Thursday, June 30, 2011

Saving Yourself

"Once upon a time there was a very friendly princess who was captured by a big, grumpy, invisible wizard,
And he locked her in the tippy top of his tower...
Now this princess got very, very smart after years of thinking in the tower,
and it began to dawn on her that perhaps the invisible wizard wasn't even there.
So she approached the gigantic door that kept her locked into the tower
and she OPENED IT,
and tiptoed carefully down the stairs...
where low and behold she walked into a clearing in the woods and she was free!
And you'll never believe it, but there was an entire village
of forest animals and people dancing and singing.
They had been waiting for her all these years."

--The Roches,  Goodnight

Sometimes we feel angry or scared or that the whole world is against us and we don't even know why. When things don't seem to be going our way, it is easy to get trapped into thinking that someone or something is doing it to us. If only this person would stop picking on me...If only that person would go away...If only I had a better job, a better car, better hair...If only (fill in the blank here), I would be (pick one) happier, perfect, rich, okay, saved.

But what if I were to tell you that all those things that are keeping you stuck, all those people who are holding you back, all that baggage that is dragging you down--none of it really matters. No one, no thing, no situation controls you. No one, no thing, no situation is making you miserable. Guess who's really making you miserable?

Yep, you got it: You.

"But, but, but..." I hear you say.

No, it's really you. Trust me.

Now, I know you are not doing it to yourself on purpose. You don't mean to keep yourself stuck. I know you are doing the best you can with what you think you got right now. You think you need more to be happy and you could definitely make some positive changes in your life. Couldn't we all?

Yes and no. Everything you really need, you've had all along. You are golden, just the way you are. You don't need anything else to be happy. Not that you shouldn't feel free to develop and explore your interests. Don't stop striving for your dreams. What you need to know, however, is that there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. Know also that the Big Dream is not the be all and end all. It doesn't really matter if you make it or you don't. It's the journey along the way where all the fun is to be had.

You see, happiness is not for someday in the future when all your dreams come true. Happiness is right there inside you right now. You were born with it. It has always been there. And no one can take it away from you without your permission.

Remember Dorothy and her adventure to the Emerald City? Dorothy made some terrific friends along the way to meet the great and powerful Oz. But the wizard couldn't give her or her friends anything they didn't already have. In fact, it turned out, Dorothy had the means to get herself home to Kansas the whole time. Click, click, click.

And you have the means to get yourself home to happiness. You had it all the time.

Do I make it sound easy? That's because it is (unless there is something chemical or otherwise serious going on. In that case, it's helpful to explore your issues with an experienced doctor, psychologist or therapist). For your garden variety gripes and grouses, however, you may just need to look at your life a different way. I'm not a statistician, but I would say that 90% of life is showing up with the right attitude.  No matter what happens to you in your life--and oh, things will happen, it's true--you will have to deal. But it is the manner in which you deal with it that will make all the difference.

I myself have spent many a night trapped in the tower of my racing mind, unable to sleep, tossing and turning, worrying, agonizing, fretting about the future. I've spent days hiding from the world in my office, home or dorm room, not feeling like going out, angry at someone or some situation, fearful of my fate and I can tell you one thing about it:

It was a total waste of my time.

Well, maybe not a total waste. I guess I had to go through it so I could learn to set myself free by changing the channel of my mind; to learn that I can stop thinking about what is wrong and start thinking about what is right. I can count my blessings instead of my curses. And I've learned that my curses usually eventually turn out to be yet more blessings in disguise.

Now, maybe you might say that it is silly; that it's all just in my Pollyanna head. And, I would have to agree with you on that.  I've made up my mind see the best in everything and everyone. I've chosen to save myself by feeling love and compassion instead of fear and anger for the people and things that bother me. (Sometimes it is harder than others, but I'm practicing). What's more, I can choose to focus on the people and things that I easily love and enjoy: My family, my friends, my blessings.

I hold the key.

And so do you, despite whatever wicked witch or wizard may be dogging you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Remembering Who We Really Are

Sometimes we feel lost. We feel a dissonance, a malaise. We feel unsure, anxious, afraid of the future. When this happens, it is helpful to remember who we are. Of course, to remember who we are presupposes that we have actually forgotten who we are, and furthermore, that we knew who we were in the first place.

How about you? Can you tell me who you are?

