Tag Archives: Self Help

RIDE ON!

This week I visited Cedar Point, my favorite amusement park. It was great! If you like roller coasters Cedar Point is certainly one park you have to experience. After every ride on a roller coaster one of the workers says: “Ride on!” – inviting the people to keep experiencing thrill after thrill. Upon my return I was struck by how much I didn’t want to “ride on” with everyday, ordinary life. I wanted to experience another thrill! I wanted to “ride on!”  

 

How often we want our lives and relationships to be thrilling – and if the thrill isn’t there or wears off – we think something is wrong. But it is in the experience of day to day rhythm where life is lived and peace experienced. It’s certainly good to have peak experiences in our lives and relationships – BUT, if we begin LIVING for these experiences we will find ourselves sorely disappointed. Instead finding a “thrill” in the everyday rhythm, spiritual practice and disciplines of life is a good thing. For me, it is my spiritual practice that is the life blood of who I am. It enriches my life far beyond any thrill! Thrills are fleeting, temporary. A grounding in meditation and prayer is like an eternal, ever present flow of energy. It is not a temporary thrill.

 

This is the way I want to “ride on” with life. Who knows? If I do, maybe life’s ups and downs won’t feel so much like a roller coaster!


Finding Firm Ground

Did you ever pick up a little dog and hold it in your arms?  Sometimes when you pick up a dog their paws flail in the air, until you put them down and they find firm ground.

Sometimes life is like that.  Our “paws” flail in the air.  We worry, obsess and seem to lack any grounding in life.  My life of late has been this way as another major concern emerges.  I am like a dog trying to find firm ground.

What I need to remember is this.  When I feel like I’m in mid air I am being held by the One who will never let go of me.  I am being held by the One who is able to take a seemingly negative, dark circumstance and bring me to a new place that I never imagined.  I am in good hands and even in mid air I can find firm ground.

I am so grateful that in the midst of difficulty I have a place to go in meditation, a quiet place which whispers a word of hope:  In your darkness I will never abandon you.  No matter your difficulty I can use it to bring you to a new place.  Trust the hands that hold you.


Change – A Door (We Want to Aviod)

Acts 6: 8-15

“We’ve heard that Jesus will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses handed on to us.”

These people felt threatened! They didn’t want the system to change. When we feel threatened, when life begins to shift for whatever reason we will go to any length to keep things the way they are. The folks in Jesus’ day resorted to murder – Jesus’ murder and that of many of his followers. We have a tendency to want to silence the prophets even in our own day.

We don’t like change. But we have a choice. In some situations, we don’t have to change. Someone may be forcing a change on us against our will that is unhealthy. In such a situation we have the perfect right to refuse to change. However, many situations of change might be good for us and those we love – but we go kicking and screaming! In such situations, can I see change as an opportunity instead of a dark, negative place?

A few years ago I broke up with my boyfriend. I loved him very much and I went kicking and screaming into this breakup. I didn’t want it. However, as my Momma used to say: “hindsight is 20/20!” Looking back, that break up was needed. That very difficult change in my life threw me into a tailspin – yet opened doors and places within me that were closed while I was with him. Something seemingly negative became the doorway to new life.

Are you in the midst of a change in your life? Can we see the silver lining in the cloud and the positive things that just might unfold as a result of it?


Transfigured Possibility

Do you like the person that you are?

I think most of us would answer yes to that question, in some ways; and no, in others.  All of us have things about ourselves that we’d like to change.  Some of us have huge things that we’d like to change.

Do you believe that change is possible?

The good news is, it is!  Probably the biggest thing that works against us actually changing is not believing that it can be done.  All of us have been there.  Again, I look back to my experience as a smoker.  When I smoked, I really was concerned about my health and in that sense, even though I really liked to smoke, I wanted to quit.  But I simply could NOT imagine myself going through a day without smoking.  For me, it was a matter of beginning to visual myself as free, breathing in fresh air, not coughing . . . and getting excited about it.

I see three steps to transfiguration:

1. Imagine yourself changed.  Imagine what your life will be like for you without this thing or behavior weighing you down. . . .and get excited about it!

2. Call on a Power greater than yourself to give you the power that you feel you don’t have to change.

3. Do what YOU can to cooperate with this Power.  Change a routine, get a meditation book, take a walk, meditate, have some fun – whatever helps in even slightly shifting your normal routine.

Probably the most important thing that I need to remember is this:  Don’t stop trying!  Not matter how many times I may fail, get up and keep trying again.  Each day is a new day and holds out the possibility of transfiguration!


