I Was Accused of Joining a Militant Hate Group

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I am glad that I decided to start this series this week. I had no idea that I would have new experiences that fit this very topic. As a result, I would like to share a very interesting interaction that I experienced just this past Monday.

Unfortunately, I had to block someone on Facebook late last week due to toxic behavior. It had escalated to the point where it was constant. I realized that I was beginning to dread it when I would receive notification that this person had sent me a private message. My chest would feel tight, my heart rate seemed to increase. I had basically begun to feel anxious at the thought of reading messages from this person.

The messages most often seemed to contain anger and accusations simply because I disagreed with them on several viewpoints. The unsuccessful attempts to sway me in their own way(s) of thinking seemed to only increase their anger. I was honest with this person when I blocked them and explained my reasons. It seemed to be received better than I expected it would but the message delivery method switched to text messaging. In the latest string, I have been accused of being a member of a militant group; a group I knew nothing about until this accusation (simply because I live in the city where a recent demonstration took place). I am now torn as to whether or not I may need to separate myself completely from this person, at least for a while but, that's another story.

This person seems to be unwilling to accept the fact that I refuse to allow myself to be defined by society, or that I refuse to allow myself to be placed into a "box" of some kind. To them, it is one side or the other. To be anything different or to refuse to choose is simply not acceptable. 

While it is true that we are all One in Source, in this great expanse of Universe, we are also unique. We are unique in such a way that we all have special gifts to share. Don't worry about it right this moment if you find yourself questioning exactly what your gift is as your read this. (We can work on that later because trust me when I tell you that you do have a gift!) We are all here to express in our own unique way(s). We aren't here to fit into a box simply because society tells us that we should. 

You may also feel (or have felt) pressure to conform into something that you are not. It can be difficult to stay the course when this happens. It can be difficult to not relent to those societal pressures but it doesn't mean that you must. 

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to allow our own expressions, our own unique gifts to shine through. Our authenticity, the core of who we are is a gift in and of itself. 

I invite you to make just one promise to me this week, and that is to allow your light to shine; your own individual, unique light. You owe it to yourself. 

Who ARE You?

twins.pngPhoto by Parker Whitson on Unsplash

Well, not exactly. I invite you to step into my office for a moment and allow me to further explain...

You meet a new person (NP) and it goes something like this:

NP: Hi, I'm Mike. It's nice to meet you. How are you?

You: Hi, Mike. I'm Mary. It's nice to meet you as well. How are you?

NP: I'm great! So what do you do, Mary?

You: I'm great also. Thank you for asking, Mike. I am a teacher.

It just goes from there. Mary is now describing herself as a teacher and Mike will likely also describe himself by whatever he does to earn money. While these things are indeed a part of us, they describe more of what it is we do rather than what or who we are.

Let me ask this...if Mary were to switch careers 10 years from now to become an electrician never to touch numbers again, would she still be an accountant? I once met a woman who left her career as a lawyer to become a writer. In other words, those things we do for work are not set in stone. (Some of us do enter into this world with gifts and those things we seem destined to do but, it's still not who we are at our core.) 

I invite you to do something today. Think about it for a moment and post below. How would you describe yourself if I was to ask you who you are. The challenge? Don't use your job title. For instance, I AM a Divine Light. Your turn! Post below in our "Comments" section!

NOTE: This is Part One of our "Imagine" series. Click here (if you are not already currently receiving our articles) to join us for our entire series!

Imagine a World Where We Are All Exactly Alike

"Them" versus "Us" or "Us" versus "Them". I'm not quite certain that I will ever understand it. There is no "Them". There is only "Us". We most certainly all have our own opinions and beliefs. Why wouldn't or shouldn't we?

Can you imagine how the world would be if we all agreed on every single thing? Imagine if we all chose blue as our favorite color. Imagine if we all favored Italian food. Imagine if we all favored the same style of pants. Imagine if we all enjoyed the same movie, book, or flavors of coffee. Imagine if we were all passionate about the same issues. 

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I'm thinking the world would be a pretty bland place. I'm thinking that not much would ever be accomplished. I'm thinking that we would seldom ever truly learn. 

Our differences are what make us beautiful. Imagine a beautiful field of flowers for instance. Imagine that the flowers are all a beautiful purple. They are rich, velvety and a dark shade of purple. Now, however imagine that red flowers begin to grow among the purple. Suddenly, yellow flowers also begin to appear. The field becomes more beautiful due to the distinct, different colors that appear. 

I attended a youth camp just this last weekend. During the camp, we began to chant the rolling, "OM". The sound was amazingly beautiful. Part of the beauty was the different pitches of each voice. While they all came together as one, they were also different and distinct, each adding its own unique sound. 

Imagine a world where we are all exactly alike? No thanks. I'll take different and unique any day! 

This Free Activity Will Help Your Life

I saw a shirt the other day that said, "Just Breathe" and much like the Nike slogan of, "Just Do It", I realized the simplicity of that suggestion. (Although let's be honest, Nike's is much more difficult if like me, you feel somewhat out of shape right now.) 

All of us tend to "just breathe" without giving it much thought. It's automatic and it provides life but, most of us probably don't really think about doing it with actual intent. If so, there wouldn't be apps, shirts, meditations, and anything else that feels the need to remind us of this activity. 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret here; a little secret that can reap HUGE rewards. Lean closer. A little closer. Okay, are you ready? IT WORKS! (I hope you enjoyed the little build-up I threw in there.)

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All jokes aside, I am being truthful when I tell you that it does work. It's also low cost (FREE!), requires no special equipment and can really be done anywhere at any time. I'm not even talking full-blown meditation here. I am simply talking about breathing. 

