Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tired and Crazy

Tired and Crazy

I am always interested in trends I notice in conversations around me. Lately, I’ve been hearing two things: People are tired, and things feel kind of crazy.

Those are two telling topics. On the one hand, the first one lets me know that people aren’t feeling present in what they are doing. Up here in Minnesota, it could be some cabin fever, although that’s the same thing as not being present.

On the other hand, the second one tells me that people aren’t feeling present in what they are doing.

Oh. Heh.

It’s been very wintery here lately; bitter cold, ice, snow. As soon as we say, “I don’t like this.” we stop being present. We start resisting, and that causes all sorts of stuff to happen.

We clench, for one. We clench our emotions. We clench our thoughts. We clench our joints and muscles. Ow.

We start our thought-loops; “Why does this always happen to me?” “I hate this. Why can’t I do what I want?” “Why am I always so uncomfortable?” etcetera.

Everyone who noticed the bad creative questions, hooray for you!

Clenching takes a lot of energy. It’s harder for your system to circulate your blood when it’s trying to get through clench. Clenching is like trying to swim upstream. Clenching makes it harder to keep our balance on icy sidewalks and streets. We fall down.

We get mad, and that starts releasing stress chemicals in our bodies. Oh, and enough of those and we get sick. Hmm.

Resisting, not being present, means that we miss stuff. We miss turns in conversations, we lose our train of thought, we don’t see details. So, we start to feel like things are a little crazy, especially when the folks around us are in the same boat.

No wonder we get tired. Except that tired is about not being present. When we are tired at times we usually aren’t, we are saying to ourselves, “I don’t want to be here.” It usually has nothing to do with how much sleep we’ve had. (Remember being in love, and so excited that it didn’t matter how little sleep you got, you were full of energy?)

So what do we do? We get into our bodies, for one thing, breathing deeply as we can for a bit. We start asking good Creative Questions. We seek out people who will support us being present and cheery, and avoid the moaners and whiners. Why do I love to be present? What makes me have fun in the now? How am I in the moment?

How have I changed from fighting it, to going with the flow?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Take It, or Not

Take It, or Not

Here’s some stuff that I think: I think that, in this moment, I am perfect. So is my life, in this moment. I think that I have a breathtaking potential, and am capable of great change and great things. I think that I experience moments of enlightenment, it’s inside me, not outside, to be uncovered, not attained. I think that I can live my natural life of joy, abundance, clarity, creativity, love, ease, and that I must practice every day until it is automatic, like driving a car, or dancing the tango.

Believing that I am perfect in this moment means that I can love myself unconditionally. It doesn’t mean that I don’t commit to change. It does mean that I am not fixing me, it means that I am bringing out my best through fun, daily practices like writing to you, and my qigong, using Creative Questions, reading my symptoms, and so on.

Believing that my life is perfect in this moment means that everything that happens; the things I do, the things you do to, with, or for me, the random stuff that happens; is a gift. It may be a gift of pleasure, it may be a gift of learning. Sometimes it is an opportunity to practice patience, or peace, or grieving cleanly. Often, the worse it is, the better the lesson. (I know, but that’s how it goes.)

Having the thought of my wonderful, natural life in the back of my head, makes me notice when I feel it. I notice when things are easy. I notice when I am joyful. I notice when I am peaceful, or feel abundance, or clear, and so forth. The more I notice, the more I notice.

Having the thought of my wonderful, natural life in the back of my head makes me more aware of when I am pushing away from that, trying to go upstream rather than with the flow of my life. It helps me remember when I feel bad to identify the habit and step out of it. I don’t mean avoiding emotions like sadness or anger. We feel them, then they pass, and we go on to the next thing.  I mean the sticky, dirty feelings that creep through your insides and make you feel so awful, like you’re bad, or your life sucks, or no one loves you.

One piece that I endeavor to remember is that when I feel like I need to exert control over my life, I don’t. When it feels out of control, it’s usually because I’m trying to control stuff. And what I need to do is let go. It’s shifting the focus from the outside to my insides. I need to get present, I need to do something I can do, not fret about something I can’t.

When I surrender, I stop controlling and start trusting. I move back into the flow. It gets easy again. Letting go is, as the saying goes, what to do when you are at the end of your rope. Sometimes that mean asking for help.  My insoluble situation may be your easy fix.

When I surrender, I stop identifying myself as my problems. That’s a doozy, by the way. I used to think of myself as the problem, that I was a mess, damaged goods, that sort of thing. Now I get that a problem is a situation, not me. My personality isn’t me. My thoughts aren’t me.

I am that who sees me ask the question, “Who am I?” I am that who notices. That deep, amazing self under all the mind chatter, all the feelings, all the sensations, connected to everything, dynamic energy.

And that is you.

How have I changed from believing the surface stuff to seeing beyond it to freedom?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



We all make a ton of assumptions everyday. We make assumptions about ourselves, about how our day will unfold. We make assumptions about how our loved ones are, what they mean, what they think, and feel. We make assumptions about total strangers we encounter. We make assumptions about total strangers on the other side of the world.

