Something to Ponder… Passion or Purpose

I started this month writing about passion…as this April happens to be the month of passion. I presented questions that would hopefully lead you towards discovering or uncovering your passion(s); those things that fill you up, send energy coursing through your veins, or put you in a space of contentment, feeling alive and engaged, or in some way, committed. We can get a glimpse of what our passions might have been by looking back at our childhood hopes and dreams.

When I think back to my childhood, I remember seeing myself growing up to be a lawyer, criminal psychologist or a vice president in some business organization. And, while I did manage to attain the title of vice president and president, I never became a lawyer or criminal psychologist. As a young person, how was I to know that my passion was about justice, equality and taking care of those who needed a helping or guiding hand?

That passion has never left me. In my corporate days I sometimes found myself at odds with corporate policy; leaning backwards to help the employee before holding firm on some pointless policy. In my free time I volunteered at a women’s and children’s abuse center, giving support, direction and assurances to those in domestic or sexual abuse situations.

As my interest or commitment to the corporate arena began to wane, I found myself getting more and more involved in helping others physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I questioned what my purpose was; why was I getting so involved in other people’s lives and trauma? Was I here to right some wrong? To develop a healing technique that would cure cancer? Remove emotional scarring? Free the troubled spirit? Bring about world peace via my psychic abilities? How grandiose was my purpose? Or, was I just a wandering soul with no purpose at all?

Years have passed since I wandered into the world of spiritual coaching, healing and mentoring. I have spent decades coming to better understand my passions, thoughts, beliefs, intentions, and the deeper desires of my soul. I have learned that I am a part of the whole; not more or less, but an equal part. I believe that if you see yourself as part of the whole, then you see the inter-connectedness of all that is; that we are all connected as one living, breathing, vibration of loving energy.

I’m sure you have heard it said that ‘we are all connected’, but what does that mean? How can you comprehend something that you can’t see, touch or smell? I am me and you are you, separate and individual. Right? So how do you go from ‘seeing’ separate and individual to feeling and knowing the deep, penetrating connectedness? The wholeness? How do you move from seeking ‘your purpose’ to recognizing ‘there is but one purpose’?

Take a look at a teacher. Teachers don’t just teach. Their ‘life’s purpose’ isn’t to just stand in front of a classroom and teach a subject. What they do is commit to helping others; all those who enter their classroom or their lives. By standing in front of a classroom and teaching a subject, they come to know the students they teach, pass along life lessons to help guide and direct them through their coming years, while acting as a knowledgeable, available resource to those who need one. The same can be said about police officers, fire fighters, nurses, and military personnel. We can even include politicians, corporate CEOs, entertainers, sports figures, etc. (although they are often not quite as obvious).  The list goes on and on. Why? Because we are all connected and here for a single, all inclusive purpose. It is time to change how you ask the question … ‘what is my purpose’. Changing that question to ‘what is the purpose’ takes the separate, individual idea of self and turns it into a global, ‘we are all connected and one’ concept.

Trying to figure out what your specific and unique purpose is can create a lot of pressure. What if you get it wrong? What if you aren’t any good at it? What if you are so good at it, it takes over your life and you die from not being clever enough in its use or execution? If you think about it, passion and purpose are pretty closely linked. If your next question is, ‘what if I don’t know what I am passionate about?’ … then you need to think back to the ‘good ol’ days’ when you were a child. What did you do that kept you so engrossed that you lost track of time? Or, what did you do that never got boring? What did you dream of becoming or doing when you grew up? What things were or are so interesting, you just want to keep reading, learning or doing more of? The key to finding your passion lies in the answers to those questions.

As I walk slowly into the world of retirement, I have found a passion for making jewelry. I love the creative aspect of it, and the healing properties of the stones and designs. Not only are the pieces often intended to help the wearer physically, mentally and spiritually, but each piece seems to become an intimate experience and expression of its own.

But my passion for justice, feeding hungry children and equality for women still reigns strong, and at times, fiercely within me. Whatever I do in those areas supports the purpose. Whatever jewelry I may make, is part of the purpose. Whatever joy I feel or am able to give to others, is for the purpose … the purpose of all, all life, all consciousness, all creation, and all that lives within the web of connectedness.

I no longer ask the question ‘what is my purpose’. Instead, I know that no matter what I do that engages my passion, will bring me joy, happiness, peace and contentment. And in that inter-connectedness, that same joy, happiness, peace and contentment will filter throughout, moving us closer to our true essence of love.

 

 

Something to Ponder…Mentors and Teachers

According to Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, a mentor is a wise and trusted counselor while a teacher is a person who teaches or instructs. I have had many teachers in my life, as I am sure you have too. From the time you took your first breath you were surrounded by teachers; teaching you how to feed yourself, walk, talk, right from wrong, reading, writing and arithmetic, family, friends and relationships, etc., etc. You were a clean slate when arrived here and placed in the arms of your mother and fussed over by family. And they were the first teachers to begin filling up your slate.