Other people around you at the time don't even necessarily have to know that you are doing it. I personally like to kind of sit back, close my eyes, and focus but, you don't have to do those things. It can be as simple as taking a deep breathe, counting to three, pausing for a count of three, and then gently releasing for a count of three. I suggest (and it may be different for you), doing this for a full three to five breaths. The best thing about this activity, is that there are no rules. You simply do whatever works best for you as long as you do it!

Another secret (and no, I won't make you lean closer) is that it is something you can start today, right here, right now. 

Just breathe!

The Teachings of Jesus Do Not Matter

The teachings of Jesus don't really matter, do they? It certainly does sometimes seem that way lately, doesn't it? Fortunately, we don't all feel that way. Fortunately, I choose to think that a vast majority of Christians still believe that yes, the teachings of Jesus do matter.

We sang, "America the Beautiful" at church this past Sunday. It is a July the 4th tradition at church, however, we sang it with conviction this year. There were tears streaming down faces, glimpses of hope, obvious feelings of despair, and people holding hands. 

Many of us probably don't realize this (I didn't until a recent search about the history) but, "America the Beautiful" was originally written as a poem in 1893. It was changed a bit in 1904 and then again in 1911 (which happens to be the version we sing today). 

It's a shame that we often do not sing beyond the first verse because if we did, we'd make a realization. Although the wording has changed slightly with the different versions, one thing remains the same:

"O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!"

According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions for the word, "pilgrim" is what most of us think of when we think of pilgrims, "English colonists settling at Plymouth in 1620". Allow me to now point out the obvious. An "English colonist" would be from England. In other words, that very colonist would have migrated here from England and been a (yes, you guessed it), immigrant. I don't know about you but, I've traced my lineage. I often refer to myself as a mutt (in a loving manner) because I contain English, Irish, and German blood in my veins however one thing remains true. Every ancestor of mine immigrated to this country. Each and every one.  

 Photo by  Nina Strehl  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

The Bible is loaded (and I do mean loaded) with verses about immigrants and how we are to treat them. These verses are contained in both the Old and the New Testaments (click here for a preview). Then, of course, we have the commands from Jesus ordering us to love our neighbors and to love each other. 

Yet, it seems as if a blind eye or deaf ear is turned toward these teachings. One verse that I have seen used over and over in support of anti-immigration is about the law; most often Romans 13:1-7. So let me get this straight. This one verse, about law no less, overrides everything else? Remember that song, "Things that Make You Go Hmmm" by C&C Music Factory? This is truly one of those things that make me go, "hmmm" because I'm sitting here scratching my head in a state of puzzlement. 

Let's first take into account that this was law. This was something that, according to the scripture, was set by "governing authorities". According to the State of Texas (I would imagine that most have similar definitions), a "governing authority" is defined as:

"A person or group of persons who are entitled to manage and direct the affairs of an entity under this code and the governing documents of the entity, except that if the governing documents of the entity or this code divide the authority to manage and direct the affairs of the entity among different persons or groups of persons according to different matters, "governing authority" means the person or group of persons entitled to manage and direct the affairs of the entity with respect to a matter under the governing documents of the entity or this code."

You may notice that the words, "person or group of persons" is bolded. That was intentional on my part. Why? Laws set forth by people sometimes contain certain prejudices or biases, don't they? For instance, slavery was approved and enforced by "governing authorities" but that didn't make it right. Let's also take into account (and I hate to point out the obvious) that these verses in Romans don't mention one word about immigrants yet, I have noticed it plastered all over the internet by those who appear to be extremely unwelcoming to our brothers and sisters from other countries.  

(Let me now pause here to ask if you are beginning to understand where I'm going with this.)

Governing authorities have also reached beyond slavery. Governing authorities ordered the imprisonment and executions of millions of Jews. Governing authorities ordered the internment of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans. I'm not anti-law. I do believe that laws are important and that most of them should be followed but I'm also able to see how certain laws can have devastating effects, especially when they are cruelly enacted against other people due to biases and prejudices. 

Immigration and how we treat immigrants isn't a political issue. It is very much a human issue. It is in fact, a moral issue. The words of Jesus could not have been any clearer. 

The Day I Stopped Believing in God

I have a confession. I didn’t actually stop believing in God. Rather, I stopped believing in the God I was taught to believe in. I stopped believing in the God that people told me to believe in. Instead, I began to believe in the God that my soul so graciously led me to. I began to believe in the God of love, peace, and beauty. I must also add that this didn’t happen overnight. It has been a process; a process of occasional fear but more importantly, a process of redemption, freedom, and joy. That process will be available in my book. No, it’s not for sale yet as it is still being written. As a result, my post below does not delve into the details of my own journey however it does capture some of my thoughts that ultimately led me to that journey.

I recently ordered and received a copy of, “Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith” by Benjamin L. Corey. (No, I don’t receive any “kickbacks” for book sales; I’m seriously just enjoying the book!) It’s almost as if I could have written the book myself and slightly mirrors my own in-progress book.

Like so many others, I suppose that I have been in a mourning of sorts. I haven’t lost a loved one recently; it’s more of a mourning of the ways in which some versions of Christianity have been twisted. In fact, it’s been twisted so much so that I barely recognize it anymore. Or maybe it’s always been this way yet, I failed or refused to see the signs. I’ve begun to witness the severity of fear and the destruction it can bring. It’s almost as this fear somehow permeates into the very soul, creating a binder that makes it difficult for some to be able to seemingly grasp the whole picture.