Seems like we have to.

If we didn’t make assumptions, if we looked at everything with fresh eyes, evaluating anew at every moment, we wouldn’t ever make it out of bed in the morning. We would be so busy with current stuff that we would just have to stop. Our little nervous systems would be overwhelmed with data, and we would go into shut down.


If we make bad assumptions, we are going to get bad results. If I assume you are a jerk, I start looking for proof that I’m right. And, even if it’s all just me, I find that proof. Oy. If I assume that everyone is out to get me, I get got. Even if it’s just my interpretation.

Assumption is Trust’s cousin, the black sheep of the family. Assumption seems like Trust. There is a strong family resemblance, but they only look alike.

Trust flows from our perfect self, our natural life, like peace, creativity, and joy. It is putting ourselves into the natural rhythm of life, knowing that, however it unfolds, we are ok at our core.

Trust allows, Assumption pigeon-holes. Trust is open, Assumption is closed. Trust is effortless, Assumption takes some work.

Judgment is also in this family, and, like Assumption, can be a good one, or a bad one, depending on how we use it.

It’s worth our while to notice our assumptions and recognize our judgments, and relax into trust, when we can.

By listening to when we use words like “always” and “never” we can find assumptions. By listening to when we use words like “everyone” and “no one” we can find assumptions. Can’t and shouldn’t are also words to listen for, when we are making assumptions about our abilities.

When we see a stranger and have a strong feeling, we’ve hit an assumption. When we brace ourselves for a fight before we get there, we’ve made an assumption.

As we notice our negative assumptions, we can use our judgment to discern how we can make them positive. We can move into the flow of trust that things go our way.

By letting go in this way, we free up a lot of energy; energy we can use to look for the gift in the situation, to look for the good in the person, to look for the value in ourselves.

How have I changed from assuming the worst to trusting the unfolding of life?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Scheduled Spontaneity

Scheduled Spontaneity

I like routines. My current second favorite is having attached my qigong practice to putting on my pajamas. Jammies on, practice starts. No real thinking about it, just moving into it. Easy.

My early morning routine flows with a few variations in it, and, depending on the day, other routines come into play.

A routine is a good habit. I think it’s hilarious that writing to you is one of my routines; a routine of spontaneous creativity. Now, that’s an oxymoron.

Many years ago, I attended a workshop on creativity. The husband and wife team were excellent presenters, and had come up with some delightful activities for us to do. And they gave us some outstanding advice: If you want to do creative work, don’t wait for inspiration to hit, practice being creative.

That seemed completely counterintuitive to me, but now I get it. Now I see that by practicing a creative endeavor every day, it’s easy for me to get at my creative mind. It’s easier to come up with solutions. Practice.

When I am writing songs every day, writing songs gets easier. When I am drawing or designing jewelry regularly, that gets easier. Writing to you every day is easy and so fun.

I see a pattern developing.

When I am practicing creativity, I am having fun. I relax. When I relax, I am living my natural life. Natural life is creative, abundant, joyful, easy, positive, well, I think you catch my drift.

I also have places where I struggle from time to time, and those are habit, too. In fact, struggle is pretty much just habit. And it’s all made up in our heads. A thing only becomes a problem when I assign emotional content to it.

So, little by little, I’m replacing old, bad habits with fresh, supportive routines. I think about what I want my new routines to look like, how I want to feel, if I am productive in them, that sort of thing. And implement them with gentleness and patience.

I’m remembering more and more quickly that, when I feel bad, I’m stuck in an old habit. It might be old thoughts, or old feelings, but feeling bad means stop, assess the situation, is there something I could do, if yes, do it. If no, let it go and change the feelings. I listen for phrases like, “I always,” and “I never” and consider whether I want to keep them.

I’m remembering to make time for spontaneous activities. Scheduling spontaneity does crack me up, but it works. And having that time earmarked for spontaneous activity means that I usually don’t spend it sacked out on the sofa watching TV, but actually take the time to think, “What do I want to do next?” Oh, how fun is that question! It means that I recognize my choice in blessing my house with cleaning, or cooking something, or making something, or snuggling with my pets, or going for a walk, or reading, or napping, or sitting on the porch, or, or, or. 


How have I changed from reining my creativity in, to enjoying being spontaneously creative?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

From Dead to Alive

From Dead to Alive

Being alive is such an amazing adventure. Things happen to us, we make things happen, we do stuff, we do stuff to others, and they do stuff to us. We learn things and have experiences, and feel enriched and joyous, and full.

Or not.

Sometimes, instead of choosing aliveness, we withdraw, or get sick. Sometimes we even die.


Sometimes we find our situations or circumstances so overwhelming that we just give up, and push them down, out of sight. We pretend we’re okay, that nothing bad happened. We forget, and forget we forgot. And we suppress. We fill up our emotional basement with horrible stuff, and turn off the light, and shut the door.

