Beliefnet
Lessons from a Recovering Doormat



Today I’m continuing my Embracing SUCCESS series with Richard LeMieux, who ran his own successful business for 14 years and was very financially solvent, had a happy marriage and lived a decadent lifestyle. But when his business failed, he lost his livelihood, his home, his possessions, his wife of 17 years, and his children.

Suddenly, he was living out of a van with only his dog Willow for company. Willow saved him from committing suicide when things looked bleak.

Richard was homeless in Bremerton, Washington for a year and a half. With a secondhand manual typewriter, he sat at picnic tables in parks writing his new book, Breakfast at Sally’s (Skyhorse Publishing, 2008), about his journey living off the kindness of the Salvation Army’s and other organizations’ kitchens. He also describes folks he met along the way. Richard’s memoir tells the story of one man’s resilience in the face of economic disaster. His quiet determination and determined willingness to live with his situation is evident in this story of an all-too-common American condition.

Richard created the Willow Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization to raise awareness about the homeless and to help other service organizations assist the homeless with emergency housing, food, and other necessities and services. Funded by book sales, royalties, speaking fees, and corporate and private donations, The Willow Charitable Foundation is dedicated to a community-based approach to the problem of homelessness.

Richard LeMieux may not be rich but I consider him a role model for SUCCESS. He’s using his book to help people in the situation he’d been in. Here’s what he said:

What was your life like before you were homeless? I had a great life with all the trappings that indicated my success. A beautiful home on the water, boats, cars, hot tubs, exotic vacations were all part of my ‘success’ in business.

How did you become homeless? I had a directory publishing company before days of Internet prevalence in our marketplace. I did not see some of those changes coming and in one year all my biggest clients decided to build web sites instead of buy advertising in my directories. I hadn’t really built a safety net for myself that would have sustained that level of business loss.

What was your life like when you were homeless? For the first 6 months, in my mind, I could sort of tell myself that Willow (my faithful canine companion) and I were on a ‘camping’ trip. Migrating around town from church parking lots to campgrounds. I was fortunate, I still had my car, a van I stayed in, many people did not have that.

Where did you eat/sleep when you were homeless? My van was Willow’s and my “home on wheels” and we could get hot meals at The Salvation Army and other meals programs around town like The Lord’s Diner, the Methodist Church and the Lutheran Church.

How did your dog, Willow, affect your experience of homelessness? Willow continues to be my companion and she is a certified mental health service dog. The need to take care of her was and is what keeps me going.

Do you think Willow saved your life one night on a bridge? Absolutely. There was really no way that from the center of the Narrows Bridge I could have actually heard her barking in the car when I left her at the observation deck with a note on the dash saying, “This is my dog Willow, I call her the Wonder Dog, Please take care of her.” But I ‘heard’ her nonetheless. I could not leave her there by herself not knowing if she would be cared for.

What role did mental illness play in becoming homeless? My therapist at Kitsap Mental Health once told me that I should not be alive. The number of things I lost in one year, my successful business, my house, my wife, the estrangements of my children all contributed to my fall into depression and struggle with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). The darkness of this time consumed me. I saw no way out.

There are a lot of stereotypes of homeless people – is there a common thread of why people become homeless or what types of people become homeless? In the ‘beginning’ when I started writing (or journaling as my therapist called it) Breakfast at Sally’s there was no purpose. Now there most definitely is a purpose. If you’d told me when I was 50 years old, atop the Eiffel Tower that I would be homeless when I was 59, I’d have said there is no way. And at 55 when I was on a cruise through Greece, I’d have said you were crazy. There will always be the stereotypes of homelessness, but what I found on the streets were people like you and me, educators and nurses, teachers and skilled labor, children and teenagers, families split between shelters. A cross section of our country and people just like us fallen on a bad time, a lost job, a medical condition, a death, a foreclosure.

How did people treat you when you were homeless? I felt like an outsider in the store, the bank, all the places that were a part of my previous life. Those that I met on the street turned out to be the purest form of relationship, there were no expectations, there was no judgment, there were those who maybe only had $5 to their name and they would give you $3 if you needed it. Generosity like I’d never seen before. I “found myself” there so to speak, in a way I never had.