Obama – Savior of the World?

Read this passage:  Mark 3: 7-12

Does is sound familiar to the events of a couple of days ago?  People come from many parts and from great distances because they have heard of this Jesus and all that he does and can do.  They press around him to hear him, get a glimpse of him and, if they’re lucky, to actually touch him.  It’s funny, it even seems like Jesus has his entourage, his “Secret Service” as it were, as he asks them to have a fishing boat ready for him so he could avoid the press of the crowd around him.  Sound familiar?

I certainly wish President Obama all the best in his administration.  And although a part of me hesitates at the amount of money spent on it during these hard economic times, his inauguration was indeed one of a kind, bringing together people of every race, background, lifestyle, economic bracket etc.   I hold out great, but realistic hope for what can be done, under his leadership.  I fear though that many look to him as the savior, the one who, single handedly, is going to lead the world out of its mire of economic woes, poverty and violence to the promised land.  I sincerely hope for that possibility, but I think it’s good for us to keep in mind the consistent message that we’re hearing from his administration:  it can’t be done alone.  We all must take responsibility and do our part to make things better.  If anything, he stands as a beackon, a light that is energizing many people to realize their OWN power and their possibility of making a concrete difference in the world.

In some ways I think Jesus did the same.  Did he “save” the world?  Was everything better after he died and rose?  No.  But what he did do is stand as a beackon, a light that pointed to what is possible for those who BELIEVE that they CAN be healed, that hungry masses CAN be fed and that new life CAN come from seemingly death dealing situations.

So what am I saying here?  Sometimes we have a tendency to look to someone to lead us out of our darkness.  We look to a savior to take us by the hand and give us everything that we want or need.  I truly believe that there is a Power that can carry us and do unimaginable things within us; but I also believe that we must cooperate with that Power and do what we can to take responsibility for our lives and those of others – leading from darkness to light and new possibility.

What within me or my world needs to be “saved?”  What action can I take to be a “savior” in those situations?


Leaving Home

Today is traditionally held to be the Feast of the Epiphany, on which the visit of the Magi is commemorated. We don’t know who they were or even how many there were. We don’t even know if they were Kings. One thing is sure though, they were seekers. And to seek, they had to leave home and travel a long way.

I think too of the Holy Family and their need to leave home for a long time and go to a foreign land because Herod was after them, killing all male babies. We read this as if it were a blip on the map of their existence, but I can only imagine the sojourn that must have been, before they felt safe to return to their homeland.

Sometimes in order to seek, to grow as people, we have to leave home, we have to leave that which is comfortable. Think of a budding relationship. So many of us who are single “seek” that; but in order to find it, we have to leave that which is comfortable and slowly take the risk of entering another’s life and space. Whatever we seek, sometimes we have to leave that which is comfortable in order to find it.

Sometimes, however, we are forced to leave home. I think of the many gay people who have been forced from their homes, their churches and their circle of friends simply because they come out as being gay. I think of those who have to leave home, jobs, friends because of the violence of war that surrounds them. I can only imagine how painful it would be.

Yet I have to believe that in every home leaving, there is a home finding, a discovery of a place called home that is deep within us and not dependent on external factors.

What do you seek? What “home leaving” do you need to do in order to find what you seek?


Holiday Blues? Get Outside Yourself.

For those of you who might feel a little down lately, know you’re not alone. Many people get down this time of year with all the hype, romance, and hustle that this season can be. As I wrote yesterday, I too have realized that I’ve been dealing with a lot of negative thinking and need to change my thoughts.

12 Step programs have a bit of wisdom to offer those of us who feel a bit down, who wallow in self pity, or who deal with a lot of negative thinking. Get out of yourself! Many times in 12 step meetings you will hear this bit of advise given. If you’re feeling down, wallowing in self pity or in stinking thinking – go help someone. Go help another addict, another person who is struggling in some way. Get out of yourself and just go help someone. This will make you feel better.

I did just that yesterday when I visited a woman in a nursing home, who I know is lonely. When I walked in the room her face literally lit up like a Christmas tree and she hugged me tightly. She was so happy that I had come to visit, if even for a little while. I don’t know who benfitted more though. All I know is that I felt a lot better having seen her.

Feeling some holiday blues? The prescription: Get out of yourself. Take it. You’ll feel better.


Wild Child!

“My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; . . . but what it yielded was wild grapes.”      See Isaiah 5: 1-7

Ever feel like you’ve got some wild grapes growing within you? Ever feel like there are some weeds among the wheat that are spouting up?

