Paradise is Sharing...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Unplanning my plans

"Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck." -Dalai Lama

"I have a wedding New Years Eve"...

I stopped what I was doing long enough to look up, see the pensive look on MyHoney's face as he broke the news to me, and I said "That's ok..."

It was as okay as when the credit card machine at the grocery store asks you "Is this amount OK?" and you press the green button in agreement.  No, it's not "OK"... it's just the way it is.  My groceries are overpriced, and MyHoney has to work New Years Eve... that's the price I pay for being in love with a DJ.  It's OK.

Disappointment lingered on for a few days.  Soon, I forgot about the plans I originally had in my head - sweeping the dance floor in MyHoney's arms, and being kissed at midnight, and swiftly began making other plans - perhaps a "Single Girls NYE"  - complete with expensive chocolate, cheap wine, and chick flicks like "Sex and the City II" and "When Harry Met Sally"... soon, I was so caught up in my make-shift New Years Eve Party of One, that I didn't even remember that I had been disappointed in the first place.

But MyHoney remembered.  He hates it when I am disappointed, and he, probably more than me, is sensitive to when his crazy ass schedule gets in the way of our relationship.  So, last week, as we were walking the dogs, he grabbed my hand, and said "I am taking Sunday the first off... we should spend the night in Boston"....

MyHoney is not a planner, but he always ends up where he wants to be.  Like he says "if I am lost, as long as I am lost in the right direction, I will be fine"..   Being a Leo, and I a Virgo, his laid back "it will get done in its own good time" attitude sometimes ruffles me.... so when he sent me an email this afternoon with our reservation confirmation for the train and hotel stay in the city, I forgot all about my midnight New Years Kiss, and started day dreaming about shopping at Faneuil Hall, walking the Freedom Trail, or perhaps even ice skating at the Frog Pond... What a wonderful stroke of luck.  This is far better than anything I could have planned.

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."  ~Lao Tzu

The experience has me thinking about letting go... letting go of my preconceived outcomes, and accepting the outcomes that the Universe has for me.  Sometimes I fight so hard - hanging on with every thread and fiber of my being to something I think I want as an end result... just to find out when I let go.. when I surrender... the end result that I couldn't even imagine is far better than anything I had originally conceived.  It's like being on a highway, going full speed, 90 miles an hour - and you miss exits and bypasses that would have taken you on a much grander adventure. 

So today, looking forward to 2012 and what it might bring, I am thinking about my preconceived notions and any "planned" end results that I may have in mind... but I am also going to imagine myself seeing turns in the road, by passes, exits, carry roads and bridges... paths that are unplanned... trails that are unexpected - but those are part of the journey too. What if in my planning - I unplan?  What if when I am visualizing my goals, I actually visualize being de-railed.... what if like a Chutes and Ladders game, I visualize myself going down the twists and turns, up up up the ladders, and wheeeeeeeeeeeeee! Down the slide!

This is a new concept to me... I have to admit... even as a coach, I would visualize a goal, and lazer in on it.  I would pick and choose the straightest, fastest, most efficient way to get to the end result desired.  What if my planning planned on the unplanned?  This thought of making a wider path to my goals has me intrigued and curious. 

I'm going to do a little unplanning with my planning today.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I am a Powerful Energy Source...

This morning, the fog lifted.  No.. there was no actual astronomical fog... it was the fog in my mind that has been there for months.  For some reason, this morning seemed different.  Instead of hitting my snooze button on the alarm clock a million times, I woke up, snapped on the Christmas tree lights and brewed a pot of coffee... the sky was still dark, the apartment a little chilly.  My intention was to meditate, or write, or both.. and I marveled that I was even able to come up with a clear intention so early in the morning.  I watched the sun light up the sky, and remembered my personal mantra as I sipped my coffee.  "I am a powerful energy source that radiates love and light to all that surrounds me"

I am a powerful energy source.  I am a powerful energy source.  I turned my gaze to the gentle twinkling of my Christmas tree lights, and thought about my mantra for a moment.  Powerful.  Energy source.  Just like the sun...

Upon second glance out my porch door, the sun now was melting away the darkness, and slowly, the world started to glow.  The snow turned from a crystal white to a soft shade of pink.  The trees looked like they were on fire.  The pink was so intensely illuminated, a shade that is familiar but indescribable.  Yes, for a moment, my breath was taken away and I was amazed at the glory of the morning.  This morning feels different.  There is a shift happening...

When I first thought up my mantra "I am a powerful energy source that radiates love and light to all that surrounds me"... I pictured in my mind a bright ball of fire - hot, intense, burning.  I pictured myself lighting up the world because I was ON FIRE.  And at the time, that felt very right.  I was stoked because I had just completed my coaching curriculum.  I was fueled because I was starting a new business.   I was burning because I was meeting new people and making new connections.

What I never expected was to lose that fire.  The business didn't build as quickly as I intended.  Clients weren't pounding down my door.  Connections and leads dried up.  I lost my spark and the intensity began to fade.  I lost some confidence when I took a hiatus from my business building because of illness and personal hardships.  I began to doubt myself and my abilities.

I thought my fire went out.

Until this morning.  Until I watched the sun rise.  I watched the darkness melt away, the grays turned into hues of yellow, red, and pink.  I watched the sun slowly edge out of slumber.... it gently kissed each hill and valley.... each shadow eventually slinked away.  The snowy Earth welcomed the sun by sparkling in brilliance like diamonds. 

My fire didn't go out... I am a powerful energy source.. like the sun, and I was simply waiting for the dawn of a new day.  Today is my new day.

Time to light up the world.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's a Family Tradition....

Every year the Hansen family gathers and goes out on the hunt... the hunt for a farm fresh cut Christmas tree.

Explaining this to MyHoney, who is originally from "the city" was a delight in itself.  His family either used an artificial tree, or went to the local hardware store and bought one pre-cut.  But not our family... no... not us.  The only way to understand it, is to experience it... and to be part of this family, you need to partake.. laugh, and enjoy the day for what it is.. a family tradition.

 We all then descend on to the farm... then the chaotic scurry of hellos, greetings, and "where are we going?s" commence.  I had to laugh out loud when I asked my Dad where we were going for this years tree... and he answered "POW-NAL Buddy!"  Ummm.. ok... "Buddy"  ;-)

Then there is the tradition of the caravan.  We all follow each other to the tree farm.  Now, mind you, we were all born and raised in this town.  We all know where we are going.  There isn't a back road we aren't familiar with... but we all have to FOLLOW each OTHER to the tree farm.  In trucks.  Big trucks. (well, my Subaru THINKS she is a big truck..shhh.... don't tell her otherwise)

Once at the tree farm, the next tradition comes into play... looking at every single tree.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of trees.. and we look at every single one... sometimes twice.  Now, you would think after all that looking, we would walk out of there with a tree fit for Rockerfeller Center... Nope.. not so.  Mom wants a tall "skinny tree"... Dad wants one that will fit in the tree stand, and we just want to get on with our lives, get family photos and eat lunch.

And, while the tree farm does provide saws, my Dad is very insistent that we always cut down our tree with an axe.  And, if there are any boughs left on the stump, we need to cut those and take them too because Mom will make swags with them later.

Oh, and pictures... did I mention taking pictures?  I feel like Paris Hilton getting my tree with the paparazzi clicking photos left and right.  Let's just say, after walking two acres looking for the "perfect - imperfect trees" I don't really look like I just stepped onto a cat-walk... ah well.   

Two, maybe three hours later, we all emerge from the woods, lugging trees two by two, and all $40 less rich then when we came.  Then the caravan leads us back to the farm where we eat a big hearty lunch, eat Moms carrot cake, and watch the turkeys parade across the field on their way to raid what few apples are left on the apple trees.  (and yes, I cheated, this pictures are from a few weeks ago when we actually had snow)

Once fattened up on Moms carrot cake, and sleepy from the big lunch, we all head off to our perspective homes to our own traditions of decorating our trees.

Over the years, some family traditions have been changed as we grew older.  Some family traditions that I started for my own "family" look drastically different today... but the important part of the holiday remains in tact, that we all are together.

After getting my little blue spruce today, MyHoney and I went back to his place and set up a manager scene that had been in his family for years.  His traditions have changed drastically too as his family has changed.  His sisters live in California, his father passed away, and now it's just him, his mom, and Derby... and now Lexi and me.  It was an honor to help him carefully unpack each wise man, set up the little lambs, the Virgin Mary and Joseph.  (The baby Jesus will be added later, but first needs to under go a little minor super glue surgery...) 