As a child, I was often taught that the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) was primarily a book of laws. It really laid down the law and told of a very angry, jealous God; one who would gladly punish people at the drop of a hat. In fact, it seemed as if this angry deity wanted to punish people and was constantly seeking out ways in which to do so. It told of how it was okay to stone people to death, that we weren’t supposed to wear clothing of mixed fibers, forbidden to eat the fruit off of trees that hadn’t reached a certain age and on and on (most definitely things that most of us don’t practice in this present day). My Sunday school teacher warned about how those of other faiths were going straight to hell upon death. From the standpoint of a child during that time, I felt as if the world was a pretty bad place and that God was anything but loving.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Yet, this contradiction remained; the contradiction of Jesus. Fast forward to the New Testament and we’re told of this guy who comes along telling a completely different story and of what seemed to be a completely different God. Talk about a mind-altering whirlwind and a huge paradox. The words and teachings of Jesus completely contradict the angry God that was portrayed in the OT. I began to wonder which was right. Was God indeed the angry God of the OT or was it the God that Jesus spoke of? Traditional Christianity most often teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh. Based on that knowledge, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the words of Jesus supersede the cruel God of the OT? Are you also now beginning to see the confusion?

I’m not here to kid you. This topic is huge and could take days to discuss. For brevity sake, I’m going to skip right to it. My days within the traditional church taught me that Jesus entered the picture to not only teach us a better way but, to die for our sins. He also mentioned the command to “love one another” many times. I must also mention here that God promised to never again be the angry God that it (God was neither male nor female) was in the OT (click here and here for two examples). So why in the world would God expect for us to show hate and judgment to our fellow human beings? Jesus mentioned multiple times about how we should help the poor, the needy, the sick, etc. He didn’t say to do so only when we felt like it. It was a command.

I have often found myself in discussion with people who seem to use the Bible as a weapon of hate yet for reasons unknown to me, it is either often ignored or met with some kind of rebuttal scripture from the OT.

Enter the grand paradox again because isn’t Christianity based on Jesus and on the belief that he was indeed the Messiah? Seems to me that the teachings of such a person would supersede all else.

Allow me to jump ahead once more and ask the question I am begging to ask. Allow me to ask the question that this entire article has been leading me to ask. Let me also state that I ask this question to those who twist scripture in such a way that it makes it okay to hate fellow human beings who just happen to be born in countries outside of the United States, to hate those with a different color of skin, different religion, different gender (the list could very well be endless).

That question is, do you want to embody the teachings of Jesus, or not?

Also published on Medium.com

Want More Happiness? Do This One Thing!

Long time, no see. I know I have needed to jump back onto the bandwagon. I also know that I owe you a continuation of my last article. It's extremely cruel to leave people hanging over the edge of a cliff without a rope. I ask you to bear with me for a moment however.

Graduation has come and gone. I thought that I would initially feel differently when I returned but I did not, at least not at first. My arrival was met with people asking me how it felt to officially be a minister. I began to tell them that it hadn't officially sunk in because it hadn't. I returned home to an extra day off of work. That day was met with some rest and relaxation. The following day was met with me walking back into the office. The few people there that know about my journey asked me how the graduation was. We chatted about the experience and then fell back into the job and the things that needed to be done. First, I had to pour through my work inbox and respond to probably about 25 out of the 157 messages that sat there. Next, I had meetings to attend; meetings talking about how we, as a company, had met our financial quotas and goals. While I'm happy for the company and the many, many people who work there, I found that my mind was on other things. I also found that although I was there physically, I was far away mentally (and spiritually).

As a New Thought minister, I have studied extensively about living in the present moment. I do believe in that with all of my being. I believe that the ability to simply bask in the present moment is a major key to happiness but, I also realize that this spiritual path isn't always an easy one. I realize that this too, is a part of my journey and that leaving the graduation festivities and returning home would force me back into my office environment, at least for a little bit longer. 

My personal inbox explodes everyday with sound advice on how to leave the office environment (or any environment or situation that makes one unhappy) and to never look back. I used to think that the people who provided such advice, that people who had actually accomplished this were somehow better than I. Perhaps they had something I did not. What that was exactly, I did not know but, they had to have something that I did not. I eventually realized that this was simply not true. The truth is, is that I am one of those people. I have the power to do anything that I desire and so do you. 

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For some unknown reason, many times we tend to just kind of give in to the circumstances of our lives. We somehow fall into the false notion that certain things are happening and that those things are beyond our control. We somehow believe that perhaps it's just maybe the "way things are" or "the way life goes". We believe that this or that is happening to us and that we must simply succumb to it or that we must pick ourselves up by our "bootstraps" or to "suck it up buttercup". This is that false notion that life is happening to us rather than from us. 

It's important to remember that any of us can fall into this false way of thinking at any moment. This provides a rather important example as to why we must stay ever vigilant of our thoughts.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The spiritual path isn't always an easy one. It's not something to be dabbled in as a hobby. It's not something that we walk occasionally when the mood strikes. It requires vigilance and awareness. It requires the need to constantly remember who you are and the power you have within.  

You aren't a helpless victim that must succumb to whatever life throws your way. It's been very difficult for me after graduation and yes, it did finally sink in. I stood in front of a congregation as a guest speaker last Sunday. It was my first official talk as a minister and it did sink in during that moment. It was very difficult for me to muster up the “gumption” to walk into my corporate office the morning after that talk however I now do this with a new awareness. I am one of those people who realizes my truth. I am a powerful force. I am no longer that helpless victim who must succumb to the fact that I sit at an office every day, while only a fortunate few are out living their dreams. No, I am one of those people. I may still be in an office for now but, I am well on my way. I am well on my way to making my dreams come true and to living the life I have always dreamed of living. 

So are you. If only you will allow it to be. And in the meantime? I'll be right here in the bleachers cheering for you and waiting for you to join me over the finish line. 

The Secret to Staying Excited in Life

I wasn't going to write this week. I was going to skip this blog post altogether. Shame on me, but wait. I do have good reason. That reason is a reason that some of you also share....GRADUATION! I (we) are graduating on Monday. Some of us as licensed ministers (with ordination next year) and some of us with ordination. It's a time for joy and a time to just bask in happiness, achievement and a job well-done.

