I just finished reading a fascinating - and creepy as all heck - book by one of my favorite authors, Dean Koontz. The very short synopsis is that it's about a man who has held onto a past traumatic event, constantly worrying it, remembering, going over each moment as if he could change it in the present, driven by the past crisis even while marrying and raising a wonderful family.
In the process, and not until the very intense turning point, he realizes that by constantly re-living the event, he has recreated it in his current life.
Koontz is a master storyteller and has the talent for deep thought, and for creating huge "WOW" moments in his stories. Here's the WOW I took from the book: We miss the joys of the current moment, and we attract the trauma or sadness or mishap, every time we relive unhappiness in our past.
As you'd know by now, I'm a firm believer in Law of Attraction and have had miracles in my life from this mindset, so Koontz's moral doesn't come as anything new to me. But in the subtlety of the lesson throughout the whole book, I realized at the climax of the story that I'd missed this main point. Perhaps Koontz meant for that to be the case.
Only light can cast out darkness. And by focusing on light in this, the present moment, we let go of any darkness that tries to keep hold. I know this from my own life. Learn to let go of any darkness in your own past in whatever way is healthy for you, so that you can clearly see the light, right here in front of you.
If you don't know of the movie "Gaslight" with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, find it and watch it. It is a superb suspense film full of mood and character. The focus is on the gradual, deliberate manipulation of a wife by her husband, to convince the wife and anyone who knows her that she is delusional. One of the chief ways he does this is to dim the gas lights in the house but insist to the wife, when she wonders why the lights dimmed, that they did not and she's seeing things.
It is unfortunate that this scenario is too often played out in our "real world." The abused wife whose husband undermines everything she says and does. The boss who tries to convince his staff that he did not say or do what he really did say or do. The political or religious leader who convinces followers that they are powerless.
With ready access to tools for communication and for assistance, it is more important than ever to speak up when someone is being gaslighted. It's time to be aware of and never lose sight of our individual power. I have been powerless, and in the past gave up my power out of learned habit. But no longer. Whether in a personal, professional or political situation, remember who you are. Remind others of who they are - powerful, creative, talented individuals. Leave gaslighting to the movies!
Those who follow my work know that I come from a point of love rather than fear. This was not always the case as, like all of us, I evolved with time and experience. Many of my "followers" are heart-based, working in service capacities to support individuals and thus the world. But I've been noticing a strong trend since the political events of the past year, culminating in the election of a new President.
Many people who are heart-based and purport to come from a spiritual viewpoint have become so passionate about their opinions that they have begun to denigrate others for theirs. I have noticed an unfortunate trend in social media of confrontation, heated debate and ego. None of these things comes from love, but of fear. When you come from love, is there a need to be right? Is there a need to tell others why they are wrong? Of course not. No more in politics than in religion!
Non-violent communication is a concept developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD, which teaches that...
If “violent” means acting in ways that result in hurt or harm, then much of how we communicate--judging others, bullying, having racial [or political or religious] bias, blaming, finger pointing, discriminating, speaking without listening, criticizing others or ourselves, name-calling, reacting when angry, using political rhetoric, being defensive or judging who’s “good/bad” or what’s “right/wrong” with people--could indeed be called “violent communication.”
Therefore when you use social media as a podium from which to "instruct" those who have different viewpoints or opinions based on their own experience and what is TRUE for them, you are being violent. When you listen, however, and say "I understand how you feel. I respect that you feel that way. I have a different opinion" then is there really a need to debate? Is there really a need to instruct the other on what you perceive as facts? Acceptance comes from love, not fear. Acceptance of differences of any sort, with no need to judge, correct or instruct. Simply love.
I know this is the most honest and personal post I've ever written but it is the time to share in hope that my story may uplift someone else. This, you see, is a story about grief.
In the spring of this year, my closest and dearest friend, my sister-of-the-heart, died suddenly of a heart attack. We had been friends for nearly thirty years, half of my life, and we were far closer than either of us were with our blood family. For all the losses I've had, this was the most difficult I've ever faced.