Tomorrow night MyHoney and Derby will join Lexi and I as we decorate my little tree with all the precious ornaments I have collected through the years.. each one tells a story of a Christmas past... each one, a family tradition.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


What a difference a day makes... this morning, I felt my joy rise with the sun.  It was going to be a good day...

Tomorrow I will take Lexi to get our first tree.  I didn't get one the year after Destiny passed away because MyHoney and I went to California for his sisters wedding.  Last year, I simply couldn't afford one.  This year... ah... this year I will have my tree.

The ornaments... the lovely ornaments... each one with a story, each one with a lovely memory of a Christmas past.  I feel blessed to finally be in a good space.  Blessings of tidings and joy.  Life is good.

Grief... Interrupted....

My sweet girl Destiny.  This week I finally fulfilled my last earthly obligation to you... the financial matters of your medical bills.  It took every resource I had left, and many sleepless nights, but this past Monday I sent via priority mail payment in full.  "Destiny's Credit Card" is finally laid to rest.

And I have wept every day since as if it is the day I lost you.

Most people would be elated to pay off a bill.  It would be such a relief to have the burden and the anxiety finally lifted off their shoulders.  Celebration would be in order.  For me, it's left a new sense of loss that is as fresh as the day I said goodbye.  You see, my friend... I no longer have to take care of you.  You ran free on January 16th, 2009.  I finally got set free this week... and its an odd feeling that I just don't know what to do with.  No more fretting... no more worrying... the treatments we started back in the spring of 2008 are finally ... finally finished.  I am no longer responsible - for you.

In a way, I am grateful that I had the distraction of financial upset right after losing you.   Losing my job four days after saying goodbye to you wasn't easy... but it gave me something to focus on.  All my energy went into staying afloat - I had to press on.  Now that urgency is gone, and my mind seems to want to time travel back and mourn you all over again.  My grief was interrupted...

So, sweet girl, while my earthly obligation is done, rest assured I still haven't forgotten my promise to you of living out our adventures.  Now that all the fretting and worrying has been laid to rest, I want to focus on new projects.  My vision is to pay this experience forward, help other Dog-mas who are in need, who face either saying goodbye to their loyal companions or costly medical bills and are forced to choose.  I don't know what steps I need to take to get there, but I know you will be guiding me on the trail.

Run Free...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Become a Lake....

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. "How does it taste?" the master asked.

"Bitter" spit the apprentice.
The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, "Now drink from the lake."

As the water dripped down the young man's chin, the master asked, "How does it taste?" "Fresh," remarked the apprentice. "Do you taste the salt?" asked the master. "No," said the young man.

At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering, "The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in.

So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things .... stop being a glass. Become a lake.

--Mark Nepo (a Hindu parable)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sleep Walking,..

I have two offices - one in South Portland, one in Gorham. Last Tuesday, I had a meeting at my office in South Portland at 9:30. I got out of bed at 6am, made some coffee and fumbled around to get ready.

I let Lexi out, let her back in, fed her breakfast and took a shower. I dug around in my closet for something to wear and kept glancing at the clock. Gotta go... gotta go.... gotta go....

Once in my car, I ran through my day in my head... how my meeting would go, what I had to do after my meeting... what I had to do before I got home... I ran a grocery list through my head, and suddenly, it happened. I woke up... right as I was going around the rotary and my car aimed down 237, I realized I am not where I needed to be. I literally said out loud to myself "Oh my God, where am I going?!".... I realized I was on the wrong road, heading the wrong direction. I was on autopilot... driving to my office in Gorham, NOT to my office in South Portland. SHIT - I am going to be LATE!

I was sleepwalking.

Not literally, of course.... but I certainly wasn't awake either. So many moments I suddenly get hurled into the present moment, and almost like waking up from a deep slumber, I get jarred into reality. Huh? Huh? Wha....???

I've been working with a client, and she is currently reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. I consider myself well read in his teachings... not an expert (obviously not in practice) ... but well read. Two weeks ago, we discussed how she could bring herself back to the present moment while she was at work. She has an incredibly demanding job - she finds herself not eating lunch, not taking breaks, and at the end of the day, wondering where her time went. Her solution was to focus on having a pen in her hand. (she loves to write)..... brilliant. She also said she would say to herself a mantra. When I asked her what that was, she said "I will not rush through my life".... I challenged her to reframe her mantra to the positive... (because what we focus on expands - and by using the word "rush", that is what her mind would focus on) and she said "I am calm, I am at peace, I am in the moment"... brilliant again.

She spent the next week practicing her new habit, and last week she reported back to me "I've never felt so much JOY as when I realized I was in the present moment, slowing down, and taking a moment to breathe".... She experienced JOY. Wow.

As I cursed at myself, and then cursed Ru (my Subaru) for having a mind of her own and a bad sense of direction, drove a little faster, and checked my clock to see how late I was going to be, I remembered Susan telling me about the joy she felt....and I said to myself "I am calm, I am at peace, I am in the moment"... and decided to enjoy the ride. I may not be on the road I intended, but I might as well enjoy the journey.

Fog was lifting off the fields, and the sun turned the fog a misty pink. I slowed down and watched some cows graze in the field as I drove down Stroudwater street. I waved to a jogger as I drove down Spring Street. I laughed at the entertaining antics of two squirrels chasing each other around and around the trees at my office park. I felt the warm sun on my back as I walked from my car, and drew in deep lungfuls of clean, crisp, late autumn air.

Had I not woken up on my car ride, I would have missed the beauty of the morning. The cows would have still been grazing, the jogger jogging, the squirrels would have still been nuts.... but I would have kept right on sleeping.

It's time to wake up.... there is joy in my life, and I'm sleeping through it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jesus would say.... "Happy Holidays, Sister"

I hesitate as I type this blog message today, but I feel I have to say something. At first, I was going to create a status update for Facebook, but then remembered my friend stating she hates it when people get "bloggy" with their Facebook statuses, and I decided I do too.. I always feel like saying to people who post their life story or harp poltical, religious or ethical issues on a Facebook status to "get a blog". Well, I have a blog, and I am going to use it.

I am not a "Bible Thumper"... heck, I barely call myself "Christian"... I really don't label myself at all. I do believe I was created by God - the Source - and His eyes and ears are everywhere, and they make up the Universe. I believe Jesus was sent to us, as a Son of God, to show us the Way. I also believe that I am the daughter of God, you are a child of God, and we are all God. Jesus was the man though... he was the one who could articulate the words, walk the talk, live and breath the Truth and the Way... and, as all amazing Sages, Teachers, Prophets who have come before and after Him.... he was a MAN. For that, I praise Him. That is my personal belief - if it offends you, I am not sure why.. because you have your beliefs, and what ever they are - I respect them. How can that be offensive?

What I am finding disheartening is many of my Facebook friends (I may lose some after today... and if I do, I wish you love, I wish you kindness, and I wish you peace in our departing) ... are posting (as "Christians") that they are offended because they feel they are losing the freedom to say "Merry Christmas" This is the post that is currently circulating:

"WHAT A CROCK OF SH@T..... We can't say Merry Christmas now we have to say Happy Holidays. We can't call it a Christmas tree, it's now called a Holiday tree? Because it might offend someone. If you don't like our "Customs" and it offends you so much then LEAVE I will help you pack. They are called customs and we have our traditions If you... agree with this...please post this as your status!! I AM A PROUD American."

First of all... what does being an "American" have to do with Christmas? As a Spiritual Being, as a Child of God, as one who celebrates Christmas and enjoys all the beauty, enchantment and meaning of the holiday... It saddens me greatly to see these posts on Facebook. Someone is missing the mark. This is not what Christmas is about... it's not how Jesus taught us to love. Jesus was never afraid of offending anyone - he knew that our legacy that he left us, we would have to BE offensive to find the way. I wondered, "What would Jesus post if he were on Facebook?"... and I think he may have repeated this verse "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men."

Your hearts are far from Jesus. Think about that for a moment while you get "offended" when someone restricts your right to say "Merry Christmas".... a holiday that Jesus himself did not even celebrate. (There are no known mentions in the Bible of Jesus celebrating his own birthday) A Holiday that is simply a tradition handed down from generation to generation... rules taught by men.

