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Its Your Time to Shine


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Sacred Sixty-Three Days

Part I: Divine Two-By-Four to the Head

My head hurt so bad I actually contemplated going to the hospital. I kept feeling around my hairline to see if there was any blood. Surely there must be blood. How can you hit your head that hard and not have blood?

headpain

Friday at 5 pm and naturally I’m excited for the weekend. I had finally rid myself of the flu, our home in Colorado sold the Friday before and stress was at a minimum. Even though I work full-time and go to school, my schedule looked manageable. I headed to the parking lot towards my car, which by the way is the first car I’ve ever been head over heels in love with, and I jumped in. BAM!!!! I solidly smashed my temple into the side of my car as I lowered myself in and nearly passed out. My head hurt so bad I actually contemplated going to the hospital. I kept feeling around my hairline to see if there was any blood. Surely there must be blood. How can you hit your head that hard and not have blood? It took me awhile to get my bearings and as far as I could tell, I was going to be okay. I began my long commute home; Friday nights are particularly bad, and this one was no exception. I did not have the wherewithal to compete with my fellow compadres in traffic, so I kept a low profile, just hoping I would make it home without incident.

I pulled into our three-car garage still holding the side of my head. I was pretty stunned. I mean why/how did that happen. It didn’t really make any sense. After all, I thought to myself, I had been feeling quite content when I left the building, where did it go awry? As I walked into the house, delicious smells were wafting down the hallway. My husband was preparing something in the kitchen and greeted me with a smile. I was just about to share what happened when he said, “Today has been an interesting day.” I was about to agree and then lunge into telling him my sad story, when I got an internal nudge to just let him talk. He began by telling me that he had fallen in our home in the same spot twice that afternoon. He said he hurt himself pretty badly. [Mind you, my husband does not fall. I’ve never known him to be careless or haphazard.] I then blurted out, “You’re kidding, I just smashed the side of my head really badly, how weird.” He said, “Maybe not so weird. The landlord called.” “Oh?” “Yes, and he’s ready to sell the house.” It was like someone had punched me in the stomach. Naturally it’s his home and we’re on a month to month, but I just wasn’t ready for this news at this time. While the weekend’s schedule was fairly light, I had mid-term exams, papers to write, and work would soon be getting busier. Besides, I also had been secretly fantasizing how Buzz and I could get away for a romantic trip to Cabos over spring break. I was tired and I really had hoped that the two of us could just rest. “You’re kidding? We literally just closed on our house one week to the day and bam, the Universe says it’s time to go?!” “Yup, it looks that way”, he said.

Buzz and I immediately began talking about all the things we would need to do to execute. We had talked about moving the year before and had seen several different types of homes in many different types of neighborhoods, but this time was for real. I could barely breathe, my head even in that moment was killing me, and I was freaked out. Within an hour I sent an email to a woman we had worked with before to see what the temperature of the market was. We set up appointments and we were off to the races.

All in all, we worked with three different realtors and were plugged into Zillow following every lead. Buzz was canvasing neighborhoods of interest to get a feel for them, occasionally popping in whenever there was an open house, sometimes even just finding out the lockbox code and letting himself in. We had conflicting stories from our landlord to take our time AND the sooner we can leave the better. He wanted to start showing the home and could we please pack neatly. PACK NEATLY?! Are you freakin’ kidding me? Oh boy. This was NOT going to be a cake walk. Each place we thought we would take was wrought with its own drama. We put bids in on places and either we changed our mind or other prospective tenants beat us to the punch line. One home I felt fairly confident in we looked at three times and when I would lay my head down I would have nightmares about it and so we ultimately passed.

