Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It Just Makes Me Want to Scream – Part Two: The spirituality of being human

Did you do any screaming last week? (If you don’t understand why I’d ask that question, go back and read last week’s blog first!) I hope you understood last week that I wasn’t suggesting we run around like a bunch of raving maniacs, screaming our heads off at the world. However, we can sometimes experience frustrations that need a release. That can be a private scream or a good cry.
I suggested last week that if we can get beyond the anger and frustration we will find fear and an emotional wounding of some sort. If we have the strength to go that far in our spiritual journey we will recognize just how deep we have buried the pain, how we feel damaged and by whom. How can we move through that kind of profound emotional sadness? Recognizing that we are hurt is the first step to our healing. It is then that we can take stock of what is causing the pain with the goal of moving through and beyond the experience.
In my experience most of anguish in my life has been caused by one of the following situations:
  •          I failed to live up to my expectations or what others expected of me
  •          Someone else failed to live up to my expectations of what I thought was their potential
  •          I got my feelings hurt because another person didn’t act the way I expected them to act
  •          I got rejected and I failed to understand why since I’d done everything I thought I should have done

All these scenarios are about how we handle or mishandle events in our life. We get ticked off. We get our feelings hurt. Our egos get bruised. Sometimes we know we are the perpetrator; sometimes we feel like the victim. In the end, none of that matters. What matters is what we are going to do with the mess in front of us. If we want sunny-side-up eggs and break the yoke while cooking the eggs either we are going settle for scrambled eggs, or throw out the eggs and start over. Both are options. I humbly suggest, however, if you are going to willingly accept the scrambled experiences when you wanted sunny-side-up outcomes that you do not complain about the situation. It’s counterproductive to willingly accept less than we desire and then whine about it.
If we are willing to recognize the wound and identify the cause, then what is the next step? If others are involved that could mean admitting our hurt to them. Will they help clean the wound and apply a soothing balm, or will they rip the wound further apart and pour salt into it? There is a possibility that some people could do the latter. The mere suggestion even more pain can occur might be enough to stop us from moving forward. But even if that does happen, here’s the blessing:  We know where we stand and we no longer have to permit that individual to continue abusing us.
If we find that the wound is imagined or concocted, designed specifically by our ego and acted out in our own mind with no one else involved, then we have the challenge of dealing with those issues. We might have to take a very personal and honest look at how we are living our life. Are there decisions we’ve been putting off because we’re afraid of the outcome? We can stand by the side of the pool and worry that the water is cold, or we can jump in and find out. Sometimes we’re afraid to even stick our toe in!
There is a way to work through deep-seated pain and exit the experience to peace and freedom. Here’s what you might want to try this week:  When you have a few quite moments alone, take a very, very, very deep breath. Allow a long-standing problem you have had come to you. In your mind, turn it over and look at it from all sides. Then ask Spirit what it is you need to do to move through and beyond the issue. You may already know the answer, even if you don’t like it. Whatever your next step is, would you be willing to take it, or at least consider taking it? While we may not always like what we have to do, there is a tremendous sense of empowerment if we can muster the courage to do so. Don’t think you can do it alone? No problem – you don’t have to! Please let me know how I can support you, or reach out to someone you trust to walk with you through this period of time. Together, we can remind each other of just how powerful, how wonderful and how magnificent we are.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Does It Make You Want to Scream? – Part One: The spirituality of being human