Lately, I have felt some wild grapes sprouting up, some weeds among the wheat. I have good intentions and then it seems my actions take me in a different direction. I know full well why the wild grapes are growing within. I have not been caring for the inner vineyard lately. I have been a bit lax in my spiritual practice, body care and my loving. I have been letting these things slip ever so slowly to the wayside. And then I wonder why I begin to feel off center, if not WAY off center!?

It is my spiritual practice, my body care and my loving that keep the inner vineyard that is my life healthy, strong and growing. Like a garden, if I don’t continually work at it, the weeds quickly begin to overtake it and the strength and beauty of the good plants begins to fade. I feel that my strength and beauty has faded of late. Sometimes I just need to force myself to do that which keeps me healthy. And when I do, I know that life will again begin to blossom, beauty will return.


I NEED A BOYFRIEND!

OK, I really don’t NEED a boyfriend (Although if there are any good guys out there, drop me a line!  :-)).  I woke up this morning and looked over at the other side of the bed, the empty side, and I immediately found myself thinking that I was missing something, and that if I just had “him” (whoever “he” might be) laying next to me and walking through life with me, then life would be good!  Gratefully, I quickly “woke up” and realized that I was beginning to feel badly due to some perceived lack, when the reality is, life is good right now in this moment!

Do you ever find yourself thinking or feeling that?  Ever find yourself thinking and yearning for this or that, whether it’s a boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, a house, a new apartment, new furniture, moving to a new place, being this or that kind of person, or in this or that kind of profession?  “If I just had that.  If I just had him.  If I just lived there.  If I just were a ______ (fill in the blank).  If I just didn’t suffer from _________.    If I just had a different job.  If I just had a different partner.  If I just had a day off . . .Then life would be good!”  And the list goes on.  Consciously or unconsciously most of us walk through our days with such thoughts running around in our heads.  And as a result we stay in a perpetual state of agitation and lack of fulfillment.

We are always bombarded with messages that say just that.  Listen to love songs, observe commercials, watch sitcoms and movies.  The message is usually:  “You lack this and you really need it.  Then you’ll live happily ever after!”  Look at shows like American Idol and the like.  People clamor after fame and this perceived “good life.”  When I get there, then life will be great!  Every day we are bombarded with images of beautiful people with seemingly perfect lives, or even spiritual “gurus” who make us believe that we too could have what they have and then we would be happy!  If we get to the day to day reality of these people’s lives we will find that their reality, their concerns, their struggles are much like ours.  Eckhart Tolle says that whether we have seemingly “arrived” or not, the world of form will ALWAYS disappoint.  If we place our happiness or our fulfillment on this person, place, thing or fame of some sort – and even if we place our spiritual fulfillment on some future happening or place we go to – we will be frustrated.  The key he says is accepting what is NOW and simply living the present moment.  Once we do so, we will find a peace and contentment that is true and NOT DEPENDENT on our external environment or having this or that.  Then, ironically, we will fully and freely (without clinging) enjoy the people, things or places that are around us.


Politics: Mind Your Own Business!

Today as I jogged I was listening to National Public Radio and to their coverage of the political campaigns. I found myself quickly getting all riled up! Then I round the corner back to my house and find that my neighbors, with whom I have a good relationship, have placed two very large political signs in their yard, recommending a Representative that I have little respect for. Again, I quickly found bad feeling rising to the surface toward my neighbors.

Today I am reminded of another key to freedom. Mind your own business! That is, instead of always thinking of the bad qualities of whatever person or people we don’t like, or with whom we disagree, keep the focus on you. What do YOU need to change? How do YOU need to act and what is the person that YOU want to become? What are the solutions that YOU can put forth? Think of how this might change the political landscape! If the focus wasn’t on the opponent, but on what they can do, perhaps more would get done. Imagine if a politician could actually speak in humility and admit that they’re not perfect (for after all who is?); and then place before people what they CAN do and what they have to offer – instead of smearing their opponent? When more time is spent smearing the opponent than on the issues at hand, vision gets clouded.

The same is true for any of us. When we are constantly concentrating on those who have hurt us, or those with whom we disagree, our vision gets clouded. Perhaps we simply need to keep the focus on our own growth and the solutions that we can put forth in our corner of the world, instead of wasting time and emotion on our opponents.

“Can a blind person act as a guide to a blind person? . . .Remove the plank from your own eye first; then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your (opponent’s) eye.”   See Luke 6: 39-42