Suppressing bad stuff takes a lot of energy, and that energy is our life force. When we are using up so much of our life force stuffing stuff, we don’t have much left over for anything else. We feel tapped out, and then turn to food, or drugs, or sex, or bad behavior, or dangerous activities to try to feel alive.

We end up fat, addicted, diseased, in trouble, broken, jailed or worse. We feel dead inside. We can’t sleep, and when we do, we have nightmares, and anxiety fantasies during the day. We are miserable, and don’t really know why. We look at our daily lives, and sometimes it’s pretty nice, so why do we feel so awful? (That’s a bad creative question, by the way. Avoid it.)

Sometimes we look at our daily life and it’s a mess, and we can’t figure out why when we are trying so hard to make things good.

Why do I find solutions? Why do I have all the support I need? Why do I feel excited about my life?

Most people want to help other people, and you will be amazed with how many people and agencies are around who want to help you. All you have to do is ask.

Why do I choose to clean out my emotional basement?

Sometimes we are scared to look at the stuff we’ve pushed down. We think it will wreck stuff. We think it will ruin our relationships. We think it will kill us. It won’t. It makes things better. It makes us better, clearer, cleaner, happier. It makes everything easier. It may take a long run, but often stuff starts getting better right away.

Finding trustworthy teachers and helpers, changing our destructive habits for supportive ones, using Creative Questions whenever we can; all of these things will help us clean up, forgive, integrate, let go, resolve, gain confidence and self-respect, life gets easier, and we have fun.

When we decide to choose aliveness, when we decide to let go feeling dead, or scared, or shut down, things will change. Situations will arise more often where we find ourselves celebrating our aliveness. Solutions will show up. We’ll find help. We’ll find peace.

How have I changed from avoiding my life, to living it to the fullest?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Guilt-Edged Soul

The Guilt-Edged Soul

I love my Clark Kent job. It gives me so many great opportunities for learning about me, about you. I work with wonderful people, and we have a good share of fun.

Every so often, though, when things get a bit tense, we show different sides of ourselves. I think it’s fascinating, where we go emotionally in stressful environments. Some of us get sick and stay away. Some of us withdraw into our offices or cubbies. Some of us get defensive, some of us go on the offense. I am trying to stay present enough to stay centered and calm. I can do it from time to time, but I have a long way to go before I can just be there.

In the meantime, the phrase I’ve come up with to keep me light around the stress is, “I’m bad and wrong.” It’s so over the top that it makes me laugh, and that helps me get back to “Why am I peaceful?” pretty quickly.

But it’s a curious thing. A lot of us feel “bad and wrong” all the time. And a lot of us feel like you are “bad and wrong.”  Guilt is a wicked strong and pretty damaging feeling.

It’s very useful for keeping us from doing stupid stuff, but that doesn’t always work. And sometimes we feel guilty because we did something we need to make amends for. (So go make your amends.) But a lot of the time we feel guilty because we feel guilty. Darn ol’ thought loops.

I was full of guilty as a youth. I remember a dear friend saying, “Quit apologizing for everything!” And my response was, of course, “I’m sorry!” I was in a place where I felt like my mere existence inconvenienced the world so much. I felt like I was using up someone else’s share of air every time I took a breath. I felt like nothing I did would ever be good enough to make up for me.

All lies. Brutal, damaging horse-hockey.

Why am I innocent? How do I know my essence is pure? What makes me good enough?

I am here for a reason. Each of us is. We have our special set of skills and talents and experiences that gives us a unique view of the world. We each have a gift to give the world. Not one of us is just taking up space. I think our purpose, the meaning of life, if you will, is to find out what that gift is, and to give it to the very best of our ablility.

How do I know my life is meaningful? How do I know I have a point?

I used to think that my gift was to be a bad example. That is not a gift, that is self-pity. When you recognize your gift, or gifts, you will feel good. And when you give your gift, you will feel wonderful. You will feel energized by the giving.

Did you see that? If you think your gift is working yourself to the bone, or only doing for others, you’re a bit off. If you think that you’ve found your gift but that idea makes you feel sad or pathetic or depresses, you haven’t found it yet. If you think you can’t find your gift because you are too busy, or too sad, or too sick, look up, take a few cleansing breaths, and think again. Your gift is inside you. Perhaps for you busy ones, it’s showing others how to balance it all. Perhaps for you sad ones, it’s how to be happy even through great grief. Perhaps for you sick ones, it’s how to life a lovely life from your bed.

As a beloved teacher said to me a thousand thousand times, “You do know.” We have to look beneath the objections and denials, and believe that we deserve to do something we feel wonderful about doing.

How have I changed from feeling like a burden to recognizing the gift?

Friday, January 25, 2013

One from Column A and Two from Column B

One from Column A and Two from Column B

I am having a nice day. It’s Friday and I have a fun weekend planned. I have some interesting projects to do at my Clark Kent job. I’ve had some lovely conversations, well, my list goes on.

Today I pulled one of my three favorite cards. They are “Why do I choose?” “Why is it so easy?” and “Why am I grateful?”