Oh sure, you can tell me all kinds of things about yourself: Your name, your age, your occupation, where you were born, where you live, the names of your favorite team, singing group, television show or movie. I can see it all right there on your Facebook page. But in your heart of hearts, do you remember that perfect, beautiful life force that is you? Do you remember that you are a child of this Universe, innocent and pure and free? Do you remember that you are part of something greater than the trials and tribulations you experience out here in this seemingly harsh world? Have you forgotten that you are more than just a body going through motions in time and space?

Easy to forget, isn't it?

In Stephen King's, Dark Tower series of novels, when a character goes off course or does something kind of lame, the main character Roland or someone would say, "You have forgotten the face of your father." In other words, you have forgotten what you are made of and that you are a child of the Universe, a creation of God.

As hard as we may try to center ourselves and listen to that quiet, all knowing voice that says, "Be. Live. Fear not. Everything is the way it is supposed to be. Pay attention to the lesson.  Don't Panic!" What we often do is get lost in the hustle and bustle, rushing everywhere, doing, worrying, doubting ourselves, blaming others, being afraid. We forget to be patient with ourselves and the people we interact with. We forget to listen. We forget that we have a calling, a dream, a purpose. We get bogged down in the details of muddling through this life.

But it doesn't have to be that way. At least not all the time.

We can remember who we are and that no matter what anyone might say or do to us, we are deserving of peace, love and happiness. In fact, that is exactly what we are: Peace, love, happiness, light. We have been right here all the time. We have just forgotten.

We can't feel that inner peace unless we stop and remember who we are. No one can remember for us. It is up to each one of us to realize that we are not our job description, we are not grades on a report card, we are not whatever numbers we have in our financial portfolio.

What we need to do a little everyday is pause, and think. And remember.

Remember that we are perfect, lovable, forgivable souls--no matter what we have done or what mistakes we may have made. All living things are connected and holy and beautiful.  Our main purpose is to love each other and ourselves and to be happy. It doesn't always seem that way and it may take a lot of practice.  But, no matter what we need to do, no matter when the deadlines are or how many errands we need to run, we can take a moment and breathe and check in and be mindful that underneath it all, we are still that shining light. We are worthy human beings.

Think about that the next time someone annoys, irritates or angers you. Because the same goes for them. It's hard sometimes, I know. But if you remember who and what you truly are, it will be easier to have compassion and forgiveness for others. That is your blessing and your miracle and the answer to the real problem that is keeping you stuck.

So, don't forget.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Forgiveness is Healing: The Quest for Inner Peace

‎"Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions."

--Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, Psychiatrist and founder (together with his wife, Psychologist Diane Circincione) of the International Center for Attitudinal Healing (ICAH)

The other day, while I was looking for inspiration, I found the above quote of Dr. Gerald Jampolsky.  As a seeker of inner peace, this quote spoke to me. These words seem on their face pretty clear: Let go of hate and anger. Forgive others for any past wrongs, real or imagined, and feel calmer and more in control of your life.

So, I get letting go of the past.  But what does it mean to correct our misperceptions? Misperceptions of what? I decided to learn a little more about this Jerry Jampolsky felllow and his philosophies to see what I could use. This is what I found:

At his website,, Jerry and his wife Diane entitle their homepage: "Attitudinal Healing." That makes sense to me, too. Have the right attitude and it will help you heal. I've read enough self help books to know about all that. In fact, Jerry and Diane have apparently written several books of their over the past few decades with such titles as Change Your Mind, Change Your Life; Love is Letting Go of Fear;  Good-Bye to Guilt:  Releasing Fear Through Forgiveness; and Love is the Answer: Creating Positive Relationships.  These writings are originally inspired by and expound upon the famous A Course in Miracles self study spiritual program which also speaks of the concept of using forgiveness to correct our misperceptions. Dr. Jampolsky worked on a version of this course with the also-famous inner-peace guru, Maryanne Williamson.

Patricia Robinson, co-founder of the International Center for Attitudinal Healing describes it thus:

"In relationships...our ego mind says that we are being attacked.  The fact, however, is that there are no true realities, only perceptions... it is only our own perceptions that make us feel that we are being attacked.  We have the choice to fill up with the powerful love energy so that we are able to not even have to defend ourselves."