What amazes me more, is these so-called Christians telling people to LEAVE if they do not agree with them. Yes, it is your freedom to say "Merry Christmas"... but it is also other peoples freedom to say "Happy Holidays"... by you not respecting other peoples freedoms, you diminish your own (remember my cause and effect post from yesterday?) And to banish people because they do not think the same way that you do... Since when is being an American homogeneous with being closed minded?

The hysterical thing is the word "Christmas" is not even IN the Bible. Go ahead, look for it... I will wait.....

I think (in my own humble spiritual way) that Jesus would be embarrassed by this Holiday created "in His name". Ornamental trees and lavish gifts and decorations and hooplah is not how Jesus lived his life. In fact, the Bible doesn't even approve of having a Christmas Tree (or Holiday Tree... or what ever)...

"The customs of the people are worthless, they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel, they adore it with silver and gold, they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter" (Jeremiah 10-3,4).
Please understand I am not posting this blog to be argumentative.... quite the opposite actually. I am posting because I really hope the argument is dropped. I see overly zealous Christians bleating out "Put the Christ back in Christmas!".... Jesus would probably say "Did I ever leave?"

I really do not believe Jesus would be offended if I wished him a "Happy Holiday".... I don't see Jesus as someone who offends that easily. Telling him to pack up and leave because he doesn't share my view points...well, that might get his goat. (or His donkey)

So, what do I believe Jesus would say to me in greeting at this time of year? Well, he was Jewish, so he may say "Happy Hanukkah" ... but more than likely, Jesus would say to be more concerned about the celebration of his departure, (or lack there of) than of his arrival.

And so, to all my beloved friends, I sincerely wish you the warmth, the miracle, the beauty, the glow of LOVE and LIGHT and encourage you to be the beautiful beacon that you are.

~ Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Glad Yule ~

Love, Cilly

Monday, November 28, 2011

Be careful what you wish for....

I've been watching alot of Oprah lately... I especially have been enjoying Oprah's Life Class and Soul Sundays. Bravo Oprah for putting something on TV that actually enriches our lives and adds to our character.

Anyway, Oprah was interviewing Tom Shadyac, director of the I AM documentary, and they were talking about cause and effect. What struck me was Oprah's comment about how she used to write down a list of things she "wanted' every year... and she doesn't do that anymore. She joked "One year, I asked for more courage.. so what did the Universe do? It sent me more situations to test my courageousness... so I don't ask for courage anymore!

I literally laughed out loud and tears came to my eyes when she said that... because I have done the same thing. Every year I would take a sabbatical on my birthday, go out into the middle of the woods some where with a leather bound journal and jot down everything I wanted to accomplish. I had a list of things I wanted by the time I was 30, 35, 40... and with each passing year, I look back and see a list of struggles, with a few speckles of success spackled in.

I wanted to be a master of my finances... the Universe has sent me financial disasters to master. I had thousands of dollars of debt from Destiny's medical bills... I lost my job, I struggled to build a business in a weak economy. What better way to become a master than to be thrown into the fire?

I wanted to be healthy, fit, and vibrant... I had excruciating headaches, nausea, vertigo. I learned what it was like to not have my health. I wished for a day where I could work a full day, have the strength to wash my dishes.. to do simple things. I learned to value my health in a way I had taken for granted before.

I wanted to have strong relationships... The Universe has tested my relationships in order to make them stronger - some relationships crumbled completely. At the time, I questioned God - "Why... why on earth is it when I strive for something the most, it seems further and further away from my grasp?"

Cause and effect my friend. What ever you put out... comes back to you. Be careful what you wish for.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Want ..... absolutely nothing

Wanting.... it's become a fad.

You see and hear it in everything from The Secret, to numerous vision board workshops and seminars on how to "manifest your dreams into reality." The promise is if you believe it, you can achieve it.

And to some extent, yes - I agree - what you visualize becomes your reality. The Law of Attraction and Newtons Law of Motion are real - just as real as the law of gravity. That is why it kinda cracks me up when people ask me how they can start to practice or "use" the Law of Attraction in their lives.... um, well... that is like asking when gravity is going to kick in... you kind of don't have a choice - you are effected by the law whether you are aware of it or not. What ever you put out, the Universe sends back. What comes around, goes around. Period the end. Guess what - what goes up, must come down too. Count on it. If you don't believe me, go jump off a bridge and see what happens. The end result aint no Secret, I can clue you that.

When I first started out coaching, a friend of mine asked me to participate in a vision board workshop that she was leading. I was really excited because I had just started reading the Law of Attraction, and I had just watched the Secret... so I was stoked. She lead a very inspiring and motivational workshop, and at the end of the day, we all walked away of all our hopes, dreams and desires cut out of random magazines and stick-glued to a piece of posterboard.

I stared at that damn board every day for months.... I looked at the picture of the cabin in the woods, I looked at the picture of Matt Lauer and Oprah Winfrey (who will be the first ones to interview me when my book hits the New York Best seller List)... and I fascinated about the money I would have, the things I would buy, and the success I would feel. And I felt very, very empty. After a year, I crumpled up the posterboard and threw it in my campfire.

You may be asking, "But Cilly, you are a life coach... don't you believe in setting goals, striving to gain and grow, and achieving?"

Why yes, yes I do... But one lesson I have learned in my own life, and through working with clients is there is a BIG difference between wanting something and working towards a goal. Wanting produces a gap in your life - a gap between where you are now, and where you want to be... creating longing, loss, or lack. Whenever there are gaps in our life, because of the vacuum effect - it has to be filled with something... and that something is usually stress, anxiety, dissatisfaction, disappointment... or as Buddha puts it so simply... "suffering."

Working towards a goal fills that gap - because you HAVE something... you have a plan. You fully acknowledge where you are now, and you fully acknowledge what you want in your life, and you fill the gap with small, achievable steps.... but here is the real "secret"... ready for it? What really magnetizes your goals and attracts them to you is GRATITUDE.

Joel Osteen delivered a great sermon on this very topic today - praise. He said Isaiah 54 says,

“Sing, oh barren woman, you who never bore a child; break forth into song and shout for joy.” You may be at a place today where you have unborn promises; you have loved ones you’re praying for, but aren’t seeing the change; you may even feel barren. During times like these, it’s tempting to give up and say, “Too bad. It’s never going to happen.” But that’s the time when you need to praise God even more. Praise opens the door for God to move and for breakthroughs to come."

The real secret that unlocks all the doors to all our desires is not visualizing on what we do not yet have, but being grateful for what we have already been given. One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Marston, and I believe he sums it up perfectly

“What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it - would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have.”

So, my challenge to you (and when I say you, I mean me.... you can join me if you'd like) is to stop WANTING. I want nothing. I have everything I need to live my best life.

I will continue to grow, stretch, and expand by staying open to all the Universe offers, and I give thanks for the many blessings I have in my life. I am abundant beyond measure. I, alone, am enough.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guilty as Charged...

“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.” ~Victoria Holt

I've been thinking alot about guilt and shame lately.... ya, I know, not exactly an uplifting topic to think about, but it's a topic that gets brought up in coaching sessions often, and I know it's something we all experience and carry around like an overburdened pack mules.

I have also been thinking about guilt, shame and remorse quite often lately because I have made it a personal quest to expand my life and practice being more compassionate. Being compassionate to me translates to not being judgmental, and forgiving those (in the words of the Lords Prayer) who have trespassed against me, and it's also about forgiving myself. It's about ultimate kindness and self-care.

Some guilt is valid, we did something wrong ... and we were either caught in the act, or if we actually "got away with it" we may feel so remorseful for our wrong doings we can't live with ourselves..... much like our friend Denver....

Or the time I found the remote control chewed up.....

And soon discovered the culprit:

The remorse on Denvers face is undeniable, and Lexi clearly showed she felt badly for eating the remote control. Denver and Lexi are not "bad dogs".... and when shown loving kindness, they (because they are dogs, and live in the moment) quickly let go of their feelings of guilt and remorse and resumed to their normal happy, people pleasing and fun loving selves....

So why is it so difficult for us humans to do the same? To let go of shame and guilt? We are also natural people pleasers. We just want to feel accepted and loved, but most of the time, after falling from grace, we are the ones who do not permit ourselves forgiveness - we stand in the way of our own redemption.

