Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Sun and the Watery Tower

"Keep your mind on the things you want and off the things you don't want." ~ Hannah Whitall Smith

A few months ago I had a recurring dream. In the dream, my family and I were driving somewhere near the beach, and suddenly a wall of water rose from the ocean and formed an extremely tall and terrifying tower of water. In one dream, we were on the higher level of a parking deck when the first wave came down, and although panic was quickly spreading all around us, we knew we were safe.

After that, I had similar version of the same dream on different occasion, but one of them in particular really caught my attention. Unlike the majority of dreams which are nothing more than snippets of unrelated debris from the previous day, this dream was as clear as a film; if I close my eyes right now, I can still see it.

In the dream, my family and I were once again driving parallel to the coast, looking at crashing waves while we pleasantly cruised along. Unexpectedly, the sky turned dark toward the southeast and the wind began to blow. Suddenly, the water started receding, and it pulled itself up in a tower ever higher and scarier than the one in preceding dreams. I stood in front of it, knowing that it was only a matter of time before it would fall back down. Standing in front of the powerful mass of water - so high up in the sky I couldn’t even see the top – panic seized my entire being. I looked up at the dark water ready to swallow me in its fluid bite and then closed my eyes, hoping to savor the last few moments on this earth.

A thought flashed through my mind. Without wasting any time on rationalizing whether it would work or not, I opened my eyes, and turned to look toward the west, where the sun was still shining. I tried my best to detach from the feeling of fear gripping my very soul, and focused on the healing power of the sun. As I kept my concentration centered on the sun, I could see with the corner of my eye that the tower of water was getting smaller. Without questioning what was happening I continued doing just that – I ignored the fear and focused on the one thing that, I felt in my heart, could neutralize the killer wave. The mass of water continued shrinking, until, finally, it disappeared.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the dream, aside from the fact that we were back in the car and driving to some other location.

When I woke up the next morning, I couldn’t shake the dream, and continued to think about it for the next several days. I still occasionally do, although I no longer feel a sense of dread when I think of the wall of water looming over us. I believe this dream contained a powerful lesson, for it highlighted our ability to fight adversities by focusing our energy on their opposites.

We might be powerless in front of some seemingly insurmountable threats in our path, but something exists which can neutralize each of them. There is no ill in the world without an antidote; to find it we need to understand the nature of what is looming in front of us and beam our energy in the opposite direction. Some monsters can be big and scary, but it is comforting to know their opposites pack just as powerful a punch.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What I Learned from a Sour-Apple Worm

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. -- Albert Einstein

Of all the things my children were blessed with, curiosity is certainly the trait that brings home the prize. They never tire of asking questions, and charge everything with a genuine interest to learn something new at every turn.

Even if their unbridled desire to always find out different things delivers them occasionally at the doorstep of trouble, it also helps them fully experience every moment. Everything is ‘cool’ to them – from the colors of the sky, to the graphics of a new video game or the tart flavor of a piece of candy they have never tried before – everything is a way to see, hear, feel something new and record the sensation triggered by the experience.

A few days ago, my daughter and I went to a video store, and she picked up a package of sour-apple-flavored worms from the display at the check-out counter. Yellowish green in color, and coated with a thick sugary slime, they were about as appealing as a bucket of swamp water, yet Morgan walked out of the store proudly holding the loot in her little hand with a huge smile of accomplishment.

When we arrived home, her brothers had just returned from school. Morgan ran out of the car and barged inside to show them her purchase which I thought would not excite them at all. I was wrong. They hung around her like starving men waiting for a morsel to save them from sure death. She opened the package, pulled out two flimsy strings of green candy, and handed one to each boy. Their eyes lit up, and as they opened their mouths to invite the disgusting little critters in, a flash of pure bliss spread over their faces. At that point I had to try myself, and asked Morgan for a nibble; never in my life have I tasted anything more disgusting – tart enough to paralyze my mouth in a twisted sneer, and overly coated with sugar to avoid being compared to poison, I quickly thought that the bucket of swamp water would have surely been tastier. The first thing out of my mouth – when I was able to move my jaw again to talk – was: ‘How do you eat this stuff?’

All three looked at me as if I had asked the unthinkable. “Are you kidding, Mom?” asked one of them, “this is the best candy ever; it is so tart it makes you shiver.”

So that was the key! The candy wasn’t good, or bad; it was only intense, and a new flavor to add to their young collection of tasty knowledge.

I suppose I never thought of new experiences that way, and quickly opened to the concept that something not previously encountered is cool for that reason. I immediately thought of the movie Meet Joe Black, and particularly of the scene when Brad Pitt makes such a huge deal of trying a spoonful of peanut butter – something so ordinary to us yet so fascinating to a spirit simply because of its texture.

Every day we witness many miracles – the beauty of a sunrise, the striking, powerful sight of a stormy sky, the perfect color pattern of a flower growing alongside the highway, the smile of a child or the birth of a puppy – and at the end of the day, all we likely remember is the jerk who cut in front of us at the intersection, or the coworker who didn’t pull her weight and got extra recognition. We probably don’t think of the man who humbly held a door, the heavenly taste of a new piece of pie we tried at lunch, or the homeless man who taught us lessons of giving and acceptance just by standing at the corner when we drove by.

Thomas Holdcroft once said that life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us. Our lives are bejeweled with many small miracles if we can look past the patina of illusion and allow ourselves to find the sacred in the ordinary.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Face to Face with Fear

“The hens they all cackle, the roosters all beg, But I will not hatch, I will not hatch. For I hear all the talk of pollution and war, as the people all shout and the airplane roar, so I'm staying in here where it's safe and it's warm, and I will not hatch!” ~ Shel Silverstein

After coming in from playing in the creek behind our house, yesterday afternoon, my son needed dry clothes. Since I was busy preparing dinner, I asked him to go up to get them. A short while later I found him, still in wet clothes, sitting on one of the steps of the staircase. He smiled at me, half embarrassed and half frozen, and simply said that he was scared to go up alone. I later found out from my older son that the night before they had watched a scary movie before going to sleep.

The fear of imaginary monsters lurking around the upstairs overpowered the discomfort of wearing wet clothes. When we approached that discussion - after changing into dry pajamas - he said that although he knows nothing is really up there, he could not shake the feeling of dread.

It is easy to come up with intellectual facts as to why one should not be afraid, but fear is ultimately a force with a hidden switch, one that is hard to isolate through rationality. We might know that something is possible to overcome, but when fear is triggered, all good propositions fly off like leaves in a hurricane.

One can be stuck in an unpleasant situation – and wishing to get out of it – but remains frozen in a state of paralyzing fear and accepts living in dire conditions rather than standing up to what he or she is afraid of. Fears are sometimes triggered by blocks buried in the subconscious. One lady I knew lived under constant fear that her husband would cheat on her, and was terrified of snakes. Her mother had dropped her off with her grandparents, at the age of two, after kissing her goodbye, and had never returned. As a young child, she had no control of the circumstances surrounding her abandonment, but as an adult she desperately tried to prevent being “left out” again. Snakes were a symbol of deceit and betrayal in her mind, and she could not stand being around them. Being aware of patterns is useful in understanding the inner blocks that trigger our fears.