Through the years I encountered a few mentors; those who knew more than me and spent their time and energy to guide me. When I was trying to make my way through the world of corporate business, I was taken under my boss’ wing and given opportunities to excel in the world of information technology. When I was confused by my intuitive abilities, I found myself setting across from a woman who unselfishly taught me how to develop and use these gifts, and set me on a path of self-realization and spiritual awakening. There were many caring and giving teachers along the way, but my mentors seemed to always have a way of pushing me beyond my comfort zone and opening windows so I could fly.

One such mentor was a chiropractor. He pushed me so far out of my comfort zone I doubt that I would have ever had the courage to do the things I have accomplished these past 15 years. Because he pushed me to further define and understand who I was, what I could or couldn’t do, and how I view life spiritually, he made it possible for me to ‘find’ my last spiritual mentor. One who taught me about ceremony, Spirit and walking the good red road.

So while I view a teacher as someone who helps you understand something, a subject, or concept, a mentor is someone who helps you find yourself, your way, your voice, and perhaps your soul.

Who were your mentors? And, what did you learn?

 

Post-Election

To say I am disappointed in the outcome of our election would be an understatement. However, it is time once again to rally. To rally…

  • in support of our Great Nation;
  • in support of our soldiers and all those who serve our Great Nation;
  • in moving our Great Nation forward;
  • behind the new President of these United States of America;
  • together as a beacon of light that honors truth, respect, and most importantly, equality for all men and women, regardless of their race, religion, or nationality;
  • together in peace as we bear witness to the changes and challenges we are all about to face as we move into this historical time;
  • in syncretism for our children and their children, for our neighboring countries and our allies, and for our future as a Nation of dignity, honor, glory and freedoms;
  • our collective spirits, pointing them in the right direction … the direction of peace and unity;
  • and support the simple rights of all who walk the face of our first mother, Mother Earth … clean water, fresh air, unadulterated healthy food, and a place to rest ones’ head; and
  • to demonstrate our inner most benevolent, merciful, courageous, gracious and respectful attitudes towards those whose choices have prevailed and will steer the course of our Great Nation for the coming years.

May we never lose sight, however, of the goals we had all hoped would be achieved through the election of another candidate. Goals like …

  • true equality for all people;
  • improvements to our healthcare program, where every citizen of this Great Nation is covered and insurance companies don’t dictate the rules;
  • affordable and available education;
  • human rights;
  • helping our planet and universe heal and get healthy; and
  • reuniting the people of our own Nation.

(Maybe I’m not really writing this, and this is just a bad dream.)

Something to Ponder … Dedication

I recently had the honor of attending a baptism and listening to a sermon about dedication. While the context of the sermon focused primarily on dedication to church and community, I found myself pondering the idea, concept and meaning of the word ‘dedication’. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the meanings of dedication is …  “a feeling of very strong support for or loyalty to someone or something : the quality or state of being dedicated to a person, group, cause, etc.” Looking further into other words similar to this one, I found words like … adherence, allegiance, commitment, devotion, devoted, single-minded. 

I am a true believer in having values and virtues that guide us through our life and times. As well, I believe we all have a calling and purpose in our life that often draws us towards that which helps us feel fulfilled, complete or satisfied with our lives. However, don’t we first need to put in place a foundation of Self? Isn’t our first undertaking to learn, honor and nurture Self?

I always think about the message given to each passenger as you prepare to take-off into the wild, blue yonder. ‘In the event the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, first place the mask on yourself before you turn to assist a child next to you.’

The idea of dedication … that very strong support for or loyalty to someone … should be applied to you first. Not in a selfish way, but in a way of taking care and nurturing oneself so you can dedicate more of your time, thought and energy into fulfilling, completing and satisfying your own innate purpose and calling.

Past, Present, and Future Moments

Due to recent events in my life, I have had a lot of time to witness and ponder various spiritual concepts and religious dogma as they played out from peoples’ well-worn patterns and perceptions of life, living, the past, the present and the future. If you are paying attention, you can clearly see how a person’s fundamental foundation supporting their spiritual or religious beliefs or understanding have been laid. I use the words ‘beliefs’ and ‘understanding’ separately because my impression is while someone may state they have a belief in something, it doesn’t guarantee they have taken the time to truly understand how, why or what it is they believe in, or have put forth the time and energy to look at alternatives to what they were originally taught. In a day when we are quick to seek second opinions concerning our physical health, why would we not want to learn more or do more for our spiritual health and well-being? (A discussion left for another time.)

