06. November 2012 · Comments Off on Home Organization – How to Manage Paper Clutter and Create a Filing System, Part One · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

Over the years, I have discovered that by far, many people’s number one organizational concern is handling all of their incoming paper: what to keep, what to get rid of, what to DO with it, and how to store it. Paper disorganization is a messy, dangerous business that at best costs you time, and at worst costs you money. The difficult thing is that no matter how many times you clean it up, more paper just keeps flooding in! Follow these tips to find out how to get the problem under control.

1. Eliminate as much paper as possible from your life.

Nix all the floating scraps by putting grocery lists, to-do lists, addresses, and phone numbers directly into your phone or PDA. Use your computer as the ultimate storage device by scanning in your kids’ artwork (where they can now be kept forever in mint condition, as well as effortlessly shared with family and friends), take-out menus, medical records, and non-vital documents. Just make sure to back everything up. Visit catalogchoice.org to cut down on unwanted mailings, and cancel any subscriptions that are routinely going unread. Sign up to have your bills and statements sent to you electronically, and pay them online. This will eliminate the incoming paper bill as well as the need for a checkbook, stamps, and address labels, and as an added bonus, your payments will be processed at least twice as fast as sending them by mail.

2. Get your family on board. It is imperative that they be involved with the process, so they can take some ownership of the results. After all, everyone will benefit from this. It’s vital that they are doing their part to keep the papers to a minimum, or they will be creating chaos as fast as you can clean it up. When you have the system in place, make sure all members understand it and can use it easily.

3. Institute a 24 hour handling rule. If you address your papers every day, it takes less than ten minutes; every week, it takes an hour; every month, well, I sincerely hope you are weeding through your papers more than once a month! Ultimately, all organization boils down to keeping up, and there is no magic wand for that. After dinner, take five minutes a day to go through all of the incoming mail, the kids papers, and the scraps in your pocket or purse. This is also a great way to make sure important reminders aren’t literally slipping through your fingers, and that kids’ permission slips and other notices are being addressed right away.

Make sure to read part two of this article series to find out how to handle the papers you decide to keep!

21. August 2012 · Comments Off on Notes from the Couch – Are You Living the Life You Were Meant to Live? · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

Several years ago, I created the acronym Live, Dream and Thrive to capture the essence of my convictions as a clinical psychologist. I have revisited this acronym with renewed enthusiasm in recent weeks in preparation for my role as leader of the annual sisterhood retreat at the KKBE synagogue in downtown Charleston. This column is to be the first in a series of three, where the intricacies of my Live, Dream and Thrive motto will be explored beginning with the first step-“live”.

What does it mean to you to thoroughly and lavishly “live” rather than to merely exist? Does it mean to fit into your skinny jeans or satisfy your lustful craving for carbohydrates with a decadent slice of coconut cake at Penninsula Grill? Is it a perfect swing under sunny skies on the rolling greens or a stroll through the aisles at Costco munching on free samples? Is it a miraculous age erasing facial moisturizer, the fastest car, or the largest house on the block? Is it a spectacular sunset or a summer thunderstorm? Is it when your spouse remembers to wipe around the bathroom sink after washing or when the kids finally leave the nest? Is it a sweaty hour on the yoga mat or a safari adventure? Only you know what it means to “live”. Personally, I feel most alive stepping onto foreign soil- the more remote, exotic and tropical the locale the more alive I feel.

The question of the day is this: are you “living” the life you were meant to live, or are you merely living? In a prior column I discussed the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic forces live deep within us and have a powerful impact on the quality of our lives. Extrinsic forces consume much of our time and energy but their influence on our lives is often superficial and fleeting. The intrinsic forces are the instincts and passions that define us and make us special and unique, but often remain tragically untapped for an entire lifetime. The extrinsic forces are the entities outside the realm of the self (materialism, possessions, social status) that too often guide human behavior. It is impossible to “live” authentically without a good, solid grasp on the intrinsic forces that live deep within the soul.

My acronym “live” stands for “Listen” to the answers within, “Identify” areas where energy is blocked, “Visualize” the life you want to live, and “Eliminate” mental noise and chaos. The answers exist within all of us, and we hold the key to their infinite wisdom. It is important to have faith, believe in your intuitive power and listen to your inner voice. Before solving a problem, you must admit that a problem in fact exists; before restoring a sense of internal balance you must sense the imbalance. Blocked energy is either untapped energy or energy flowing in the wrong direction, as in the case of the soccer mom/retired interior designer who craves the exhilaration of her former artistic endeavors and uses compulsive shopping to cope with a chronic sense of boredom.

It is necessary to identify the areas where your core energy is blocked to unleash and redirect the energy towards your deepest passions. Only you know where your energy needs to flow. It is imperative to be brutally honest with yourself about how, when, and why certain aspects of your life have fallen out of balance and to visualize new and improved outcomes. This process requires quiet reflection and powerful soul searching to reach a new state of enlightenment. It is impossible to hear the answers within amidst the clatter of mental noise and chaos. Past regrets and future concerns clutter the mind and leave people vulnerable to external gratification and quick fixes. When your life is based on extrinsic motivators and your happiness is dependent on forces that lie outside of your direct control, you are no longer living your life with authenticity and harmony- you are merely living.

Remember, your life is really a collection of now moments, and there is never going to be a moment in your life that is not right now. The majority of things you are worried, preoccupied or regretful about have either already happened or might never occur, and while you spend your time clinging to the past or rushing into the future, you are missing the present moment. How do you stop this painful cycle and begin to “live” rather than merely exist day to day?

