This photo tickled me when it showed up in my message feed this week on Facebook, for many reasons. One is that it quoted my friend and inpsiration, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He knows first hand the power of love and the investment of heart and soul into embodying its essence. The other is the beatific look on the face of the person who is wafting about from heaven to earth. Many years ago, if that were me, the look would have been one of panic, feeling as if I were in free fall rather then free flight. These days, I am trusting more often that even when I take physical and emotional leaps of faith, the safety net of Spirit is there to catch me.
Each day, we all take risks…heck some days, just getting out of bed feels like a daunting task as the inner child whines…”Do I hafta get up? Can’t I just stay under the cozy covers for a bit longer?” I have found that there is always some delight awaiting me when I do put my feet on the sky blue carpeted floor for the first time each morning. It could be the sound of the birds serenading me awake, the dappled sunlight through the curtains, leaving patterns on the closet door. It could be remembering how blessed I am to have such wonderful, loving friends and family and exciting adventures to persue. I set challenges before myself, to be more mindful, rather than mind-full (like an overflowing sink full of dishes…maybe that’s why I always make sure my kitchen sink is empty of them before going to bed…ask my son:) . I open my heart to allowing love to move through, without impediment. I meet new people every day, because I know how much we enrich each other’s lives. I expand my horizions, thinking outside the box. I offer love as if chocolate on a plate. Some people, believe it or not, don’t like or desire chocolate.
Yesterday was Global Love Day and I decided to give out heart stickers. The first batch went to the tellers at the bank when I went in to do business. They smiled with delight and asked if they could keep me there yesterday. On my way out the door, I offered one to a man who was walking in, and although he smiled, he politely declined. Offering love can be risky too, since the thought of ‘what if they say no?’, can accompany it. I have learned that receiving a ‘no’ isn’t a rejection of me and doesn’t need to disempower me in any way. I can keep on offering and see what happens. At my job as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital, I continued to scatter the hearts, giving them to my co-workers. To a one, they all said yes. One of the docs took two; one for each of her children. People put them on their clothing and badges. On my way out the door, I tucked a few stickers under the windshield wipers and in the door of the car of my friend Peggy since I didn’t have any in my pocket to give her when we saw each other at lunch time. One of the psychiatrists saw me by her car, and asked what I was doing. I assured him that I was ‘vandalizing with love’ and gave him a few as well. He walked away smiling.
So were they great achievements? Not in the grand scheme of things. Were they risky? Not much. And yet, we may never know the impact of our actions on the lives of folks whose paths we cross. My growing edge and yours might look different. Some of my emotional bungie jumping risks involve putting my creative work out there for all to see and critique, to ask for what I deserve in terms of compensation for my work, to stand on stage and share what I have learned over the past 53 years. One of the most challenging risks is acknowledging my struggles, since I want it all to look effortless…at least my ego does. I know how blessed I am, so often I have dialogues with myself that sound like “What the heck do you have to compain about when you have so much?” and then I hear the voice of friends echoing in my ears…”Stop being so hard on yourself!” That’s when self compassion takes the wheel and the words “Sweetheart, you have just as much right to kvetch as anyone. Just don’t stay there.” That’s when I can move from ‘oy to joy’ by remembering how I have safely landed after every experience I have had.
What risks are you willing to take today to allow yourself to enjoy the excitement of free flight? Happy Landings! <3
http://youtu.be/UF5V2PEujqs If I Were Brave by Jana Stanfield
I’m writing this entry on May 1st, which is the official Global Love Day, but the posting will carry over into May 2nd for the simple reason that I consider every day one in which love is to be honored, treasured, cherished, lauded, heralded and blessed. My thesaurus brain could come up with other verbs, but you get the picture. I remember hearing about this holiday a few years ago through its founder Harold Becker who chose 12 years ago to bring attention to all that was beautiful and sacred about life and so he created The Love Foundation to be the voice for love.
Each year, The Love Foundation encourages people world wide to express love through art, music, poetry, spoken and written word. There are events happening everywhere; check out the link www.thelovefoundation.com They focus on the idea: Love Begins With Me. I like the question WWLD? (like WWJD?) What Would Love Do?