One thing that Buzz and I immediately were aware of was that it was time to downsize and that downsizing would take time. When we weren’t looking for a home, I was in my office trying to make sense of years of piles of paper. I had photographs, CD’s, materials for a newsletter I write, 3 years’ worth of college textbooks and notebooks and in the mix was the current training materials from the latest coaching training I was taking. Making hard choices and moving forward would be vital to the process yet the best I seemed to be able to do was cry. To be fair, I am in the midst of the change of life, so who knows how much of the extremes I was feeling was purely because I had to let go of a lot of things or how much was hormone related. But I cried for days and days and days. I cried in anger, I cried for things I had never started, and I cried for things I had never finished. I cried for the man I would have to say good-bye to at the dry cleaner and I cried harder for the hummingbirds who had kept me company for six years. I cried because I was overwhelmed, I cried because I felt ashamed that I was crying. Seriously, the tears went on for weeks. I began to blame my husband for the fact that we had to move at this time rather than the year before when I was proactively engaged in trying to find us a new space. I was pissed off at God and I was pissed off that I make choices in my life that led me to a place where someone else had control over when I had to move or whether I could stay. The anger and sadness were consuming me, so much so I ended up with one of the worst ear infections I’ve ever had in my life. And then I cried about that. I literally could not hear out of my right ear at all. I went to the doctors and they could not figure out what the problem was. They put me on medicine that in the end I learned was actually exacerbating the condition. While it wasn’t the first time in my life I had known self-pity, I was definitely was in one of the bigger pity parties I’d ever had. And that made me cry more. What an ungrateful wretch I was. After all, I have an amazing husband, a job, a home, money in the bank, a kick ass car, food in my stomach and I live in a state I’ve wanted to live in since I was ten years old. But the tears kept on flowing. I frequently hated myself and occasionally hated my husband and regularly blamed God. Blaming. I could see how I was drowning in it. Not how I thought 2018 would be.

At the end of 2017, I got to participate in a process where at the end of it, you end up with a word that is supposed to be the prevailing theme by which huge shifts can happen. My word was “responsibility”. And here I was working very very hard at trying to attach blame to someone or something else and it wasn’t working anymore. My old modus operandi was causing me more harm than relief. I was unable to buy my own story. Apparently, I was being pushed to let go of that as well. There are a few close women in my life that I shared I thought I was going insane. More than one of those women said I might require help managing the change of life, suggesting that medication might be necessary. Wow, when your support group starts telling you, you need help, things are bad!

And my husband. In the ten years we’ve known each other, we’ve maybe have had two serious disagreements. Throughout this process I was gathering fuel to justify being more than slightly pissed off at him. He was going through his own process, preparing for a trade show, managing new clients, supporting a business partner whose mother was terminally ill, not to mention his own feelings around the move. And so, we were a bit like oil and water. Again, mind you, I was well aware that truly life was not bad, but my feelings about what was happening was like a snowball going down the hill, growing in size all along the way. I felt guilty for my feelings as people around me went through horrific things and spoke of gratitude. I could write a gratitude list, but I was grumbling at the same time. Not very effective.

And then came our preparation for the garage sale. We had set the dates and advertised it. We tried to prepare in advance, clearing out the garage to make room for the things we would sell. However, that backfired as our landlord’s realtor complained that we needed to keep the house neat so she could prepare for an open house. OMG, could the pressure be any bigger? As we looked out into our garage the night before, we had no plan. All we knew was at 7 am the next morning people would start to show up looking to snag a bargain. I had to figure out how to move past my self-imposed despair to work with this man who was my husband so that we could make this happen. Slowly, very slowly, piece by piece, we started to organize and strategize the next days’ plan. Around 1 am we headed to bed having little faith that it could come together. Tomorrow would tell. We were 56 days into this nightmare. We mumbled terms of endearment as exhaustion set in.

Tomorrow: Part II – Resistance to Grace

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Philomena

I commented, “I can feel you. How can you be dead?” She explained, “Things are accelerating right now and there’s no time to waste. This newsletter must get out. It’s imperative.”

It’s been over twenty years since I’ve seen her. We didn’t leave off on the best of terms. Our last conversation took place while I was still living in New York, just after 9-11. I had the impulse to call her to see how she was handling it all. Our conversation felt forced and awkward, a stark difference from the ease we once had where every topic was fair game and we put it all out on the table.

She asked if I had known that Fireman Ray had died. I gasped. I did not know and had been pretty far removed from the old neighborhood. Ray had taken my daughter and I on my first real vacation as an adult, along with his daughter Christina. While my relationship with Ray had been relatively short, in that brief time, I had learned that he was madly in love with God. So much so that one of our dates involved him and I reading the Bible. Christina, God and being a firefighter was pretty much all he talked about. Although she could tell I was now terribly upset to hear the news about Ray, our telephone conversation continued to be strained. I was actually lost in a fog, one – hearing her voice again and second learning that a man I cared very much for tragically died in one of the most horrifying events ever, doing what he loved. Serving others.