First, identify a primary area of your life where your energy is blocked or you perceive an imbalance, or lack of alignment between your core values and the manner in which you are living that aspect of your life. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and be honest with yourself- the more effort you put into this process the greater the rewards will be. The next step is to enter into a state of quiet reflection to visualize a new and improved way of being, thinking and feeling. This is the essence of dreaming, and dreaming lays the groundwork for thriving. Tune into the next edition to learn more about the process of dreaming.

Consider the following recipe for success by Reba McEntire: To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone. The business of life is really quite simple, so dare yourself to dream, fight for those dreams and remember to laugh at yourself along the way.

21. July 2012 · Comments Off on Want to Finish First? Here’s My Success Secret · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,
Copyright (c) 2008 Mind Body Spirit Central, LLC

“Nice guys finish last”. How many times have you heard that?

If this statement were true, then the world would certainly be in a sorry state of affairs my friends.

Henry James, the 19th century author and novelist once said – “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be nice. The second is to be nice. And the third is to be nice.”

This sounds like an easy thing to do. Correct?

Well, it is not always as easy as it might seem. When we are brought into the world, our minds are innocent and our spirits clear, pure and open. We hold no prejudice, no preconceived ideas or notions, no fear or anger or mistrust of others. Over time, the opinions of others and the actions of society cloud our eyes and mind.

I want you to take the time to do the following, brief two-part exercise.

First, I want you to close your eyes and think of a time when things in your life were going well. Perhaps it is the present time. Maybe it was in the past. Be honest with yourself and look within to recall how you treated other people. Did you feel at peace with the world? Did you act by the principles of respect, brother / sisterhood, universal love and kindness towards others?

Next, think of a time when things were not going well. Perhaps your possessions were threatened (or you imagined they were threatened). You lost a promotion to someone else; or lost your job. Did you react with selfishness, prejudice, hatred or other negative emotions? Or what about a minor incident where you lost your self control on the way home from work. How did you react towards people then? Did you morph into a “finger flippin’, horn honkin’, road rager”? Did your Mr. (or Ms. Hyde) overpower your Dr. Jekyll?

Your interpersonal skills, actions, self control and self discipline will always be a huge deciding factor in whether you succeed or not.

In my chosen career path, I get to meet many people who have achieved a massive amount of success in their chosen professions and also their lives. And I always make a point to “pick their brains” to find out what helped them rise to the top.

A few years ago I had the good fortune to spend a few days with Ernie Banks, who is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Mr. Banks began his career in the Negro American League and then played for nearly twenty years with the Chicago Cubs. During his career, Mr. Banks won numerous awards for his achievements and was known for his positive mental attitude. In fact, due to his positive look on life, he was given the nickname (one of many), “Mr. Sunshine”.

During his years growing up and the three years playing in the Negro Leagues, Ernie spent a great deal of time in the deep South and had to deal with racial prejudice along with the laws that segregated blacks from whites in public places and on public transportation.

In my many conversations with Ernie, I wanted to know how he stayed motivated and driven to achieve a high level of success, even when he was not treated as an equal in the eyes of others. In the course of one conversation he told me this – “I told myself at an early age that in order for me to succeed in life, I was always going to treat others as I wanted to be treated in return. I was always going to regard others with respect and kindness. I am convinced that this has been one of the reasons I was able to achieve my dreams in life”.

No matter what your current circumstances or what has happened to you in the past, commit today to treat other people the same way as you would like to be treated – with respect and kindness.

Be nice.

Finish first.

24. June 2012 · Comments Off on The Bible God -Trading Up – We Can Do Better · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

For the last 4000 years, our Western concept of God has been based on the God that evolved out of the Old Testament theocracy of ancient Israel. That God came into His own as an evolution from earlier gods, all of whose indivdual traits, the True God Most High was given. It is this God that we have come to “love” in some way, though it seems mostly a one way street in practical human experience. It is this one true God of the OT that we read is a jealous God, never thinking that in that context, He was jealous because there were still other gods a lingering and it was not that He was the only one, but just needed to be the top one. Therefore, “you shall have no other gods, BEFORE ME.” The others are lesser types and don’t forget it. “I am a jealous God.” Even as a kid, I wondered why the only God was jealous of no other gods that existed, until I learned that when the Decalogue was given, they did exist. I guess they have since moved elsewhere.

The Bible God is everything from a consuming fire (hmm, the Sun?), to the Bright and Morning Star, to a loving Father. He created humans, then didn’t realize how nasty they could be, so he wiped them out drowning them all, save 8, like rats and left humanity the unending quest for the orginal ark and a way to explain badly the origins of everything from dinosaurs to the Grand Canyon. That one story has slowed the progress of human critical thinking probably as much as any. A few weeks ago headlines asked “Has Noah’s Ark Been Found,” (again) but it turned out to be a pile of rocks.

This one true Bible God scattered humanity so they couldn’t talk too much to each other in one language and advance the cause of science too quickly. They built a tall mud building which scared the Bible God into thinking man thought he could ascend to heaven. No scientific understanding that mud bricks could only take so much pressure and go so high. They obviously haven’t seen the Sears Tower from the air. Hard to spot down there on the approach to O’Hare. The Bible God lived in an obscure land, in obscure mountains and choose to wander around in the desert with an obscure people for a time in an effort to get them to worship him and Him only. He got the group out of Egypt by an Exodus of hundreds of thousands, which neither history nor archaeology can find, but non-the-less, it happened. If you have ever seen the start of the Boston Marathon, you would get an idea of what that might have been like with those in the back jogging in place for days until the mass of humans moved. In exchange for this, and at the exclusion of everyone else on the planet, He would make them the greatest and their kind as the sand of the sea and the stars of heaven. Oi…if this is the greatest humans can be, we need another plan. So for a couple thousand years, this Bible God threatened, punished, exiled, warned, spanked, abused and gave up a couple times, save for that one guy that was worth saving. Seems the Bible God had flawed plans.