These exciting times tend to happen a lot in life. Something we've dreamed about for a long time finally comes to fruition. Something we have worked very hard for finally becomes reality. Something that was once a dream is now tangible. When this happens, we feel excitement. We feel as if we are literally walking on air. We walk with our heads held high, our chests puffed out in front of us, swaggering down the street but then, then we allow that excitement to fade. We achieve that sought-after desire, enjoy the moment, and then simply allow the feeling of that moment to fade. 

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It's almost like an emotional roller coaster, isn't it? Wouldn't it be great if we could simply bottle it up and keep it with us; to pull that bottle out at any moment and sprinkle ourselves with some kind of excitement cologne? Well, the good news is that you can. Yes, you can! Okay, maybe not in the form of cologne but, you can bring that excitement back into your life at any moment. 

I'm going to do something cruel here....very, very cruel. I am going to leave you with a cliff hanger. Join me next week to find out exactly how to keep that excitement! You won't be disappointed.

The Hidden Secret on How Not to Give Up

In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King stated, “By the time I was 14, the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.” In fact, he received over 60 rejection letters before selling his first short story, The Glass Floor. This did not stop him from writing however. You may find yourself in a similar situation; a situation where you feel like giving up all because someone else is telling you that it’s time. My advice to you? Don’t.   

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I recently read an article that was titled, “When it’s Okay to Quit Your Job for Another One”. Seems like it might very well be an article stuffed full of good advice, doesn’t it? In fact, the title was a real attention grabber. I mean, I took the bait and I opened it. I even read it and I will say that yes, it did contain a lot of great advice but, let’s take another look. This article is telling me when it’s okay to quit my job and to find another one according to someone else and his/her own experience. While I may be able to glean some good advice from the experience of this person, their experience is not my own.

In actuality, I don’t need an article or anyone else really to tell me when it’s okay for me to find another job. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that such a decision is mine and mine alone? Or wouldn’t it also stand to reason that it’s okay any time I feel that it’s okay? Maybe I’m sounding a bit “preachy” here but you get the gist.  

I think that far too often, we let this kind of mentality rule our lives. We wait until someone else gives us permission or until society tells us that it’s okay. Why do we do this? We know what we want and need yet, it’s almost as if we don’t trust ourselves enough to let us know when it’s time or that it’s okay. We don’t trust ourselves to be our own guide.

Maybe I’m so passionate about this because this is how I lived my life for far too long. I was always seeking the approval of someone else before I’d move forward with something that I wanted to do. All it would take was for one person to tell me that it wasn’t a good idea and I’d let the dream go. I was told that it was not a good idea to leave that soul crushing desk job that I held onto much longer than I should have. I was told that I should be lucky that I had a job at all. In fact, I was told that I should be grateful for that job. Whether or not I was happy really didn’t factor in at all.  I was told that it wasn’t okay to move around to new places, to not wear my hair a certain way, to wear this or that…the list was truly endless. I’m sure that most of you can relate.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret here. You do not have to wait until someone tells you that it’s okay. You don’t need that approval from anyone other than yourself. You know when the time is right to do something. You know because you already have all of the answers that you need inside of you. When you really take the time to just be still and listen, you’ll find answers to all of the questions that you have right there inside of you. Someone else’s timeline for you isn’t what’s important because that is their story and not yours.

You don’t need anyone else’s approval. All you need is your own.

How to Make the Right Decision. Right Now!

You know how to make the right (note that there is really no such thing as a wrong decision) decision and you don't really need me to tell you that. It's ingrained within you right this very minute but, I will remind you. You take that first step. It's often been said that the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

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I knew something had to change. Exactly what that "something" was, was still beyond me at that point. I would wake each morning, feeling as if I had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the path. That turn seemed to grow perpetually smaller until eventually, it had come to a dead end.

I looked to my right and saw a similar path yet, it felt too similar and in fact, I realized that it appeared almost identical to the path I had taken before. It had its differences of course yet, it was comfortable, easy and not in the least bit challenging.

I looked to the left and saw something similar. Again, it offered comfort and familiarity.

I looked back, realizing that to go back would be completely fruitless. It would be as if I had completed this journey for naught. Yes, it offered comfort but comfort was something I could no longer seek. I looked ahead and stared at what seemed to be dead end, into the thick brush. I could not see beyond that which was directly in front of me. I saw areas covered by shadows but I knew that I could use my light to find my way. No, I did not know where that seemingly nonexistent path led. I knew not where it ended but I knew, somehow I simply knew that it was mine to take. I knew that it was mine to blaze. I knew it might be tough and uncertain at times, or that it might contain thorns but I knew that it was time. It was time to become comfortable within the uncomfortable. I turned forward and slowly, ever so slowly, I began to take that first step.....

It is now your turn. Which path are you going to take?

My Lunchbox Was the Coolest. Really!

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I had a Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox when I was in the 4th grade. What I had really wanted however was the Pac-Man lunchbox. Everyone that was anyone had the Pac-Man lunchbox. I began to beg my parents for my very own. Tired of hearing my pathetic pleas, my father grabs his wallet one evening and heads out of the house. He tells me that he will soon arrive with two Pac-Man lunchboxes (one for my sister as well). I began to grow excited. I was going to be the talk of the school the next day. I would finally earn the honor of being able to sit at the table with all of the "cool kids". I began to imagine how it would be to remove my sandwich from that metal box decorated with tiny Pac-Mans. 