Philomena and I made a feeble attempt to determine how/when we would meet up and catch up on old times. I was really surprised at how disconnected we were. I got lost in thought about how once it had been so easy. God, I miss those times. There wasn’t anything we wouldn’t share. I would give anything to be able to call her right now. I would tell her I feel lost and alone in a fellowship I have known for almost 31 years. Somehow, she would know just the right questions to ask to help me reframe. Back then, we would come up with a plan to help one of us get back on the beam. That’s what we did for each other. That’s what friends do for each other.

Life had been tough during those times. We were both single moms with children who needed our attention and they were competing with our overactive hormones. Philomena was 15 years my senior but somehow, I felt like we were soul sisters. A regular Thelma & Louise, with all kinds of adventures and often times with our kids in tow. With Philomena, it was completely okay to be me. Raw, sometimes feeling unglued and a strong yearning to get my life together. She knew that. I cheered Philomena on as she was figuring out how to be in charge of her own life. She had had her life all together according to appearances. The corporate husband, the house, the kids and then it all fell apart. While our goals were different at the time, what we wanted for the other was success, peace and happiness. One funny memory is when for a period of time both our heads would almost rotate off our bodies as we heard the sound of a motorcycle. We would laugh as we noticed the other had that same response. What we did not know is that I was on my way out of the biker world and she was on her way in. She very badly wanted to distance herself from the corporate dependent wife she once described herself to be and I was looking for a more conservative husband, the white picket fence, children and a big yard. I wanted to be the Kool-Aid mom. She started her own business and navigating through what is required in running a household as a single mom. I can still hear her voice today as she spoke about her beloved kids and how much she wanted to be able to provide for them.

I guess it was about this time where we grew apart. We both followed those dreams believing somehow, there would be more fulfillment if we realized those dreams. We both met began relationships with the prospective partners and both of our lives dramatically changed. I traded in my thigh high boots and George Thorogood cassettes for tapered pants and high tops. I was approaching 30 and mindful of my biological clock, she was approaching 45 and tired of living according to someone else’s rules, ready to reclaim her life. I believe she felt it was my fault we drifted apart. I don’t know, I guess I could take responsibility. I honestly don’t recall the particulars. I know I missed her fiercely, but apparently not enough.  I ended up getting married and while she and I had a blast at my wedding, once I moved out to Long Island our connection just dissipated. Eventually she too moved from Queens to Long Island, she on the North Shore and me on the South Shore. She learned to ride a motorcycle and I learned how to buy the right bread for my ever-disapproving conservative now ex-husband.

My dear friend Philomena died a horrific death. I had always known her to have asthma and I would pass her the inhaler while we smoked cigarettes and talked about the challenges of single motherhood. Emphysema eventually would catch up with her and from the little I know, it took every bit of her in a long painful drawn out death. I am so very sad I did not get to support her and her children through that difficult time. While we may have grown apart, I never stopped loving her. Her friendship was the glue that held me together for a long time. I have that perspective now, then I traded relationships in for the next best model, never taking into account how friendships are invaluable. The song that is in my head as I write is one I learned when I was a girl scout. “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold”. Apparently, I forgot that simple childhood lesson.

Last night Philomena came to me in my dream. My goodness she was a real as you or I. Also, in the dream was her son Jason. He was the same age in the dream as he was when she and I were best friends. Philomena had on an outfit that I loved her in. Her white tank top and a pair of cut off shorts. Funny, the  things we remember. In this dream I asked her, “How are you here? You’re dead? I know you’re dead.” But yet, [I went to touch her skin to see if she was in physical form], I commented, “I can feel you. How can you be dead? She explained, “Things are accelerating right now and there’s no time to waste. This newsletter must get out. It’s imperative.” [In the dream Jason, her son is 9 or 10]. I asked, “How is Jason going to be able to write a newsletter? How will he know what to write?” She replied, “They will write through him. It must happen.” I inquired, “How is this happening. How is it you look so real?” And in typical Philomena style, she reached for a Doritos and took a bite. She said, “Do you see this”, as she dissected the Doritos in her hand, showing me shards of some strange looking by-product within the chip. She replied, “I’m as real as this crap and if I eat another one of these, it will interfere in my own growth on the other side.”