Can’t go wrong with that trifecta.

We make thousands of choices every day. Isn’t that amazing? Thousands. Most of those choices we barely think about. A second cup of coffee, how long to brush our teeth, how fast to drive the car, and all the routines we do every day. When there are things we don’t like in our lives, there is a horrible truth, namely, we are making a thousand tiny choices to keep those things happening. When I first realized that, I was appalled. It makes a bit more sense when we realize the question we are asking is, “How do I maintain the status quo?” It’s a question that is often born of fear, with stems from old, bad things we’ve already survived. Time to change it.

What makes me clear out my emotional basement?

Becoming aware of our process of choosing, of the choices we make, and spending some time thinking about what tiny choices we can change makes us free. Why would I choose to be free?

So many of our choices make things harder on ourselves. I think that is so weird. When we choose to engage in a lose-lose fight, or don’t stand up for ourselves, when we over-spend, over-drink, over-eat, when we under-play, under-relax, under-rest; each choice makes life harder.

By deciding to cultivate “easier” as a lifestyle, an amazing thing happens. Wanna guess? Oh, yeah, life gets easier.

It’s really that, um, easy. Decide to cultivate “easier,” make choices to support “easier,” do “easier,” and appreciate how easy it gets.

For example, keeping my car maintained lowers my stress, raises my mileage, keeps my car feeling safe and comfy. Easy.

Keeping my pantry nicely stocked with food I actually eat lowers my stress, nourishes my body, keeps me feeling abundant. Easy.

Enjoying moving my body every day with qigong, yoga, walking, and other random stuff maintains my energy, buffs up my immune system, keeps me in the pink. Easy.
How have I changed from choosing the hard way to thriving in the easy way?

And then, spending some time every day to notice what I appreciate, to feel grateful, to think thankful thoughts, well, that’s just the nuts on the sundae. I like nuts on sundaes, so this time is a great pleasure for me. And the more I am grateful, the more I have to be grateful for. I love how that one works.

How have I changed from struggle, habit, and pissed off to conscious, easy, grateful choice?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Busy is as Busy Does

Busy is as Busy Does

How do you spend your free time?

Okay, I hear some of you laughing and it sounds a little bit hysterical, so I want you to breathe a few deep breaths.

One of those super annoying things that people say is, “Everybody has the same number of hours in their days. It’s just a matter of how you choose to spend them.”

I get teased a lot about being busy. And, on the one hand, I do have a lot of my time committed to things, mostly things I love to do. I have my job, my work, I take a couple classes, I teach a few classes, visit my family out of town. I have several weekly and monthly social commitments, and the normal allotment of errands and tasks. I have a daily qigong practice, and meditation practice. I get to write to you every day.

On the other hand, I make sure that I have free time pretty much every day. I think of free time as time with no structure, no commitment, no plans. Free time is when I say, “Hmm, I think I will do X for a while.” Free time is when I ask, “How relaxed can I possibly get?”

Some days, that free time is when I take a bathroom break, or am driving somewhere. Some days, it’s the whole dang day. Sometimes, I make several days in a row of unstructured time.

However much it is, I make sure that I feel it. How do I feel when I have free time?

Things can get in the way of our enjoying our free time.

Some of us feel like we have to fill every moment with doing things for everyone else. We feel guilty, and think that if we do enough, we will stop feeling guilty. There is no such thing as “enough” and no matter how much you do, if you are coming from a place of guilt, you will never feel free. Dump that guilt now.

Some of us feel like we have so much free time that we could choke a horse with it. We get bored. Here’s a cool thing I found out about bored; it’s all in our heads! When we are bored, the thing to do is get our bodies moving. Go for a walk, do some jumping jacks, or maybe some burpees, remember burpees? The point is to get your body juiced up, tax it a bit, and that will get your juices flowing again, and bye bye boredom.

Over and over we find out that if we want to live a life we love, we have to spend some time thinking about what that would mean for us. We have to respect ourselves enough to take the time and energy to figure out what we want, how we would like to spend our time, who makes us feel wonderful, where we like to be, and so on.

Is there something you think you would love to do, but haven’t tried yet? How could you get started with it? Who would support your efforts?

Is there something you used to do that you want to get back to? How can you make room for it in your life?

How have I changed from ignoring my wants and needs to respecting my entire process?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Method Acting

Method Acting

I do a lot of self-disclosure here. For one thing, I learn a lot about me; where I was, where I am, and what I want. For another thing, I found it helpful in my journey to know that my teachers “got through it,” so I hope you will benefit from my experience, too.

For years I felt like a phony baloney fake-a-roni. I was terrified that you were going to see through me, or rather, that you were going to see the me I was trying to hide.

My beloved teacher called it “playing a good game.” I figured out when I was a kid that if I crinkled my eyes when I smiled, it looked real. I played with a tape recorder until I found a way to make my voice sound caring. My touch seemed gentle and compassionate, if you ignored the fact that my hands were always like ice.