I would assume that you probably realize by now however that my father was not successful on his mission of bringing home a Pac-Man lunchbox. My father visited no less than three stores only to find that each and every one of them was sold out of that beautiful Pac-Man lunchbox. You see, every single kid in town seemingly had the same dream of walking through those school doors with that Pac-Man lunchbox. As soon as my father realized this, he began to think about how much I enjoyed watching the Dukes of Hazzard on Friday nights so yeah, you guessed it. I got a Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox instead. A thermos decorated with Daisy, Bo, and Luke held my soup the next day. I suppose it could have been worse however. My sister walked through those doors with a Sesame Street lunchbox. Speaking of which, I wonder if she remembers that?

Oops. Hello there, my dear reader. As you have probably realized, I became a bit excited thinking about that Pac-Man lunchbox and in that excitement, I've completely strayed away from the point I wanted to make, and that point is *drum roll*.....Translation Love has a school!

Know what the best part is? You don't even need a Pac-Man lunchbox to be one of the cool kids (However if you have one you'd like to get rid of, I will gladly take it off your hands! I saw one on eBay going for $245!). 

We have officially kicked off our first online class and want to provide our email list members the first glance, so bring your Dukes of Hazzard, Sesame Street, Pac-Man, and any other lunchbox and let's get started!

Check us out!

 

I Left Corporate America and This is What Happened.....

Okay so, if you know me personally, you will know that I have not yet quite left Corporate America however I do believe in the power of manifestation. This is mine.....

If you have read any of my previous articles, you will know that I was miserable. Remember those old Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler commercials? The fictional Ed Jaymes was portrayed by Dick Maugg and although he’s probably best remembered as sitting there “stone faced”, I always felt he looked somewhat miserable. To make a long story short, I pictured my face looking a bit like his did most of the time. Or perhaps even a bit like the character Max Goldman, portrayed by Walter Matthau in the movie, Grumpy Old Men. I’m sure you get the picture by now. In fact, lines actually began to etch in my face, right between my eyebrows in a pattern of perpetual grumpiness or dissatisfaction.  I knew it was becoming noticeable because one day one of my friends reached over and moved her finger over them in an attempt to make them disappear. I began to think…was I really that miserable? Yes, I was.

Now before we delve too much into this, I should mention something. Although I didn’t realize it at first, I did later come to know that I remained in this situation for far too long even though I could have changed it. I mean, we all have the power to change a situation we don’t want to be in, even though it may require sacrifices we don’t want to make. There were sacrifices I didn’t want to make. I didn’t want to make the sacrifice of stepping into the unknown and for a while, didn’t want to make the sacrifice of making less money (that eventually did go away because no amount of money in the world could have held me back). So I did it. I spread those wings as large as they would go, took that leap and flew but, what happened after I flew? Was it smooth sailing the rest of the way? I mean, my feet had to hit the ground again sometime.

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I made a revelation. First, my head was spinning. I mean, I had just left everything I had ever known and of course I did feel a certain fear. What if it wasn’t my job situation that was making me unhappy? What if it was somehow just me? Well, that turned out to be true in both ways. It was me and it was my job. I had to acknowledge the part that I had played in the whole scheme without blaming myself if that makes any sense. Although I should have left long before, I did what I thought was best at the time and that’s really all we can ever ask of ourselves. Don’t blame yourself for things you feel were mistakes in your life. Look back and ask yourself if a) you did the best you could with what you had at that time and b) what did you learn from it?

I had to create a new story.  We all have our stories. We all have that thing that we use to define ourselves, that thing we tell others when they ask us how we are, etc. That story may or may not be a happy one but we’ve all got it. Sometimes we become so entrenched within that story that we are hesitant to let it go, even if it fails to bring us joy because then, then what do we tell people? We become exposed without that story to hide behind. If you are reading this, chances are high that you have become accustomed to your own story. It’s comfortable and it provides fodder and excuse for keeping you where you are in life. Here’s a small exercise to help you to know what your story is. Fill in the blanks of this sentence…. “I can’t leave <insert unhappy situation here> because….”. Now ask yourselves how many times you’ve stated that sentence or something very similar to it. That is your story. Now it’s time to change it.

I found an entirely new world waiting for me. It’s your turn.

Pssst. I Have a Secret.....

For Kyle Maynard, life is good. You see, Kyle began to realize his greatness from a really early age. By the age of 26, he had been a champion wrestler in high school, having won 36 varsity wrestling matches during his senior year alone. He fought and lasted a full three round MMA fight and climbed the nearly 20,000 foot Mount Kilimanjaro.

While we’re on the subject, I feel that it’s important to note that Kyle Maynard is only 3 feet, 8 inches tall and due to a birth defect, was born with no arms or legs.  When Kyle first began wrestling in high school, people laughed. They told him he’d never be able to do it. Some even refused to get onto the mat with him. They’d look at Kyle and only see a small guy with no arms or legs. What they didn’t see, was the fire that burned within him. That passion, that desire. So yeah, life was and still is indeed good for Kyle Maynard.

Most of us have heard the proclamation of, “life is good”. In fact, I believe there is a brand of clothing that uses the “Life is good” slogan, serving as a visible reminder that life is indeed good (who doesn’t like an amazingly soft article of clothing?).

When exactly however, do we find life to be good? Is it when things are going exactly the way we desire them to go? Is it when we’ve won the lottery or been handed that big promotion we’ve worked so hard for? Is it when we finally drive that new, much coveted sports car off the lot? What about the instances when life doesn’t seem to be going so well? What about when that lump turns out to be cancerous or we just found out we’ve been laid off from a job? Can we use the “life is good” slogan during those times and others like them?

First, I want to note that I’m not attempting to diminish anyone’s pain. I’m not here to say that a cancer diagnosis, job loss or anything else that makes us feel pain doesn’t just flat out suck. I’m not going to say that it’s not okay to feel pain or sadness because it is but, does it mean that life is not good? Does that mean that we are somehow destined to live a life of pure misery from that painful moment forward, perhaps perpetually changing the slogan to “Life is terrible”?