Along the way, this Bible God, the same God who is the loving Father now of Jesus and the Christian Faith, but of whom there is precious little known since Jesus has taken all the attention away from Him for the last 2000 years, this Bible God slew the masses for the benefit of His people. Any nation that ended in “ite”, like Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites…got slaughtered if they got in the way of the people of the Bible God. I guess if you wore “tites” you were history back then. Ok, the Stone Tablets said “Thou Shalt Not Kill” but that only meant “Each Other.” It was not binding on the “ites” that got in the way, including the born and unborn children of women who just happened to be not born of the true Bible God people. Those poor souls got their heads smashed, bellies ripped , burned and generally routed in various and hideous ways.

The Bible God loved meat during this time and millions of animals ended up on the alters and in the pots of a Priesthood working the Temple shifts day and night for a thousand years. That’s a hell of a lot of precious wildlife going up in smoke to appease the Bible God. Between Roman arenas and the BG’s love of animal flesh, it’s no wonder there are few impressive animals left in the Middle East. The Turtle Doves went to Rumania just to recover their numbers since the Romans, at least, didn’t send Turtle Doves into the arena.

The BG loved blood as well as the smell of burning flesh. The more blood the better and even the Christians figured out that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” Always blood…blood, blood, blood. The life might be in the blood as the Bible God tells us, but getting it from the body onto the ground seemed to be more of the goal. From redemption by blood sacrfices we went to redemption by execution of the Lamb and the shedding of human blood once and for all. Whew..at least that stopped all the slaughter…well ok , it didn’t, but we can say it did in Church and feel better. Actually, history has shown us that after Jesus shed his blood once and for all, a whole lot of human blood was going to be spilled over the next couple thousand years by those that love Jesus and want everyone to see and experience the love of Jesus as they do, and come under his once and for all blood sacrifice. Go figure.

So up to this point, we have a Bible God that is pretty scary, vengeful, jealous, bloodthirsty, clannish, has no wife or consort, surrounds himself with male angels by the millions and seems to think and teach that women are just one rung above animals and other household possessions. Ever ask why ALL Bible Angels are MALE and ALL gift shop angels are FEMALE? Oh well, nuther story. This BG has tons of laws about human sexuality and the consequences of not abiding by the rules, but seems to Himself only be a God from the waist up, even though we are told he has hands and feet.

So in time, the BG gives up on a people of his own with those methods and sends His Son, for about a year of human history, to tell us everything we need to be and do or not do. After the Romans, yes it was the Romans and not the Jews, sent him back to heaven, it’s been pretty much a big mess of confusing and conflicting beliefs and “isms” that have brought us to near extinction. Even as a kid I wondered in Sunday school why The BG giving His Son was such a big thing for him to do. He knew he would get him back in three short days, so it’s not like Jesus would never come home. I have buried lots of kids that never got to go home and see mom and dad again. I got to try to encourage parents who had lost them, but had no immediate hope of return. I also wondered why it was such a big sacrifice of Jesus for me, when he also knew his death was just more or less an inconvenience to him personally. He didnt have be afraid because he knew he’d be resurrected. He also only spent, according to the account, about six hours on the cross designed to kill one slowly over days as tens of thousands before him and after found out. So it was pretty quick compared to what others had happen to them who had no hope of a quick turn around time. Maybe I think too much. I know it’s not encouraged in church or some would not say, “You don’t pray in my school, and I won’t think in your church.” I like that one!

At any rate, I think we need a new kind of God. I know that god’s evolve slowly over time, but we don’t have much time at the rate we are going. I’d like to make a few suggestions as to the kind we evolve to next with the hope it really does make us spiritual over religious and more unversally tolerant instead of tribal and cultic.

1. We need a God that teaches all of us are one and same save for a bit more or less melanin and spot on the planet of origin. This way we might not be so freaky about borders, incursions and “the enemy.” I say genetically test all people in the Middle East to prove it’s a family feud and they all the same people. Then test in the Far East and West, put the darn genome thingy on TV and point out what a real human is and how they relate.

2. We need to evolve a God that is non-judgmental so humans can’t get a hold of all His laws and wring the life out of humanity with them to their personal gain. This would stop the proliferation of thousands of sects, denominations, organizations, cults, “isms” and One True Churches that suck the soul out of people by separating them from the world of real people. We gotta stop majoring in the minors…

3. We need to evolve a God that endorses equality across the board for humans. There are no better humans on the planet than others. No better colors, types, sizes, looks or ways of being. We are what we are and since humans seem to divide up into 16 basic temperaments, we need to recongnize that as part of our spirituality and worth. Humans have 16 basic ways of being wired and it’s not a spiritual problem to not be wired like someone else! The wealthy just have more and a responsibility to share and teach while the poor have less for reasons that usally relate directly to their government, opportunities and whether they live in sand or soil.