And that was that. I woke up and was amazed. It was 4:20 am this morning and I realized I had to begin writing. Just for today, I’m not sure where it’s going or what will come of it. All I know is my dear friend Philomena had come to see me. Before I went to sleep last night, I prayed for some help to get into action. I’ve been putting off writing for a long time. A book I never quite finished and life’s twists and turns kept me thinking I wasn’t ready to pound away at the keyboard. But here I am and I am grateful to my dear friend for waking me up, once again.


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Stick My Head In the Sand

“Sticking your head in the sand does not prevent the tide from coming in.”

K.J.

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“You can’t just stick your head in the sand”, I’ve been told.   And why not?  Its nice and cool and PEACEFUL down there.  These past few weeks with military action increasing, lies, increased border protection and people demanding buses of children be turned around, accusations, unreasonable and unfathomable destruction,  and hundreds of innocent lives taken I feel myself wanting to retreat.  When I channel surf, either on the radio or television, I feel like I’m trying to avoid minefields of more news of hatred, intolerance and senseless killing. True, the tide will come in regardless of how much I try to hide from it, however I feel its almost my duty to not only retreat but to increase my field of peace, love, kindness and caring wherever and whenever I can, including towards myself.  I may not be able to bring back the lives of those lost on flight MH17 nor bring peace to the Middle East, but I can exercise tolerance and patience every time I get on the freeway.  I may not be able to heal the wounds of the parents who are losing their young children in Palestine and Israel, but I can be kind to myself when I see my reflection in the mirror.

Of course its not my land and it wasn’t my child, but I do believe it is my responsibility as a human being to create a field of kindness as far around me as I can.  Mother Theresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”  I am a firm believer that as each one of us cultivates peace within and around us – its affects are far reaching.  I am currently working at a university where 71 different languages are spoken.  I feel blessed and privileged to be here.  A few years back, I spent time in a University in India, where my fellow students came from 29 different countries.  Were there differences?  Absolutely!  Did it take work on my part to explore where we were the same rather than focus on where we were different?  Oh yes!  Especially the morning I woke up in my dorm room and I found out that my roommates (11 of them), thought that making kimchee at 5 am would be a great way to start the day!  I am no saint  and I too can be territorial.  But what I believe to be the actual truth is that often times when something is new, I first respond with trepidation and/or fear.  However, as the blessed human being that I am, I have been gifted with the ability to reason and choose a different response.  Just because fear is present does not mean I have the right to decide that you’re wrong or out of place.

A few years back I had this overwhelming feeling that came over me that the words of hatred that I used against myself or someone else energetically was just as harmful us the bullets shot out of a gun 7,000 miles away.  I’ve got to keep my side of the street clean.  And if I’m under duress or am experiencing personal strife, I must get back to balance.  Do I need to meditate?  Am I hungry?  Is there an unresolved issue that I need to discuss with a loved one?  Have I asked for support in overcoming a challenge?  And have I asked my Divine to  help me be more kind out in the world today?

While burying my head in the sand is obviously not the answer, creating an environment of peace through prayer and action in my home and with others is something I can do.

My wish for you peace.

 


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100% Forgiveness of Self – Is It Possible?

For years I have had a long list of transgressions about me, to me, regarding me. Oh yes, I’ve could have been buried alive with the avalanche of alleged crimes against the self!  It was hard to even breathe at times.  I can’t tell you where or when I decided to be the judge and jury and hang myself out to dry – but I became quite the expert at it.  And these transgressions run the gamut, from making a wrong turn, to getting a stain on my shirt, to not finishing college or choosing the wrong boy.  Yesterday I was listening to a CD about inspiration.  It talked about how it’s hard to experience the flow of inspiration when there’s so much in way of being in-spired.  It talked about 100% unconditional forgiveness will open up an endless flow of possibility.  I thought my God, is that even possible, 100% forgiveness of self?!  After all, I invested so much time in self-hatred.

