Brownie’s Point

While I was putting myself through college, I worked at a local diner where I met people from all walks of life.  Most people were congenial, except for one customer, an older man, whom the servers dubbed “the grouch.” And grouchy he was.  Plus intolerant, unforgiving, and a terrible tipper, if he tipped at all.  No one wanted to wait on him. He brought many a server to tears with his abrasive attitude and harsh comments.

Well, wouldn’t you know it. He hobbled in one evening and sat in my section. I heard the other servers snickering.  I took a deep breath and sauntered his way with a smile.  I offered him a menu and a hello which he disregarded.

“Gimme the meatloaf special,” he growled.

“Great,” I said.  “What would you like to drink?”

“If I wanted anything to drink, I woulda told you!” he snapped.  All heads in the restaurant turned our way.  His hostility stabbed me.  My first impulse was to launch an attack and conquer this angry, bitter man, but I had to heed our “customer is always right” policy if I wanted to keep my job.  I turned to storm away but stopped and returned to his table.  I could hear one of my co-workers behind the counter, “Don’t do it, Mac, don’t do it.” I stood, mustering up the courage to confront (and defeat) him.

“Why are you still here? Get outta here, and get me my damn food!”

I remained.

And then he looked up at me.  What I “saw” was a scared, sad, lonely, hurting soul.  It arrested me.

This is not about you.  He’s in pain.  The anger I felt lifted, and compassion rushed in to fill the void.  Without thinking, I sat down next to him, kissed him on the cheek, and whispered, “I don’t know you or what you’re going through, but you don’t have to be so mean.  I am not the enemy here.”  With those words, I kissed him on the cheek again, and walked away.

He left me a 100% tip that day.

From then on, Brownie refused to sit in anyone else’s section.  He still gave the other servers a hard time when I wasn’t there, and I’d lecture him about it the next time I saw him, but over time he softened. We grew to become friends over the next year or so, until his passing.

I’ve often thought about Brownie over the years.  I valued his wisdom and knowledge, especially as a struggling college student, trying to find her way in a world that seemed so confrontational and confounding.  Any time an event unfolded unfavorably, it was my habit to take it personally and to take it out on others, just as Brownie did.

I came face-to-face with myself the day I met Brownie.  His lashing out was not about me, yet on a deeper level it was. If I had attacked him, then I would have been attacking myself. I would have perpetuated unkindness.  And I probably would have lost my job.

Rather than approach things with a desire to conquer, I approach them now with curiosity.  Well, I try…I’m still a work in progress. Instead of a compulsion to take things (or people) down, I try the path of quiet exploration, of seeing things from another perspective.  I’m willing to pause and observe, to consider options and possibilities beyond that instinctual desire to attack.

I’d say that’s progress.

Thank you, Brownie.  Your lessons remain with me.

You Are What You Speak

Japanese scientist Masuro Emoto performed a series of experiments observing the physical effects of words, prayers, music, and environment on water.  After freezing water samples, he microscopically photographed the crystalline structure.  Water labeled with positive words exhibited far more symmetrical, aesthetically pleasing structures than water labeled with negative phrases.  Even water sick with pollution, when prayed over, changed its chaotic structure to one of symmetry and beauty.

If thoughts can do that to water, imagine what our thoughts can do to us?  Especially since 65% of the human body is comprised of water.

What kinds of thoughts are you thinking?

Thoughts are yours to choose.  Why not choose thoughts that serve you best?

Words have power.  You are what you speak.

By being conscious of the words you use, you become aware of their power and the energy behind them.

When you think the best thoughts — of all you have to be thankful for, of how great it feels to accomplish things, of all you love about life, of all the wisdom and strength you’ve gained through your experiences — those thoughts will energize and empower you.

If you want to transform your life for the better, begin by being more aware of the things you say.

 

Living With Uncertainty

We can’t predict the future, try as we might.  We can certainly prepare for it, but there is no guarantee that things will work out exactly as planned.

For some, the path ahead is dark and scary; they hesitate to start and fear what could happen.  For others, it is a continually unfolding adventure; they are eager to see what happens next.

In either case, the element of uncertainty exists.  We can fear it, or embrace it.

Keep in mind that anything is possible.  Any outcome can materialize.  And know that there will be an outcome in one form or another.  That’s for sure.  It may be what you expected all along, or it may be something different altogether.  You. Just. Never. Know.  That’s the blessing (or curse, depending on your attitude) of mystery.

If the outcome doesn’t work out as intended, then learn from it.  Look for the lesson because there is one lurking in the mess.   Tell yourself, “Well, that didn’t work out.  Let’s try another way.”  Don’t judge it as “good” or “bad.”  Ask how you can turn it around to your advantage.

If the outcome works out as expected, or even better than expected, offer your gratitude, and stay humble as you prepare for the next phase of your journey.

Living with uncertainty can evoke many emotions, but it is not meant to discourage us.  It will push us to the edge of our comfort zone, and the only way we are going to find out what happens is to take action.

Live Inside Out

What others think of you is not important.  Whether they are messages of praise or of disfavor, such words do not define you. It’s crucial to remain independent of the opinions of other people.

Seeking the favor of others is degrading.  Once you seek favor, you fight to remain in favor.  And once you fall into disfavor, you’re broken.  This is what happens when we chase the external, those illusions (perceptions) crafted by others of what should or should not be.