Overcoming fear is possible, and it can be done in small steps. An initial rationalization of the facts surrounding the issue is usually the first milestone. Small animals project a big shadow, and that projection is what we are afraid of. This realization enables us to gather strength and prepare for the showdown - There is no monster bigger than the one we create in our own minds.

Once we are ready to come face to face with it, it is okay to hold our breath while we gather courage, but it is important to know that we are the only ones who can ever hope to defeat the monster. And we can do it, regardless of its size.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Path of the Phoenix -- Rising from the Ashes of Teen Suicide

"In spite of everything I shall rise again; I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

While I was catching up with e-mail last night, I overheard a story my husband was following on TV – a man served a long sentence for a crime he didn’t commit; when he was finally cleared of the charges, he could have chosen to be bitter toward the system that had forced him captive all those years, but he opted instead to be grateful for the truth which had finally set him free.

The story I overheard was certainly inspiring, but not more so than another story I heard at the writers’ conference I attended yesterday. Right beside me sat a woman who recently released a book written in honor of her son who took his life at the age of eighteen in 2005.

Like the man who was unjustly sentenced, this mother could have allowed herself to be swallowed by grief, but she chose instead to become an advocate of teens suffering from depression. Her son’s death was a terrible tragedy – anything the family tried, including therapy and medications, failed, and the teen continued to spiral further and further down until he could no longer cope.

I can hardly describe the type of inspiration one feels while merely talking to someone like Carolyn Zahnow; her research and understanding unfortunately came too late to save her son Cameron, but she is determined to employ what she learned throughout her ordeal to educate parents and teachers about telltale signs of depression in teens. When her son died she had two options – she could choose to gradually give up on her own life, and lash out at anyone who couldn’t share her pain, or she could stand back up and fight for the lives of other children; I’m happy to say she chose to do the latter. Her words to me were that helping other suffering children was the best way to honor the memory of her son.

One life was lost; forfeiting her own would not bring her son back, but he could continue living through other children if they can be helped before it’s too late.

As a parent, I can’t even wrap my mind around the type of grief she goes through-- just flipping through her book made my heart ache; while the right-sided pages include much or the research she has done to understand what happened, the pages on the left are filled with writings and pictures from her son. I can only hope and pray that his anguished words will echo through time and space, and they will be the saving grace of other teens struggling with depression.

Kudos to you, Carolyn; I cheer your strength and your devotion, and I hope that the trial and sadness you so bravely endured will indeed serve a greater purpose. May your words reach those who need to hear them most, so that nobody else’s children must be buried before their times. Good luck to you, and may God bless you for all that you do.

Who to call: If you’ve noticed signs or symptoms in your teen or any teen, call one of the following:

-Community mental health agency
-School counselor or psychologist
-Private therapist
-Family physician
-Religious/spiritual leader
-1-800-273-TALK can provide useful information, names and numbers.

Friday, March 26, 2010


In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

One of the most intriguing things about listening to people describe news events is their tendency to remember – and their preference to discuss – the most gruesome segments. I once heard someone say that the newscast he had just watched was not very interesting because nothing really catastrophic had been reported. Of course, this person was probably joking, but as legends always have a bottom of truth, so do jokes.

For whatever twisted reasons tied to human nature, our attention is quickly captured by drama and negative news. This little psychological secret is the bread and butter of political campaigns and mental control; although people complain about the verbal attacks and blows below the belt they witness, their attention is piqued quickly, and the goal of the campaign strategists is attained.

This phenomenon can be observed in literally everything; in novels, a dark knight is always more charming and dream-worthy than a white knight; talk shows thrive on human drama; soap operas are parodies of human inadequacy; positive blogs get limited attention, while bashing, offensive posts draw opinions and readers.

Why are we so entertained by doom and human drama? Are we secretly entertained by the tragedies befalling others because it gives us an edge, and we feel better about our own precarious situation when witnessing others suffer? Could it be that negative news are a vehicle of connection to other people? After all, people like to come together and talk about something bad that happened; the tragedy becomes their link to others, and talking about the event opens the door to feeling united by a common denominator.

We approach life in approximately the same fashion. If we were to catalog all our thoughts in a day, three quarters of them are focused on what we don’t want in our lives, rather than being directed at what we want. If someone loses their spouse, for example, they become consumed with insecurity and bitterness, and a huge percentage of their thoughts focus on what the person has done to them. That will not bring their spouse back, nor will it help in finding another companion, as nobody wants to be around someone who’s a prisoner of their past. At this point, the question should be: Have we not been hurt enough by others that we feel the need to continue the beating with our very own hands?

Regardless of what some think, thoughts have power over our realities, and what we choose to think has a hand in forging the future ahead. Thinking positively about what we want triggers a series of chemical reactions in our bodies, and produce subliminal changes that become our business card in the outside world, thus triggering reactions in others.

Focusing on what we want allows us the opportunity of creating a clear mental picture of what we need to recharge for, and fuels our innate drives toward achieving that goal. Would you not want to fuel your car with premium gasoline, if you have that choice? Our lives should deserve no less.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Vacuum in the Fish Tank

At any given moment one doesn’t know if something will happen – often a seemingly meaningless event – that will spark thoughts worth pondering over. One of those moments for me was two nights ago, when I cleaned out my fish tank.
I pumped out half of the water and used a vacuum to suck up debris from the bottom of the tank, while the tiny goldfish continued to swim in the little water that was left in there.

Right then, a thought crossed my mind – what could the fish be thinking in that moment? Certainly he had no idea of what I was doing, and all it was aware of was the tube moving around the tank and sucking up gravel. Every time it moved the fish swam away quickly, as if the tube was an underwater monster ready to swallow it in one bite.

All along the fish was never in danger. In fact, what was happening was for its greater good. Yet it was scared, and had no idea of its best interest being met.

In the greater scheme of things, we humans behave similarly when faced with situations we don’t comprehend the hidden value of. We run around in circles, scared and confused, afraid for our well-being and survival, without pausing a moment to see the greater picture. Some events are the catalyst for increased awareness and needed change, yet, it is hard for us to see or accept that.

With the recent fall of our economy, many are fearful for their present and future, and feel as if they are standing at the edge of a precipice, stable enough to survive in the moment but at the mercy of unknown events that might cause them to lose their balance and fall.

Yet, through some of this hardship, families and communities are coming together, and individuals are once again discovering the hidden treasures of family unity and human compassion. The hidden gains could also be of different quality altogether – maybe someone needs to learn humility, human compassion; needs to know he or she is able to take charge of life and be creative in regard to survival, or simply needs to recharge a weakened faith in a higher power.