I’ve also heard the term, “God is good” when things are going peachy but, does it mean that God isn’t good when things go haywire? So tell me, are you beginning to see the logic here?

You see, life, in its own twisted way, forces us to learn. It’s almost like walking into school on the first day, only to find that your English teacher has decided to assign everyone’s seating. Sure enough, you find that you just happen to have been assigned a desk in the front row, directly in front of the lecture podium. As class goes on, you find that your teacher calls on you if your attention wanders even the smallest iota. You quickly find that she’s almost forcing you to learn everything that she’s teaching.

Too often, we find ourselves in the midst of a painful experience and begin to wonder just where it was we must have gone wrong but, allow me challenge you with a question. Would we truly learn if life was always blissful? While my parents certainly warned me to not place my hand on a hot stove, I also learned through the “School of Hard Knocks”. For some reason, a curiosity remained. They told me I’d likely experience pain but, the brilliant orange of the burner was just too much to resist. How could something that radiant cause pain? Yeah, you can guess what I did. Next thing I knew, I was running through the house in tears. Do you think I ever touched it again? You get the gist.

While this example may not equate to a pain that may seem insurmountable in the moment, it is precisely when things seem the most challenging that we are being called to pay attention. What is there to learn within that moment? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it is always going to be easy because it won’t be. There will be times when you’ll wonder where you must have strayed off the path. There will be times where you feel like giving up or as if things will never get better.

This is where nonresistance enters the picture. Nonresistance will begin to provide you what you need to move through it, rather than around it, therefore avoiding it.

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now said, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen.” We can certainly choose to resist whatever it is that’s painful in our lives. We can certainly choose to move around it at any time but, it may very likely reappear within our lives again at a later date. Placing medication all around a wound isn’t likely to heal that wound. Placing the medication directly on it, no matter how much it burns, will.

So how exactly do we practice nonresistance, especially when something feels almost overwhelmingly painful? The first step is to remain calm and to just breathe. I know that sometimes the pain can feel very overwhelming. It can give you that “catch” in your breath, making it feel as if even the mere act of breathing is almost impossible.

Imagine sitting in traffic if you will. Now, imagine sitting in traffic when you are already running late for an important appointment. You can yell at the car in front of you, you can curse at the driver sitting next to you or, you can simply remain calm and breathe. You have the choice within that moment to practice nonresistance. You see, resisting the traffic isn’t likely to change the fact that you are sitting within it. Once you begin to breathe and to remain calm however, you may even begin to notice things you may not have not otherwise noticed. Maybe you would have missed that great new restaurant you’re sitting in front of or a smile from the person in the car next to you.

So now it’s time I throw down the gauntlet. This is my challenge to you. Next time you find yourself thinking that maybe no, life’s not so good, stop whatever it is you are doing and close your eyes (Please do this exercise with your eyes open if you are sitting in traffic!).

Take two to three deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you feel your body begin to relax, start to count each breathe. Do this for as long as it takes until you begin to experience a calmness within; a calmness that moves through you both in mind and body. I dare you to take this challenge a step further and to practice using it each and every time you are feeling resistance in your life or as if life just isn’t good. It doesn’t matter if you do this once or a thousand times a day, do it as much as you need to.

No, it doesn’t mean that you won’t feel pain but it may provide you with that first step into moving through it, and into practicing nonresistance. It may be the start of placing you back onto the path of once again looking into the mirror and announcing that yes, life is good.

Don't Read This Blog Post!

So you accepted my challenge and opened this email even though I asked you not to. I feared that might happen. Okay, let me think about this for a moment. Well, I might as well just go ahead and say it.....

I must confess the fact that I have made a mistake. Yep, a giant mistake. Don't worry. It's nothing too far fetched. I mean, I haven't decided to pack my things and move to a Tibetan monastery (however, wow...doesn't that actually sound pretty great??). 

So my mistake was not asking you how I can best serve you. I'm going to sound very cliche here when I admit that I entered ministry with a mission and that mission? That mission was to serve people. Yeah, yeah. I know. It doesn't sound quite as grand as stating that my goal was to walk to the ends of the earth searching for the solution to world peace, or to set off for distance lands with nothing but the clothes on my back. While that actually sounds very admirable, that isn't the reason I began my ministerial journey. I began that journey to be of service to others, and to be of service to others, I must find what it is that others need.

I haven't yet done that and that is my mistake so now I ask you. If I could do one thing for you today, what would that one thing be? (Or simply hit reply if you are on my emailing list! Not on my emailing list? Click here to join and to claim a special, free gift!)

Why All Choices Are Difficult

I may have unintentionally misled you with my previous stories. I may have possibly led you to believe that I went all out and jumped immediately from Point A to Point B, without anything in between. While I may have wanted to do just that, that’s not exactly how it happened so please allow me to set the record straight.

Most of us have more than likely concluded by this point that the journey of life is often never completely linear. It often contains twists and turns that can really make you feel as if you’ve somehow gone rogue and completely off of the path. Your journey may also reveal things that you may even find downright shocking, as was the case with my own. While traveling along my own journey for instance, I found myself at an intersection and at that intersection, was a stop sign. Yep. Picture a good, old-fashioned stop sign. I did what any good law abiding citizen might do in this situation. I stopped.

I was at an intersection and found that I could choose to go east or I could choose to go west. I assumed that one direction led me down the path of continued misery while the other led me to pure bliss.

Seems as if the choice would be obvious, doesn’t it? It wasn’t and in fact, it was actually quite the challenge. I began to think about what it was that I really wanted. I knew I wanted for something to change in my life yet I had also grown comfortable exactly where I was. Make no mistake about it. My current situation was not at all what I wanted but there were no surprises hidden around the corner. I knew exactly what to expect.