And worse...tragically the morning after her death, her 43-year-old son took his own life. In one day, I lost two heart-family members. The pain was quite literally overwhelming - I basically shut down. I found myself revisiting those events over and over in disbelief.
My clients were lovely and understanding, however I still had to keep up with their needs, as well as my own. Dear friends were very supportive and helpful, but I couldn't be helpful to myself.
As the months went on, the intensity of the grief, as it always does, gradually eased and life largely went back to normal. However I recently had a strong realization (the one that prompted this writing) how subconsciously I have not been doing as "well" as I thought. My focus and attention to detail have suffered in my work. I've been forgetful and often lose my train of thought. My eating and sleeping habits have changed. I realize that this is normal and will continue to improve, however I still find it a bit disturbing.
The reason I am writing this story now is that I spent the last 15 years of Christmases with my friend and her son, and the intensity of grief has risen again. I am torn between wanting to be alone to feel what I feel, and yet to be part of something loving the way I was with my "family of the heart." I miss the love, the laughter, the goofiness, the generosity and abundance, the music, the coziness, the tradition. But I know that both of them are where they need to be, living in complete unconditional love.
And so, to allow healing, I allow the feelings to come up to release the energy. But I do not now dwell or focus on the tragedies of last April. I acknowledge the loss but I focus instead on the beauty of the season and all I am grateful for.
And so I share this story with you, hoping that anything I have said may help you or someone you know. Accept and honor the pain. Feel it. But just visit, don't live in it. Live instead in all the goodness around you, all that you still have, and above all, focus on love. That's what this season is supposed to be all about.
As my spirituality has developed and the more open I become, the more often I notice synchronicity and signs. And lately I've experienced signs leading to a major life change - here's my story!
This is the second time in recent years in which opportunities for major life change were provided to me - just dropped in my virtual lap. (Read about the first one here.)
After the passing of their mother, friends (Bill and Ellen) contacted me to ask if perhaps I might be interested in moving into their mother's house 2 counties away. I declined due to my life circumstances (job, activities, friends, a lease, etc.). Then one month ago, Bill called, asking again if I would reconsider. Now, I believe when something comes around to you a second time, you'd better pay attention, as the third time might be a spiritual *whack* upside the head! So, I paid attention, talked in detail to Bill, and told him I'd think about it. And let it go.
Over the next few days, I saw countless signs from Spirit that this home was a "setup" - Spirit saying "YOOHOO, this is for YOUUUUU!"
So I gleefully agreed (obviously) to move into my friends' house, with joy and gratitude!
So next step was what to do about the part time job - I needed something closer to the new home. That too was simply handed to me. A client informed me that an associate of hers needed an office manager. The business is very heart-based and serves a great need. I interviewed, it's a great match for both of us, and I will begin work before I move.
These events are still extraordinary to me, absolutely awe-inspiring and joy-making. I am not anything special and have no magical powers, but I do know how I want to feel. And when I focus on those feelings and the physical manifestations of those feelings, THAT's the sweet spot. Try it!
Those of us who live in "light" (i.e. love, understanding, one-ness) often find ourselves running into what I'd call "darkness," people who have forgotten that they too are light. (I wrote this story several years ago - a perfect example.) We can choose to confront the dark, or ignore it, or try to change it, or we can simply continue to shine.
I've been involved in a situation for a few years that has progressed (perhaps regressed) into one of increasing darkness, as those people involved are caught in ego, competition and hatred. I admit that it has been a challenge to deal with, as I'm very sensitive to energy and emotion, but it is a situation I have not been able to instantly change in my life. I recently realized that I have allowed this condition to influence my own peace of mind. Rather than simply shining, I withheld my light from those around me (who, if I am honest, might need light more than most) as I grumbled and resented and crabbed.
So, now that I realize that I have dipped a toe into the darkness, I choose to change my outlook. While I will not participate in these people's agendas, which would take me further out of my natural state, I will simply be myself, doing what I choose to do, and enjoying the warmth of the light.
The only thing that can counteract darkness is the light.
So now it's your turn - in what situations do you find yourself that could benefit from a change in perspective?