Do you ever have situations in your life when you feel like you’ve done everything you can to produce the desired outcome, but the whole thing just falls apart…or blows up…or implodes?!? I believe we call that “frustration” (among other things!). It can often be accompanied by screaming and fist pounding. Doesn’t sound very “spiritual,” does it?
On the contrary, I think it does! We may be “spirit have a human experience,” but the fact remains we are HUMAN. We are here, on this planet and in these bodies, to participate in the human experience. That implies ALL of the human experience from the joy and ecstasy of love to the anger and pain of unpleasant scenarios. When it comes to the latter it just sucks.
There are a number of ways we can handle situations like this, but I believe there are two extremes we can observe. One is putting our tail between our legs while we skulk off into the shadows because we think the entire fiasco was our fault (aka, The Grand Martyr Syndrome, which has little to do with responsibility and smacks of being a victim). The other is to blame the other party(ies) for the disaster as if we weren’t part of the process. There has to be a happy medium somewhere. Yes, there is always personal responsibility, but in the attempt to accept our part we can ignore other factors that were involved.
I remember in the 1980s how apologies suddenly went out with dial phones. It was never just, “I’m sorry,” but rather some arrogant platitude that came out as, “Did you find out why you partnered with me to make me do what I did to get you so upset?” It was – and still is – metaphysical psyhobabble that lacks the healing energies of love and compassion. It does, however, grow out of ego and arrogance run rampant.
Rather than discuss “whose fault is it,” a more positive way of dealing with great upset is to do exactly what society may not want us to do:  Have a little “reaction.” We might just want to have a good scream, cry or beat a few pillows. “Just git it out and git it all over yourself, honey,” my grandma Esther used to say, “’cause it’s better out than in.”
Pretending we aren’t royally ticked off when we are doesn’t help the healing process. To do that would be like bandaging up a severely, dirty wound without first cleaning out the injury and applying medication. If our frustrations do not manifest in one way they most assuredly will become apparent in some other way. Often that shows up as a physical or emotional ailment we may find hard to shake. Dealing with the blockage to our happiness, as opposed to pretending we aren’t affected by it, will allow us to get beyond the upset and onto the healing we deserve.
Have you been living with a long-standing physical problem that doesn’t seem to go away no matter what you do? Could it perhaps have started around the same time there was someone or something in your life that just made you want to scream? Perhaps you could consider giving into that – my favorite place is under water in the hot tub. If you decide to find a place, please inform others if they are around. Pets must decidedly not be in the area – no need to expose them to that! Once you get it all out I suspect you might find what’s under the anger – there’s always something under the anger! This allows us to more effectively deal with the real emotional issue. In my experience that emotion is fear, but below that is pain or hurt. Next week I’ll write more about how to deal with that kind of deep pain.
Until then, be willing to feel frustration and any other emotions should they arise, rather than burying your feelings. Then, find a safe, appropriate and preferable private, place to express that frustration. This is not about striking out at others, but going within our own consciousness to get at the root of our issue. Oh, and if you do decide to have a little scream of your own, take it from a trained singer:  Lower your voice. There’s fare less chance of damaging your vocal chords that way. And, as always, if you need a listening ear to help you work through it, I’d be happy to assist!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Approaching Confrontation With Integrity

Are you someone who shuts down at the first sign of disagreement? I’m a recovering people pleaser. Growing up in my family I chose the role of mediator, reconciliator and all-around peacemaker. I made it my mission in life to make sure no one was upset, since upset often led to an outburst none of us wanted to witness. It’s no surprise that I used to avoid confrontation at almost all costs, though usually any costs involved were to my own self-esteem and well-being.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to run out and find a fight. But by the same token I no longer avoid a squabble just because it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable. In fact, I’ve come to see the value in disagreement because it can more clearly define the values I hold dear, even sacrosanct. As a child and young adult I studied the Bible extensively, cultivating some very concrete beliefs in the religion of my family. Still, my mother, who acted as instructor and guide in my studies, drilled one principle into me from day one:
If my own beliefs can’t stand up to scrutiny then perhaps
my beliefs are not built on as rock-solid a foundation
as I might like to believe.
When was the last time you really thought about your beliefs? Are they built on as “rock-solid” a foundation you think they are? Just recently I came across a recorded lecture by Margaret Heffernan titled, “Dare to Disagree.” In her work she teaches about “conflict avoidance and selective blindness” when it comes to our belief systems. She posits that having someone in our life or our business that is diametrically opposed to our point of view can be a very beneficial thing, not a thorn in our side. How can that be?
Margaret and my mother would be fast friends. There was a time when I avoided the “white elephant in the living room conversations” that could lead to an argument. Today my family knows, much to their chagrin at times, that I not only acknowledge the elephant, but I paint her purple so no one misses her, name her, make sure she’s litter box trained and invite her to Thanksgiving dinner. “Better out than in,” Grandma Esther used to say!
If we’re not careful, we can too often and very easily make decisions in the context of how society or our families expect us to act. We can live our lives the way we do in some cases because to do otherwise might mean we’d have to look at the garbage in our life that’s currently being hidden by the symbolically beautiful whipped cream we’ve slathered on top of it. The problem is that the whipped cream façade eventually melts or sours. Then we have a very wet, nasty-smelling problem in our life with which to deal. That can show up like the job that is literally killing us, the marriage that is only waiting for a straw to break the camel’s back before the divorce, or the health issue that lands us in the ER. Before we know it we can become lulled into complacency, not because we love our current situation, but because it’s comfortable, safe and it’s what we know.
Is that the way you want to live? In a mediocre job, a “good enough marriage,” or a body in which you feel trapped? I don’t. I believe in creating a vision of a life that is worth living, one surrounded by people who are enthusiastically pursuing and sharing their dreams and living in a conscious awareness of the abundance around me. Does that resonate with you?
If so, here’s just one very simple act you might consider trying over the next week should any confrontation or argument pass your way. Before you utter one word, before you craft that snarky or cutting reply to shut up the offender, before you ignite a blaze where there was only a few smoldering ashes, do just one, very, very simple thing:  STOP YOURSELF! Ask yourself three questions about the disagreement:
1.    Is what s/he is saying true?
2.    Is my anger right now because I’m avoiding a truth I don’t want to hear?
3.    If the answer to #1 and #2 are “Yes,” then am I willing to look at the situation, heal it in my own mind, apologize if needed and move on?
Okay, I know. I said it was simple and you may have just thrown your hands up in the air after reading those three questions. Good, you see the challenge. I said it was going to be simple. I didn’t say it was going to be easy. But what I know is that you can do this if you want to. The mantra I’ve learned to use is, I don’t do confrontation. I do communication. The key is to stick with communication that comes from the heart, without resentment or accusation. It’s not just what we have to say, but how we say it so it can be heard.
You have the power within you to stand firm in your convictions no matter what others are saying if those beliefs are tried and true. And, I know that if your beliefs are not withstanding the test of fire, you have within you what it takes to embrace the next step in re-creating your life and moving closer to the joy you envision. Love yourself enough to do this. If you feel you don’t have what it takes, borrow some of my faith in you this week and know that I support you in doing what needs to be done. We are always supported in our decisions by a power greater than us. The focus of my ministry to others is to help people access that power and find their own vision, their own path that reveals the essence of why they are on the planet. It is my joy to work with you in having that life worth living – how can I support you?
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Great Expectations