On the flip side, I also knew that I needed to leave the cubicle drudgery once and for all. A side note here is that leaving wasn’t an option just yet, much to my chagrin. The company had paid to move me across the country so I owed them a few more months of my time. The choice I had to make was to live those last few months stranded in my misery or, to be happy.

I again glanced at each path, hoping for some kind of a sign; a sign to tell me which I should take when suddenly, both directions became illuminated in the most beautiful light. It was as if a heavenly spotlight offered to light my way despite my chosen direction. I somehow realized that both directions were beckoning me to take a closer look and to perhaps take those first steps.

It suddenly became glaringly obvious to me that both paths were the right path because you see, there is no one path of misery and there is no one path of happiness. Either path could lead me to either one of those experiences. The choice wasn’t in whether I should go east or west. The choice was whether or not I chose to remain miserable or happy. The direction I traveled wasn’t going to decide that for me. It was all up to me.

It suddenly hit me that I had been seeking an external source to help me make those changes in my life, something outside of myself in hopes that it would help me to find that true happiness. Then, if I began to experience something other than happiness, I would have that external source to blame and why not? It certainly sounded good at the time.

I didn’t need that external source and neither do you. Our circumstances at any given moment can most definitely bring us misery if we choose that misery or, those circumstances can bring us happiness, joy, peace, or any other positive feeling if we choose those things.

I’m not going to tell you that it’s always easy because it’s not. In fact, sometimes it’s the most difficult thing you will need to do or to face. Sometimes you may feel as if you are struggling for air or as if the Universe has somehow completely abandoned you. I completely get that because I too have been there. It doesn’t have to feel that way. You don’t have to feel as if you somehow chose the wrong direction for in reality, there is no wrong direction. There are only different paths leading to the same destination.

Find my journey interesting or entertaining? Please share with a friend and sign up for my email list! Download my free gift as a thank you! It’s always good to know that we’re not alone in this beautiful journey of life.

How To Stop With the Excuses. Right Now!

Should I or shouldn't I? What would it mean if I did? Would I be any good at it? Would I be effective? Would I really be able to make a difference? Was I only fooling myself? Yes, excuses.

These are just some of the things that went through my head when I decided to return to school. Okay, it wasn't just any school. It was ministerial school. Who was I to think about becoming a minister? I didn't have the perfect life. In fact, my life was far from it. My credit was less than perfect, I was filled full of fear in my life, and feeling stuck in a career that I detested with every fiber of my being. That wasn't minister material! Or was it? Yep, excuses.

It all boiled down to excuses. I discovered that I could go on all day if I wanted to, almost acting as if I was the contestant on a game show, "Okay, Evin. It's your turn! Name 100 excuses. Now!"

Have you ever done that? Knew exactly what you wanted to do, where you wanted to go yet couldn't let go with all of the excuses as to why you couldn't or shouldn't? Don't worry. Most of us have done that. I would honestly be surprised to find even one person that hasn't.

What it all boiled down to for me was fear of actually making that change even though it was a wanted change. Sounds pretty crazy, doesn't it? We find that we desperately want something in our lives yet when presented with the opportunity to actually have it, we tuck our tails and run the other direction. We somehow, even if only subconsciously, self-sabotage ourselves, preventing ourselves from reaching the top of the climb. Once I discovered this about myself, I felt that surely I must be losing my mind. I wanted to walk to a mirror, look myself in the face and yell out, "What's wrong with you? Stop! Just stop!" It's not always quite so simple though, is it? So how? How do we stop with the self-sabotage? 

The first step with anything is realizing that well, there's something that must be worked through. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you've done that or you wouldn't still be reading. 

Next, we must learn to become comfortable within the uncomfortable. Now that one....that one strikes a nerve, doesn't it? It certainly did for me. Really thinking about this began to force me into the realization that I was afraid of possibly achieving success. What would it mean for me? How was it going to unfold? What if I took the risk and lost the shirt off of my back? What if I went after my dream only to lose it all and live in a van down by the river? (Although I must interject here that the more miserable I became in my undesirable situation, the more appealing the whole "van by the river" thing became.)

One of the first ways to begin this process, of becoming comfortable within the uncomfortable is to learn to trust yourself. Yes, you read that right. You must learn to trust yourself. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that it's going to happen simply by saying, "Self. Learn to trust yourself." If it is that easy for you then great but it takes work for most of us. 

We can begin becoming comfortable in the uncomfortable by simply basking in the present moment. Fears and doubts begin to creep in when we begin to think of all the "what-ifs" or begin to feel as if we need to manage the details of how to get from Point A to Point B. When we learn that anything beyond this present moment is but only an illusion, we begin the first step of this journey. 

Actor Jim Carey once stated, "You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based on either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it."

He went on to say, "I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."

Join our free webinar (all we ask is that you share this post) to learn how to begin to really let go, to begin to really live your life. Do you dare? 

 

 

The One Thing You Need to Ditch Fear

Hands shaking, he walked up onto the stage. Turning to face the London audience did little to calm the butterflies flying rapidly within his stomach. Looking down at the pages on the podium, he began to read his prepared speech. Suddenly his vision began to blur, the trembling uncontrollable. After reading one line, he realized that he could not continue. It was in that moment where Mahatma Gandhi realized that he could not continue in front of such a large audience. His fear forced him to hand his speech to someone else to read.

Fear can threaten any of us at any time. It sometimes suddenly hits with little to no warning. We may even wonder exactly why we are even feeling it at all. 

To be fair, the presence of fear isn’t always necessarily negative. For instance, fear is what prevents us from walking out into a busy street without first making sure the intersection is clear and safe to cross.