Regardless of the fact that we may or may not understand the reasons behind some of the events unfolding in our lives, those reasons exist nonetheless, and those experiences are not placed in our lives by chance. Most important is to realize that we will not be harmed, but will instead draw benefits from them in the long run. One lady I know was laid off, and has decided to go back to school. Although right now she is going through hard times because of her unemployment, a few years down the road she will be happy of the decision she made. Had she not been laid off, she might have never taken the chance to leave a good job to pursue more education, and consequently would have given up the opportunity of having a better job for the future.

Ultimately, we are no different than the tiny goldfish – we fear and struggle, and are only able to see what’s happening beside the vacuum, when if we could instead see the full picture we would know that the tank is just being cleaned out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Filling Up the Tank

“Emotions are the fuel to really move you along - that's the only way you can create music. If you don't feel any emotions, it's not going to happen.” ~ Jan Hammer

In one of her comments to one of my posts, friend and fellow writer Alice Grist described how hearing of the success a childhood friend experienced in her career, motivated her to stir her own creative juices and start writing professionally.

Although their friendship had ended many years before while still children, their mothers were still occasionally in contact and shared information about their respective daughters; when Alice heard that her friend had become a writer and journalist -- something she had always wanted as well and never pursued -- she was overcome by jealousy.

Jealousy, envy, anger and all other emotions customarily considered negative ones are usually seen as a deterrent to success and personal growth, but in Alice’s case, jealousy and a sense of competition were the main ingredients of a fuel that propelled her toward tapping into her hidden talent and developing a career in writing.

Born from the ego, emotions are often confused with feelings from the heart. It is very common to hear people talking about amorous jealousy being connected to true love, while in reality the two are as different from one another as day and night – the feeling of love knows no jealousy because love is all-encompassing and well-wishing; we love our children and wish them to be happy with the right person; by no mean we would want our love for them to become a prison, because true love doesn’t need to own anything or anyone. Jealousy is instead connected to fear, the opposite of love.

Generally speaking, emotions are a cursed lot we don’t need to call upon, unless, of course, we can channel their fire in a creative way.

When one of my friends found out her husband was determined to dissolve their marriage, she was crushed. When he left, she became angry. At the time, her anger served a purpose, and it allowed her to pump steel into her spine while she tried to pick up the pieces of her life. Anger held her up from the impulse of drowning into self-pity, and gave her strength in the early days of the separation.

In Alice’s situation, the feeling of dissatisfaction with the self which resulted from comparing her stalling writing success to her friend’s prolific venture, led her to shake off the invisible chains that held her back from reaching her own true potential. Today, Alice Grist is a highly-respected author and a very creative businesswoman.

My mother always explained it best – no matter what it flows through, or what it feeds, electricity is still electricity. The energy invested in the charge connected to specific emotions is still energy; channeled through our intent but neutral in nature. So, if energy can begin in a neutral state and be transformed into a negative or positive charge through our choice of thoughts, certainly the reverse process can happen as well, and we can use the directing power of our thoughts to channel a negative charge and transform it into a positive one.

If we can concentrate on shifting our focus whenever we feel a negative charge rise up in response to something unpleasant, and direct the fire of our emotions toward positive mental images, we can now pour fuel into a plane which will take us where we desire to be.

We can’t always choose what happens around us, but we have the power to choose what we will do with it. If someone offered you free gasoline for your car, you would never dream of turning down the offer; wasting the opportunity to employ free, good mental fuel is not too smart either.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Season for Everything

“Some closing of the gates is inevitable after thirty, if the mind is to become a creative power.”~ E.M. Forster

This past weekend, one of my close friends went on a spiritual retreat she attends several times a year, and decided to share the trip with another friend who occasionally travels with her. During this particular trip, she had a surprise –another friend she had not seen in years decided to ride along.

Once she got past the initial shock, she was happy this opportunity had opened for her to find resolution to a personal conflict. Four years ago, she and this friend had come to a halt in their relationship for no apparent reason, and she never could figure out exactly what happened that drove her friend away.

The drive was for the most part uneventful, the soft rhythmic rumble of the engine interrupted only by the voices of the other two women excitedly chatting away and catching up. Focused on driving, and not much interested in the daily dramas being discussed, my friend avoided large part of the conversation and listened instead.

From the time their ways parted, their lives had evolved in such different directions that it was almost impossible to find anything left in common. During the trip, finally, my friend found the resolution she had waited several years for – nothing drastic had occurred when their friendship ended, no one had argued over anything, and no harsh words had come in between them; their friendship had simply run its course, and had come to an end.

It happens, sometimes, that relationships fall apart without an apparent reason, leaving one or more of the people involved fishing for answers, or wondering if they are at fault in the dissolution.

Some people are in our lives to stay, and their role is often one of mutual support, while some others only briefly cross paths with us to facilitate the learning of a specific lesson. When the lesson is assimilated – whether that milestone is integrated into our conscious perception or not – the person walks away and our paths diverge once again; they were never meant to run together, but only to merge for a short while.

Some of the ‘temporary people’ in our lives can enter the stage at the most unexpected moments, and their arrival and brief stay – as well as their often dramatic exit - have the power to upset the natural order of things, or to trigger a change by initially turning our lives upside down.

In my friend’s case, when the former friend walked out, curiosity surrounding the fallout was the main reason for her leaving the door ajar all this time. When she met the other woman again, she realized she had no hard feelings for her at all; in fact, she wished her well on her way. Nothing was ever really wrong; they were only two very different people whose lives briefly connected for reasons to them unknown. Their time together was over many years before, and finally my friend was able to lay the matter to rest. With that door finally closing she allowed herself to free up her perception while waiting for new things to take the place of something that no longer served her in the present.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Anatomy of a Gift

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” ~ Proverb of origin unknown

Although this wise, old proverb hints at the fact that we shouldn’t judge a gift by its monetary value, a few days ago I couldn’t help but come up with a slightly different interpretation for it.

A week ago, I woke up to a terrible head cold – sore throat, stuffy nose, body aches, and all the necessary garnishes to make me feel utterly miserable. Not being a fan of medications unless absolutely necessary, I decided to treat myself to some of our old family recipes, enriched this time by the suggestion of an herbalist friend. I drank ginger tea throughout the day in addition to several teaspoons of homemade Four Thieves vinegar – for those who don’t know what it is, Four thieves vinegar is non-pasteurized vinegar in which certain herbs known for their anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties have been allowed to steep for six weeks.

True to my beliefs that a well-aligned spirit is meant to live in a healthy body, I also dedicated a little extra time to meditation, visualizing health and vigor even if I felt like death. I focused on illness being the illusion, and good health being my birth right.

Something worked. Although I’ve had good results with all the above mentioned methods I the past, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to fully heal from a nasty cold in twenty-four hours until now. When I first got out of bed the next day, I was slightly surprised that my body was not aching and the chills were gone, but as the day progressed, and all other symptoms began to completely subside by lunch time, I questioned what had happened.

