This morning, 54 years ago, my mother was likely looking like a Jiffy Pop container, belly out to here, ready to burst. It was the day before I was about to make my appearance in this earthly incarnation. She and my father, who had married two years earlier (the very next day-October 14th) were eager to meet the first of their two children. A red haired munchkin got herself born 2 1/2 years later. The joke in our family was that among dark haired family members and the occasional blondie, my sister Jan must have been the proverbial ‘milkman’s daughter’. The truth is, she WAS, since for many years, that was my father’s profession. When I was a child, I used to say that I was born the day before my parents got married, to which they would rush to follow up with “Two years later,” so as to avoid embaressment.
My mother loved to tell the story of my arrival. She and my father had gone out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, which is actually the cuisine they were enjoying on their first date when after cracking open her fortune cookie, my mother’s fortune read “You’d better prepare your Hope Chest”. Clearly, the Universe knew what it was doing and they married the following year. After dinner, she had some decadent ice cream dessert. Within a few hours, (as my friend Teddi who is anticipating the birth of her little girl as I am writing these words, referred to it in her own gestational process) we were doing “the uterine mambo”. She was rushed to the hospital and then things settled down a bit. Walking the halls of what was then called Lying-In Hospital as the maternity ward of Pennsylvania Hospital (the first hospital in the U.S.), founded by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond in 1751, she stopped in front of the window to look at the newborns. Many were active, except one tiny boy. A doctor was standing over his crib, changing a diaper, and as soon as he took it off (or put it on, I forget which), he started to wail. At that moment, my mother laughed, her water broke and shortly afterward, 5:34 p.m. on October 13, 1958, I arrived on stage. I’ve often wondered if my bizarre sense of humor, ability to laugh at strange circumstances, comfort being out front, loving Chinese food and ice cream, was connected with the experiences surrounding my birth.
So, as I type these words, the morning prior to my birthday, I am filled with a mixture of feelings. I am listening to music that I will be reviewing next week for The Bliss Blog. The CD is called New World by Elisa Brown, produced by the Grammy Award winning Barry Goldstein. Ave Maria is issuing forth from the operatically trained Ms. Brown. “Mother of the Light, fill my heart, fill my soul…” transposed over the classic lyrics. Wondering what Mary was musing about the day before the birth of her Divine Child. Did she know that he would be a world changer? Does any mother know that? I imagine that if she is consciously aware of the awesome responsibility of raising a child, and not simply going through the motions, then she does have some inkling.
I look back at the last year, since turning 53 (an age that was nearly incomprehensible when I was a child…it felt so OLD) and marvel at the re-births that occur daily. Book published, touring in support of….writing, teaching, leaving a long time full time job, adjusting to being an ‘adult orphan’, missing my parents, becoming the family matriarch, meeting phenomenal souls, questioning nearly every aspect of my existence, seeing almost nothing at face value, diving deep, renovating my home and my life, clearing out, de-cluttering, making room for the new.
Tomorrow I will gather with friends from those lovely overlapping soul circles, I so treasure and celebrate our connection. That’s how I see birthday parties. When I turned 50, friends had given me a party at which they showered me with loving sentiments that I couldn’t fully absorb and they bounced off my teflon shields. My prayer is that this year, I can truly let it all in and immerse myself in love soup. In honor of my mother and father who I know will be there with us in Spirit, perhaps there will be Chinese food and ice cream…most certainly laughter.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIRtrR7LW7g Happy Birthday by Tom Chapin
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” ~ Albert Einstein ~
I was an inquisitive child, according to my parents. I was always asking questions about the nature of ‘life, the universe and everything.’ My mother would joke (I think) that they were usually asked at the dinner table and often about sex. My sister didn’t need to ask those questions, since I did it first. I was often seen carrying a book to read wherever I was, including in the car and the bathroom. No surprise since my father would call the bathroom ‘the library’. To this day, a book is often my companion to read when eating alone, or traveling. I am never bored and say that I am, instead, frequently fascinated. My imagination runs wild with abandon, pondering the nature of life. I peek under leaves (literal and symbolic) to turn over new ones. I rarely take anything at face value and generally dig deep to discover answers. Hard to understand people who are content to have a bland, question-less existence.