I personally am very familiar with self judging, self conviction and self damnation. For some reason, my ego (my Gremlin - I've named her Cecilia) thinks I am supposed to be more perfect than everyone else. Cecilia thinks that I am supposed to have all the answers, be diligent with my finances, and make way more money. Cecilia also thinks that I should be much more educated, well spoken, and polished like a brand new penny. As a result, I constantly fear that I am letting everyone down. I fear I am a disappointment to my family, to my friends, and to my partner, and yes, I sometimes feel like I failed Destiny, and I am racked with guilt that I do not give enough care to Lexi.

Since moving out on my own, getting divorced, losing my job and starting my own business - I made mistakes, alot of mistakes. Some were avoidable - they could have been easily averted had I set aside my pride and asked for help. Some I needed to make, otherwise, I would not be where I am today, but what I am left with is a pile of debt, and a few bruises to my credit score. But what I am learning is guilt, shame and remorse is not going to pay the bills... Whats done, is done. I am also going to acknowledge that I did the best I could, and in this present moment, all is well.

I read somewhere once that carrying around shame is like hiking up a mountain and each time you stub your toe on a rock, you reach down and pick up the rock and put it in your back pack.

It's time to put down the sack, stand up straight, and take a good look at the view. It's time to hike up this mountain without the guilt, shame and remorse that has been weighing me down.

Suze Orman was just recently on Oprah's Life Class, and she said the first step to financial freedom is to BE HONEST. I believe that is the first step to everything. Get honest with yourself - get real.

All journeys need a good map, and a compass. My map is my financial plan I created with my financial coach, Cindy. My compass is what will bring me back to center.... and I am leaning into meditation and exercise.. with that, practice makes .... well, I am not going to say perfect, because Cecilia would like that. Practice makes progress. If the journey gets challenging, I may need a walking stick - support (friends and family) to help me through the rough spots.

Lastly, I need to stop picking up more rocks. Stop beating myself over the head with them too.... I trip, I stumble... but sometimes a stumble is what prevents a fall.

Remembering a wrong is like carrying a burden on the mind. ~Buddha

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I AM...

For anyone who has read my profile, you will notice that I have what seems to be a poem of sorts...

"I am a mountain ~ I am birds singing and trees rustling ~ I am my Destiny ~ I am her brown eyes looking at me with trust ~ I am a timid deer crossing a river ~ I am an eagle soaring ~ I am the shimmering gleams of light sparkling across the water ~ I am the warm sun on my back ~ I am the cool soil of the earth ~ I am Destinys soft, white, downey fur ~ I am the cork handle of my fly-rod, I am the swishing of my fly line ~ I am pure clean air ~ I am clean fresh water ~I am made just for me"

A few people have asked me what it means... to me, it means everything - thank you for asking. It is my manifesto, my mission statement, my personal declaration to the Universe and myself. It is as important to me as my name, received to me in what is equivalent to me as a naming ceremony... during the last day of coaching training at iPec. The day I became a life coach.

Our training leader, Stephanie led us through an exercise where she had us visualize the most sensual place on earth to us. She had is write down the following: I see, I touch, I hear, I taste, I smell, The Universe Is..... and then she turned the CD player on to a beautiful flute and instrumental music, and asked us to think of an experience in our lives where we felt extreme joy and peace. My minds eye brought me right to the banks of the Kennebago River... I had awoken at dawn, made breakfast for me and Destiny and set out to drown some newly tied flies.... the river gleamed and sparkled. The current babbled and gurgled over the rocks. Destiny waded in and let the current sway through her fur. I rolled up my pants, kicked off my sneakers and dipped my feet into the icy water. The air was light and clean, and smelled like the pines that were dancing in the breeze. I held the cork handle of my fly rod that because of use had become fitted and comfortable in my hand. I cast out my fly line ... swish, swish, swish..... I heard a splish-splashing and thought it would be Destiny, but no, it was a yearling making her way across the river, daintily tip-toeing across as if she didn't want to disturb us. Destiny amazingly watched her cross without a peep. The sun rose higher, and the sun warmed my back.... a shadow swept over the river, and looking up I saw an eagle swooping around, as pretty as a kite. This moment was paradise - it was made just for me.

Stephanie gently chimed the tingshas and we all opened our eyes.... then she asked us to write down our vision. Lastly, she asked us to cross out the words I see, I touch, I hear, I taste, I smell, The Universe Is..... and replace the words with the words "I AM" .... and I knew at that moment something magical had just happened. I was, for the first time in 34 years, introduced to my true, authentic, genuine self. I finally knew who I trully AM.

Confession - Before writing this blog entry, I had written another one. Mercifully, for you and me, I did not end up posting it, because it was whiney, full of woe-is-me and simply a pathetic showing of what I am NOT. Luckily, I wrote it, drafted it, and set it aside to read again when I was in a better frame of mind. It was not just unproductive to you, my readers, but it was damaging and un-useful to me, the writer, the one who writes as a method of clarity and therapy.

The title of the drafted blog entry was "I AM FAT!".... with a title like that, you can just imagine the hate, spew and venom it spat from the harsh words, creative self-damnation, and put-downs it contained. It was a waste of my energy to write it, and it would have been a waste of your time to read it. Trust me.

After writing the nearly 10 paragraph declaration of war on all things made with sugar, cream, white bread and dairy, and all the reasons I was weak and pitiful for playing victim to laziness, self-sabotage, and procrastination... I decided to read up on what my other friends were doing. I follow several blogs - some are about personal journeys, some are about dogs, some are a combination of personal journeys and their dogs, like this one.

I also have a secret passion - I love googling classmates and finding out if they are writing blogs. Seems a little creepy-stalker like.... but I find it incredibly interesting to see what the rest of the 70 classmates that graduated from FHS class of 1991 are doing with their lives since the day we turned our tassles and walked out of the halls and away from the people that occupied the formative years of our lives. One blog in particular, I have read for quite some time. The author of the blog did not know until recently that I follow it. She is a friend from high school. I always thought of her as trendy, interesting, witty... so when I first found her blog, I read it because of the interesting photography she takes. We were friends in High School, but not really "close friends", and we never stayed in touch after High School, but I always liked her, and as I said, found her interesting. One day, she posted "I have cancer". That was day 1. She vowed that each day after her diagnoses she would post. I would pop in occasionally to see what she was doing, and how she was feeling. Many times, cancer wasn't mentioned in her daily updates. It was about her kids, or something she was working on. Other days, her posts were signed off with a "Fuck you cancer" It wasn't a woe-is-me statement - it was a warning to cancer to take heed, this girl is out to get you. On this particular day, she was on day 76.

After reading her post, I decided I was not going to post the blog entry I had just written... and here is why - Never once, did Beth ever say "I AM CANCER." I am in NO WAY comparing being overweight to having cancer ... so excuse the disclaimer (and one day, I hope to be a talented enough writer to not feel like I have to have disclaimers.... and one day after that, I hope that my disclaimers will not have disclaimers) But my point is - Beth is NOT cancer. She has cancer. Just like my friend Em is NOT MS, her son is NOT autism, and my sweet Destiny was NOT renal failure... and guess what folks - I AM NOT FAT. I am all the things that I aforementioned in the paragraph above. I am a mountain. I am birds singing and trees rustling - I AM MY DESTINY.

Luckily, I can live my life free of doctors visits, chemo treatments and losing my hair. I do not have to fear dying. Yes, my body is overweight according to medical standards, but for now, it is not a medical issue for me, it's an emotional one. I am not fat. I am not sick. I am not dying.

I Am statements are SO powerful, because the words that fall from your lips land on the ears of the Universe, and the Universe always replies - without fail - "Your wish is granted"

I am so much more than fat. I AM not fat. I am a mountain ~ I am birds singing and trees rustling ~ I am my Destiny ~ I am pure clean air ~ I am clean fresh water ~I am made just for me" I AM made just for me. I am Cilly.

(and PS... day 78 is a beautiful day for Beth.... she IS in remission. She IS cancer free - Fuck you cancer!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Home Cilly Home...

Yesterday, MyHoney and I had the whole day to ourselves - which is a very rare treat. He had a gig at a tavern in the next town over, and spent Saturday night at my place, which meant we had a whole day together Sunday. We slept in late, lazed around in our pajamas, and watched the morning news shows. What made the day even better was we had time on our side - literally. It was the day we got to change our clocks back an hour.