In 2006, I answered the call and submitted an essay (see below) and wonder of wonders, got notification that it had been chosen to receive The Director’s Award for Essay. Soon after, a certificate (suitable for framing:), some colorful stationary and I forget what other little gifties, arrived in the mail. A broad smile lit my face and a glow emanated from my heart for days afterward. That’s the power of love.
Here is the essay.
Within each of us, glows the spark of the One who created us. It was implanted when we took our birth. It’s
what unites us in both a common humanity and Divinity and can stand up to hatred, fear and violence.
When we sit in silence within the stillness of our minds and fullness of our hearts, we can feel its
inexorable pull and the call to love without limits. What would it be like to truly love with God’s heart
(whatever you perceive God to be)? Who could you possibly judge or condemn? What if you could turn
that same compassionate eye to the man or woman in the mirror? On the altar in my bedroom sits a statue
of Kwan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion, given to me by a friend. She is a constant reminder of
the need to face myself with gentleness.
We are taught that we should “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Nowhere in there are we told to love them
more than or instead of ourselves and yet, so often that is exactly what we do. What that leaves us with is
the sense that we have to prove ourselves worthy of love, which is the farthest thing from truth. I have
discovered that you can’t give what you don’t have. When we recognize that we are love incarnate, then it
is so much easier to offer to those whose paths we cross, whether it be family, friend or stranger, the totality
of who we are. In the Rastafarian culture there is the concept of “I and I”, rather than “you and me”,
indicating that there is only one of us here, fully worthy of loving and being loved. I have also heard of a
greeting either in African or Native American tradition that references each person as “my other self”. What
we do to others (whether that be two-legged, four-legged, winged, finned, flora or fauna), we ultimately do
to ourselves. By virtue of being born onto this planet, we can’t escape the intricately beautiful web of life
into which we weave our shared dreams and visions. In Hindu tradition, the greeting “Namaste”, with
hands in front of heart in prayer pose, translates to “The Highest or Divine in me honors/recognizes the
Highest/Divine in you.” A friend of mine honors his Jewish roots and his yogic practice by combining
Hebrew with Sanskrit and greets others with the blended word “Shalomaste”.
Each of us is so powerful, when armed with love. We can make such a difference in the lives of those who
surround us, even if we have never met. One life impacts on another. One kind word, one caring deed may
plant a seed that may take years to root down, but blossom it will.
One of my dearest role models for from-the-heart compassionate living, is His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
Since the late 1950′ s this political/spiritual leader in exile has taken a stand for mutual honoring and
respect. I had the great joy of hearing him speak at my alma mater, Rutgers University in September of
2005. What he shared, mirrors my deepest understanding of the meaning of love in all fullness.
He expressed that in this period of time, the concept of ‘us and they’ can longer afford to exist. “It’s just
‘we’. Destruction of your enemy is now an outdated concept.” He feels that as human beings, we need to
practice “internal disarmament”. He continued: “Attachment is always biased; the closeness feeling you
have is only toward your friend. Compassion as a sense of concern is unbiased. It depends on the
recognition that others are just like myself. Today’s attachment may become tomorrow’s hatred.”
We don’t have to be an articulate speaker or revered leader to make a difference. We simply need to
embody the Divinity we are. I invite each of us to live fully from the heart, shining forth that “God spark”
that we were before we took our birth and will always be beyond time. In this way, together we can be a
greater force for good in the world.
We are all family of choice and chance…honor all your relations <3
So today and every day how do you choose to express love?
My friend Shawn Gallaway invites you to make that decision with his definitive musical statement. www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wPhiS_7hyM
In my family, we have what we call “Uncle Jimmy parking spots”. My mother’s brother Jim would always find the perfect spot wherever he would go. Over the years, I have found spaces right in front of where I want to go, including on South Street and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, in New Hope, PA and one in Manhattan at 5 pm on a weeknight and it was FREE! Then, a few years ago, when an interfaith community in which I am involved, called Common Ground Fellowship brought Michael Beckwith in to speak, I parked a few blocks away and when I came back to my car, there was a $20 bill right next to it.