I question the nature of reality, pondering what differentiates fact from perception. I became a professional interviewer, in part, because I wanted to get to know people on a deeper level and open the windows to their worlds for readers to enter. Over the past nearly 25 years, I have explored the inner worlds of transformational teachers such as Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Jack Canfield, Debbie Ford, Arielle Ford, Dennis Weaver, Ben & Jerry, Shirley MacLaine, Dan Millman, Louise Hay, Richard Bach, Joan Borysenko, Michael Franti and Elizabeth Lesser.
When I had the profound blessing of interviewing His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2008, my questions were not the typical form or of a political nature. Instead, I wanted to know what brought him joy. His answers were heartening and all about connection with his fellow humans. He responded:
“Joy, I think, talking with people and my own motivation is sincere. I consider others as just brothers and sisters. Nothing barrier. I think you notice, like yesterday, when I talk to a few thousand people, I just feel I am talking to an old friend. Like that. I never felt some kind of distance, so therefore, I feel one source of happiness. In that kind of atmosphere, my experience seems some benefit to some people. I feel like my life is something purposeful. Many people have told me that after they listen to my talk, some point which I made, they got certain ideas and their whole life is changed. They are happier. One scientist had discussions about love and compassion. Usually, he felt irritation. After our meeting, for some months, anger never come. ”
I asked him how we can demonstrate affection to those whose paths we cross. “Real affection comes from the face. Those political leaders, when they meet, they are always hugging, but not very genuine. Deep, sincerity comes from face and eye. When you entered, you showed that face. I thought, “This is sincere. Not political hugging.” I assured him that indeed, it was not political hugging that passed between us.
If you realized that all of the answers in the Universe could be found by means of inquiry, what questions would you ask? And would you willing to listen with open ears, mind and heart, standing ready in holy curiosity?
Years ago, as I was opening a box of cereal for breakfast, I smiled and then laughed out loud when I saw the words written on the box top “To see if you’re a winner, look inside.” That quote has remained with me as a reminder that in order to win in the game of life, we first need to recognize the source of our success. Not sure that the cereal company had that in mind when they encouraged digging through the flakes for a plastic toy, unless they had a really creative ad person on board, but I liked the reference. This morning, not long after enjoying my cereal doused with almond milk and sprinkled with fruit, I noticed this encouraging message on facebook. It begged the question: What does it mean to win? In some circles, it implies beating the stuffings out of someone else, either literally like in a boxing ring or metaphorically as in a Presidential race. Not my idea of winning. In the circles in which I travel, which I much prefer, it means bringing the best of who you are to any table you approach. It means waking up each day, setting intention to create wonder, making decisions that positively impact you and the world around you. When you feel like a winner after accomplishing a goal, whether it is running a mile or completing a book, passing a test or asking someone out on a date, then you can take the next step and reach even higher. With that type of momentum, you are an example for others. And even more than that, your smile that says you did it, is contagious. Imagine a day in which, step by step, you climb the ladder of success.
One way to feel like a winner, is to surround yourself with them. When I was a kid, I heard over and over this line “You are judged by the company you keep.” What that meant to me is that if I am with people who think in limited ways, I absorb that energy and become that way myself. If I choose to be with happy, successful people who are a joy to spend time with, then I am seen that way as well. Jim Rohn who is a motivational speaker has said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Think about the ones who are in your closest sphere. Are they naysayers or yaysayers? Are they kvetching and complaining about life, feeling like victims or are they taking positive action and living like thrivers? How do people view you? How do you view yourself? Do you spend time with the same people out of habit, obligation, fear? Are you with them because you truly value each other’s company? Do you bring out the best in each other? For a long time, I stayed in friendships because I thought I would be disloyal if I left them. In truth, the only one to whom I was being disloyal was myself by remaining in unhealthy situations with toxic people. No one need ever prove their loyalty at their own emotional peril. Once I said goodbye to them, my own sense of self worth rose incrementally. When you can respect the man or woman in the mirror, your win-ability rises with it.