On the surface, I was a warm, caring, loving person. Just underneath, I was cold. I was emotionally shut down. I felt pretty indifferent to you. Way deep down, I was scared to death about a lot of stuff.

I wonder why I felt like a phony baloney?

So, when I was nineteen, I had a spiritual experience in that I became aware of my “perfect self” deep inside, the self that is love and ease and joy and compassion and wisdom and strength and vulnerable and so on.

How was I going to reconcile my horrible, pretend, outside self with that lovely, deep inside self?

I addressed my fear with a wonderful teacher. It took a while, but it was really worth it. I cleaned out my emotional basement of fear, rage, shame, grief. I shone a bright light in the dark corners, and remembered that every trauma was something I had already survived, so I could integrate the experience, and move on.

I learned to accept tenderness. I learned to trust. I learned to recognize when someone is trustworthy. I learned how integrity feels. I learned to love me.

As I did that, I also learned that pretending everything was fine when it wasn’t didn’t actually serve me, or you, for that matter. It was way better if I felt something to tell someone. I didn’t need to tell everyone, but even just one person knowing my truth made my feeling fake fade.

We are divine creations, blessed with existence, blessed with awareness, blessed with so much.

We are divine creations, with gifts to give, with hands and hearts to receive.
As a divine creation, I am completely genuine, real, and, at my core, perfect. You are as well. If you are feeling like a fake, look inside for your perfect self, and if you need to, get some help to get clear.

How have I changed from acting like a person to being an amazing human being?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Chronic

The Chronic

(Today I’m writing on a controversial subject. I want to be clear, and address a lot of the questions I’m asked on the topic. If you have more questions, please send me a message. One of my favorite old saws from 12 Step groups is “Take what you like, and leave the rest.”)

I don’t get sick and I don’t have pain anymore. Really. That’s not to say I always feel great. I get tummy stuff, I get respiratory stuff, I get muscles and joints flaring, just like anyone else. I have these experiences pretty rarely these days, and I am very appreciative about that. So what happened?

I have changed my stuff around feeling symptoms.

In the olden days, I focused on what felt bad. I focused on my problems and troubles. I focused on the people who hurt me. I focused on every twinge, every lurch, every throb, as proof of my misery. I was suicidal. I was lonesome for you, and lonely for me. I had three feelings, not-too-bad, bad, and terrible. I was doomed.

I had the Chronic.  

I also had a tiny seed of an idea that maybe my lot, our lot, in life wasn’t to suffer, but to find our way through the crud that comes up in our lives, with joy and happiness, with ease and laughter.

The saint I met in Kathmandu was doing it -- genuinely grinning and radiant despite the fact that he had kidney stuff so bad he couldn’t walk.

It’s doesn’t require being a saint. It does require changing some stuff, and giving up some old beliefs and patterns.

It means divorcing Sick and Miserable. A clean break, no alimony or visitation. Sick and Miserable want to suck the life and love out of you. They are indeed scourges of humanity. But they aren’t the symptoms and the circumstances, they are our attitudes.

Can you get your mind wrapped around that? It took me a long time; I want to help you get it fast.

The symptoms and circumstances are neutral. The Sick and Misery come from us, they are the demons; the attitudes, the thoughts, the beliefs.

Sick and Misery want drama and whining. They want you to ignore the advice for which you pay your money to experts. Sick and Misery don’t want you to use everything and everyone available to you to help you feel good. They want you to sigh and complain, whine and whinge. They want you to frown, and they want you to pull everyone down with you. They want you to find Misery Buddies.

So what do you do? First, start treating yourself with compassion rather than pity or disgust, notice if you are blaming someone for your circumstances, and address that. Take out the words that have a negative charge for you. Consider how you might live your life if you were happy and confident, even if you still have your same situation. Consider how this phase of your life might be a blessing and opportunity for you.

How have I changed from feeling burdened and beaten to finding my potential and grace?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Flipping the Important Coin

Flipping the Important Coin

How do you know that you matter? Are there people in your life you tell you? Do you see it on the news? Do you work hard to be important? Do you work extra hard at your job, at home, volunteering?

Or is it that you know you are useless. Why bother? Do you know that you don’t make a difference? That no one would notice if you dropped off the face of the earth?

Perhaps you feel somewhere in between the two.

They are both just feelings. And those feelings motivate us to do different things. How strange is that; the thoughts in our heads, the feelings in our bodies, motivate us to do stuff. Sometimes they motivate us to do amazing and wonderful things, and sometimes they motivate us to do stuff that hurts us, or even hurts others. Dang. That’s some powerful thinking!

When we are trying to prove that we are important, interesting things happen. One of them is that we get so focused on being important, or on trying to feel like we matter, that we lose track of our own well being. Or we get ourselves so busy that we just fly from one activity to the next, no down time, no time for self reflection, no time for relaxing, no sense of gratitude. Or we end up stomping on people without even knowing we are doing it; ordering people to do stuff, discounting their efforts, or taking credit for their work.