We decided since it was a beautiful day, we would take the dogs hiking. Our first thoughts were to take the dogs up to Rattlesnake Mt, which is a fun, short, yet scenic hike up in Raymond. I raided the hen house good and early and started on a hearty breakfast of french toast and applewood smoked bacon. I mixed up the french toast batch with some vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and I had real maple syrup to go with. I LOVE Sundays like this. LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I love cooking for people I love. LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

I quickly realized my fry pan was not big enough for bacon AND french toast, and improvised by baking the french toast in my oven - which I then discovered my cookie pan did not FIT in my small little apartment sized oven. *sigh* I miss my big kitchen with it's stainless steel appliances, my pampered chef pans, my big Kitchen Aid mixer, and my ample counter space and fancy cookware, plates and dishes. Sometimes I wonder why I left it all behind.

Once I switched out the cookie pan for one that WILL fit in my oven, I was now on my way to having breakfast done. The sun streaked across my apartment and warmed the kitchen. The chickens started cackling, and my little apartment glowed in the morning sun. Lexi stretched out and napped in a sunbeam. Derby was curled up on the dog bed, and MyHoney stumbled into the kitchen for a second cup of coffee, and because of the tight floor space, "had to" hug me on the way to the coffee pot. With his arms around me, and his breath on my neck, I realized... Ah yes, THIS is why I left all that other stuff behind... because I LOVE this place. I love my new life. I love my apartment - the sunny windows, the pine ceilings... the chickens, the dogs, the peace, the quiet... I love all of it.

Our plans got thwarted when my cellphone jingled at 8:30am... it's my Dad. He wants me to come down to the farm and help him list his bulk veggies for sale on Craigslist. A pang of guilt overcame me, because this was the first fall ever that Dad had not called me to ask for help - with anything. It was the first year he did not plant 15 acres of rutabagas. It was the first year I did not spend every weekend of my time covered in mud, sweating my ass off or freezing it off... depending on the elements, and hunched over row after row of root vegetables with a knife in my hand and a crick in my back. I told him that Mike and I were taking the dogs hiking, but we would take them to Bradbury Mt instead of around Gorham so we could swing into the farm, and I could help him with Craigslist. He sounded relieved. He must have a hell of a surplus on his hands if he is turning to the internet for help. It's taken a while for Elwin to get into the "modern" age... but even he is seeing the use of social media. I helped him sell off all his rutabaga processing equipment this past fall - I came down and took pictures of each machine, let Dad write a detailed description, and uploaded it all to Craigslist. To Dads amazement, the phone rang... and yes indeed.. there was someone out there who wanted to buy potato processing equipment that had been re-purposed for rutabagas. Dad suddenly had a new appreciation for "the internet" when he had a wad of cash in his hands, and more space in his barn.

After breakfast, we cleared the dishes and loaded the dogs in my car. Mike followed me to the farm in his van. As I drove into the yard, I noticed that the barn doors were closed, and all the pumpkins were gone. I felt like I missed an entire season. Dad's tractor was pulled up in front of the house, and he and my brother were taking a dinner (which to most people is lunch) break before going out and harvesting the rest of the root vegetables. Mike and I sat down at the kitchen table - I sat in the same place I have sat for 38 years, directly to the left of my Dad. My brother always sat next to me, to my left - but he was sitting at the end of the table today, so Mike took that seat. My mom has always sat across from me, to my Dads right, and when my sister lived at home, she always sat to the right of my mother. Unspoken seating arrangements, just another tradition that is upheld in the Hansen household that brings me back to feeling like I am 12 again.

We had a cup of tea, and two hydrox cookies. I don't even like hydrox cookies, but ate them because my father placed them in front of me. He wrote out a careful description of his advertisement he wanted me to post, and Mike and I said we would return later. We left Mikes van in the dooryard and rode together with the dogs to Bradbury Mt in Pownal.

Well, apparently everyone had the same idea, because the parking lot at Bradbury was so crowded we couldn't even find a parking space. The dogs were going mad with excitement, and we realized the walk would not be enjoyable for the humans with so many people, so many kids and so many dogs sharing the same trail system. Since we were close by, I suggested we go to Wolfes Neck State park instead. Agreed.

It's a beautiful ride out to Wolfes Neck. Rolling pastures, open fields, and colored trees painted the landscape. As I drove, I pointed out to Mike - "This was so and so's house" .. or "that's where (my ex's) Grandmother used to live..." and after rounding the next corner, a white pickup with lawn spraying equipment popped up over the hill, and almost as nonchalantly as I had been playing tour-guide I said "and there goes my ex".... Yup, must be on his way from our old house in Brunswick to his new place of residency which happens to be his girlfriends house, which happens to be one town over from where I live now. Well, they say you have to have thorns with your roses right? So why am I surprised that our beautiful autumn drive not have a few Weeds?

Once we got through Freeport, we were once again treated to farms and fields that are nestled along the shores of rocky coast. Cows were peacefully grazing next to pristine ocean views. Its really a gem of a place, and just driving there brought me back to the days where I would take a Sunday, much like today, pack up my beach chair, a floppy hat, a good book, and whistle to Destiny - "Load up pup! We are going to the beach!".... and we would spend the day walking the trails, sitting on the rocky coast line, wading, swimming and sunbathing. I would sit in my chair and read about other peoples adventures and Destiny would explore the beach and rocks and create her own.

Mike, Lexi, Derby and I spent a few hours at Wolfes Neck walking and exploring. It was a little stressful because there were so many people and dogs there, we had to keep Lexi and Derby on leash. We did manage to burn off some of their pent up energy by letting them off leash down by the water, where Mike threw rocks and sticks for them to chase. We walked out of the trail hand-in-hand, Mike feeling a little more relaxed after finally taking a day off... and I feeling a little reminiscent and grateful of being able to share a place with my new "family" that used to mean so much to me and Destiny.

On the way home, I decided to drive out the long way through Brunswick, and found myself driving past my old house. My ex rents the house out to his cousin, who is like a nephew to me. He and his girlfriend just had a baby, who I hadn't had a chance to see yet. As we drove by, I saw Jesse out in the driveway, and asked Mike if he minded if we turned in. Of course he didn't oppose.

The first thing I saw as I drove into the driveway of the home that was once mine for 12 years was Destiny's pen. She loved that pen. Often, I would leave the door open to the pen, and let her outside, just to find her later curled up in her dog house, or playing with her toys beside it. In a flash, I was transported back in time. The house hasn't changed, the porch is still falling apart - my ex obviously hasn't put much care into fixing it up. A thick carpet of green moss has taken over the garage roof, and the same smurfy blue paint was peeling off the siding of the house. Before I moved, I had scraped more than half the house of the sickly color, but because I didn't finish the job, my ex had to slap blue paint back on where I had scraped it off so he could refinance the house so he could pay me off my share.

Jesse greeted us in the driveway, and said "You just missed (my ex)"... Mike and I laughed saying we knew that.. we had passed him on the road earlier. Jesse invited us in. At first, I said no... but when he brought the baby outside, and I realized I was making a baby be cold because of my bad manners, I concluded it wouldnt hurt to come inside. Besides, Mike had never seen the house before. The house on the inside looked pretty much the same - minus my snowmen, my blue leather couch, the big screen TV (which undoubtedly the ex took to his girlfriends house) and all the other "homey" touches I had given it to make it my home.

I gave Mike the "nickel" tour. It was kind of neat to be able to show Mike the house I had tried explaining to him in stories... my old kitchen with the pearlesent white tile, the blue countertops with the snow white corrian edge. The stainless steel appliances, and what seemed like miles of countertop. The tall beechwood colored cabinets, and the "jack-frost etched" glass panes above the bar. The deep blue Berber carpeting and the icy blue walls in the living room that appeared deeper blue as the sun set, and white when the sun shined. My Uncle Willy painted the inside of the house for me... I would make him hamburgers for lunch. He thought I made the best hamburgers. All I did was add a bit of horseradish... but that was my secret.

Down the hall was my oatmeal colored bedroom, with the pine wood trim....There used to be moose and bear print curtains that matched a moose and bear print comforter. Then there was the swirly water colored tile in the bathroom with the deep emerald marble sink. I used to have the prettiest dragonfly shower curtain and rug that matched the photograph of a blue and green dragonfly I had taken. In July, the backyard would swarm with dozens of dragonflies... they would flit and float around everywhere. They would land on my shoulder as I sat on the porch reading a book, or they would land on Destiny's ear as she tried to nap in the sun beside me. I picked out every detail in that house. I created it all. I once made this place my home.