4. We need to evolve a God that appreciates sensual and sexuality. Whoa…la la la la la, I’m not hearing this. Bible sex usually get’s you killed for it. Couples rammed thru together with a spear. Women stoned to death. Or mostly just not spoken of. Whoever sneaked the Song of Solomon in must have gotten himself put outside the camp. The Church took the obvious intent and turned it into an earthly story with a heavenly meaning about Jesus…but whew. I think not. BG has no sexuality. Jesus may have, but we don’t speak of it and deny it or burn those that suggest it. The disciples were just a group of disconnected men with no women allowed. Original “He Man, Woman Haters Club” I guess. They had the “power to lead around a wife” but that is not very romantic or intimate.

“Power” and “Lead” are not words most women respond to these days in the world of the open hearted and enlightened…few as they relatively be. The Apostles were womanless save for getting their feet washed and supper cooked for them by women. Some women gave them money, so it’s not a bad set up. But no sex. Uh uh….no no no. And of Paul..well forget it. He thought all should be like him, which was celebate. I think this hides the fact that he was a troll of some kind, or just not the kind of guy any woman would want to live with romantically. One could suspect other orientation for Paul, which is what he wrestled with in that Hellenistic/Hebraic world, but who knows. I just know a man that “beats himself and keeps himself in subjection” sounds like a troubled guy. We need a God that would help him relax and not be so difficult on this topic. For better or worse, Paul’s ideas have made millions think they were the same as God’s ideas. They weren’t. Jesus said to marry and Paul said, better not to. Someone is wrong.

5. We need to evolve a God that doesn’t need to be adored, worshipped, tithed to, sacrificed for and feared. We’ve had enough of that and all it does is grow abusive organizations and churches that use that to fear, shame and guilt the gullible into submission. We need a God that doesn’t need money to build temples and houses to Himself. Like the denomination I came from. They taught that “God liveth not in houses made of stone….” and then set out to make, and dedicate one to Him, made of marble from some godawful expensive place, where He could live if He wanted to, which He didn’t. They later evicted Him and sold the House for God to another Church that invited Him back, but He’d already left town by then.

6. We need to evolve a God that we now lies in each one of us and expresses Itself/Himself/Herself, the real Holy Trinity, in the individual who is appreciated for that… different but equal and ok. We don’t have all be little yellow pencils for God, Jesus or The Trinity Broadcasting Network. We need a God where truly there is neither male or female, bond or free, black or white, from Yale or the Tech College down the street. Each human is who they are, where they are, being what they are and it’s ok. He certainly doesn’t require the one true folks to slay the untrue or non-compliant ones.

7. We need to evolve a God that respects the truth of Science and inquiry. No more repressing scientific reality by some church, organization or mind set that is bogus and based on myth and deceit. You keep your God out of my stem cells and I’ll keep my God out of your face…we might say. We need a God and spirituality that allows for humans to appreciate their long journey from Africa to Consciousness and understanding the nature of reality is not what we might think it is based on our limited five senses.

In short, we need to grow up and become these things ourselves and a new God will emerge in our souls and we can do better than what we see going on today with the misery one people brings upon another, day in and day out…world without end.

26. April 2012 · Comments Off on Who Says the Women In LA Are Shallow? · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

For too many years I’ve longed to find my tribe in Los Angeles. I would meet other successful and interesting women, but for the most part I didn’t experience a true connect with them.

It was a painful process of trial and error looking for “my” community in this new city I had just moved to. In the past, my big pursuits had been man and career related.

This time I was pursuing a feminine community. I was so miserable and depressed and isolated. It was hard for me to understand why I was in so much pain because I “had a good life”. I was blessed with an amazing man, an exciting and successful career, but the absence of real women friends was one of the most excruciating pains I’ve endured.

I was comforted when I read someone’s observation of women in America, this man noted, “The terrible quality of life for the women. You’re so busy that there’s no time for yourselves, not enough time to be with other women. You’re so isolated from each other and that’s heartbreaking. Women can’t survive like that, it’s contrary to your nature. And I don’t think your society can survive the decimation of its women.” A Woman’s Journey to God, by Joan Borysenko.

AHHH! There it was…the words for what I had been feeling for so long. I honestly felt heartbroken and it seemed at the time like I was on the brink of survival.
With extreme gratitude to God and the beautiful spiritual teachers that guided me out of isolation, I am proud and relieved to say that my life is much different today.

A perfect example of this exquisite shift is that in my pursuit of attracting gorgeous, savvy, conscious, hip, fun, inspiring and enterpreneurial spirited women into my social and professional circles, I have had the great fortune of being introduced to Marcy Cole, coordinator of FIRST TUESDAY WOMEN’S GROUP where the primary purpose is to create a sense of community among a group of diverse, like-minded conscious women.

Marcy is also the founder and chair of “First Tuesday Circle of Giving” and look at what they did! They chose the Robbs family in Los Angeles to sponsor…

Here’s what Marcy shared with me recently…It is well worth the read when you have the time to sit back and feel the pride and delight over the miracle that was created for this family.

“As you are well aware, we researched and carefully chose a family that was not only needy but very worthy in their willingness to partner with us in improving the quality of their lives. In the 4 1/2 months since we met the Robbs, we’ve gotten to know Laura Robbs as a woman who, despite her enormous daily stressors, has managed to worked diligently each day in an effort to support herself and her 5 children. The 5 of us on the steering committee in LA were initially sickened to witness how they were living, and yet moved at how much love there is between this mother and her children and how precious each one of them really are. Every cent this woman earns goes to rent and food, but these kids still know how to love and be loved.