When we are trying to prove that we are useless, interesting things happen. We get so focused on being useless, on proving that we don’t count, that we lose track of our own well being. We don’t notice that we are often taking advantage of others, we hardly ever feel grateful or appreciate what others do for us, we discount favors they do for us, we don’t repay kindnesses, we don’t offer assistance. We end up stomping on people without even knowing we are doing it.

Well, what the heck; did you notice what happened there? When we try to feel like we matter by working hard to be important, when we deny that we matter and choose to feel useless, both thinkings give us similar results. And a resolution is build into those results, namely, slowing down enough to smell the roses. Or whatever smell you like. Taking time to feel gratitude and appreciation will help us get back to our natural life, where we are naturally important.

How do I know that I matter? Why do I appreciate help? How do I feel appreciated?

When we remember that our feelings motivate our actions, and that our feelings come from our thoughts, and we think as we choose, we can make amazing changes in our lives.

When I was trying to prove that I mattered because I felt worthless, I worked hard to make myself indispensable. I encouraged people to take advantage, then felt angry at them. I did favors, not from the joy of helping, but to ingratiate, and then felt annoyed that I wasn’t appreciated. Heh. What a setup.

By relaxing into my natural life, I know I matter because I am an expression of the divine, or universal oneness, or whatever you wanna call it. To paraphrase Descartes, “I matter because I am.”

How have I changed from trying to prove myself, to living my best life?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Perfectly Impossible

Perfectly Impossible

I am often asked how I can write to you every day. Several things come into play. I love to write, I love talking about Creative Questions and self-evolution, I love you, and you let me know that these contemplations are helpful. There is one more thing, and I think it’s the most important part.

I don’t edit.

In the olden days I was such a perfectionist. I had the idea that perfectionism was the ideal, and that if I could get there, I could be acceptable to you, and, conversely, if I couldn’t get there, I was despicable to me.

Perfectionism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There is a huge difference between doing the very best we can, and trying to be perfect.

For many of us, the idea that we need to be perfect, or that we need to produce perfect work, can stop us dead in our tracks. We end up feeling like, since we can’t do it perfectly, we may as well not even try.

As perfectionists, we can make things extra hard for people doing things for us. We often don’t know what the standard is we want them to reach, and so we give instructions like, “I’ll know it when I see it.” That’s unfair both to the person doing the work, and to ourselves.

As perfectionists, we can make things extra hard for ourselves. How many hours did I spend on cleaning the floor with a toothbrush, or editing a piece until there was no heart left to it.

But one of the issues we have with trying to be perfect is that we don’t quite know what it means to be perfect, and we have the vague idea that we’ll know somehow, when we see it. Ahahahah! The joke’s on us!

Perfectionism is a tricksy one because it makes us think that it’s all about the product, and that if we make the perfect product, we will finally feel good about ourselves.

Now, I am sure that there are things we could do “perfectly.” We could also do them “right” and we could do them “well enough.” Each of those words has a different punch from perfect. Somehow, to the perfectionist they aren’t as good. And I certainly want the surgeon and the auto mechanic and tax accountant to do their jobs correctly. But I would really rather they not be perfectionists.

How is good enough, good enough? How do I know I am good enough? Why do I deserve to feel good about myself and my work?

By changing our focus from some notion about the product;  being perfect, or doing it perfectly; to the quality of our effort, doing our best, we can relax back into our natural lives. We can use that freed up energy to get clear about what we want, both from ourselves, and from others. We become better task-givers, and we get happier, and those around us get happier, too, because the expectations are clear, and reachable.

Now I’m going to clean my floors without that dang toothbrush!

How have I changed from trying to be perfect to being my own, amazing self?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Whatcha Doin'?

Whatcha Doin’?

I think it’s so funny that so much of how we are is about what we spend our time doing; things we think are fun, things we think are hard, things we love, and other stuff maybe not so much.

We have so many ways of doing all that stuff. We do some of it alone, we do some of it together. Sometimes we do it alone with others all around.

I can tell you this, when I feel engaged, whatever I’m doing is more enjoyable. I like to do stuff with you.

One of my teachers would draw the distinction between withdrawing and isolating. When we withdraw, we recharge our batteries, we regroup, we marshal our thoughts. We emerge stronger and clearer, and feeling like re-engaging.

On the other hand, when we isolate, we are often in hiding. We are trying to feel safe, or looking for temporary relief. Isolating ourselves doesn’t really help.

Sometimes I need big chunks of alone-time. Most of the time, little chunks of alone-time are sufficient. I use that time for contemplation, or just thinking about stuff. I figure things out, I find solutions. And, of course, do stuff.

And yet, for example, even though I am alone when I write you each day, I feel connected to you. I feel engaged with you, I feel presence in our community. Even though I’m alone when I practice my qigong, I feel a part of a large community. Even though I spend most of my sacred porch-time alone, I feel connected to my neighborhood.