For many, the world consists of the past and future. What we (individually or as a collective whole) have done in the past will dictate what we have in the future. If we do this, then we will get that. What we seem to forget is the present; the now moment. How we take care of this moment is all that matters, and is all there is. In this moment (as you sit and read this post) there is no past and there is no future. There is only now. How you sit and read right now is all there is; nothing else. Your mind may try to draw you to the emotions of a past event; but it does not exist. Or, your mind may play out a potential future scenario; but it too does not exist. At this moment, all you have is now.

While talking with one of the members of one of my groups, I asked the question, ‘Who are you really?” The answer came back that she was an energy that loved to read and learn, and to help and serve others. It was a beautiful answer. What it said was that she lived in her head and in her mind, learning what others had to say about the world, current events, technology, the environment, etc. And, while there isn’t anything wrong with that, we each need to spend time in the present moment, the now, witnessing the life and spirit that dwells within and observing each and every nuance, emotion and sensation of that very finite moment.

Our mind is often a distraction as it gathers and processes information, making us miss out on the very moment at hand. Many of our day-in and day-out thoughts center around what we want, how we want it and when. We think about what is right or wrong about something we are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or witnessing. We allow our focus to incorporate those things that might better satisfy our own personal desires, preferences or needs. And, during that self-centered lack of attention, we completely miss what is happening in the moment.

How many times do you find yourself, when talking with another, thinking about your response rather than what is being said? Are you in the moment when this happens, or are you striving for some future moment? You miss the complex simpleness of that single moment when you allow your mind to wander astray. You miss the present moment; the only one that matters.

Our mind is filled with rules, credos, and teachings from others. It is a store house of data, often satisfied with its existing content, and it likes to control your thoughts, your ideas, your beliefs, and your every act and Being.

  • When you find it ‘chatting’ non-stop when attempting to meditate, do yoga, or simply sitting in quiet stillness;
  • if it ‘analyzes’ everything (important or unimportant), as though it is going to give you some new and revolutionary feedback;
  • ‘wakes’ you in the night and doesn’t let you go back to sleep;
  • ‘reminds’ you of your beliefs, whether they are healthy or unhealthy, viable or not and ‘convinces’ you that you cannot change them;
  • and, ‘rejects’ any form of spiritual communication, making you question or doubt what you intuitively know to be true;

then you are stuck in the loop of the mind…like a mouse caught on a wheel. No matter how fast you run or how much you read, you can’t escape the mind’s iron clad grip.

So, what can you do?

  • Practice being present.
  • When your mind begins chatting, with great energetic intention and focus tell it to ‘stop’. Then with effort, return to your practice.
  • When your mind begins to analyze that which is insignificant or at a time that is inconvenient, ‘stop it’.
  • When it wakes you in the middle of the night, remind yourself that you can think about those thoughts when you awake in the morning, tell it to stop, and return back to sleep.
  • Give yourself permission to be in charge and to direct the actions and activity of your mind.
  • It is important that you believe in yourself and that you are more than capable of developing a mind that serves you well, takes direction when needed, and doesn’t control your every waking (or sleeping) moment.

Each and every moment you decide to be present are moments of enlightenment, of truly experiencing the flicker and fulfillment of life. These are the very precious moments because they didn’t slip away unnoticed, unrealized or overlooked. We like to capture the ‘big events’ of our lives in photos or movies, but every moment is a big event if we just slow down and be present for it. You’ll be amazed at all that comprises just one single, simple, complex moment. Allow these moments to rebuild your fundamental foundation of spirituality and you.

 

A Gift of Generosity

The holidays have such a profound effect on most people. There are those that rue the season, while others revel in the shopping, cooking, decorating, gift wrapping and celebrating with friends and family. On one end of the spectrum you find some embracing the whole idea of celebrating family and friends, and on the other end you find those who feel forced into doing something they wouldn’t normally do nor want to do. Most of us, I think, fall somewhere in the middle.

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it is all about gathering with family and friends, sharing a meal, a story, and heartfelt time together. It isn’t about the gifts, because choosing the right gift can be stressful, or what was given or received. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. Its about stepping back from the rush of everyday life and recognizing the joy and benefits, life and those around you, have bestowed upon you.

I love hosting Thanksgiving at my home. We have a very large family (50+) who come from far and wide to spend this one day together, before heading off in other directions. It is a day filled with hugs and kisses from the many beautiful souls who walk into my kitchen, checking out the day’s fare.

Starting on Monday before Thanksgiving, I begin my preparation. Monday and Tuesday are busy with making and checking lists, shopping and the first baked dessert. On Wednesday, 2 or 3 of my sisters come to help prepare a variety of foods to be cooked the next day or that day, plus the baking of a couple more desserts, and chopping whatever needs to be chopped for the next day. Thursday is a whirlwind of activities prior to everyone’s arrival, which of course, includes my children and grandchildren. Once the family begins to arrive, the warmth of the tradition and all it represents begins to unfold. Plates are filled and carried to a table where true family sharing and caring can be witnessed. How very blessed we are as a family, and my husband and I am as the host.