 

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Just about 27 years ago, I went to confession.  It went something like this……..”Bless me Father, for I have sinned, it has been 3 years since my last confession.”  And then I went on to tell the priest all my crimes against God, against myself, against humanity.  He bellowed, as I knew he would after hearing my list, however what he said took me completely by surprise and I was in shock!  He said, and I quote, “HOW DARE YOU JUDGE YOURSELF MORE HARSHLY THAN GOD WOULD!”  Holy bejesus, does your Monsignor know you let people off so easily?  I mean when will the flogging begin is all I wanted to know!   Even today as I recall that moment, I can still feel my stomach shaking in fear!  What could I say?

100% forgiveness is a tall order.  However I truly believe it’s a must and something I aspire to.  I’ve healed so much over the years and have had many a conversation with my Creator since those days.  I certainly do not carry the level of self-loathing I once did.  However, I still get caught up in harsh self-judgment.  I choose to work on embracing that I am doing the best I can in this moment given the lens I am living my life through, back then or today.  Today I choose to embrace today my humanness and understand that I will never be perfect.  The bar I used to hold as acceptable I realize was unreasonable.  Today I get to show up and be the best me I can, and even when I think I’ve fallen short, I know reproaching myself is not the cure/solution.  Nowadays self-compassion is my fuel.

There are some things I was sure were unforgivable.  However a stronger belief I hold is that I didn’t come to this world condemn or be condemned.  I believe it’s no coincidence that I put that CD in my car stereo yesterday, especially when I asked Source, what was next for me.  While I may have been seeking an answer to “more practical matters”, I have a feeling it is the most important answer I need.  For it is in that inability to forgive that I separate myself from the self, from you and from my Creator.  And that is no longer the path I wish to follow.

 


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I Am A #FACEBOOK Addict!

 

I’m a huge fan of Facebook.  I can’t tell you howfacebook many times I’ve said to my husband, “Honey, you should have seen the funny video I saw on Facebook today.”  My family of origin has a running joke about it, if they want to know where I am, they’ll ask, “Did you check Facebook?”

I happened to notice a family sitting at the bus stop at 7:00 a.m. this morning.  The woman was sitting on the bench with her son who was about 7 years old.  Her husband who was standing, searched down Beach Boulevard for any sign of the bus.  What stood out to me was the woman as she tapped her husband’s leg and held her phone up to him as if to share the latest thing she found on Facebook.  I realize I’m making assumptions about what she was showing him – of course I’m projecting how many times I’ve shown my husband the latest post.  Her face was filled with joy as she shared whatever was on her phone, and then she tapped his leg again, as if she had come across another “good one”.  It became a family affair as the three of them looked at the tiny screen together.

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Is 50 the New 30?

“I want to grow old without facelifts… I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I’ve made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you’d never complete your life, would you? You’d never wholly know you.”   Marilyn Monroe

I’ve heard that 50 is the new 30 – I’m not so sure about that.  I have a sister who says the 50’s are great.  I will say as I move towards the end the year where I have been 50, its kicked my butt.  I’ve been in somewhat of an internal pity party.  And soon I’ll be 50-something and I’m only just beginning to reconcile myself to that fact.  Yes, this is actually happening to me!

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m a VERY blessed woman!  I have loved deeply and lived with passion.  I have friends and family on over 6 different continents and I finally live in the place I’ve wanted to live since I’m 10 years old!

I’ve also counted on my great skin and very very slowly greying hair to keep me believing I’m not a day over 29!  However, once I hit 50, it’s amazing how suddenly things can change!  I’ve always had a ridge in my forehead, worry lines as some would call them.   However this year it’s beginning to look similar to the continental divide!  And that slowly greying hair is ready to make its debut!  I carry a magnifying mirror that shockingly magnifies all the flaws and tells me when random hairs pop up in the wrong places.  My body has things to say to me that it’s never said before and my 29 year old party girl self is being quickly replaced by, “Is it naptime yet?”  My commitment to getting in shape is sometimes met with a raging hot flash!  Lots of wonderful representations of aging.