Thanx to generous financial donations, coupled with the many wonderful donations of goods and services, we pulled it off with zest , love, and style!! The climactic day really felt like it was something out of Oprah/Extreme Makeover episode…but better….because WE able to bear witness to how our community grass roots efforts succeeded in making a major impact on one family consisting of 6 individual lives; its ripple effect surely to be present for years to come.

So needless to say, I have found many, many women and groups and organizations with which I’m totally inspired by. My female connections are more abundant than ever, and as a result I am thriving more than ever in ALL areas of my life.

A little mindless fun can be great on some occasions, but for me the soulful sisterhood is what excites me more.

As you become clearer and clearer as to what is most important to you, reach out and discover where your tribe is and who is just WAITING to meet you!

To find out more about First Tuesdays Women’s Group, email MarcyCole@gmail.com

25. December 2011 · Comments Off on Ah, Easter! Is There Resurrection For The Divorced And Widowed? · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

Holidays for the divorced or widowed can be a very difficult time, alone.  Old memories of good times and happiness that has disappeared, can bring tears of regret and pain.  Could a change of attitude make a difference?  Is it possible that  the month of April could be YOUR time of celebration, YOUR Resurrection?

After having experienced divorce, separation or to have become widowed, you may feel as if you have been crucified, you may even have come to a point of wishing you would die, just to put an end to the suffering. If your “love” has either announced that they are leaving you or perhaps they really did die, you may have been left feeling empty and alone, devoid of a reason for carrying on…

You may wonder, how dare I suggest you could be resurrected from the death of your relationship? 

You say, “But you don’t understand, the pain, the anger, the fear, the devastation that I feel!  I am alone in my struggles, destroyed, betrayed!”  You may have even blamed God.

Perhaps if we center our thoughts on the journey of Jesus in His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can come to a different perspective.  I am sure while alone in the garden His thoughts wandered to how His best friends and Apostles betrayed Him. They became lax in their support of Him when He felt most alone.  Where were they now when He was in such pain and expectation?  He must have considered His future journey towards crucifixion and the agony to come.  Being The Son of God and yet knowing His human experience was going to be painful, lonely and inescapable, surely it must have caused Him emotions of confusion and desperation.

There was no one to take the burden from His shoulders. It was His whole reason for meshing with humanity here on earth, but surely that part of Him that was human experienced the same emotions as we do.

That being said, if we could parallel our own pain with His, where are the nails in our hands and feet, where is the sword in our side?  Could we have willingly taken the burden of dying in this horrible way for the sins of all mankind, present and future? Is our pain a parallel to His? 

I remember asking my God in my divorce and at the death of my wonderful, second husband “Why, God?”  It wasn’t, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” But “Why God?”

Eventually, humility and understanding that I could relate to Jesus on a similar level replaced the wondering.  A camaraderie of sorts that says I feel your pain because I have trod in your path, reset the table for compassion instead of self-pity. I did not put myself on the level of the holy, but on a similar one, a brotherhood/sisterhood, a servant of sorts, and a disciple.  

I realized that, in my healing, my only recourse was to continue to serve in my human way as Jesus served me.  By becoming a disciple, by being a listening ear, a comforter, a person of understanding, my own healing arrived in many ways.

My “crucifixion” became a thing of joy, a penance for my sins and a thank you to my God for the learning experience of human reality. It became a “gift” of wisdom and understanding instead of an experience to lament.

When those who come to our support group with painful stories of betrayal, my answer that it is a “gift”, a learning experience, a journey of self-knowledge, is greeted with a look of incredulity, almost as if they would like to slug me.  But I insist God teaches us by the painful experiences we have to go through. Pain is an opportunity. Remember the walk of Jesus.

In your suffering because of betrayal and loss, imagine you, putting your feet in the Christ’s footprints in the sand. Experience the comfort of knowing your Leader is the one who loved you above all else and still does; the One who is responsible for your Easter.

Your Easter can be Your Resurrection!

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Jesus


“I think if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves.  Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”  C.S. Lewis


“The folly which we might ourselves have committed is the one which we are least ready to pardon in another.”  Joseph Roux


“We forgive to the extent that we love.” La Rouchefoucauld

26. July 2011 · Comments Off on Womanism – The New Feminism · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

I am sure I am not the first to question this but is feminism still working for our higher good? How accurate is the word feminism for women in 2009? Its roots are founded in a century with circumstances that surpass the memory of today’s modern woman. I personally am not sure I want to wear my feminist badge with pride anymore.

Firstly, lets get clear on what we are discussing here; according to the Oxford dictionary: Feminism means the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of sexual equality.

Earlier this year I attended a celebratory lunch for International Woman’s Day. I honestly (and now I realise naively) believed I was about to be showered with the energy and wisdom of successful women, publicly sharing their unique journeys of life ascending the corporate ladder. And then, if I was lucky enough to be seated at an inspirational table, to indulge in the mutual joys and tribulations of our own personal journeys as a woman in 2009.

However, the reality was slightly different. I am the first to appreciate woman are still competing in a man’s world on many different levels. I personally have been reproached by men for ‘looking a bit too young’, ‘too blonde’ and for my ‘non-suit’ business dress code. But surely when approximately 1000 women are all gathered in a huge conference room to celebrate the simple fact we are women, there should be a sense of unison and celebration?

Apparently not from where I was sitting. The speakers were highly accomplished women. Their success, as described during their introduction, would leave any impressionable 15 year old girl either giddy from excitement at the possibilities of life or nauseous at the societal benchmarks to be classified as a female success.