Jesse said he and his girlfriend were moving next month, and my ex is going to rent it out to someone else. While I am happy for Jesse (that house really isn't big enough to have a baby in it)... it felt weird knowing that a stranger will be living there. A stranger using my kitchen, a stranger opening up my french doors and swinging the side windows open to attract in the summer breeze... a stranger sitting on the porch in the spring watching the crab apple tree shower pink petals down in the breeze. A strange dog will sleep in Destinys dog house, and play in her pen.

A stranger will also be listening to the 18 wheelers rumble by on route one and the Amtrack train streaking by only a mere 30 feet from the garage. A stranger will also be the one bailing out the basement from 6 inches of water when the power goes out, and a stranger will be tripping over the loose boards on the porch. Actually, strike that.... a stranger will be calling my ex to fix all those things that are in dis-repair. Maybe a stranger will actually get him to do all that... because I never could.

I handed back the baby to his Momma... took one last look around - looked at the packed boxes, at the empty kitchen counters, at the bare walls and curtainless windows... and saw the house for what it really was - a memory.

After, MyHoney and I went to Bingas Wingas and had some out-of-this world hotwings and beer, and as the sunset on our day, we talked and laughed and created memories that are as warm in my heart as the sun was on our backs today.

Back at the farm, we talked with Mom and Dad a little more - Dad gave me careful instructions on exactly what he wanted the advertisement to say on Craigslist. I nodded, said yup yup yup, and my Mom just muttered "you know what to write... " and then to my father "Elwin she KNOWS what to write!" and then Mike and I agreed it was getting late, and the hour we had gained earlier in the day seemed to be more of a curse now than a blessing. My eyelids were heavy, my belly was full, and my mind was foggy. We left in separate vehicles - he to go to work, and I to go home.

I drove the long way home, through the back roads, past old friends houses, past a few other memories, past Sebago Lake, and pulled into my driveway. My little porch was illuminated by the porchlight, and I opened the door and Lexi bounded up the stairs. My apartment was still warm from the days sun, but I flipped on my heat register on the way by, knowing the heat will drop quick enough now that the sun has set. My kitchen greeted me with the smells of applewood bacon, maple syrup and coffee lingering from this mornings breakfast.

Kicked off my shoes, absent mindedly threw my keys on my counter, walked into my bedroom which is adorned in pine cones, moose, bear and chickadees, and pulled on my fleecy pajamas. I caught a glimpse of my fly-tying bench and an array of colorful feathers. Deciding to read for a while, I walked back into the living room and lit a few candles, admired the glow of the flickering flames and flopped onto my couch with a cup of tea. I looked around at my snowmen figurines, some in silly poses, some playing, some skiing, some dancing ... one even making a snow angel and smiled. I reclined back and watched the candle light dance off the pine board ceilings. Lexi hopped up, did a few circles and curled up with a satisfied sigh. I reached for my lap-throw and pulled it over my shoulders, warm and cozy. Lexi stretched out so her head was nestled on my lap, and I stroked her soft ears, and said out loud "Little Lexi... it's so good to be HOME."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Am, therefore I write....

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Henry David Thoreau

This morning I woke up and made a pot of coffee, turned Pandora on my favorite jazz station, curled up on the couch with my little dog, and a great book. The thought crossed my mind "wouldn't it be nice to just sit here all day?" Lexi stretched and yawned and cuddled in a little closer as if in perfect agreement with me.

My cup of coffee eventually became empty, and when I looked up from my book I noticed that the sun was skittering across the living room floor, and the leaves outside were glowing in all their Autumn glory. Another thought crossed my mind... "I should get up and go enjoy this beautiful day"... but the couch was so comfy... but then I thought "hmm... I might find more to write about if I go have an adventure" and as if Lexi read my mind, she leaped off the couch and started chasing her tail.

To some, the word "Adventure" conjures up grand images of death defying feats such as sky diving, scaling rock cliffs, or traveling at break neck speeds. Not me. Adventure is my word for going outside with the intention of exploring my surroundings around me with the curiosity of a child. That's all. Sometimes, the Adventures of Lexi and Cilly are as simple as walking the path behind my apartment down to Otter Ponds. Sometimes it's sitting out on the porch watching the chickens. Sometimes it's taking the kayak out for a little paddle around the lake. Whatever Lexi and I end up doing, it's more of an exploration and treasure hunt than a quest to actually "get somewhere"..

Today we ended up at my parents farm. Lexi played with the customer's kids who picked out their pumpkins that they would undoubtedly take home and carve into jack-o-lanterns. Some will end up with smiling faces, some with scary faces. One little boy wanted to get the biggest pumpkin in the patch, and I do believe he succeeded when he pulled his prize up in a wagon, tugging and toiling, and had my father lift his find up onto the scale, where it tipped at 31 pounds. I joked that Lexi weighs just 31 pounds, so he got himself a Lexi-o-Lantern. Lexi seemed very pleased with that idea because she did zoomies around the barn yard to celebrate.

Dad and I took a short walk out back where he pointed out some work he had done, and we talked about haying, his neighbors, deer, geese, and whatever else seemed to come to mind. With an "ayah, I'll be seein' ya"... we walked in opposite directions - he towards the piece of equipment he needed to get greased up and ready for winter, and me towards my car, whistling for Lexi who came springing up from her job of chasing the turkeys out of the corn field.

The rest of today's adventures involved running some errands. It's always an adventure navigating the grocery mart on a Sunday. Once home, Lexi and I ate some supper, cooked up the fresh squash we got from the farm, and enjoyed each bite. There is nothing like farm fresh food... and perhaps we have to eat the garbage we eat day in and day out to realize that food grown from soil and sunshine is far superior gifted from the Universe Herself. Once I cleared my plate, I sat back down with a head full of ideas I wanted to make sure I got down on "paper" before I lost them. As I was typing, I had a "Carrie Bradshaw" moment. OK, so I am not a tall, thin blonde living in New York City writing a relationship article for the New York Times, but I finally felt like I was a writer. I went, I saw, I wrote.

When I first met my boyfriend (who is a DJ who hosts karaoke shows), I said "I can't sing"... he said "sure you can - you just might not sing well!" Deep down, I always wanted to sing karaoke, but fear held me back... What if I sound horrible? What if they laugh at me? What if I make a fool out of myself? What if I clear the bar? Other singers would get up there, belt out a tune.. some were good, some eh, not so good.. but they ALL seemed to be having fun, whether they sounded "good" or not. A couple of beers (liquid courage) and coaxing from the man I love, I was up on the stage belting out a rendition of "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics with all I had. The ten people in the bar applauded and I was a star. Now, I can actually say I CAN sing (badly, but with gusto!)

Deep down, since I was a little girl reading "Little House on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls, I wanted to be a writer. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that I am not a writer. Maybe it was my horrendous grades in English class and my incorrigible misuse of grammar. Maybe it was because my mother read my journals when I was a teenager and I was embarrassed because I knew my ramblings about boys, crushes and teen spirit was now "out there"... whatever it was, where ever it came from, it ran deep.

A friend of mine paid me an amazing complement today on Facebook after reading my blog post. She wrote "You are a wonderful writer." She made my day! It wasn't the "wonderful" part of her compliment that made me beam... it was the fact that she called me a writer! Me? A writer? I can't write!? Oh wait... yes I CAN. I just might not write WELL. (and my friend blew that theory to hell because she just called me not just a writer, but a WONDERFUL writer!) It wasn't until she wrote those words of encouragement to me, that it dawned on me..... I AM a writer.

Just like my singing, I CAN sing (I just might clear a room) and I CAN write (just no one may read it)... So what?! As Dr. Wayne Dyer said "When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way." So here I am, living my adventures, singing my songs, and writing about them all... because I can.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dog-Earred and Tattered

*Disclaimer... yes, this post is about religion and my experience with it. I respect your religion, God, relationship with God, or lack thereof... please let me share my thoughts and experiences without judgment....*

At my Toastmasters meeting last week, I listened to a riveting speech delivered by one of our very dynamic and INTENSE members. He is a Christian advocate for a topic that is deemed very controversial, but he is very passionate about. At Toastmasters, we do not critique content - that is not our "jobs"... we are not necessarily his audience, we are there to simply give advice, support and feedback to support the structure and delivery of his speech.