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Whether or not my commitment to getting in perfect shape is met, what I am committed to this summer is GETTING OVER MYSELF!  Seriously.  How many decades have been spent on finding fault with some aspect of my life?  Goodness gracious – what a terrible bore!  I still am filled with a voracious hunger to serve, dance, create, laugh, and live.  That is where I want my 50’s focused on.  The celebration of life!  And how I can give back more.  I have years of life experience, both professional and personal that have helped me to grow into the dynamic woman I am today.  And so, today I choose to take that gift and decide how it is I choose to spend the next 50 years of my life.

I am ready to look back on this year and say, wasn’t that funny how out of sorts you were with yourself.  I’m so glad you got over it!


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What Makes Your Spirit Ignite?

Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.

Paulo Coelho

As a coach, I believe strongly that in order to achieve sustainable excellence in any one area, it’s important to strive for balance in all areas.  One question you might hear me ask is “What makes your spirit ignite?”  Clients typically ask, “what do you mean?”  And I let them know the meaning is what they decide to give to it.  Is it a question of spirituality, or what gets your creative juices flowing, or another possibility is, what makes you leap out of bed in the morning.   There is no right answer.  You need to define that for yourself.

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One time a client thought he would call my bluff with what he thought was the “wrong answer” and responded by announcing for him it was the New York Yankees!  My response was, terrific then let’s go with that.  What I am seeking when I delve into this topic with a client is, where is that deeply rooted feeling of aliveness and connection?  And are you nurturing that part of you?  If its the NY Yankees then so be it.  I know for my ex it was the NY Islanders.  For me, its meditation.  For one stepson its dancing, for the other its heavy metal, for my daughter it’s her dog.  You see it really doesn’t matter what, but it definitely matters that there’s something.

Going through life without that thing that makes you feel connected can bring a soul sickness that when not attended to can leave you to wither like a plant in desperate need of water and affects you and those around you.  Soul sickness not examined can lead to overeating, depression, addiction, rage against others, the list goes on and on.  wiltingflowerAnd while I’m not suggesting the NY Yankees will heal the soul, for some, its what brings them to life after a very long week.  What I believe is most important for all of us is finding a way to ignite our own spirits, where we connect with others, where we get to cheer, love, and celebrate.  A soul well fed can sometimes be seen on the face of an artist after they’ve captured the light in the perfect way through the lens of their camera.  Sometimes its seeing the first signs of a newly planted garden, and for others its after learning a new song, the music begins to take form.   Imagine what that is for you.

Many many years ago I was working a very hectic job with a long commute.  I was a single mom, going to college at night, attending 12 step meetings, making time for others and working hard.  Day in and day out.  Same old same old.  One Saturday afternoon I brought my daughter up to the park and we were sitting on a hill on the perimeter of a large pine forest.  One of my favorite spots. The top of the hill overlooked into a large rink filled with sports enthusiasts, part skaters and part basketball.  I remember sitting there and suddenly I was overwhelmed with sadness.  And I couldn’t shake it.  Tears started to roll down my face and it just didn’t make any sense.  I am not a basketball fan, but what I witnessed was this group having the time of their lives.  They were connecting, cheering, celebrating, and letting loose.  As I examined my own life, I could see I was taking my life far too seriously and not making anytime for what ignites my spirit.  I could see that my spirit was seeking connection and I needed to make time to figure out what that meant for me.  Would it be through play?  Did I need to join a team?  What about my spiritual life, was I giving it all I had.  Did I have time to laugh?  I love puppetry – could I somehow incorporate that into my own life?  I also love photography – was I feeding my creative appetite?

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Summer of 2014 is here.  This is a GREAT time to explore that for yourself.  Fishing?  Golfing?  More family time, less family time?  Gardening?  Close your eyes, take several deep breaths in and out through your nose, just allowing yourself to relax as you do, and then ask this question.  If my soul (heart), (higher-self), was given the freedom to do anything it wanted, what would it choose?  You might be surprised at the answer.  The last time I asked, I was told painting.  Really?  As you can see by my prior list, painting is not necessarily what my conscious mind chooses first – but there it was, asking to paint!  Allow yourself to explore a new or long forgotten path this summer and feed your soul.  It will do you a world of good.