As lunch was served, the room lay motionless in anticipation for the pearls of wisdom from each speaker. It soon became apparent their words were not to be seeds of acknowledgment for the feminist journey travelled to date, but rather a bleak prediction for the long winding road that still lies ahead. So with this dark shadow cast over dessert, I turned back to my table in the vain hope of igniting some inspirational conversations to salvage what I believe to be a victory thus far on the feminist road. Yet to my horror I witnessed a synopses by each woman in turn on the performance of the speakers. One was encouraging, others scaling. I found myself holding on to my seat for support as I listened in disbelief to the judgments and verdicts sentenced to each speaker by their fellow women.

Admittedly some of the speeches weren’t the most spectacular known to mankind but doesn’t this lack of camaraderie simply add mileage to the long winding road ahead? We are all entitled to our opinion but would that opinion be better served working with other women rather than against them? Doesn’t feminism suggest men are suppose to be the persecutors?

Success for women is such an interesting concept. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers deserve medals for the freedom they safeguarded for us. But do you think they knew they were fighting for this modern concept of “successful women”? A success whereby I must earn over $200K p.a., pop out two beautiful children, be happily married, ensure my business is growing to the next level, graduate with honours, monitor my figure, bake with Nigella’s grace and ensure my roots aren’t showing to earn the societal title of being a success? Okay, so this is a little far fetched but really, what is it one is supposed to be doing to be successful?

Only yesterday a colleague reminded me of the pressures on a woman with a university degree. Goodness help the graduate who just wanted to settle down and have a family. It is a brave and courageous woman who acts against this unspoken decree that “your education would be wasted if you don’t ‘use it” or “what was the point of 3-5 years of study if you’re not going to earn a big salary?” or “have you heard about my friend Sally’s daughter who was asked to assist the company’s CEO – she’s only 27 you know!” Don’t get me wrong, education is an essential part of life, but how you use it should be based on fulfillment and happiness not guilt or pressure.

Despite my luncheon experience of doom and gloom, from where I stand it is quite plain to see that we, women have come a very long way, an extremely long way indeed. We only need to be on the circulation list of an incessant email ‘forwarder’ to read the old exert from a 1960’s woman’s Good Housekeeping Guide about ‘How to keep your man happy’.

Enter the definition: women’s liberation; the liberation of women from inequalities and subservient status in relation to men, and from attitudes causing these. The topic women’s liberation is something that can really liven up a dinner party, be it fireworks of praise or criticism, every one has their own opinion and experience of how far women’s liberation has really come.

However, I am curious. If feminism has liberated us from the inequalities, attitudes and subservient status in relation to men, then why do I feel so trapped as a 30 something year old woman with the world as my oyster? Don’t get me wrong, I am not ungrateful for the opportunities that lay all around me, but I am simply unclear on how this liberation from men has magically shifted to wanting to be liberated from women?

Stop! I think I made a mistake. I need to exchange my feminist ticket for a different journey. Actually I already have. And I know several other women who have. My ticket to life now reads Womanism not Feminism. One way only. An amazing friend of mine who was also sat at this fateful table summoned this term to describe her similar belief that women aren’t always a member of the same sisterhood and men aren’t always the enemy. This is not to say issues such as the glass ceiling no longer exist. It simply stating we must not lose sight of all the other parts that make up being a woman and how we can approach life from another perspective.

For me, Womanism is about being authentic to who you truly are in this world. To be able to know where you stand in life and be able to build a world around you that reflects your values, beliefs and most importantly honours who you are on the inside as well as the outside.

Womanism is authenticity. Womanism leaves space for sisterhood as well as our male friends. Womanism is unique to each of us. We all bring our own different palette of colours to this world. Why aren’t we embracing this?

Imagine if we as women, decided universally to just stop. Stop with the ‘how far we still have to go’ talk, stop with the liberation fight, stop with the negativity, stop with the balancing act, stop with the bitching, stop with the glass ceiling battle, stop judging our sister who too is striving for happiness, stop with the need to be perfect, this list is endless.

And what if we all decided to just be who we are. Not who we should be, but simply who we are meant to be. Imagine if we all wore clothes that made us feel ultra feminine in the professional arena, imagine a variety of vibrant colour and sensual fabrics walking down a city street at lunchtime. Imagine bright red nail varnish, ‘just because I felt like it today’ or imagine shoes that expressed a glimpse of who you are rather sensibility. Obviously there may be consequences to any extreme make-over but the point is in being the full you and not a muted down version of the fabulous you.

I think it is time to stop and imagine. What life am I choosing for myself? What life am I subscribing too? What is my very own personal definition of success, liberation, feminism and even womanism? Do I really want to adhere to the fruits of feminists labour? Am I obliged? Ungrateful if I don’t? Is this what I want for my daughter?

I honestly feel we have come to a cross roads and being a woman is harder than ever before. Our identity is up to us, individually and also collectively. Who you choose to be, how you choose to spend your time, education, money, happiness etc is down to you. Please choose it wisely as our daughters need pioneers to lead us forward into a safe future of light, not darkness.

I know for me, I need to lead an authentic life. I choose to wear a badge of Womanism and welcome any woman who wants to join me. I want to confidently turn to my daughters or nieces in years to come and with my hand on my heart encourage them to embrace who they are, be true to what they believe and to ensure that the term “success” is clearly mapped out and defined according to their personal values. As they learn about the great achievements of feminism, I want them to hold on to the woman inside and proudly stand tall as the world is honoured with her true authentic presence.
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09. May 2011 · Comments Off on The Law of Attraction – Seven Ways to Get "Unstuck" When Pursuing Your Goals · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: ,

In utilizing the Law of Attraction, or manifesting your intentions, or just plain progressing in your chosen path, there will always be times when you feel “stuck.” It may be that you feel bound by circumstances, or the scene isn’t playing out as expected, or maybe you’re just not sure where to go next – what move to make. Although you may (or may not) intellectually understand that all setbacks are as temporary as you allow them to be, it can be difficult to keep from getting frustrated, or even giving up.