What is your relationship with the Salvation Army? How do they help homeless people? I still go see Pat the cook, Major Baker, eat meals and do what I can for those still on the street. The Salvation Army does an amazing work in our communities, many times un-acknowledged. I am always struck by their “motto” so to speak and it resonates with the kindness I found there.

How can we solve this crisis of homeless people in the U.S.? WE can. That is the answer. It’s each of us doing a small thing that snowballs into a movement in our society. I am part of the formation of Willow Charitable Foundation that will work toward
doing just that. Using the awareness tool of Breakfast at Sally’s and the arts through music and visual arts in a unique way to put faces on our homeless, put a face on the statistics. Only in connecting with a story will we change our future story.

What is your life like now? Willow and I share life in an apartment and still pinch ourselves to realize what a special opportunity we have make life different for many, many people. I am ready to sit on Oprah’s couch. I want to win the Pulitzer and march that plaque down to our Salvation Army corps in Bremerton and slap it up on Major Baker’s wall. Just this far is a dream, why not dream big!

I highly recommend reading Breakfast at Sally’s if you want some inspiration and to read more about Richard’s incredible story of hope.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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This is my ninth post in my Monday series on the Law of Attraction, inspired by watching Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, the movie, expanded version.

“Too Blessed to Be Stressed”
Stress is all around us. I hear folks often discuss how stressed they are. The energy of working hard, taking care of family, and fitting everything you might want to do into a time deprived existence can lead even the most spiritual of us to be stressed. And the current economy can certainly exacerbate stress about your finances. People are more worried today than ever before, at least in my lifetime. Is my job, savings, investments, retirement fund, college fund for my kids, etc. safe?

It’s scary times right now—IF you allow it to be.

Fear, stress, worry, etc. all send the message that you don’t have total faith that everything will work out for your highest good. It expresses doubt in your spiritual power. The Law of Attraction, which isn’t selective about what to support, brings more fear, stress, worry, etc. back to you. This is so important for you to understand!

Faith can create miracles in a situation that doesn’t look good. But you must be willing to surrender your control of it and just expect it to all work out well for you.

Yes, investments are tanking, jobs are decreasing, the economy is in the toilet, the news sounds bleak. But it doesn’t mean that your world has to be bleak. Many people still have their jobs. The stock market is rebounding. It will take time to sort itself out and make a positive impact but it will happen. You can focus on all that’s wrong and attract a bad mood and negative situations, or look forward and find the blessing in your situation.

When you can put a lid on your worries, have complete faith that things will work out for you, and focus on your blessings, miracles can happen.

People post their blessings on my Conscious Gratitude Yahoo group. One lives in Houston. We didn’t hear from her for a week after the hurricane hit. When she finally had access to Internet service, she shared a long list of her blessings. I bet most people wouldn’t have found the blessings like she did! Her house was flooded. Much of her possessions are ruined.

She and her family rode out the storm at a neighbor’s house. The roof blew off and several families sat huddled together as pieces of the roof came down all around them. This woman posts her blessings every day. Her faith is strong. She wrote that as pieces of roof flew around them in the wind, it was like someone had put a bubble around the families because no one was hit with even a bit! Now that’s a miracle of faith and the Law of Attraction bringing more blessings to someone who expresses gratitude each day. She focuses on blessings and got a BIG one. And she continues to post blessings, despite still having many residual problems from the storm. Having your family and friends safe is much more valuable than anything else.

Focusing on your blessings can neutralize negatives and attract more blessings. The Law of Attraction loves to provide blessings to those who focus on them.

I recently had a visit with a woman who did work for my parents for many years. Though my parents are gone, Nazzy and I have stayed in regular touch. She and her husband Henry are in their eighties now. Yet when they walked in, they radiated the same sunshine in their positive and exuberant energy that they had when they were young.

All my questions about how they are were answered with very positive responses. “I’m blessed to still be healthy.” “I’m blessed to have my kids and grands around me.” “I’m blessed that our home is paid for.” I pushed. Surely this economy was making them stressed, since they’re not too financially solvent to begin with. But Nazzy kept smiling and in a joyous tone said,

“I’m too blessed to be stressed!”

She always focused on what she had and felt great appreciation for it. Her faith was strong that she and her family would be safe. “I’m too blessed to be stressed!” She was so happy with all she had that she couldn’t worry at all about potential problems. Since they weren’t on her mind, the Law of Attraction didn’t bring the problems or when they came, it brought solutions too. Being stressed gets supported by the Law of Attraction. Why attract it?