Now there's a provocative question, and one which has been argued for millennia. Can you have spirituality without religion, or vice versa?
My own feeling is that religion acts for some people as a framework for their spirituality, a pattern or structure. One is not dependent on the other - one can be spiritual without needing or wanting the framework. And one is not wrong and the other right.
I know deeply spiritual people who choose a very structured spirituality, with strictly observed rituals and often, dogma. And I know deeply religious people who do not require much of the structure, but enjoy the rituals associated with their chosen religion.
I often wonder about those who strictly follow a particular religion because it's "what they do." I used to work with a woman whose church was undergoing major upheaval in their doctrine. One day she told me that "now we believe this instead of that." I never understood that - she was told what to believe by an outside authority, rather than by her own relationship with the God of her choice.
In my own spiritual life, I am deeply spiritual, with a very deep relationship with my God and Spirit, with no interest in ritual or structure. I follow my own path, appreciating and understanding aspects of several faiths. I remember that same woman once questioning me about that, saying, "You can't just pick and choose what to believe." I beg to differ!
Whatever beliefs or tenets you follow, or you don't follow, I encourage you to think and explore for yourself, for what feels right to you. The God-In-You knows what is best for you.
When summer arrives, we all think of vacations, breaks from school and routine, and leisure. I was thinking about "breaks" this past week as I contemplated taking a few days for myself away from this work that I love. And that in turn got me thinking...
However you choose to take a break from routine, make it a special occasion that feeds you, mind, body and spirit, and really enjoy this summer.
Thanksgiving time allows us to consciously focus on what we most appreciate about our lives. We often think that being grateful means that we appreciate something, however there are subtle but distinct differences between the words “gratitude” and “appreciation.”
When you are thankful or grateful for something, you are reacting to something outside yourself, after it has appeared in your life. You may be grateful to have safe and warm housing, or thankful for a friend’s kind act. You are thankful for a positive experience.
Appreciation arises from gratitude. You can be grateful for something but not especially appreciate it. Appreciation more fully connects us with our soul – we CREATE the positive experience.
For example, think of your last meal. Were you grateful to have it? Thankful that you were able to purchase and prepare the food? Take it one step further. Did you fully appreciate the meal, in that moment? Did you savor the aroma, the colors and textures? Were you aware of yourself interacting with the meal in the moment of each bite – how it felt to eat? Now that's appreciation.
As another example, you might be grateful to have a fulfilling career. You give thanks to have the income, the associates, and the work. However, when you truly appreciate that career, you are fully present in each moment, consciously aware of your interactions, enjoying where you are and what you're doing.
Try this as an exercise to really experience the difference between these two concepts.
Stop right now and select something you enjoy having in your life – perhaps a nice view out the window. You’re probably grateful that your home is located where you can see those trees, the neighbor’s garden, and a quiet street. You’re glad that you can afford it.
Now turn to appreciation. Stop and really LOOK out that window. How many different colors are there to enjoy? What movement do you detect – are the trees swaying in the breeze? What do you most enjoy about the view itself? Appreciate the care the neighbor takes with his beautiful garden. Appreciate the birdsong.
Now, can you feel the difference?
Practice more appreciation in your daily life, and you will find much more to appreciate!
You probably know by now that I reinvented myself when a layoff in 2009 "forced" me to change my goals. You know when your GPS says "rerouting"? Well, that was me. And in the process of the journey I've met so many wonderful heart-based entrepreneurs who had the same issue.
Think about it - when you start out on a journey, you can set your GPS to your destination, but you won't get anywhere until the device determines your present location. And if you miss or ignore the instructions it gives you, you may end up in Poughkeepsie when you were aiming for Cleveland!
So I find it important to know my setpoints - where I am now and where I want to go. Once my spiritual GPS is set, I pay close attention while "driving" (living my life) so that I don't miss any of the "turn here" moments that Spirit provides me. That's when I've had the most success in my life and business. Co-creating with Spirit, with my goals and desires as the framework.
How do you negotiate life's turns? Are you good at following direction or do you sometimes decide to go another way? Comment below!