My uncle died about 5 or 6 years ago and when I went to see him in the hospital a week or so prior, I told him that was a legend among my friends and that I loaned them my parking mojo. He smiled and said ” I will always find you the perfect parking spot.” and so he does <3
This is the ideal example of The Law Of Attraction in Action. Our minds are so magnetic to ideas and thoughts that either empower us or discombobulate us. We have become accustomed, in many instances to accept ‘that’s just how things are’, when they don’t work according to our desires. The short circuit comes into play when we buy into the mistaken belief that we are powerless. Couldn’t be farther from the truth. How often have you cast a wish out into the Universe, only to hold on to the tail of it, not wanting to fully surrender it and then weighted it down with the thought..”Oh, it’ll never happen.” and then guess what? It snaps back at you): I notice on a daily basis when I get mired in the muck of that type of mental meandering and then as quickly as possible, reel myself back in.
When I am driving somewhere, I set intention before I arrive that the perfect spot will be available for me right when I am there. Sometimes I have driven around the block a few times and the space literally opens up just as I am approaching it. It is not limited to patches of gravel or tar with white lines around them, but also with opportunities, people and experiences.
What is your driving force?
http://youtu.be/DUDtFdnn9oQ Car Song Woody Guthrie
Tonight I had the exquisite joy of having dinner with my editor, Pamela Maliniak who I think of as a literary midwife. She takes a book from conception to birth and beyond. We met a year ago this past February at an event where I was a speaker and I knew immediately that she was the one to hone and polish my book entitled: The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary. As we worked together, we became friends and I value her perspective on all aspects of life, not just the written word. I joked that even though she is young enough to be my daughter, in many ways I feel she was the midwife to help me birth myself.
As we sat across the table from each other, catching up on each other’s lives, she was offering her feedback on my work, including some leaps I am taking, and said that I was an ‘all in’ kind of person. I sensed what she meant was that I put my heart and soul into everything I do. She would be right about that, since I was taught by my wise parents that giving something my all, even if the outcome wasn’t necessarily as I might wish it to be, was a measure of success. There was a time in my life when I was a laissez faire/ go with the flow kinda person, not wanting to rock the boat or make waves. I was hesitant to shine, to overshadow anyone else. I felt as if my energy could be overwhelming at times. I have since learned that life is like the hokey pokey; it’s more fun if you put your whole self in. AND I have learned the art of being subtle; discerning ‘when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.’ I was telling Pam that there were times when I feel like a little girl playing jump rope and waiting for the exact right moment when the rope is up in the air to take that leap into its arc. Sometimes ya just gotta go for it.
Athletes appreciate this concept. I remember as an age group swim team member from the time I was 11 until I was 18 (and then coached for three summers after that), the thrill I got from giving it my all, from the moment I signed up for an event, until I emerged, dripping from the pool, leaving chlorinated vapor trails in my wake. There was no room for even a shred of ‘oh well, whatever…’ when it came to competitive swimming. I won alot, not all the time, but enough to provide evidence that practice made a difference. I saw a large return on investment of my time and energy
Since the book has come out, I have been investing as much time and energy as I can with sharing it with the world and there are times when I feel I am neglecting this newborn, what with my full time job and various and sundry additional responsibilities. Any other creative souls feel that way?
I am also an ‘all in’ kind of person when it comes to relationships. My friends know that they can count on me to follow through with commitments and be present in times of need. I know that relationships thrive when the parties engaged in them trust that they are not, as my mother referred to them “fair weather friends’; there only for the good times. You can’t be totally commited…..sometimes. That’s where don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements comes in handy.
The First Agreement states: “Be Impeccable with Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. “
To me, being in integrity calls for saying what I mean, meaning what I say and not saying it mean. While there is room for negotiation, since life circumstances can be unpredictable and fluid, the majority of the time, I am on target with impeccability. Now the avoidance of ‘using words to speak against’ myself could still use some re-focusing, since at times (so I’ve been told), I can be far too harshly self critical.
I invite you ask yourself about the areas in your life, when you have had one foot on each side of the line between what you have now and what you want to achieve. Don’t be a ‘mugwump’, with your mug on one side of the fence and your wump on the other.