Old lore tells that a cold takes three days to come on, three days to stay, and three days to go; this cold, however, took the express train out of town. What killed it? Was it the vinegar, or the ginger, or, maybe, the meditations? Really, it could be any of those things or none of them at all, but what mattered is that I was no longer sick.

That’s when the proverb of the gift horse flashed through my mind. One of our greatest blessings and curses is our never-ending necessity to question everything. We feel the compelling need to qualify and quantify everything, often looking for flaws that can confirm our doubts.

When we receive a blessing, we can’t just accept it for what it is; we need to find out who did what, why they did it, and how it happened; by doing so, we dilute our gratitude for the blessing received. If we ask for help getting out of a flood, it doesn’t matter if God Himself lowers His hand to pick us up, a neighbor comes with his fishing boat, or a large log happens to float by us at the right moment; what counts is that we are safe and should use our energy to send out vibes of gratitude rather than worrying about the technicalities leading to the gift.

I quickly wiped my own thoughts away, and thanked Spirit for the help, elated to feel healthy and inspired. Once again, believing truly saved the day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Please vote for my blog!

If you enjoy my daily blog, I'd greatly appreciate you taking a few moments to sign up at the following site (evidently prizes are involved!) and vote for my blog. I'm already nominated so after you click the badge to the right, please visit THIS PAGE and insert my full name and the URL for my blog, which is The deadline is April 2nd. Thank you so much!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Attention, please!

Hello, Dear Friends!

Due to a mistake at the US printer (please see my "An Apology to My Readers" blog post), some of you may have received (or may shortly receive) faulty copies of Housekeeping for the Soul. Should you be one of those affected, please send an email with your address, and I'll make sure to send a correct, signed copy of Housekeeping as soon as possible, perhaps even as early as next week!

Please click here to go to our contact form to provide your address and let us know how many copies were affected. We'll be in touch next week with more specifics about how we're going to make this right.

Thank you in advance for your patience, and we're so sorry for any inconvenience.

With Gratitude,


Friday, March 19, 2010

"The Big Book of Soul" -- A Book Review

Being passionate of all things spiritual, I became really intrigued when I read the editorial reviews of The Big Book of Soul. Finally I had the opportunity to read a book dealing with the spiritual practice of Hoodoo which focused on healing rather than hexing.

I went to a local bookstore to pick up a copy already expecting to like the book, but nothing prepared me for the treat I was about to receive. The cover itself, with its abundance of color and festive energy was striking enough to get my attention the moment I laid eyes on it. I gingerly took the book home and began to read. Little did I know that I wouldn’t be able to put it down for the next day and a half.

I’m not sure if it was the exquisite style of writing that drew me in most, or the amazing descriptions of a culture I wasn’t so familiar with. I became so enthralled with the lives of the people described in the book that I could almost picture them in front of me, and their suffering and joys became my own.

I was thrilled to find such detailed explanations not only on the use of healing herbs and foods, but also on how each of them became such an important part of the African-American culture. I learned about soul food and how it came to be, and I felt I was given the opportunity to enrich my own life and perception through the many tidbits of ancient wisdom so skillfully delivered and beautifully threaded throughout the book.

The Big Book of Soul is definitely a title I would recommend hands down; not to those who view Hoodoo as a Band-Aid maybe, but certainly to everyone seriously wishing to learn more about true healing and spiritual practices.

Stephanie Rose Bird became the mouthpiece of her ancestors, and was able to convey many tidbits of their wisdom with ease; when she allowed them to merge with her own superb knowledge of herbs and healing foods, a magickal book was born. The Big Book of Soul is a spellbinding read that will undoubtedly open new doors of perception.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Apology to My Readers

I found out last week that the US printer has made a mistake on some of the copies of Housekeeping for the Soul they sent out to the distributor. By the time the mistake was discovered, the distributor had already sent out a shipment to Amazon. Although I hope that all faulty copies were retrieved before Amazon filled pre-orders, I have no way to know all of them were.

So, if you receive a copy with my cover and someone else's book in it (the author is J.M. Harrison), please return it to Amazon and they will replace it with a good copy. I am very sorry for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fitting the Puzzle

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Of all virtues a human can have, patience is certainly one I never mastered. For that reason mostly, I’ve never been a fan of jigsaw puzzles. Last night we decided to have fast food for dinner, and my daughter found a puzzle as prize in her happy meal bag. As soon as we got home, she opened the small bag and poured the puzzle pieces onto the table. Then, she looked at me with big, disarming eyes and said: “Mom, can you help me with this?”

I was trapped. With dad still at work and teenage brothers busy talking on the phone and playing on the computer, I could see no way out. I drew a silent deep breath and tried my best to smile excitedly, while my daughter, oblivious to the truth painted on my face, gingerly got the pieces ready.

Finding the corner pieces was the easy part; next – I remember hearing from my husband once, while he worked on one of the wretched things with one of the children – we had to find the “outside” pieces with straight sides. Check. After a little while we identified those pieces too. Now the real fun was about to start…fitting the middle pieces that always appear to go everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Since the visual skills of my five-year-old daughter are with no doubt superior to mine – and also because with a good compliment I could buy my way out of puzzle-hell - I encouraged her to try on her own. Not only was my idea a sudden burst of geniality getting me out of a hot spot, but watching my daughter solve the puzzle from a distance also taught me a thing or two about the way we fit, or don’t seem to, in the greater puzzle of life.

The first thing she did was to rotate the pieces to see if they would interlock with the ones already laid out. When more than one piece seemed to fit, she matched colors at the edges to discern the right one from the wrong ones.

A thought suddenly fluttered through my mind…could it be that when we feel we don’t fit we are just not properly “rotated” and are looking at things from the wrong direction? Surely, if we turned the puzzle pieces facing the other way they would no longer fit. Similarly, we often look at things from a faulty perspective; we can’t find our place, or look around to see lack of acceptance and judgment, because our focus is on what doesn’t matter. If we have to give a speech, write a piece, or introduce ourselves to the world, we worry more about what others are expecting to see than about what we have to offer. Someone once said that if we center our thoughts on what we are doing rather than on what others might think of it, then we will create something we can be proud of that will probably be favorably accepted by others.

Her second approach was also enlightening. We are, many times, given clues to help us ease into situations, but we often ignore them because our arrogance gets in the way. “This is the way I am,” I’ve heard someone say before, “if they can’t take me the way I am it’s their loss.” Well, it very well would be, if the person voicing out their unmoving position was content and not at all bothered by exclusion and social rejection. Everyone should be confident enough to be honest about who they are, but if what they show the world causes them to suffer, maybe a little adjustment or toning down is in order; expecting others to accept our dark side with open arms is no less pompous than forcing a people to say they love their dictator.

Each of us has a place in the greater scheme of things, and all of us are here to serve a purpose, whether our role is apparent or masked. Just a few days ago, I read somewhere that Hitler and the Dalai Lama were great teachers because they both moved people to compassion from opposite sides of the board. Even if it is a hard concept to swallow, I deeply believe that statement hides a great truth.