It is during this time of the year that my heart begins to swell with emotion for how fortunate I am and how unfortunate some families may be at this time. To feed such a large group is costly, no doubt; but I have been blessed to be able to do that. I have found over the years that it doesn’t take much money or effort to place a good hot meal on a family’s table. It is heart warming to be able to bring aid and a little comfort to those that need a little extra helping hand.

For years the Cedar Water Healing Lodge has offered a hand to those in need, whether it was to help heal a physical, emotional or spiritual wound, ease someone’s pain, provide gifts, food, guidance, or simply a place to sit, meditate, or rest one’s weary bones. As a healer, my goal is to support, assist and educate those who seek my help and service. This help is not dependent upon a particular time of year … it is always available and given in earnest. And, this same philosophy has permeated throughout the Lodge’s community. This is a community of people who have come to know, understand and quite often teach the gift of giving.

Too often a gift is given with unseen strings attached; an expectation of what may be returned. If I give this to you, then at some point I will receive something back from you. (You owe me.) As well, sometimes when someone repeatedly gives a gift to another, the generosity of the gift may become diminished, if not forgotten or expected. Don’t worry about the money, when your pain reaches a certain threshold, come and see me, and I will do what I can to help ease that pain. (After a period of time the help is expected, no longer a gift.)

It is a gift to be able to give; and, to give a gift without expectation is a gift of generosity. It is a gift that comes from the heart. It is a gift that is given without anticipation or the prospect of receiving anything in return. It is simply a benevolent act of compassion, kindness and generosity. A gift of generosity is often met with awe; the receiver is often stunned or taken back by the goodness and unselfishness of the giver. It is an act of deep healing, not only for the receiver but for the giver as well.

Take some time this holiday season to give gifts of generosity. And while you are at it, give a gift of generosity to someone you do not know, who may be a little less fortunate than you. It will warm your heart, bring a smile to your face, and remind you of the true spirit of the holidays.

 

 

Success and Spirituality

Perhaps it is because of the recent partial eclipse, perhaps it is because of the imminent Mercury retrograde, or perhaps it is because I have heard too many questions from people who appear to be afraid of making their own decisions, but here is the question that keeps coming up for me … Are you finding yourself unable to make a decision? And, if so, are you afraid of making the wrong decision?

Lately, I have found myself being presented with people who are afraid of making decisions; fearful of making ‘the wrong one’, looking foolish, or wasting their time doing something they might have to undo at a later time. I understand the practice of pondering a decision, weighing the pro’s and con’s, and allowing ‘logic’ to do its measured thing. I also understand (and generally practice) the concept of going with your gut instinct, and for the most part, setting logic aside.

What constitutes a ‘wrong decision’? Is it a decision that renders something other than what you imagined or anticipated? Have you ever made the ‘right decision’ but still ended up with consequences you weren’t expecting? How many of those decisions were ‘fatal’ by nature? Causing you to lose everything you had worked for or causing you to lose all family and friends in the process?

When working in the corporate world I often heard the phrase ‘analysis paralysis’, when a person or organization missed opportunities because they were paralyzed in their process of outcome analysis. It became clear to me, and those around me, that no matter how much time, effort and energy you put into clearly understanding and ‘running the numbers’ on any situation, you can never know for certain how something will eventually turn out.

So what if your decision produces an outcome that doesn’t match up with what you had imagined? At least you made a decision, got off the fence of indecision and learned a little something you didn’t know before. Not making a decision leaves you sitting in the same hopeless spot you were sitting when you first started contemplating the situation; and, you will continue to sit there until time runs out or the situation eventually resolves itself. Why miss the opportunity to move forward? Or, to take a chance? To experience something unknown, unfamiliar, or unexpected?

If you deem your decision to be the ‘wrong one’ based on the initial outcome, does that mean you were unsuccessful in making a decision? Or, were you successful making the ‘right decision’ if the initial outcome appears to be what you were anticipating? Are you successful or unsuccessful if the outcome does not reflect your anticipated image but turns out to be a better outcome than you had ever imagined or could hope for?

Perhaps the problem lies in being too attached to any given outcome. Does it matter if the outcome reflects your desired or imagined results if it turns out to be a better answer to the situation?

The spiritual aspect of making a decision is in the trust you have in the eventual outcome. If you trust that the ‘right decision’ will be made regardless of what the initial outcome may look like, then you are adding weight to the ‘right decision’ side of the decision scale. Stepping beyond the paralyzing fear of making a ‘wrong decision’ puts you in front of the fear and ahead of those still trapped in their paralysis.