What about that fear that isn’t there to protect us? What about the fear that places its hold upon us, drawing us backward rather than forward, preventing us from achieving the goals we want to achieve or from accomplishing the life’s dream we’ve held since childhood?

You don’t have to cave into that fear causing you to forget about those dreams. 

I would like to invite you to participate in an exercise with me right here, right now. Don’t worry. It won’t take long and you’ll feel better. Sound good? Disclaimer here….I ask that you close your eyes during the exercise (if you feel comfortable), so you may want to read ahead to know what the exercise entails.

Okay, let’s get started. I ask you to think about something that makes you feel fear. Maybe your dream is to be an excellent public speaker yet like Gandhi, public speaking makes you go weak in the knees. Maybe it’s to move into your dream career, have a child, etc. Whatever it is, just the mere thought makes your palms feel sweaty, your knees go weak and you can think of nothing else but running away; anywhere but closer toward whatever it is that is making you feel fear.

I now ask you to feel the fear as it starts to move into your body. Don’t resist it; just allow yourself to feel it. Feel exactly where that fear is in your body. Is it in your stomach? Do you feel it in your chest? Your legs? Somewhere else? Again, don’t resist it. Don’t try to push it away. Don’t run from it. Allow it to be.

Acknowledge it. Try saying something like, “Ah, there you are. So this is what you feel like. Okay, got it.” Just continue to breathe until you feel that fear begin to lessen or to dissipate altogether.

The key to this exercise is to realize that resistance feeds the fear. The resistance only makes it grow. Pushing the fear away only delays the inevitable and that inevitable is that it must be dealt with if we want to grow. It must be dealt with if we want to reach the beauty that lies just on the other side of it. In fact, it is that acknowledgement and acceptance as you move to the other side of that fear that aid in its release.

I encourage you to give this exercise a try whenever you feel fear moving in. Know that it’s okay if it you find yourself practicing this exercise more than once to release that fear. Sometimes practice really does make perfect and that’s okay. Be gentle with yourself.

Would you like more tips on moving beyond fear? Click here to receive a free gift to aid you on your journey! Don’t be afraid. I’m over here waiting for you! You can do it!

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Ever try to run from an unresolved issue, only to find that it has run along with there with you, never having left your side? I used to do this. For instance, I’d grow very unhappy with a job, so would begin to search for and eventually find another one. I’d start that job and before long, I’d look around and find that the issue that drove me to leave the previous one was still there, lurking just around the corner. It took me a long while to finally acknowledge that the issue wasn’t with the job at all. It was with me instead. There was no running away from it. That issue needed to be resolved or I’d never be rid of it. So you see, we take ourselves with us wherever we go.

Those things that haunt us in life….those things that make us feel miserable….those things that make us want to pack our bags and disappear….those things that cause us pain, fear, anxiety….those things that cause those feelings or fears of abandonment….they are not going to go away simply because we change something external in our lives. While it’s true that an external change may work for a bit, it isn’t likely to last.

We can move to a new city, wear different clothes, drive a new car, change relationships….whatever the case may be but, it is still not going to go away until we finally acknowledge that the change must come from within. It starts with you. There is no running. There is no hiding. There is no pretending as if it doesn’t exist because trust me…wherever you go, there you are.

  • Translation Love

Peace. Right Here, Right Now

I will soon be giving a talk that includes peace. The actual moral of the story will be on how to bring more of it into your life. Let's face it....who doesn't want more peace? I know that I do, especially right now. For instance, I log onto my computer and I immediately begin to have constant reminders thrown at me....reminders about just how much of a state of fear and anxiety we find ourselves in. Let me ask a deeper question however. Are the fear and anxiety real or, are they perhaps merely an illusion? 

Do we feed into a collective consciousness when send our fears and our anxieties out into the world? Do we begin to pass them on to other people, much as we would a virus? What if instead, I allow myself to feel those feelings without any form of resistance? I recently watched a video about feelings and it mentioned how most, if allowed to be, will only last for about 90 seconds. So in others words, if I am feeling fearful in any given moment, I can simply allow it to be. I can sit with it without any form of judgment or resistance. I can acknowledge it, allow it to move through me and then eventually completely out of me. 

It's in those moments of resistance when it begins to grow....those moments where I try to fight it without simply allowing it to be. It grows and before long, those around me begin to catch it as well. It begins to engulf every other person I come into contact with and continues to grow if they also choose to resist it. 

See the pattern here? This post could eventually merge into a complete sermon of sorts so I will stop here and leave you with this....allow those feelings to be. They won't always feel pleasant in the moment but sit with them and simply allow them to be. Allow them move through you and allow them move on out.

This is the beginning of finding true peace. 

- Translation Love

 

My Realization

There are days where I feel very strongly attached to the spiritual realm. Take yesterday for instance. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the sun was shining brightly through the windows. Even the flowers seemed to take advantage, welcoming the upcoming spring with their opening petals and brilliant colors. I drove home in a state of pure bliss, paying attention to even the smallest of details; the seemingly lone tree at the top of the hill that I hadn’t yet noticed, the fish jumping up out of the water, leaving behind ripples of her presence, the bald eagle perched high up in the tree, the cloud drifting lazily along.

Nature has always held a spiritual significance for me, for it is where I have always felt the closest to God, to Spirit. When I allow myself the moment to bask within its beauty, I feel there is nothing I cannot accomplish. It’s as if the world, including myself, becomes smaller somehow, those things that seem like problems suddenly not feeling so insurmountable.

It’s in that moment where I realize that spreadsheet or that email can wait. In that moment, the world becomes mine, if only even within my own little corner. It’s in that moment where I feel the presence of God, grasping the realization that I am not alone. It’s in that moment where the realization that God is not only everywhere but, also within.

       - Translation Love