We might never find out what our purpose is, and maybe it is not even important we know. What IS important is that we recognize our value is much higher in the greater scheme of things than we will ever be able to perceive from our point of perspective.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Love That Never Dies

“You taught me how to love; you taught me how to live; you taught me how to laugh; you taught me how to cry, but when you left, you forgot to teach me how to forget you.” ~ Hendie

Not too long ago, my mother was telling me about a friend of hers, Anita, who recently lost her husband after a long battle with cancer. She and her husband had been married for almost fifty years, and were only a few weeks shy of celebrating their anniversary. Theirs was a symbiotic relationship - their roles were defined and perfectly aligned, and worked together with the precision of a Swiss clock.

When her husband passed away, Anita was lost. Not only did she have to rely on her sons to take care of mundane matters - she told my mother - but also had to forgive herself for still being alive.

When someone we love suddenly leaves our lives, letting go of them feels like a betrayal. We hang on to pain as an invisible rope that keeps us connected to their essence, and feel that if we let go of the pain we will lose them completely. If we move on, and begin to live again, we feel guilty of leaving them behind, or, if they have chosen to leave willingly, we feel that by forgetting the pain we are condoning their acts.

Truth be said, what connects us to loved ones who are no longer with us is not pain, but the memories we have created over time. As long as we hold our loved ones in our hearts and minds, they will never be gone.

Regardless of how we have lost that person – through physical death or choice of a different path – we need to allow ourselves time to heal. In some Native American traditions, when someone leaves, a specific ritual is performed to “cut the ties that bind”. We establish energetic ties with all who cross our path and become important to us; when something happens to upset the connection the ties become a stranglehold, and stop both from moving forward. Cutting the emotional ties does in no way separate us from the beautiful moments that connected us to them, but only severs the need to hold on to pain.

Those of us who have any kind of spiritual affiliation know that all things happen for a reason. Maybe we had a soul agreement with that person to be in our lives only for a short while and teach us something about ourselves, or we may have something more we need to accomplish before we go while the other person had already fulfilled their life contract. We could drive ourselves mad searching for reasons that may not be for us to know. What counts is that the person we loved came into our lives and left something with us before they departed. Their gift to us may be one we might not readily see or understand, but it undoubtedly touched our lives and changed us in some way.

There is a season to seed and one to blossom; there is a season to ripen and one to harvest. There is a time to hope, to laugh and cry, but most of all, there is a time to be grateful for every chance we have to experience love.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Floating vs. Drowning

“Fear is faith that it won’t work out.” ~ Author unknown

While watching a comedy sitcom in which a kid was trying to learn how to swim, I saw my daughter become pensive for a moment. Then, with a puzzled look spreading across her little face, she said: “If I can swim, why is he having such a hard time with it? He can just float.”

I tried to remind her of when she didn’t know how to swim either, and how apprehensive she was when the swimming instructor first asked her to ‘let go’, but since that moment in her life was long past, she simply shrugged her shoulders and remarked that all the kid has to do is to let himself float.

Since there was no point in arguing her down - and also because she had a point somehow – I only told her that fear is what stops people from swimming, and adds pounds to their bodies making them a dead weight; since she is no longer scared, she can abandon herself to the water and float easily. That explanation didn’t really satisfy her never-ending curiosity, but her five-year-old attention span saved the day; she had enough of my “weird” explanations and happily trotted off the next room to play. On the contrary, my daughter’s simple question left me with a couple of points to ponder.

We readily assume that our reality is largely affected by facts that can be proven through physics or other scientific disciplines, but if one analyzes the water Morgan swims into, and the water the kid in the show fought with, there is really no chemical difference between the two. Just as well, the second kid’s struggle cannot be attributed to him being heavier than my daughter, as there are many people larger than him swimming like fish. In fact, body weight has little to do with staying afloat, since heavier people can at times float better because they displace more water. So what can possibly stop one kid from floating which doesn’t affect other people who know how to swim? The answer is a simple one…the kid who can’t float is just allowing is fear of drowning to overwhelm his natural ability to float on water because the focus of his faith is not in succeeding but in failing.

Swimming isn’t the only skill we forfeit because of fear, and every day we lose wonderful opportunities to grow and evolve because we are scared of the unknown facing us. We have faith that we can stand up and thrive on solid ground, and we have no trouble doing so, but we question our faith when it comes to dive into unfamiliar waters; similarly, we have faith that our lives will run smooth if we follow old, proven channels, but we have faith we will lose our stability if we think outside the box and take a risk.

To elaborate using a very recent example, I will share something else. My husband occasionally buys lottery tickets, and yesterday morning he asked me to check the numbers of his ticket online while one of our sons was in the kitchen eating breakfast; when he heard what his father asked, Michael mindlessly asked if we are ever going to win the lottery; without thinking twice, my husband replied no. I almost asked him why he bothered to even buy tickets if he already assumed that he is never going to win, but quickly dismissed the question and moved on with my day; I can assure you however, that until he can change the focus of his faith, you will never read on the paper that the Carrington-Smiths in Raleigh NC have won the Power Ball! Since he expects to not win, Universe has no choice but to indulge him.

Faith and confidence can carry a person on powerful ethereal wings, as long as one doesn’t decide to look down and mentally calculate the depth of the fall. So, in so many ways my daughter is completely right – if she can swim, so should everybody. As long as they can believe they can.

Friday, March 12, 2010

One Block at a Time

“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ~Chinese Proverb

While playing Lego blocks with my daughter, yesterday afternoon, my attention was piqued by a home she had built for one of her little miniature dolls. She had erected the walls around the figurine, and in the excitement of the moment, she had forgotten to include a door.

Here was the poor little doll, sitting in a cluster of colored plastic bricks tightly intertwined together as fingers in prayer; her painted eyes were fixed against the wall in front of her, and her hands rested hopelessly at her sides – a prisoner of her own play-world.

When I mentioned to my daughter about the missing door, she raised an eyebrow and studied the situation for a moment, then began to remove blocks – one at a time – from one of the walls. In no time, sunlight streamed through the opening and kissed the blonde hair of the doll with a sparkle of gold. My daughter smiled, and said: “See mom? All you have to do is remove some of the bricks”.

Her words opened another door - one of awareness, this time. How often do we build walls around ourselves, and do so gradually and slowly enough that we forget they are even there? Since childhood we are handed out blocks by people and events, and we quietly stack them one above the other as a reflex. We are given blocks of rules, religious convictions, societal manners, external judgment, and we arrange them around ourselves as we try to determine who we are. Once adults, we continue to build with extra blocks that we accept and make our own as we shape the course of our lives.

Once the walls are built, they appear impenetrable, and we learn how to live within their confines if we fail to see a way out. Yet, it is always possible to get out. Regardless of the situation we may be closed into, we are never fully trapped until we believe we are.

Walls are made of individual bricks, and those bricks can be removed, one by one, in the reverse order they were stacked up. Knocking down a whole wall at one time would require too much energy, and, frankly, adjusting to such a radical change would be more traumatizing than remaining within the protective walls we have built overtime.