First, let me reassure you that my life is NOT pie-in-the-sky perfection. I love every second, even the challenging ones (especially the challenging ones!), because I recognize that no matter what the circumstances, this is MY life, and I have so much to grateful for. Further, I know that my greatest growth will always come from adversity, not easy gains. It is imperative to understand that having that amazing power to manifest your intentions in all of the varied facets of your world is not about have a “perfect’ life where nothing goes wrong (and I postulate that that would, in fact, not be perfect either!), but about how you handle the challenges that will inevitably arise.

In the future, for the times when it seems all roads lead to dead ends, here are seven techniques for getting “unstuck.”

Identify specific problem areas – don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the nebulous sense of frustration that “nothing is going right.” Sometimes, when you pinpoint the exact issue, you suddenly see that it is not as bad as you thought, as possibly even easily solved! Now that you’ve pinpointed your issues, identify what you feel is “holding you back.” Is it lack of time, resources, support, organization, education, fear of failure or of success? Address that issue. Is there anything that you can reasonably do to rectify it? If you’re not sure, ask for help! It’s amazing how often we get hung up on feeling like we have to solve every problem on our own, when there may be someone with an answer within arm’s reach! Recognize that everything you need to succeed already exists, and will come to you if you’ll allow it! Stop telling yourself that you can’t have something. Instead, try believing that you CAN! The universe wants to give you everything you want, but when you’re busy saying “I can’t have ______,” the universe interprets that to mean that you don’t really want it! When you put a question out to the universe, stop trying to figure out the answer! Get quiet enough so that the universe (or God, or your creative source, or whatever you call that inner voice that is WAY smarter than you) has a chance to get a word in edgewise! Then trust your instincts as you take action – they are there to guide you. Let go of the outcome. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pursue your dreams, but if at every step of the way the cards seem stacked against you, it may be that you are pushing toward something that is not in your best interest, or at least going about it in the wrong way! Realize that you don’t always need to be “in control.” Your human consciousness – your ego – is so finite, you cannot possibly see all potential paths and outcomes… so what makes you suppose you can control them? Relax! The universe is always acting for your highest good! Why not go with the flow instead of fighting the current? You might be surprised to discover that more often than not, it carries you where you wished to go. Remember that at all times, every moment, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. It goes back to the old mantra, “Be Here Now.” There is no other time or place you can be, so take three deep breaths and just be grateful to be alive. You are only as “stuck” as you believe you are. Take this gift that is the present moment, and see what lesson it offers you. This will almost always free you to continue moving forward.

Wishing you a passionate, prosperous, and powerful day!
a.k.a. The Average Goddess

27. April 2011 · Comments Off on Playing Hurt · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

When we got the call at 2 AM last Saturday, I hopped
out of bed with the thought that anyone faced with a
ring in the middle of the night would have: “Who in
the world would be calling us at this hour?”

I looked at caller ID and, not recognizing the
number—and seeing that it was not Nick, our son away
at college some thirteen hours from home—I yawned and
crawled back into bed, pulling the down covers way up
over my head.

Forgetting all about that middle-of-the-night-call, I
moved through Sunday morning as always: early morning
tennis, cherub choir rehearsal, church. I felt
particularly moved to go up to the altar that morning
to lift up little Katie, our 3-year-old friend who has
been in our hearts for the past couple of years. We
met in the same clinic where our son was treated for
leukemia. She was having a tough time and had been in
our family’s near-constant thoughts and prayers.
Barely leaving the altar, my daughter ran up and
grabbed me, forcing her cell phone into my jaw: “Mom.
It’s Daddy. He said it’s urgent.”

Heart pounding, I heard the news we had dreaded: Katie
had passed away last night. It was her mother who had
called us at 2 AM.

Last week was Super Bowl Sunday and it was my turn to
write my annual “Playing Hurt” newsletter. But I
couldn’t move. Couldn’t talk. Couldn’t think.
Certainly couldn’t write. I was playing hurt. And was
immobilized. Right in the middle of the field.

Monday took me to New York City to meet with the mom
and dad. I told them I’d like to be with them. Help
them do errands in preparation for the next couple of
days ahead. Visitation. Cremation. Could I be their
hands and feet? Walking eighteen blocks in the blazing
cold of the northeast last week, arm in arm the three
of us as we walked down First Avenue in search of the
florist who had come highly recommended, we began the
painful process of selecting the flowers for Katie’s

Sometimes when we play hurt we understand what’s going
on. We accept the hurt as part of the natural state of
affairs. A grandparent dies and we are sad, certainly.
But we look at his or her long life and we accept the
end. Sometimes accidents happen and we agonize over
the injuries sustained by a loved one. Yet we
understand that healing will eventually occur and that
bones will eventually mend.

And then sometimes we endure things that never make
sense to us. Will never. Crib death. Death of a
toddler. Childhood cancer.