Have you ever suffered disappointment at some time in your life? I suppose that’s a rhetorical question since the answer is, “Well, duh!” We all experience disappointments. Most of my disillusionments have come from when I fall short of reaching my own goals or expectations for myself, not when others fail to live up to my desires. If you, like me, have been given the title of perfectionist (as if that was a badge of shame!), you are well aware that someone who is always striving for perfection is usually harder on him/herself than other people. We SO want to do it “right,” whatever “right” is for us, for others or society. It begs the question, Is perfection is really possible? Are we running on a treadmill of frustration by trying so hard? In fact, why have expectations, great of otherwise, at all?
It’s never perfect and it’s always perfect.
Let me explain what I mean by that. I’ve been privileged to officiant for at least a hundred weddings, holy unions, commitment ceremonies, baptisms, christenings, funerals and memorials over my twenty years in ministry, as well as house blessings, pet blessings and a few exorcisms (more about that another time…). What I can report to you is that when planning the event the people involved want it to be “perfect” – this is particularly true for weddings. The belief is that we have “one shot” to get this right. No retakes. No revisions. One shot. Period.
One of the places I perform weddings in our area has a beautiful, expansive Italian garden. Most brides select a processional that goes from the very top of the gardens to a pavilion at the bottom. With a large wedding party it can take up to seven or eight minutes, but choreographed correctly by “moi” it’s a beautiful and memorable event – unless it rains, as it often can in the summer here in south central Pennsylvania. We had an absolute downpour one day, but the bride was adamant about the processional. So it took place, in the downpour, with huge golf umbrellas provided by the resort for some protection. And … it was perfect.
HOW could have been?!? The couple had great expectations of their special day and a near monsoon was not part of the plan. I’ve heard there’s an Italian tradition that says when it rains on your wedding it means God is showering you with blessings. If that’s the case this couple was blessed beyond all expectation! The bride got exactly what she wanted – a beautiful processional – even if the gown and bridesmaids dresses were a little worse for the wear upon arrival at the lower pavilion. You might think I was dealing with a bridezilla who, come hell or (in this case) high water, was going to have it her way or the highway. Not at all.
I don’t see it that way. If anything, I believe it showed a willingness, tenacity, dedication and determination to fulfill the desire of her fiancé and her. Have you had your plans go array to this extent, or even more severe? Did you think it was a failure and did you suffer the event? It’s never perfect and it’s always perfect. What that means to me is that it, whatever “it” is, is going to be exactly what it’s going to be. We can plan or outline every single detail and be disappointed if things don’t go according to plan, or we can go with the flow and enjoy the moment for what it is. Scripture says, “Time and unforeseen circumstances befall us all.” What does that mean? It means life happens. “Shift” happens.
How we deal with the changes and shifts in life about which we seem to have no control will determine our moods, our attitudes about life, how much people want to be around us, and our future. Without “great expectations” of our future we will most likely end up with a less than a stellar or satisfying life. What do you “expect?” When Emma Curtis Hopkins, New Thought teacher and mental healing expert, was asked by Raymond Charles Barker why she thought a particular case for which she was present seem to have a healing that occurred so quickly and easily. Her answer? “It was what I expected.” Can’t you just imagine in the story of the resurrection of Lazarus when the great teacher Jesus proclaimed, “Lazarus, come out!” but nothing happening? Excuse me? The healing was, again, what he expected.
What do you expect from life, from your future? I invite you this week to think bigger than ever about what you want your life to look like. Would you be willing to do that? You could sit quietly, calm your senses and uncover the joys you desire, the peace you seek and the healings you require. Write those down, without regard to how many come up, and then pick just three. I’m not talking about a new car or a new job. I’m talking about how you envision a peace, a more harmonious life. Then give it to Spirit and expect great things! Let me know how that works out for you!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,