Removing one block at a time allows us the opportunity to grow stronger with each phase of the removal, and gives us time to integrate the new awareness within the folds of what we deem comfortable and acceptable. As a prisoner who’s been locked up in the darkness of a cell for years, we need time to adjust to the brightness of sunshine.

Once we finished our Lego house, my daughter looked at it with pride, and no better words could have been spoken that when she said: “Look, Mom, Kelly is happy now – she has a beautiful house and she is free to go out to play.”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

From the Inside Out

“A lot of people say they want to get out of pain, and I'm sure that's true, but they aren't willing to make healing a high priority. They aren't willing to look inside to see the source of their pain in order to deal with it.” ~ Lindsay Wagner

About a week ago, my oldest son got hurt playing basketball. What initially appeared as a red, slightly swollen bump, changed color over time, and became a silver-dollar-sized brown and yellow bruise covering the inside of his wrist.

The other night, he reached out to pick up something while I was cooking dinner, and I asked if his arm still hurt. He shook his head and looked at the bruise; “look mom,” he said, “the bruise looks like a doughnut now.” And it really did. What used to be a solid blue mark finally faded to a rusty brown circle encrusting a small area of healed skin.

To my surprise, he said: “Isn’t it strange how so many things that happen on the outside seem to relate to experiences inside of ourselves?”

When I asked what he meant, he replied: “People think that you heal from the outside and you have to treat your body, but even this bruise shows how things truly heal from the inside out.”

I was stunned at his ability to embrace such a philosophical view of things at such a young age, and became quite curious about his theory. The way he explained it was simple, yet it was probably more powerful than most complicated versions I’ve heard before. Adults can make a mess of things when they try to inflate their ideas with big words to impress, desperate to appear erudite and wise; kids have no time for garnishes, and go straight to the heart of things.

With the perception of a fifteen-year-old naturally fascinated by electronics, he sees the outer body as a machine fed by a central “life engine”. The energy received from the central source is then distributed through an intricate wiring to reach all areas of the body and mind, all filaments connected to one another. If one bulb burns out, a whole section shuts off, and doesn’t receive energy.

The central supply is continually fed by our daily experiences and it runs freely at the center; if something happens to it, or if it slows its flow to a trickle, all the filaments depending on its power gradually turn off.

I thought about this theory long after my son went on his way. When our flow of life energy is slowed down or interrupted, a compromised sense of wellness is the natural consequence. The most important question at this point would be whether wellbeing can be restored if the flow is once again regulated. Would the secondary channels be irreversibly damaged after not being fed for a long period of time, or could they fill up with a new supply of life energy and resume their work?

Personally, I believe that some of them – those that have completely dried out over time – are probably irreparable, but I also think that a new network can be created once the flow reaches new, consistent strength.

Our work doesn’t revolve around producing the energy itself, as it is self-renewing; all we need to focus on is the removal of blocks that prevent it from moving freely.
Guilt is often the mother of all blocks, followed closely by anxiety and fear. We can easily picture our blocks like sandbags we place around the source of energy to block its flow; if we remove the sandbags, nothing can stop the energy from radiating out from the core.

If we can learn to heal from within, just as Stephen’s bruise is doing, we can hope that when the process is complete, full power will once again be restored.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Book I Never Wrote - First Edition Misprint

Last night was a bit of a rollercoaster. After reaching the top when I received the copies of Housekeeping for the Soul I had ordered two weeks ago, I took a fast dip when one of my contacts sent me a message and told me that the advance copy she received today for review was misprinted – right jacket and wrong book inside of it!

I am of firm belief that people’s paths cross for a reason, but this unexpected merging of literary children created sheer panic. Within a matter of hours, I went from being elated that books were already on the way to Amazon and other retailers to being utterly terrified thinking that the one copy was not the only hybrid.

I opened the carton of forty books I received along with the advanced copies, and I held my breath while I opened each book. I found thirty-three legitimate books, and seven misprints. Now, every author wants to hope that misprints of their book’s first edition will be worth something some day, but for the time being, I can only shudder at the thought of unsuspecting readers opening their packages and finding a book they didn’t order.

My hope is that only those eight books got mixed up at the printer, but I have no way of knowing that. I immediately sent messages to the publisher and to the distributor, and they will hopefully correct the problem before the books go out to people who pre-ordered them. Quite nerve-wrecking…

The thing that fascinated most is that the author of the books I accidentally “embraced” into my jacket and I seem to be birds of the same feather. Here is a small excerpt from his biography on Amazon: "We Are All One. When we allow ourselves to become aware of this statement in its purest form, we open the doors to reveal the oneness of being.”

Most people who are used to the concepts I consistently discuss will probably recognize the similarity between my message and the other author’s; I, for one, was pretty impressed by their twin-like nature.

I suppose time will unveil why our books connected at this point of our literary journey, so I’m just going to sit back and see where the road will lead. I hope the powers that be will be able to correct the problem, and that nobody will receive the wrong book, but at this point I can only cross my fingers, hope that everything will work out and that, if a reason indeed exists for the mix-up, it will be revealed to me in due time.

And of course, the real dreamer in me wants to believe that if one or two misprints remain out there, some day they will be popular enough to be auctioned for charity. Now, wouldn’t that be fun?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Heaven on Earth

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ~ Henry D. Thoreau

Although I’ve heard the expression ‘Heaven on earth’ many times, it was only yesterday that I realized how easily we misinterpret its meaning.

While I buy into the concept that to get to the light at the end of the tunnel one must first go through the tunnel, the cold tunnel we have gone through this year has felt endless – with sub-freezing temperatures almost everyday, and a pale sun too timid to overpower the icy grip of Old Man Winter, spring has felt like a fleeting dream which would never manifest. And instead, yesterday we finally poked our heads out to emerge into a meteorological paradise, one of those days one wants to mark on the calendar with a pink crayon. It was an amazing day – temperatures in the high sixties and bright sunshine to magically erase the gloom of the cold days gone by.

When my children got home from school, we decided to go to the park for a couple of hours. We packed a quick picnic and hopped in the car. When we pulled into the parking lot, I couldn’t believe the number of cars already there; the scene reminded me somehow of a Disney film – when Bambi was born in the spring, all the animals in the forest came out to see the new prince; Raleigh residents all came out to see if anything was new at the playground.

The kids ate and then ran off to play, while I sat on one of the benches and fished a book out of my purse. My phone rang a short while later, it was my husband calling to see what we were doing; my reply was a simple one: “We are in Heaven,” I said, “it’s amazing out here.”

After I hung up, I thought of what I said and what made me say it. Was it just the beautiful weather that had affected my perception of an ordinary day, or could it be that gradually I have come to a place in my life where I have learned to appreciate the small joys of a day playing in the sunshine? I looked around – everywhere were beautiful, smiling children and relaxed mothers, squirrels were scurrying about, and birds were making the most of a warm day in late winter. I felt like I was one with all the energy around, and the joy of it wasn’t really coming from the outside as much as it was originating within.