Playing hurt this year finds many of us in the Katie
Camp mourning her passing, something which none of us
could have ever imagined as possible. The spunkiest,
brightest, funniest, cutest kid one could envision had
left us. We had all sensed that she would fight the
leukemia and go on to live a very long and happy life.
She brought each and every one who had ever come into
contact with her unspeakable joy! She locked eyes with
mine two years ago and crawled into my heart, only to
stay there forever. The sadness I feel over her
leaving us is, frankly, nearly unbearable.

I am trying to stay focused on Katie’s spirit, and my
faith leads me to believe that she is in a better
state. Watching us from above, I know that she has
joined the heavenly realm and that she is dancing with
the angels. Staying focused on eternity is the only
way that I am able to get through the motions of these

Most of us are carrying around a burden or two every
day. Illness. Separation. Prodigal children.
Brokenness. It is not the playing hurt that separates
you from me. We are all playing hurt. Daily, to one
degree or another. Playing joyfully while playing hurt
is the most difficult thing in the world to do. It is
our ability to play hurt with some level of abiding
joy that marks us as victorious in this daily thing
called life. Being able to infuse joy into the
patterns of living—while playing hurt—is one of our
greatest earthly challenges.

I pray that you are well. And that if are hurt—like I
am right now—that you shall try to find joy in the
morning. As shall I.
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03. December 2010 · Comments Off on Express Your Longing for World Peace Through Dance · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

Dances of Universal Peace uses dance as a means of reconciliation and fostering peace. Dance can express all human emotions and lead to transcendental states. The Dances of Universal Peace are Sacred Dances which do not require any musical or dance experience. The sessions are about taking part and are not a performance. There are no special costumes. Comfortable clothes are the only requirement. The setting for the dances should have a peaceful, sacred feeling.

A session begins by everyone joining hands and forming a circle with the Dance Leader and musicians in the middle. The Leader then teaches the words, music and movements. The background history associated with that particular dance is explained.

There are more than 400 Dances of Universal Peace drawn from many faiths and traditions. They focus on themes such as Peace in all its contexts, healing of the Earth, it’s peoples, its flora and fauna and in the deeper mysteries.This inclusion of the beliefs of many peoples and religions creates an opening of the heart and a feeling of the brotherhood and sisterhood of all peoples. Performing the dances help the participants to understand and appreciate both the similarities and differences of various religions and cultures.

On the occasions when the dance lyrics include sacred phrases in languages not spoken by the participants the pronunciation of the words is very carefully taught. The majority of dances are only four lines long and are repeated over and over again. The combination of these factors is that the participants learn the songs quickly and easily. Within ten minutes everyone is singing, dancing and sharing the wonderful power of the dances.

The Dances of Universal Peace were collated in the late 1960’s by Samuel L. Lewis (1896-1971) a Sufi teacher and Zen Master. He studied in great depth the mystical traditions of Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity. Hazrat Inayat Khan and Ruth St. Denis were major influences on his thinking. In the 70’s Lewis began to create the dances as a way of promoting “Peace through the Arts”.The dances celebrate Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam as well as the Aramaic, Native American, Native Middle Eastern, Celtic, Native African, and Goddess traditions.

The dances are categorized under headings such as “Dervish Dances.” Dervish Cycle and Allah Snake Dance are examples from this group.There are also “Mantric Dances” such as Hare Rama Hare Krishna Dance and Ram Sita Circle Dance, and “Angelic” dances such as Moon Dances and “Tis the Gift to be Simple” which is a well known Shaker tune.

The dances encompass many moods – love, joy and compassion – as exemplified by the Buddha Qwan Yin,or the extrovert energy of Krishna is expressed in the dance. Individuals experience a dynamic relationship between the group, the individuals within the group and themselves.

Penny Xerri gives an account of “Sharing the Dances with Special Needs Students.” .She writes “One of the delights of working with Special Needs students is the immediacy of their response; if excited, they may jump up and down; if tired sit down; if pleased with themselves they often want to acknowledge that with a round of applause.Perhaps there is a lesson in Zen here. Another pleasure for me is their willingness to experiment, both with sound and movement, no matter how profound their disabilities. (One of our students has virtually no sight, another has speech that is virtually unintelligible and the majority may exhibit obsessive behaviour patterns, such as repetitive speech and movements, if in any way upset.)

Responding to the students’ needs and difficulties in the dances requires that the “able-bodied” offer a variety of support and improvised adaptations. I am fortunate in being supported not only by an accompanist, Ian Salmond, but also by Bill Thompson, a volunteer tutor. Both of these provide a strong male presence and constructive feedback. Additionally, the college in which I work provides “carers” for the students. These carers provide not only student support but exhibit considerable enthusiasm and commitment to the dances.

This level of support makes it feasible to bring the essence of the dances, whilst being very pragmatic with adaptations. These range from simplifying steps, such as substituting a straightforward walk for sidesteps, to including short periods of sitting whilst vocally rehearsing the familiar dances, or learning new ones, as our students tend to tire more quickly than their able-bodied counterparts. On a physical level, we sometimes support the hands of students, whilst adopting gestures or making turns, always being mindful not to “invade”. Challenges we are still working with include keeping the momentum of the dance (there is a tendency for the students to come to a halt after each “round”) and to hold the silence on completion of each dance beyond a few moments.”

In 25 years the Dances of Peace have spread throughout the world. New dance circles are springing up. They help spread feelings of reverence, creativity and a connection to the Earth. The dances are shared in such places as schools, therapy situations, prisons, hospices, rehabilitation centers and by people with physical and mental disabilities. Dance in general is finding a place in the process of Peace and Reconciliation in areas of armed conflict.

Heads of State should be obliged to take part in dances of universal peace before any important conference or meeting!

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