December 29, 2009

Happy New Year!

Most of us live by a set of rules taught by parents, teachers, and friends...rules which we have internalized, programs, really, which run silently in the background. If we could hear all those "rules" out loud, we would be astonished by that bossy voice!

Some of us go through life obediently doing out best to follow the rules, perhaps not even realizing that we are not behaving of our own volition...while others spend a lifetime rebelling against them.

What becoming "present" really means is achieving full awareness of that part of us which is really US, and becoming free to do what we really desire. Until we reach that stage, we can lift much of the burden of all these "shoulds" by being gentle with ourselves.  

I very much like what Ian Paul Marshall says about New Year's resolutions:

"As we begin the new year let's make it a time where we finally decide to ignore all the "should's" in our lives. Let's let go of resolutions and let's develop resolve. A fortitude to forgive ourselves for all our self-criticisms. A determination to develop a deeper wellspring of joy and happiness. And a courage to boldly bring into existence the dreams that silently sleep within our hearts."

May we see the perfection in every outcome and be able to give thanks, for then every day will be a happy one!

December 24, 2009


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

--- Max Ehrmann, 1927


December 21, 2009

Speak Up!

There is a balance to be struck in close relationships, between accepting the other person as they are and instructing them on how you are to be treated.  It is important to forgive little lapses in attention and thoughtfulness, but at the same time, you should also make it clear that you are worth attention, that you expect thoughtfulness and that you are deeply worthy of love. Do not walk through life bruised and wounded, taking each little thing to heart, always injured and hurt by the slightest thing. People are far too distracted and most social oversights and slights are really just their responses to anxiety and pressure.  In these times, you must teach them how to act.

Today observe yourself as you relate to other people and compare what you say and do outwardly to how you feel inwardly. And this is particularly important in your relationships that are difficult or in which you feel slighted, in relationships of some importance to you.

If you find yourself dismissing and then yearning, you should become aware of this and then correct it. If you say, "That's all right, go ahead without me," and then feel hurt when you are taken up on this offer, you must take responsibility for this. How much better to actually ask for what you want, to say, "Would you mind waiting a moment for me?" This gives the other person the opportunity to know what consideration you would truly like. It instructs them on how to treat you and gives them the chance to actually treat you in well. Do not blame others if they are unable to read your mind and instead respond to your words and your manner. 

Are you bowing your head and withdrawing when you might be lifting your chin and stating what it is that you want? Are you walking around feeling bruised and injured, even though you have not expressed to anyone what it is that you want and need? Aren't these old habits left over from a powerless childhood?  They are not serving you now, are they?

December 18, 2009

An Acronym for Feeling Good

From Ian Paul Marshall comes the following advice about feeling good:

Be grateful for what you have
Enjoy this present moment
Touch base with someone you love
Turn within and enjoy the silence
Experience something new
Realize that you are loved always

For the most part, getting happy is an inside job.  If you observe others very carefully, you will see that happy people may or may not have material success. Some of the wealthiest, and most gifted people are discontent, while some of the poorest glow with peace. 

Consider making a "feel good" journal for yourself.  Write it full of quotes which uplift your spirits, and paste in happy images.  Make this your "Go To" when you need a little inside nudge.

December 13, 2009

Self Love

It's next to impossible to have a peaceful, joyful life or to love others unless we first love (and forgive) ourselves.

One of the ways to love the self more is to stop comparing yourself to others. Although you are part of a whole, you are also an individual self, with your own path. The group and family belief systems you have taken on as your own can be obstacles to your self-love. The challenge of loving the self is to step aside from everything you are told, and ask, "Does this fit me? Does this bring me joy? Do I feel good when I do it?" It is ultimately your own experience that counts.

December 12, 2009

Word Play

From Marney Makridakis comes this wonderful idea which I share with you:

I was out running some errands a few days ago and I did a little eavesdropping experiment.  I listened to the conversations around me and made a note of how many times I heard the words "busy" or "tired" or "stressed".  Perhaps not surprisingly, given this bustling time of the year, those words or something similar surfaced in almost every single conversation I heard.

The holiday season is equated with a dizzy busy that has become so normal, we've come to expect it.  But does this have to be the case?  When did it become so acceptable to be over-busy, over-tired, and over-stressed…during the holidays or, for that matter, any time of the year?

I think that it's easy to forget that we have a choice in the matter. I've found that it can be as simple as making a different choice. Our choices are the pieces of the quilt of our lives, and the words we use each day are the threads that hold those choices together. Just because everyone else around us is stressed by the holidays, doesn't mean that we need to be. I'd like to share a fun little ARTsignment™ exercise that I developed that combines creative word play with the powerful act of reframing our choices. 

I believe that changing the words we use is one of the most powerful things we can do to change our lives.  And it's probably no mystery that I love word   So for this simple little exercise, all you do is start with a word that describes how you're feeling…and then see if you can find a rhyme or pun that transforms the word into something else.

For example:

Instead of feeling stressed...try feeling blessed

It looks so simple, right?  But this simple word association is actually a very powerful tool!  With this Transwordation, you now have an instant reminder the next time you are feeling stressed; you can change your thoughts, and instead of being overwhelmed with stress,  you can start thinking about all the things for which you are grateful.

Here are a few more silly little examples for words that can actually be powerful if we let them transform us this holiday season the way we can transform them. So,

Instead of feeling busy
what would it mean if you were feeling bliss-y?

This might mean that when you're feeling busy, you can stop and ask yourself, "what could I do to bring more bliss into this short moment?"  You get the idea....Have fun with it!

December 7, 2009

Take the Pledge!

As you see from the comment to my last post, the author of The Law of the Garbage Truck has been found, David J. Pollay.  To the law,  I add this pledge, also authored by Pollay:

 The No Garbage Trucks!™ Pledge
I do not accept Garbage in my life.
When I see Garbage Trucks,
I do not take them personally.
I just smile. I wave. I wish them well.
And I move on.
And I do not spread Garbage to others.
I am not a Garbage Truck!
 I do not accept Garbage in my life."

December 4, 2009

Law of the Garbage Truck

This little anonymous story has calmed me a few times, and I am posting it here in the hope that it will be of help to you as well.

The Law of The Garbage Truck
One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us.  My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches.
The driver of the other car whipped his head around, started yelling at us, and flipped us the bird.  My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly.  So I asked, "Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital."

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks.  They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you.

Don't take it personally.  Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.  The bottom line is that people whose goal is to be happy do not let garbage trucks take over their day. 

Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so..... Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't. Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.

Have a blessed garbage-free day!!