We can’t have a spring-like day in the winter all the time for, as my mother always said, it can’t be Christmas every day; but, maybe, we can “bottle-up” the joy of those moments and use it as a blueprint to create a slice of our own heaven on earth every day, the way children do. As I watched my kids squeal with joy on the way down the slide, drunk from a potion of youth and timeless oneness with their world in that moment, I understood the true meaning of Heaven on heart. A verse in the Bible perfectly reflects this powerful message: “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Granted, it’s much easier to feel good on a beautiful day when everything seems to go the right way, but if we can appreciate being in the present moment, the light at the end of the tunnel instantly becomes closer and easier to reach, whether the sun is shining or a powerful storm is raging over us.

While happiness sometimes comes with a price tag, joy is a free ride we can get on over and over, if we just allow ourselves to see with our hearts and read between the lines of our daily chapters.

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

On September 19, 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. Women in other countries campaigned for justice for many years.

In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) proposed the idea of an International Women's Day, which was launched the following year on March 19.

Two new journals appeared the week before International Women's Day: The Vote for Women in Germany and Women's Day in Austria. Various articles, such as 'Women and Parliament', 'The Working Women and Municipal Affairs', 'What Has the Housewife got to do with Politics?' were devoted to International Women's Day. All articles emphasized that it was absolutely necessary to make parliament more democratic by giving women more decision power.

Success of the first International Women's Day in 1911 exceeded all expectation. Meetings were organized everywhere in small towns and even the villages halls were packed so full that male workers were asked to give up their places for women. Men stayed at home with their children for a change, and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings.

In 1913 International Women's Day was changed to March 8.

Today, many countries still celebrate International Women’s Day. In Italy, as in many parts of Europe, women receive flowers (usually yellow Mimosa) both at home and at work; from the significant ones, their employers and fellow employees, and from their male friends. At night, they join their friends for a women-only night on the town, while all the men stay home and take care of children and housework.

Unfortunately, women are not treated equally and respectfully everywhere; International Women’s Day is a date often chosen to increase awareness of different types of injustice women and girls – especially poor, vulnerable ones – still suffer daily. According to Amnesty International, for example, the rape of women and young girls in Cambodia appears to be increasing, while victims face social alienation and no justice. The report, released on Monday, reveals that corruption and discrimination within the police and the courts has often prevented survivors from seeking justice and medical treatment, and that the perpetrators went largely unpunished.

Women around the world are doing what they can to reach out to other women. Diane von Furstenberg, fashion designer and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), released Proud to be Woman, a compilation CD to benefit Vital Voices, an organization dedicated to empowering women worldwide. The CD features female artists such as Joss Stone, Mary J. Blige, Estelle, Bebel Gilberto, Christina Aguilera, Angelique Kidjo, Mozella and Annie Lenox, among others. The CD sells for $15.99 and will be sold at DVF boutiques worldwide, and on iTunes.

Not all of us are part of large organizations, but each of us can do a little to help improve the living conditions of women around us. To all the ladies in my life, I wish to say: Happy Women’s Day, this world is just a little nicer because you are a part of it.

NOTE: Starting today, I will be interacting with readers at my new live chat site, Sandra’s CafĂ©, located at Your Daily Awakening. I hope to “see” you there!

Some of the information in this post was found at:

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Wish Upon A Star

“Star light, Star bright, the first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.” ~

When I woke up early in the morning, I had no idea what an amazing day yesterday would turn out to be. In so many ways, March 4 was special already, as it marked the first day of my oldest son attending a driving class. The rest of the day passed relatively uneventful, and it was almost seven o’clock when I finally got home. I started dinner and helped my daughter glue a small project she was working on, mindlessly stirring a pot of beef stew while some of the layers were drying.

By the time I went to check the mail, the sun had gone down, and one could feel a definite chill in the air; the street was quiet, softly wrapped in a dark blanket only interrupted by the yellow light filtering out of the blinds in neighbor’s windows. I opened the mailbox and stuck my hand inside, expecting to retrieve a handful of junk mail and maybe a bill or two, and I was quite surprised to find instead a large, stuffed envelope. At first thought, I assumed it was from my parents, although neither of them had alerted me of anything on the way; when I looked at the sender, my mouth instantly dried.

There in front of me was an envelope sent by my publisher, and unless the information my fingers sent to my brain was wrong, the content felt like books! I am expecting advance copies of Housekeeping for the Soul, but I didn’t think I would receive them until next week at the earliest, so this was a surprise I wasn’t prepared for. I took the envelope into the kitchen and opened one side; when my eyes caught sight of something black, my heart stopped! Could it be? Was it? Was I about to see a finished copy of the novel I have worked on for the last three years?

I pulled the first book out and just stared at it speechlessly. Due to be out in June, I suppose it never occurred to me that some advanced copies had already gone to the printer; and instead, here it was in front of me, the dream I never thought would materialize, in all its glory of three-hundred pages and bound with a beautiful cover. I don’t think that I could forget this first moment even if I lived two-hundred years…tears ran down my cheeks, and my hands shook. I took the book to the living room and sat on the couch. Instantly, I was hit with the realization of how magical this entire journey has been, and of how many angels have crossed my path to make it happen.

The first angel was a kind agent I met at the beginning of the journey, a no-nonsense lady who clearly told me the story had merit but needed to be cleaned out by a professional editor. She told me to get back in touch with her after completing the edit, as she would like to have first option at representing it. The search for an editor led to Dena, my amazing literary half who helped me turn a dream into reality. When the book was ready – or so I thought at the time – I e-mailed the same agent, but the e-mails bounced back. Today I realize that her only role in this was to point out the direction I should take, and once that was fulfilled she was gone. The rest of the story I have told times before, so I won’t go into details, but I think it is important to be aware that once an intention is set, not only does Universe get things in motion by arranging events and encounters, but strangely, the right people seem to walk into the scene at the exactly the right moment.

Throughout this journey I have met many angels – some have been champions of support, others have helped with editing and proof reading, and some more have come in with powerful suggestions. There are no words that can describe how grateful I am to everyone who made this whole process possible, and how humbled I am by the power of Universe, for once again it has showed me that if you put a wish upon a star and believe it will happen, a dream can someday become a beautiful reality.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lessons from a Daffodil

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” ~ Voltaire

Yesterday was a dreary day. With temperatures in the forties and a steady, icy drizzle, one felt more motivated to buy warm chestnuts and candy canes that the Easter eggs and colorful bunnies displayed on the shelves of a nearby drugstore. A month away from Easter, winter is still ruling the land.

Yesterday morning, one of the posters on my blog mentioned seeing her daffodils already in bloom, to which I replied that mine were still hiding out. I was wrong. Upon closer inspection, I indeed saw that my own spring messengers had awakened from their wintry slumber and were poking their heads out in full expectation of spring to come.