Being engaged, involved, and connected is enlivening and energizing. Feeling engaged is interesting. I get curious about what will happen next. Curiosity is a by-product of engagement. Support is a by-product of engagement. So are love, creativity, openness, and aliveness, to name a few. Relaxing into these feelings, allowing our thoughts to be of this kind, brings us back to our natural lives, and isn’t that nice.

Sometimes we force ourselves to be in a group. Yuck. That isn’t being included, it’s not engaging. We feel unnatural, we say weird stuff, or get overly emotional, or really shut down. We feel horrible. We often feel super vulnerable and raw, and want to take everything personally. We get really defensive or self-protective and offensive.

If we can identify the first time when we experienced that, and integrate it, we can get back to our natural life of delight. Sitting at the wall of our icky stuff is uncomfortable, but so gratifying when the wall melts away, and so nice to have all that fresh, cleared out space.

Sometimes, when we are trying something new, we are inclined to hold back. When we can find one person to connect to, one person to engage with, we crack open that door of new experience, and can often find ourselves in the midst of a wonderful adventure we never could have imagined, much less imagined enjoying.

How have I changed from fearing change and involvement, to embracing the opportunities?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Love Me Tender

Love Me Tender

Well, you sure are fantastic. Smart, funny, good to look at, that’s you. I can see it so clearly in you. Can you? Do you see how lovable you are?

Some of you are nodding. Some of you are giving me “the look.” Some of you are crying.


I used to be one of the crying ones. I couldn’t imagine anyone finding me lovable. Bad creative questions can really do a number on us. My old favorite was “What’s wrong with me?” Yikes. I had a lot of variations on it, and, because I have such a creative mind, I had thousand “reasons” for why I was so unlovable.  Poor little me.

Thinking like that really does a number on us. Not only does that kind of thinking hurt our own selves, and without reason, but it also hurts the people who love us. Dang.

Choosing to love yourself is an act of great courage. That seems so funny to me, but it really is. At the very least, modern culture looks a bit askance at the notion of self-love, but believe you me, getting there, choosing to love yourself, makes a huge difference in the quality of your own live, and will have a lovely impact on the lives of people around you.

For a lot of us, this is such a foreign notion that we don’t have a clue how even to start. It’s simple. Start like you are starting a courtship relationship. Make some time to take yourself out to a place you like to go, where you can actually spend some time with yourself.

That’s such an important thing, to spend some time with yourself. How do you feel? What do you like to do for fun? What are your favorite foods, places, books, movies, activities? What makes you feel really pampered or nurtured?

Who is your favorite person to see? You know that feeling, when you get all smiley? Imagine looking in the mirror in the morning and feeling that delighted to see your own face. Why am I delighted to greet me?

Why do I love to spend time with me? How am I my biggest supporter? What makes me like me? How have I changed from ignoring me to treating me like a beloved friend.

Being in a loving relationship with ourselves makes everything better. There is never a day when being in a relationship with someone who is cruel, or negatively manipulative, someone who cuts us down, and so on, is better than being alone in a loving relationship with ourselves. Really and truly. If you are in a relationship like that, please love yourself, and get some help to get out. You deserve to be treated well, and the person who is being unkind to you may find their way because they had to deal with the consequences of their bad behavior.
Meanwhile, take time for yourself, to be in your body, to notice how you feel, to be aware of what you like, what you want, where you like to go, and what you like to do, and then to act on that knowledge. Taking care of others is easy when you take care of you, first.

How have I changed from thinking there is virtue is ignoring myself to reaping the benefits of self-love?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stepping Up

Stepping Up

We are so crazy powerful. Even when we think we aren’t, we are crazy powerful.

We create our world everyday, expanding it, modifying it. We create our experience, we change our past, we manifest like mad. We create ourselves, not from scratch everyday, but we imagine ourselves differently, and bit by bit, we become that. It doesn’t matter if you believe in it, it happens anyway.

How incredibly exciting!

There are two important things to know about this process.

Thing one. If you are not actively engaged in making your life better, it will get worse. It won’t stay the same, If you don’t evolve, you devolve.

Thing two. We paint our world, ourselves, with the words we use, with the images we visualize, with the feelings-loops we run. If we aren’t thinking about this; choosing, deciding, aspiring, wanting; our unconscious mind will take over. And you know what it’s like in there, that’s where your anxieties, fears, worries, and nightmares come from. Horrible old patterns, sad and depressing behaviors, outmoded, negative beliefs.

I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want my unconscious mind running the show.

How do I do that, get me to run the show, or at least more of it?

Get active about living your life, stop floating, or muddling, or slogging through. Spend a little bit of time every day to think about what you are doing. Why do I choose to live my life?

Find out what you want. I know I bring this up a lot, but can you imagine getting into your car without knowing where you are headed, and just kind of vaguely hoping you’ll end up where you want to be? I mean, sure, some days that’s fun and adventuresome, but it’s not a good way to live, especially if you need to get some cat litter, or Imodium. How do I know what I want?