As he was speaking, he held up a Bible, dog-earred and tattered, as proof that he had done his homework on Christian doctrine, and no one, NO ONE can challenge him on what is in the Bible (in regard to his controversial topic) because he had read each word written, he had scoured each verse, and researched each documented verse. As he held the Book above his head and gave it a firm shake, a page came loose. This Bible was so throughly consumed it was starting to fall apart. I was impressed.

I thought about the Bibles on my bookshelf. One was given to me in Sunday School by a sweet, kind, matronly woman named Rose. It is a hard-covered King James Version Bible, and inside the cover is her handwriting "Priscilla, May the Lord Bless You and Keep You".... I treasure this Book... I really do... but as far as putting the Word to good use, I believe the most I used it for as a child was to press a four-leaved clover. That was, until I started looking for answers in my life.

When I was right out of High School, one of my best friends committed suicide. I was so hurt, confused, and frightened. I needed answers. I needed to know if God was there, if he was going to be there for my friend, and I needed to know what I thought of God. I pulled the Bible off my bookshelf, dusted it off, and looked for answers.... and found none. I am not saying the answers weren't there, but with the King James Version of the Bible in my hands, I just couldn't get past all the The's, Thys, and Theys.... any answers that were there were lost in translation.

So I asked for a new Bible, and was gifted a Womans Daily Devotional Bible. It has a pretty pink cover, and is seemingly easier to read, but try as I may, I still wasn't able to extract what I needed from it. During my divorce, I turned to the pretty pink Bible for comfort and solace, and in my inexperienced hands, all I found were verses damning divorce, telling me that women should be meek and subservient to their husbands, and basically feeding my Gremlin. Again, I'm not saying that the doctrine wasn't there.... it just wasn't jumping off the pages at me.

Still, there seemed to be something reverent about someone reading a Bible until it was falling apart. It seemed Holy and disciplined. I was attracted to the idea, but not the practice. Why? What was I hoping to find hidden in the verses that I do not already know?

While I was driving to Belfast today I was listening to "A New Earth" by Ekhart Tolle. He writes
"The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being that you are is Truth. Jesus tried to convey that when he said "I am the way and the truth and the life." These words uttered by Jesus are one of the most powerful and direct pointers to the Truth, if understood correctly. If misinterpreted, however, they become a great obstacle. Jesus speaks of the innermost I Am, the essence identity of every man and woman, every life-form, in fact. He speaks of the life that you are. Some Christian mystics have called it the Christ within; Buddhists call it your Buddha nature; for Hindus, it is Atman, the in-dwelling God. When you are in touch with that dimension within yourself - and being in touch with it is your natural state, not some miraculous achievement - all your actions and relationships will reflect the oneness with all the life that you sense deep within. This is love."

Once I heard these words Eckhart Tolle dronefully recited on my audiobook, I realized that I AM THE DOG-EARRED AND TATTERED book! All the answers I need, God has given me, they are already inside me. I may feel weary, worn out, tired and beat up - because I am scouring the pages of myself - looking for answers, stretching my limits. I do not have a weathered and forlorn book to shake in front of an audience to prove that I am knowledgeable about my faith - I have MYSELF. I have my experiences. I have witnessed amazing wonders - moments in time that I would call miracles. I am full of stories, verses and songs, and just like the Good Book, I may need some translation to help people understand me... and that is ok.

So, for now, my Bibles... both of them, King James and the pretty pink womens devotional Bible remain on my bookshelf. I am grateful to have them, I know I will refer to them when searching for specific phrases or meanings, its comforting to know they are there.... but for now, I am going to dutifully study my pages until they are lovingly worn and tattered.

Friday, October 21, 2011

#Self Occupied

Grew up on a Rutabaga Farm.
First day of work was when I was 6 years old.
Worked side-by-side men twice my age, throwing hay bales, hand weeding thousands of tons of rutabagas and pulling them all by hand.
Graduated from High School and put myself through business school while working three jobs.
First car was a piece of crap Subaru
Got married and bought my own house when I was 24. Made mistakes. ALOT of mistakes. Divorced in 2008.
Corporate job downsized in 2009 - job was outsourced out of state. Became self-employed. HAS NEVER BEEN HAPPIER (and I still drive a piece of crap Subaru)

I am #Self Occupied.

If you've spent anytime on Facebook, you've seen the posts of the lone protester, holding up a sheet of paper detailing their lives, declaring their allegiance or non-allegiance to the #Occupy Wall Street protesters. They either label themselves as the 99% or not....

All of this is rather confusing to me. I am not politically astute. I know enough to stay afloat of issues, and to form an opinion for myself, but not enough to defend my views in a debate - so I avoid political conversations altogether. But this Occupy Wall Street argument doesn't seem completely political. There seems to be more conversations about "fairness" and "obligations" than debates on actual political rhetoric. So, here is where I feel I can form an opinion, voice it, and put it out there. Again, if I am rubbing you the wrong way because of my ignorance of the matter - you are right in feeling frustrated that I am not well educated on the debate - but please do not try to school me. Trust me, I find my own truth.

What concerns me about the protesting, is not necessarily the Occupy Wall Street movement itself, but the alarming number of "copy-cat" protests that are popping up all over the place. Case-in-point, there was a group of protesters outside Bank Of America protesting the fact that they are "too big to fail" and got a bail-0ut from the Government. Fair enough, that seems to be a good argument to base a fight on. What I had a problem with was one of the women the TV reporters interviewed said "The people in this building make more than I do..." and went on to complain that she hasn't been able to get her social services because of the budget cuts by LePage. (if I had a story to reference, I would, but I don't and this isn't a formal article, so I am taking the creative license not to quote sources)...

Hey lady - I have to tell you.... those people in that building make more than you because they worked hard to earn that money. They got good grades in high school, they went to college, they applied themselves, they sacrificed time with their families, they climbed the corporate ladder - and guess what - because we live in America, they have the RIGHT to earn more than you! So get over it!

I am sure that this is NOT why people are protesting at Occupy Wall Street (or at least I REALLY hope so) but it really irks me that there are so many people out there with the attitude of "us verses them" when it comes to high earners and low earners. I do not make as much money as I want to make, but it is nice knowing that because I live in a free country - my earning potential is literally UNLIMITED. All I have to do is work hard, apply myself, and I too, can live the American Dream. I can, you can, we all can. There are plenty of "Average Joes'" out there earning LOTS of money.

Now, I know there is a plethora of reasons to be upset with the Government, taxes, and unfair practices right now, but its time that people start taking personal responsibility for themselves. If you are not earning as much money as you would like to earn - work harder, and then give your time to volunteer. If you are not as educated as you would like to be, pick up a book - and then read it to a child. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, treat others the way you want to be treated. If you feel like the world is full of greed, give more.

I have decided I am starting a movement. So far, it's just me and Lexi, but anyone else can join. It's called #Self Occupied. It's simple to join, there is no place to meet and no posters to make (although if you REALLY want to break out the glue and glitter, be my guest)... there is nothing to protest, nothing to be angry at, no fingers to point, and you are not a number. You do not have to camp outside for days on end, and you can continue to go to your job every day. You are not a label, stereotype, and you are not limited in anyway. Your earning power, potential and creativity is limitless.

To get started, first you have to pledge that you will take 100% responsibility for yourself. It is no one elses fault if you are unhappy or dissatisfied. It is no one elses fault you are lonely, in debt, are overweight, or any other thing that is less than optimal for you. You may have found someone else to shoulder the blame - your spouse, your parents, your boss, your Government, your God....but in order to be #Self Occupied, you need to take that burden back and put it squarely on your shoulders. Once you have acknowledged there is no one else to blame for you being in the place you are..... forgive yourself.

Step two is to realize that every thing you do - everything - is a choice. You choose to be happy. You choose to be abundant. You choose to be grateful. You choose to suffer. Yes, you choose to suffer. Think long and hard about that. Then think about who you would be if you chose something besides suffering. What if you chose joy, gratitude, forgiveness, empathy or compassion instead? What kind of person would you be? Are you willing to be that person? Are you ready to be that person? What does choosing suffering allow you to continue to do?