Looking at the tender sprouts made me smile – even on a day like yesterday they knew it won’t be long before they can proudly grow and fulfill their potential for yet another season. Just like birds singing before sunrise to welcome the day ahead, the young daffodils follow their own inner guidance – without a conscious mind telling them otherwise, they have no reason to doubt the plan Universe has set in place for them; regardless of temporary hardship they know warmer weather is on the way

If a daffodil can do it, there is no reason why we shouldn’t. We claim to believe in a supreme source of all creation, yet we consistently doubt the plan set in place for us by the same intelligence. We pray for something, and immediately after we doubt our prayers will be answered. All along, we allow our fears to take over our faith – we are afraid of lack, of being harmed, of being robbed, of being abandoned to our fate, of being betrayed by someone – and at the same time we claim to believe. In what DO we believe, if I may ask? And why do we continue to worship if we don’t fully believe in this entity’s supreme power over all there is?

In reality, God does listen, and there is no limit to what He can accomplish on our behalf, if we don’t stand in the way. By doubting the outcome of our prayers we close the doors to blessings already on their way, and we broadcast the wrong vibes to the Universe.

The entire Universe operates following a law or resonance, thus allowing us to duplicate what we feel. Even if words have power because they allow us to paint a mental picture, words without feelings are just empty groups of letters; no matter how pretty they sound, they lack the fuel to propel our petition forward. Words must be backed by faith and feeling to make a difference. If we have absolute faith that something will happen because we have released the request to a higher source of energy, our feelings will be a reflection of positive expectation, and will, therefore, produce more situations that will trigger the same feelings again, over and over. Whoever said that when it rains it pours truly hit the nail on the head – if our response to a situation is infused with feeling, Universe will continue to match what we feel.

We have become arrogant enough in our own self-image that we assume a frail flower is much less important than we are, but indeed, how much we can learn from it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

“In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost. Ah! How hard a thing is it to tell what a wild, and rough, and stubborn wood this was, which in my thought renews the fear! So bitter is it that scarcely more is death: but to treat of the good that I there found, I will relate the other things that I discerned.” ~ Dante Alighieri

It’s quite amazing how time and age can make such a difference in the way one appreciates good literature. Just a few days ago, I thought of revisiting a classic masterpiece I had to read back in grade school – Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. I still remember how all the kids hated it, and how we all thought the teacher was crazy for being so passionate about it. Only now, twenty five years later, do I fully realize that the teacher’s enthusiasm was absolutely warranted. Like her, I too am falling head-over-heels in love with this thought-provoking tale of human drama and ascension.

And how can anyone escape being charmed, when so much is said in just the paragraph I quoted? Although the entire story is laden with powerful messages, raw truth bleeds through the first few sentences – facing our demons is a fearful feat, but the benefits of taking such a daring step far outweigh the temporary discomfort and anxiety one feels at the thought of unearthing buried subconscious triggers.

It’s mind boggling to think that different layers of consciousness exist within us at the same time, and although we are often only aware of whatever happens on the surface layer, a full spectrum of subconscious responses draws the blueprint of our conscious behaviors. But, even if the inner foreman directs the work, we rarely agree to consciously listen to what it has to say, and prefer to drown its voice with external noise.

Unfortunately, the foreman is not going to be held back forever; when the time comes to assess the life we’ve lived so far – and are not happy with the results we find – we have no choice but to finally pay attention. When Dante wrote the Inferno, he was approximately thirty-five years of age, a prime time for mid-life depression. When he finally realized that his emotional well-being depended on ascending and finding his true self through a deep self-examination, Dante knew his demons had to be faced before rising above the human drama toward inner peace.

Taking such a step requires a tremendous amount of courage and a determination of steel, as very few people are willing to stir the waters of the subconscious unless they are forced to do so. Most people think they are doing just fine and resist the uncovering of hidden factors that can potentially turn their well-planned lives upside down. Just to give an example, my goldfish tank appears clean, but that’s only because all the nasty stuff gets trapped in the gravel and remains low; at first look, the water is very clean, but if one takes the time to vacuum the gravel – and thus making the tank truly clean – the water appears murky for a short while, until the filter is able to trap the particles that were released when the tiny stones were disturbed. Yet, once the remaining particles have filtered through, the water is truly clean, not simply an illusion.

Someone told me long ago that one must cross the darkness to find the light. According to Dante, their thought is right on the money.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When the Wind Blows

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on.” ~ Robert Frost

When I was a young girl, I found it mind-boggling how older people never seemed to really worry about anything. As for any teenager worth her salt, a small stumble was enough to devastate my world.

One day, one of my mother’s friends came over to see us. She looked terrible – her face was etched with deep lines of worry, and her eyes lacked the spark I was accustomed to see in them. She strangely looked like an old lady, and only bore a slight resemblance to the vibrant woman I knew. I said hello and gave her a hug before she and my mother went to the kitchen and closed the door; she held me tight, as if she never wanted to let go, yet her embrace felt weak. I said nothing. As curious as I was to know what had happened, I found comfort in my ignorance, afraid that whatever had affected her so deeply could possibly crack the foundations of my own world.

After her friend left, my mother explained that her husband had passed away in a traffic accident, and she was left alone taking care of her two young sons; if that wasn’t enough, one of the children was dealing with a serious health issue and required extra care which prevented her from working full time. To my teenage mindset, such hardship was something that could only fit a movie script – how could anyone survive so much?

A few months passed, and I met my mother’s friend again. This time she looked much stronger, and although one could still detect sadness in her eyes, she promptly smiled when she saw me. The moment her first few words escaped her lips I was in awe – her voice had a newfound strength, and a sense of deep personal resolve. When I told her how sorry I was for her loss, and asked how she was coping with her son’s medical issues, she smiled genuinely and replied: “He is fine. Things have been hard, but if one can hang on to the rope while the wind is blowing, their feet will find stable ground to stand on again. Everything passes.”

I thought of her words on the way home – what exactly did she mean?

It took many years for the depth of her message to sink in. Over time, I’ve run into situations in which I had to “hang on to the rope,” when things and energies got so crazy and scattered that I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Yet, I survived; each and every time. So did other people I know who lived through trying events.

In the greater scheme of things, much of the hardship we go through on a daily basis is no more than a speck of dust in a ray of sunshine, but as we go through it, it feels like a boulder chasing us. It’s not until things have passed and we are able to assess them from a distance that we realize the sun never stopped rising and setting, and life continued on, unscathed and self-preserving. If I look back now at some of my less-than-happy moments in the past, I can see that no matter how devastating or filled with anxiety they were, they did finally settle, and things found a way to smooth themselves.

Today, I no longer worry much. After all, if something is meant to go wrong, I will have plenty of time to worry over a disastrous outcome IF and when it happens; no sense in wasting energy over it ahead of time.

Things happen, and sometimes their play is entirely out of our control; some are apparently beneficial, while others seem placed on our path to hinder our growth, but all of them will eventually pass. And sometimes we realize that we worried too much after all.