Get grateful, practice appreciating. Start a Thanks book. Post here. Get a couple people together, and email each other your lists. Daily. Hourly, if you are having a bad time. I’ve had days where the thing I appreciate the most is not screwing up. Thankfulness, gratitude, appreciation, will help. And ask yourself, How do I feel when I am grateful?

Notice your speech. If you want to feel better make sure you are using good words. Talking about debt, lack, pain, suffering, misery, enough, struggle, will attract more of those things. Changing our language to bills, plenty, discomfort, experience, and so on, literally changes our brains, and creates that lighter feeling. What makes me choose my words?
How have I changed from feeling down to looking up?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I love treats. I love little surprises, tokens, trinkets; those little gestures that we make to each other to say, “I love you.” In fact, just the word trinket often makes me feel happy.And these days, as I am clearing my space, I want fewer things. So I really like the treats that one can use or use up.

I like to give myself treats, little gifts. They usually aren’t surprises when I give them to myself, but sometimes, this particular time, it really was.

Many years ago, I was reading a book about being your own best friend. At that time in my life, I was one of those friends you don’t like very much. I thought I was a jerk, and an idiot, and I treated me like that. (I’m so sorry, Former Self.) I felt fat and ugly and stupid a lot, and that meant someone was abusing me. And at that time in my life, it was me.

I wondered how I could possibly be my own best friend when I sucked so much, but decided to try it. I stopped saying horrible things about me to myself all the time. Oh, my gosh. I said horrible things to myself all the time. It was like having one of those subliminal recordings playing in my head 24 hours a day telling me how awful I was.

Stopping that took effort. It took awareness, it took practice, it took faith in the idea that I probably wasn’t really a horrible person. I know, but actually saying “I like me” was so far away at that point, not horrible was as good as I could manage. Baby steps.

Little by little my self hate loosed its grip on my throat, and my spirit. When I noticed that I’d said something mean to me, I would apologize, and say something nice. I would pat or rub my sternum. It was often somewhat challenging. And it was amazing how ingrained that meanness was.

Curiously, as I got nicer to me, I got nicer to you. I stopped being quite so viciously sarcastic. I didn’t need to be snide. I didn’t need to poke you, or imply that you were stupid, or whatever.


Curiously, as I got nicer to me, you got nicer to me. You stopped saying mean things, putting me down, rolling your eyes and tsutsing your tongue at me.


Curiously, as I got nicer to me, I started to love spending time with myself. I was really fun to hang out with! I would take myself out to coffee, and I would treat, or for a meal. I would go to the movies, or the library, or wander around the mall, and I had fun. By myself. I discovered that I liked me.
Letting ourselves get soft enough to find our self-love is a huge part of our personal evolution. Everyday stuff gets so much easier when we are doing it for someone we love.

How have I changed from treating myself like dirt to giving myself tender love and affection?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Doubt, Not Truth

I wasn’t always the happy-go-lucky, goofy guru-philosopher you read every day; oh, no! In point of fact, I’m not always even now, but in the olden days, I had to learn how to be positive.

One of the games I would play, especially on days that were kind of rough, was the God’s Movie game. I would imagine walking down the street, and seeing from a bird’s eye view, God preventing all sorts of horrible things from happening to me; cars running me down, muggings, stray bullets, vicious dogs, pianos falling from the sky, and me, as the character in the movie, grumbling about my crappy day, oblivious to all the protection I was getting.

I love that game. I still play it on bad days. Why do I choose to play?

Some people are born positive and have it beaten out of them, some people are born melancholy, we all are as we are, but we can choose to think wholesome thoughts. We can choose to have tiny goals, and little goals, and big goals to give shape to our days and weeks and years. We can choose to be happy.

Why do I choose to be happy?

I also expect that wonderful things happen in my life. They happen for me, and they happen for you, the people I love. Imagining my friends telling me wonderful news is so fun, feeling how happy I am when I hear your good news is so nice, and it helps me feel positive on days that I might be finding challenging. It’s a nice, sneaky way to cheer myself up, and I have to admit, I find it more fun than prayer, although, depending on the circs, I do that, too.

How have I changed from envying to being so happy for you?

The more I expect things to go my way, the better they go. The more I expect wonderful things, the easier they happen. The more I look for delights in my daily life, the more I find. How weird is that.

I’m not lucky. I am attractive of good things. Luck carries with it an implication that whatever has happened isn’t really deserved. It’s kind of like that definition of grace that makes me crazy; God’s kindness to us, though we don’t deserve it.

We each deserve a lovely, happy, natural life. We deserve to strive to make our lives good. We deserve to find happiness and the root of happiness. We deserve to move from a place of mindless habitual activities filling our days, to days filled with little accomplishments and medium accomplishments, and from time to time, great, glorious, dazzlingly magnificent accomplishments.

To get that life, we have to choose it. We have to decide we will do what we need to do to make that happen. For a long time the Creative Question I asked was something like, “How could I deserve a nice life?” I wasn’t sure for a long time, but it was only doubt, not truth.

How have I changed from feeling doomed to expecting miracles?