In other words, we can choose to decide that we are not under attack and let harsh words roll off our backs as we recognize that the people saying the words are really saying that they are unhappy or anxious or confused and that they need our compassion.   Think about it. When your child is angry that you have put him in a time out or taken away a favorite toy as a punishment, he might yell, "I HATE YOU! YOU ARE THE WORST MOTHER EVER!" Obviously, your child does not really hate you and you are not really the worst mother ever and it is easy to forgive this child for saying such words because we know that this is something that children sometimes say when they are frustrated or over-tired. It's not really about us, it's about them.

So then why can't we apply this concept to grown ups? I'm thinking Dr. Jerry is saying that we can. In fact, if you choose to, you can decide to not let anything anyone does to you offend you. At the very least, after you've rolled around in the pain of it for a while, you can just release it and let it go. It's a choice. And a very empowering one.

So then when we say that through forgiveness we correct our misperceptions, we are correcting the misperceptions that we have been attacked or harmed or sinned against. Because once we get to the place where we are OK with ourselves and everything that we are, we will perceive that the harm or attack or sin was just an expression of fear. It wasn't really about us, it doesn't really exist except in our minds. And we can choose peace instead of outrage or anger or fear on our own part.

There is also the concept that we have the misperceptions as humans that there is an "us" and a "them," that we are separate, competing entities, instead of one human family. When we forgive ourselves and others (even if they don't forgive us back), we get in touch with the God-like spark inside of us, of which we are all supposed to be a part. By forgiving another, we are actually forgiving ourselves. And when we forgive another, we are actually healing ourselves.

I think I need to learn some more about this. I'll let you know what I find out. I picked up my own copy of A Course in Miracles and have ordered the works of Jerry Jampolski and Maryanne Williamson from to supplement my summer reading.  I'm on my way to get me some more of that there inner peace. I'll try to bring you back a slice.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Making Your Own Luck

Ever notice how it's much more fun to give presents to people who really know how to receive? Whereas it's no fun at all to give to those who don't appreciate your generosity?  Don't you just love to be around the person who acknowledges your contributions? Doesn't it make you want to keep on doing your best for them? When my children or my husband thank me for any reason, my heart just melts and I want to do even more for them. 

However, if I go to the trouble to, say, make a special dinner, and all I get is complaints and a refusal to eat what is served. Guess what? Momma ain't gonna cook no more (well, at least until tomorrow night).

This is the other side of the coin. The person who doesn't appreciate you. The person who constantly finds fault with you. How much are you enjoying being around that person? I'd have to guess not very much. The person who does not graciously accept your gifts, either material, or of time and love, the person who criticizes and complains about everything not being good enough. You know what you want to give them, right? Bupkis. 

Now, I can't pretend to know how the Universe really works. I just have a hunch that maybe we all can create our own luck by being happy and grateful with what we already have. Hey, at least it's a start. Besides, sometimes when my kids ask me for more toys, for example. What's my reaction? "Well, I haven't seen you play with the toys you already have. Maybe if I felt you appreciated the things you have, I would be inclined to get you more." I know it's kind of a paradox. Need less, get more. Although this is probably a bad example because my son usually wears me down and we end up with a trip to Wal-mart for another pack of Pokemon cards anyway, and to even things out a Tiger Beat magazine with Justin Bieber all over the cover for my daughter. And then they are really thankful and huggy and saying how I am the best mommy in the world. OK, so they've got my number, don't they?

Regardless, when you stop to list all that you really have, don't you then realize that you have much more than you originally thought? What if when you fail to appreciate all the blessings in your life, the Universe actually says in return, "Oh yeah? So it's like that, is it? Well, fine, forgetaboutit." Now is God really going to give you the shaft for not being thankful? I seriously doubt it. But then again, I would suspect that those most generous with their prayers--especially for others--enjoy a bonanza of peace and love.

Expressing gratitude. What could it hurt? Even if it's not the case that being thankful for what you have gets you more, it sure is much more pleasant going through life as a happy, grateful person than going through life as someone who is never satisfied with anything. I know that I personally would rather hang around with the happy, grateful person than with the whining, complaining stick in the mud. Wouldn't you?

So create some luck for yourself today. Take stock of what you have going on for yourself. Smile and express your gratitude any way you can. I'm willing to bet that even if you don't get more, you'll feel like you have a lot more. Your heart will fill with joy. Your cup will runneth over. And it won't even cost you a dime.