And finally the last step to join the #Occupy Self movement is to practice kindness. Start yourself and radiate out like the ripple effect of a pebble cast into a pond.... be kind every chance you can. When you think you can't possibly be kind in a situation, find a way. There is always a way to be kind, whether it is to yourself, to another, spoken, or unspoken. Just be kind.

If anyone would like to throw a buck or two towards my organization, heck... I'm a capitalist, I'll take it... but I'd rather see you give it to your favorite charity.

Be the change you want to see in the world... Ghandi

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Let Your Light Shine...

If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
If you want to eliminate suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly, the greatest gift you have to give
is that of your own self-transformation ~ Lao Tzu

As much as I love Maine, and it's four seasons, I have to admit, I have a hard time with losing hours of daylight each day. I find it difficult to transition from being woken up in the morning by the sun shining in my windows, to being jolted awake by a relentless alarm clock bleeping in a still dark and cold room. I have all I can do to not pull the covers over my head and hibernate like a lazy slumbering bear, and dream of warmer days and feeling the sun on my skin.

But I am not a bear. I have responsibilities, and I have to get moving and get on with my day. Instead of the sun beaming through my kitchen and dancing off my suncatchers as I make my coffee, the hum of energy-saving bulbs beam their iridescent glow through the dimly lit morning. I stumble into the bathroom and blink painfully at the blaring light on the medicine cabinet as I fumble around for my toothbrush. Once in my car, I snap on the headlights so I will be visible to other commuters through the misty morning fog. At work, I sit under the buzzing florescent lamps, and squint at the harshly lit paperwork strewn on my desk, and after a long day, the artificial beacon of my porch light welcomes me home.

Once dinner is made, I light a row of candles, and admire them as I read or write ..... the flickering flame warmly glowing is the most organic light I have seen all day. The flames blink and wink, glint and gleam, and seemingly dance as the shadows behind them cast an array of colors and shapes that bend and sway. The light from the candles is warm and inviting, soft and gentle, soothing and seductive.

The differences of light sources, and the feelings they evoke remind me of a quote I once read: "We are told to let our light shine and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”

I believe that is what is so attractive about natural sunlight, candles, and the moon and stars.. they are not noisy, they are not intrusive or invasive or glaring - they just ARE. Which makes me think about about how I let MY light shine. Do I just allow my natural talents, skills, and abilities to unveil themselves, to glint, to gleam, to dance, to shine... or do I come across like a flare gun?

I can certainly see, at times, I have revealed myself both ways, and obviously, the former method is more gentle and effective. Admittedly, I have at times, in certain situations jumped up and down, waving my hands saying "look at me! look at me!", when all I really needed to do was to simply SHINE ... naturally. My light is bright enough to illuminate even the darkest of night.

This little light of mine... I'm going to let it shine....

Friday, October 14, 2011


Halloween is fast approaching, and it's got me thinking... what masks do we commonly wear?

While it's fun wearing a mask on Halloween, to play a different character for a while, to live out a little fantasy, to create a little mystery. It's not as much fun to mask our true authentic selves on a daily basis. It's exhausting really.

When we are not 100% truthful with others, when we try to hide our feelings, when we suppress our thoughts, we put on a mask. After a while, the mask becomes smothering, difficult to breath in, and causes deep resentment and bitterness. The further away we travel from our Source , our true selves, the more anxiety and discontentment we experience.

So what masks do we wear? Well, like all masks, they come in different shapes, sizes, colors... but they all serve the same purpose - to create an illusion.

I've discovered a few masks I often wear:

The "It's OK" mask.... This is probably the most used, most versatile mask. I believe I have had this mask the longest. This mask is the one I put on to create the illusion that my feelings are not hurt. I often put this one on to suppress my feelings, or to put someone elses feelings above my own. It was created as protection, as a shield - forged so strong it's bullet-proof. This one may be used in times of someone forgetting a special occasion, or being two hours late for a date, or breaking a commitment. It's also used when someone lies to me, hurts me, or puts me down. Sometimes I wear it all by myself when no one can even see it, because it's comforting to wear it - like a cloak.

The "I get it" mask.... This mask gets used often. It's the one that creates the illusion that I understand every word you say, and the lessons you are trying to teach me are sinking in. This mask prevents me from feeling stupid or inferior. The caution label on this mask should read "caution, this mask can cause undue frustration and may cause you to quit. It may also lead you to believe that you are of lesser intelligence than you really are. Long term use of this mask can stunt your growth"

The "I can do it all" mask... This is the mask that is the most dangerous. This mask is donned when I am being asked to help someone, when I don't really have the time or resources to give. This mask creates the illusion that I am helpful and not letting people down. It is so convincing, that I even believe it. This mask leaves me feeling stressed out, burned out, and in the long run, people see straight through the facade. Come to find out, there are many holes in this mask.

When I first started using these masks, I thought they were beautiful and ornamental, clever really. But the more I used the masks, and felt the ill effects from wearing them, I saw them for what they really were - ugly, hideous and menacing.

And the purpose I thought they served, the illusion of something more beautiful, more honorable, more desirable than my own truth... was a mirage. The true beauty lies within. "To thine own self be true!" was my humble statement as I took off the mask.

I was once afraid of people saying, "Who does she think she is?" Now I have the courage to stand and say, "This is who I am."--Oprah Winfrey

What masks are you wearing?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"I'm so disappointed"....

and with that utterance of those three words, my lip quivered, my head bowed down, and huge drops of tears splashed onto the table top.... and with release I sobbed.

To merely admit "I am disappointed" created such a rush of emotion, like someone releasing a flood gate, I was finally given permission (or rather, I gave myself permission) to admit my feelings, and let them gush out of the sluice gates.

Disappointment dresses in all sorts of disguises - Being disappointed with someone else ... carrying around the burden of someone elses actions, that happen to weigh heavier than our expectations. Or, being disappointed in ourselves ... being so attached to the outcome of a situation, we are no longer able to disassociate with it.

I had an unexpected workshop this morning. I was sitting on the couch, drinking coffee, wondering what I would do with the fine weather we are having today, and I flipped on the TV, and lo and behold, Joel Olsteen was on. I like Joel Olsteen. I'm not much on "religion" and certainly not TV evangelists, but I appreciate his style of public speaking, and I can relate to his messages which are normally not too "preachy".... and today's lesson was on "Letting Go."... how fitting.

Letting Go. Joels message was rather simple - instead of trying to figure out WHY something didn't go your way - accept it, and move on - knowing that God has something better in store for us. That the end result that we hitched our wagon to was not the end result God wants for us... he has "a better seed" for us to plant.

Did I say simple? Why yes, it is simple. Simple does not equate to easy. But even the message Joel preached today was one that I have talked about with clients several times "If you will let it go and move forward, then you’re going to come into something awesome that God is about to do; not ordinary like you had planned, but extraordinary like God has planned."

Let Go, Let God

So today's workshop is about letting go of disappointment. Letting go of the expectations I have on myself, and expectations I have put on my friends. I am normally pretty good at thinking about "letting stuff go"... but I realized today that I never officially "hand stuff over"... I am bit of a control freak, and delegation was never my strong suit. Trusting that God (or if you care to substitute the word "Universe" or "Higher Power" as I often do)... knowing and trusting that God, the creator of the Universe has it ALL under control is critical in letting go. You gotta let it go SOMEWHERE... simply dropping stuff is not my style - but letting someone else handle it, someone who is more capable than me.... ya, I can see that much clearer.

Joel also talked about removing "Why" from our vocabulary. My Inner Life Coach smiled when he said that, because in coaching training, we learn that "Why?" is one of the most useless questions we can ever ask. He said "Since the Lord is directing our steps, why do we try to figure out everything that happens along the way?” God has you in the palm of His hand. He is directing you every step of the way. That disappointment may not have been fair, but it’s all a part of your divine destiny"

So, the redirect is this... when faced with a disappointing situation ... rather than ask "why is this happening to me?".... the question to ask is "How can I grow from here?" and "What opportunities are available for me?" and "What lessons is the Universe presenting to me?"

I have to admit... I am still pretty bummed out about a few things going on right now.... I am bummed that three of my best friends marriages are on the rocks, I am bummed out that a good friend of mine lost her son last weekend. I am bummed out that a project I am working on is not lifting off the ground the way I had hoped.... but I am letting go of being disappointed, and I am wondering what is in store for my friends, what greater opportunities are coming my way, and what lessons I can learn from here.