When life, or all the bad news about the economy get you down:

* Turn off the news on TV or radio! I normally watch the news but the last weeks I change the channel when dark scary reports air. When I listen to the radio, I do the same thing when negative stories are discussed. I don’t read newspapers too often. The news is scary. It puts thoughts in your head that attract negatives to you. I’m so much happier since I stopped listening to negative news reports. It really does all work out on the other end when you expect it to.

* Put situations that worry you into God’s hands. Whether you believe in God or the Universe or another spiritual being, put yourself in those competent hands and rest assured that things will be OK. I can’t always cope with things as well as I’d like but God can. That belief allows the Law of Attraction to bring me good outcomes.

* Remind yourself, “I’m too blessed to be stressed!” Then list your blessings and focus on them so you create more.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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I recently was honored with a very special visitor. His Holiness, Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda—known as Swamiji—came over to do an interview. Swamiji has traveled around the world 35 times to help spread world peace to as many people as he can through his practice of Yoga in Daily Life. This a holistic system for the body, mind, consciousness and soul, based on ancient teaching of yoga and adapted for today. Swamiji says through practice you can regain your physical, psychic, social and spiritual health and achieve self-realization and God-realization.

Swamiji has addressed people in many countries, dignitaries at the UN, and me! ?

It takes a lot for me to be in awe of someone. But when Swamiji entered my place, with an entourage of people from around the world, it felt like the energy suddenly changed. My doorman felt the same way. Bearded, in long orange robes, Swamiji’s presence brought calm. His smile radiated out. I felt very happy. Originally from India, he’s spent most of his time in other countries. I asked him to explain how his system of yoga creates inner peace:

Yoga is a part of discipline, a science of body, mind and consciousness. Practitioners of Yoga in Daily Life harmonize their body, mind, and consciousness. The yoga exercises are psychosomatic movements. They’re not a sport. They influence our body and psychic, and beautify our intellect. It gives you inner peace and contentment.

Swamiji’s system, Yoga in Daily Life is designed with ancient wisdom for modern life. It’s a scientific system that has many, many steps so that you can baby step, step by step, gradually, to come forward. The first aim in Yoga in Daily Life to achieve is physical, mental, social, and spiritual health. So it’s a lot more than most of us associate with yoga. Yoga in Daily Life is a lifestyle, not that different from what how I encourage people to live. It’s practiced around the world in more than 35,000 different locations.

I was confused, since there are different yoga disciplines. I asked Swamiji if he thinks they all bring the same kind of inner peace or have some taken a different direction. He answered:

Yoga is yoga. Many are practicing yoga only on the physical level—to be relaxed and have good health through this practice with good energy. Yoga in Daily Life is a completely holistic system. Every kind of yoga brings goodwill, to give the people something good.

Swamiji says that when you practice Yoga in Daily Life, the first thing it gives you is good health. When you have that, your mind is automatically calm and relaxed. Then you realize that within you there is peace. He adds, “Within you is the fountain of the joy and the immortal soul. Leave out the ego and live the divine life. Inner contentment creates harmonious vibration and peace, and that will affect all.” Another way for the Law of Attraction to be in action. He encourages us all to see the world with positive thinking. When life isn’t positive, avoid reinforcing it by saying things like, “oh my God, what terrible things.” He strongly advises trying to accept life as it is.

Swamiji exudes love, I mean really exudes it with passion and compassion. I asked him how important he feels it is to love yourself. He says: “You have to learn to love yourself. It means to understand ‘who am I?’ ‘How am I?’ Ask yourself:

*‘Am I a good person or a negative person?’
* ‘What have I done which people don’t like and how can I change myself so that my behavior and my being doesn’t distance others.’

Then your love will radiate outside. There’s a difference between self-respect and ego. Self-respect means that first you learn that loving yourself means to behave properly, dress properly, clean properly, speak properly. For example, if you wear makeup, you are not putting it on for yourself. You think that whoever will look at you will feel happy and good that you’re not disturbing them. So, love thyself to love all. You love yourself to keep your body healthy so that you can love others. You love yourself to keep your heart positive so that you can help others feel positive. You learn about your heart so that you can open your heart to others. That’s what I call the inner peace.

