in a Catholic family, holiness was taught as obeying rules and rituals and obeying the men who ministered for God.  And so at 5 years old, I asked to become an altar girl and after being laughed at by the priest for asking,  I announced to my parents I was no longer Catholic, indignantly saying I knew God would have said yes to my request to become an altar girl. My parents, to their credit, did not defend the priest’s response and instead encouraged me to participate in what still had meaning for me in the Catholic faith.

The joy and inspiration of my childhood faith-the majesty of Christmas midnight mass, the soothing sound of the Latin chants, the transcendent beauty of the church music and singing-did become part of the rituals and holidays created in my own non-Catholic family.  For I had learned an important truth in not rejecting the holy still being offered through the Catholic faith….holy is not the obeying of rules and rituals…holy is everything, everyday, and everywhere.

Holy is the reverence I feel as I view the sunrise over the ocean as majestic as any cathedral, holy is the gaze of an infants eyes in mine dissolving all doubt of angels, holy is offering our smiles to those unknown with a frown, and holy is embracing what is true for us through experience,  even if lacking in obedience. When we begin to live as the daughters and sons of God all faiths agree we are, then we begin to live in conscious awe, in conscious reverence, in conscious faith holy is everywhere.

A Time of Initiation

Have you noticed how we are no longer debating whether global warming is/is not going to happen (it’s here is the quiet consensus) but whether we humans will make it through the multitude of changes and challenges, or not?  Books on ” 2012″ abound and prophecies of civilizations no more, are being used to support both the doomsday predictions of the changes and by those who conclude we are entering the next golden age.  So what really do we know about what is going down?

Knowing often brings humans a sense of comfort because knowing offers us a sense of control, and control is what we have all been taught grants not only safety, but power. Yet, what has power when change and challenges are not only out of our control, but overwhelming in their nature and scope as well?  

As Einstein offered, insanity is continuing to choose responses that created a problem in the first place, and expecting the problem to change…not!  Meeting the challenges in our lives offers an invitation, an initiation really, for choices and power different than we have been choosing…..choices made differently with our divine and infinite knowledge and power as human beings.

Initiation means “to begin” and is the perfect word for reminding ourselves to begin to bring our infinite and divine knowledge and power to our challenges.  Our physical minds and hands alone cannot meet the changes and challenges life is bringing us in spades these days.  Alone we never are if we initiate engaging our infinite power and knowledge for what challenges us, and what challenges us offers us the beauty, satisfaction, and legacy of our infinite, divine, creativity as human beings.