So, what are your gold medal musings and prize winning ponderings? I accept completely that we would not be given the inspiration to do something if the seeds for accomplishment were not already there. Perhaps the outcome is not exactly as we have envisioned it, but sometimes it is. We won’t know until we take those steps to arrive at our destination. If you carry the knowing that it is possible…..heck, even likely that you can dream, strive believe, achieve (this was written in lovely script on a mug given to me by a friend many years ago), then how could you feel like anything BUT a winner? Having said that, be advised that there are times when I get discouraged and wonder what the heck I am doing. And then….the magic happens, like a friend calling with just the right words to lift me out of my self imposed funk, or a lovely review of my book gets posted on Amazon or I am asked to speak at a conference or I am able to able to stay on the elliptical or do a few more reps during my ‘playouts’ at the gym. Mostly I feel like a winner when I am aware of the countless blessings that surround me, as if my name keeps being called at an awards ceremony. I graciously accept and say to the universe, as did Sally Field when she won an Academy Award for Places In The Heart-” I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
“The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is all in the attitude, not aptitude. Attitude is the criterion for success.” Denis Waitley
“There are always new, grander challenges to confront, and a true winner will embrace each one.”-Mia Hamm
“I don’t care to be remembered as the man who scored six touchdowns in a game. I want to be remembered as a winner in life.”-Gale Sayers
http://youtu.be/nuJUulfBb8s Born For Greatness -Jana Stanfield
What if there was a portable tool kit filled with easy to use ideas, ancient concepts that seem fresh, tried and true doorways into what you dream and desire? Would you think it was too good to be true? If you are like most people who were raised in an environment or culture that bred fear and thoughts of lack and limitation, then the answer would be “Likely.”…and yet, there is hope for you. Take a step on The Magical Path-Creating The Life of Your Dreams and A World That Works For All written by the prolific bestselling author Marc Allen. I felt invited into its pages from the moment I cast eyes upon the glowing sunrise cover of a person standing at the peak of a road, gazing back from whence he/she came. That is the journey we are all on and the road which we all traverse. Now, the trick is, do we stop when things feel challenging, turn back or move forward? Allen, who in 1977 founded New World Library (along with Shakti Gawain), a mover and shaker in the publishing industry, penned this book as a result of his own meandering path. He clearly practices what he preaches and is willing to divulge his own pitfalls and perils and reveals the depths and heights he rode to get to the place he now stands, ready to take others along for their own personal ride.
Allen encourages a multi-modal approach to life change which includes breathing and meditation, goal setting, affirmation, journaling, creating a treasure map/vision board, using our dreams as guides, reading inspiring literature, prayer, as well as collecting and using motivational quotes.
One of many aspects of this book that is so appealing is that when we create a new reality and manna-fest our personal desires, it is not for ourselves alone that we do this. Allen repeatedly speaks about the importance of the highest good being served. He believes in win-win scenarios, rather than a world in which competition reigns supreme.
Allen finds his own inspiration from various sources as quotes from Eckhart Tolle, Jesus, Margaret Meade, Patanjali, Ramana Maharshi, Albert Einstein, Ernest Holmes, The Buddha and Ella Wheeler Wilcox are liberally scattered throughout the pages, just waiting to be gathered up by the reader as if they were bunches of wildflowers.
The book can be read page by page in order, or opened at random and voila! the appropriate concept will jump out at the reader, perhaps responding to an inquiry or on a topic that was just being pondered. It was certainly the case for this reviewer, as on several occasions, the subject that had been crossing my mind was right there in black and white, just daring exploration. Allen speaks about the importance of repetition as reinforcement. This material is sticky stuff that will remain with you long after the last page is read and the book is put on a shelf. Likely, it will be pulled off over and over as a resource for life transformation.
“And miracles will follow miracles and wonders will never cease, for all our expectations are for good.”- Florence Scovill Shinn
And so it is.