Many of us are always on the run. I asked Swamiji how we can integrate yoga into our routines to reduce stress. His outlook is very interesting, since his system isn’t just about yoga movements; it’s more a lifestyle that you practice. He explains:

Yoga in Daily Life is not just about the physical exercise or only sitting down to meditate. You go, you move, you behave according to the yogi principles. So when you walk, you walk full of awareness. If you are walking and someone is coming in front of you, it’s doesn’t cost you money to move a little bit to the side of the road. When you go on the bus and a handicapped or disabled person gets on, it doesn’t cost money if you stand up and let them sit down. If you eat something, eat it with love and decide you’ll only eat what your body needs. Even in a crowd where people smell, think about the beauty of the people and how nice it is to be close to so many humans. And that you won’t be there for long.

Yoga in Daily Life is seeing the world through the eyes of kindness and tolerance and practicing it with everyone you encounter. It’s living on a spiritual level at all times and being conscious of how your actions and reactions affect others. Swamiji says it’s an everyday life, 24 hours practices. He’s traveled the world for the last 40 years with 3 aims. He says they are:

1. To awaken the consciousness in people to lead a healthy way of life, to be healthy while practicing the divine science of yoga, and eating vegetarian, balanced and organic, healthy food.

2. To awake the consciousness in the people that we are not alone on this planet. Besides the humans, there are many other creatures, mountains, lakes, vegetation, desert, rivers and oceans, We should learn to live in harmony with our surrounding nature.

3. To awaken the consciousness in the people that we are all children of one God. There’s no need to fight. God gave equally to everyone. There’s only one reason for us—humanity. With these 3 aims I started my journey and have traveled around the world 35 times.

I asked Swamiji what he’d you say to someone who says he or she doesn’t know how to be spiritual? He says:

The belief does not change the reality. The reality is the realty. Even if you don’t believe, within you things are changing always. You are facing good and bad. But if you will accept the spiritual energy, life will be easier for you. I suggest you read more spiritual books. Not only one kind of direction or faith but open up your heart and view to the whole world. The readings and meeting spiritual persons and going to spiritual gatherings will awake in your consciousness the longing to drink that water. You will search for a drinking fountain and you will find it.

Swamiji is very concerned about all the restlessness and fighting against religions, companies, neighbors, partners, etc. on the planet. That’s why he feels it’s very urgent to realize that love will awake our inner peace, which will go to world peace if you practice Yoga in Daily Life. It’s a comprehensive system—mind, body and spirit. This spiritual man just cares about people finding peace in themselves that can radiate out to others and create a more peaceful world.

Swamiji’s book, Yoga in Daily Life—the System, is quite big, with beautiful illustrations and detailed instructions for following his system. When he left, I had to hug him. I can still feel the light of his presence when I see the photo of us together. He continues his journey around the world to do what he can to nurture world peace. I asked him for some final words for you:

All dear readers, brothers and sisters, we have not seen us maybe, but in this way, I wish you very, very good health; a happy, harmonious and long life; love and mutual understanding in your family and your society. And spiritual development for God realization. With this dear brothers and sisters, I bless you in the name of the almighty. Ohm Shante Shante, Shante.

I feel VERY blessed to have been in Swamiji‘s presence.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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This is my eighth post in my Monday series on the Law of Attraction in Action, inspired by watching Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, the movie, expanded version. This DVD is much cheaper than The Secret and the bonus talks by some of the best experts on using spirituality for your highest good make it a lot more substantive!

On Friday, OJ Simpson was convicted on all counts in his trial for stealing his memorabilia back at gunpoint. For the first time, I saw the smug, arrogant smile disappear from his face and it felt great! I admit, I believe that OJ murdered his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. When he was acquitted for those crimes, I was furious. And when he so disrespectfully and egotistically wrote the book, If I Did It, I wished him great evil and wanted to punch him out. But instead, I looked up and expressed that I’d leave the revenge up to God.

I did ask Him to do what would be the most appropriate form of revenge.

When someone does you wrong, it’s normal to want revenge. You may try to figure out how to get even or want to tell the person off in a forceful way. Stop those impulses and let the Law of Attraction get revenge for you! It will, especially if you let it. Why do I advise that you don’t get the revenge yourself?

* Going after revenge keeps anger burning in you. Thinking of ways to get even puts negative thoughts out to the Universe. Anger NEVER feels good! Metaphysical Science (the mind creates physical ailments) attributes holding onto anger as the cause of cancer. It also creates other physical problems.

* Going after revenge keeps what happened on the tip of your thoughts. It makes you talk about it with friends and plot how you’ll get even. That can keep you stirred up. The Universe doesn’t interpret why you want to hurt someone. It does bring you back what you put out.

* Going after revenge attracts more negatives. Evil thoughts bring evil situations. So you’ll get more of the type of behavior you want revenge against. Then you punish yourself too. Negative thoughts don’t attract positive outcomes. Until you release revenge to the Universe, you’ll attract more of the behavior you want revenge against.

* Going after revenge wastes energy that you can use to do something good for yourself. A majority of people don’t feel better past the moment of doing something to get back at someone. Negative revenge isn’t sweet. It often keeps that person in your life, especially if he or she decides to get back at you for your revenge, which can create a vicious cycle, supported by the Law of Attraction.

* Going after revenge is unnecessary, since the Law of Attraction works better than you can. It will come at the right time in the best way possible. Accept that nothing you can do for revenge will undo what the person did or make up for it. Hurting the person doesn’t replace the money she took from you or ease the heartbreak he caused.

* You live with the consequences of your revenge. When a scorned woman shreds her ex’s clothing or lies to get him fired, she creates her own hell of negatives that will return to her. If a guy sabotages a colleague who did him wrong, he sabotages himself too.

Revenge from the Law of Attraction can take time to happen. OJ’s conviction came 13 years to the day after he was acquitted on the murder charges. Hmmm… coincidence? I think not! He had 13 years to live with what he’d done and get bolder in his arrogance that he’d gotten away with the crime and could get away with others. Thirteen years to feel relief that he didn’t have to go to prison; to think he was invincible; to reinforce his negative energy.

Many folks put it out to the Universe for OJ to get his due. The Law of Attraction found a way to bring OJ’s deed back to him. He got away with murder but will now be punished for a much lesser crime that could put him away permanently. That’s how the Law of Attraction can work.

When OJ got acquitted, people wanted to kill or hurt him. They lamented about how he could get away with such evil. But killing him wouldn’t have given him the punishment he’ll now get. Guilty on all counts could easily keep him in prison for life. Living a hellish existence after 13 years of enjoying his freedom and believing he was in the clear is a fitting punishment.

Success is truly the best revenge for you to get. Let the Law of Attraction do the “dirty work” for you. Next time someone does you wrong:

* Express how you feel about it if that’s possible. Don’t yell or be nasty. Smiling will dig the point in more than an emotional response. Just let them know how you feel—once.

* Put the revenge into God’s hands. Ask for Him to bring the action back to the person in the most appropriate way at the most appropriate time. Two people have stiffed me on a money for seminar fees or consulting with rubber checks. I can honestly say I rest assured they’ve gotten theirs. Both no longer have a business website. And I’m sure they’ve been ripped off by others because of what they did to me. Meanwhile, my conscience is clear and my good reputation attracts lots of other clients.

* Tell the person you’ve put it into God’s hands and won’t bother them about it again. I love to just smile and express my confidence about the person getting what ‘s coming. A few times people have bounced a check for a book they bought. If they don’t replace it after my asking a few times, I’ll just tell them if they’re okay with putting the bad karma on their music career to save 20 bucks and the bank fee, I wish them good luck. They always send a money order.

* Be patient and move on. Don’t watch for it. Knowing it will happen is enough. Dwelling on it hurts you. Trusting it will happen and letting it go will allow the Law of Attraction to work its magic. Just know it will come at the perfect time. Happy 13-year anniversary OJ!

* Forgive the person in your heart. Having that positive spirit will attract other good opportunities to you that will make up for it. Somehow it all works out when you let it!

I’ve never regretted not doing more to get even with someone. Nicole Brown Simpson’s and Ron Goldman’s families may feel more satisfaction from this ruling than from winning the civil suit and getting little from OJ. Let the Law of Attraction assist you next time. Truly convince yourself that the Universe will deal out appropriate revenge for whatever you’re angry about. I feel more powerful than ever know I can let the Law of Attraction take care of revenge for me. And I know it will be a better rev
enge than I could deal up. ?

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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