When we make others’ assessments–whether good or bad–more important than our own, we enslave ourselves to their ideals, not ours.  What does this mean for you? It means that someone else’s opinion is directing your life.  When you find yourself in disfavor, you push harder to prove others wrong, hoping to change their minds, not realizing that you’re still being directed by forces outside of yourself.  It’s a vicious cycle of slavery.

Your worldly self IS NOT your true identity. We each have a basic nature that is uniquely ours.  When we trust that basic nature (our Inner Guidance System, Intuition, Higher Self, God/Goddess, etc.), we remain true to ourselves.  Will this be without challenges?  Of course not.  But when we remain centered in who we are, we can face those challenges head-on with confidence.

Trust your Inner Nature.  Honor it with an independent mind.  Respect your vision for yourself. Work at living one day at a time in harmony with your own nature, and the struggle to engage life as if it depended on external approval will loosen the shackles.

Is The Universe Trying To Tell You Something?

Do you ever feel like the Universe is trying to tell you something, but you don’t quite understand the message?

The Universe is constantly sending us hints, “speaking” to us about the directions we are to take in life.  To understand what the Universe is saying, we have to become more aware of its “language.”  Oftentimes, we don’t recognize the messages because the Universe speaks through experience.

There are many ways in which the Universe communicates with us.  It does not have any limits on how it will speak to us.  As we become more aware of our life experiences, we can begin to decode the messages sent our way.

To understand the Universe’s language, you must take the steps to learn it.  First and foremost, allow yourself to be open to receiving its messages.  If there is any apprehension, the Universe will take it that you are not ready.  As you cultivate your desire to hear from the Universe, the answers will begin to present themselves in many ways, but you must be willing to accept those answers, no matter how they show up.  You may receive your answers from a dream, from a friend’s advice or a stranger’s, or you may overhear a conversation related to your question. You may hear a song that speaks to your experience, see a message on a billboard or on someone’s tee-shirt, or you may see a TV show that contains the information you need…the possibilities are endless.

Start paying attention to what you are experiencing.  Make note of recurring experiences.  My rule of thumb is, if you hear or see something three times in a short period of time, act on it. These little synchronicities are the Divine’s way of saying that you are on the right track, or they are clues to help you better understand yourself, your growth, or your path. Sometimes the Universe will send messages repeatedly until we get them.  For example, maybe the presence of a particular animal keeps getting your attention.  Perhaps the Universe is trying to tell you to incorporate the traits of this animal into your life.  The symbolism and message can change depending on your individual connection or feeling toward the animal.  Follow your intuition on this.

Pay attention to your body.  The physical body can provide many messages about your emotional, mental, and spiritual health.  Of course illness occurs when our immunity is compromised, but could it be that your body is trying to communicate something deeper? Maybe that sore throat is the Universe trying to communicate something to you about your self-expression (are you angry with someone and want to tell that person but are afraid?).

Keep track of your dreams.  Dreams are very symbolic and unique to the individual, but focus on how the dream makes you feel to determine what the message might be.  Dreams are clues as to what is happening on the subconscious level.  Recurring dreams could mean that the Universe is trying to tell you about an unresolved issue that needs attention and resolution. Make note of the images, colors, and feelings you experience in each dream.

When the Universe sends messages, these messages are often symbols loaded with meaning, so it’s important to examine your connection to the symbol.  A spider to one person could stir up fear and loathing, but to another person it could mean making connections…again, trust your intuition as you develop your own dictionary of spiritual symbols.  You will know the “truth” of a symbol by the way it resonates with you. It’s truth will speak to you as an individual in a way which you understand and relate to on a deeper level.  You’ll just “know.”

As you fine tune your sensitivity to the Universe and its messages, signs, and symbols, you’re experience of life will only grow. Keep your eyes and ears open.  Stay in tune with your gut. The Universe uses signs to validate its presence in your life or as an intuitive nudge to prompt you to take action. As you cultivate your awareness, you’ll soon discover that the Universe has been communicating with you all along.

 

Please share your comments below.   I would love to hear about your experiences.

Road Closed — Now What?

trees-450854_1920 The road ahead in our personal journey is like no other, and it is not without its challenges. It will have its peaks and valleys, its twists and turns, and its detours and dead ends.

The road may be long and arduous but that is no reason to slow down or quit. The opportunities that lie ahead are waiting for you to discover them, but you won’t discover them if you resign yourself.  And sometimes an opportunity may not have otherwise presented itself had you not been temporarily detoured.

Road closed? Take it as a challenge to be more creative. There is another way.  If something looks impossible, look at it from a different perspective.  What you wish to accomplish can be done, though not in the way you originally thought.

The road ahead, though not always clear and always full of surprises, is your invitation to grow and learn, to reach within yourself to discover strength, determination, discipline, and commitment.  It is your journey, not anyone else’s, and it is one not to be feared.  Signposts will present themselves even in the most difficult terrain.

No matter what challenges you may encounter on your journey, there is always a way around them if not directly through them.  You have what it takes to move forward, even if it means having to travel a side road.  Step confidently into the direction you need to take and travel boldly.  The way will open.

Growing Older: It’s Not For Sissies

When I was eight years old, I couldn’t wait to be thirteen.  I remember walking to school behind a group of teenagers, marveling at how grown-up they were.  They were taller, smarter, and so much cooler than us third-graders.  I wanted to be older, like them.

Now, I’m halfway through the fifth decade of my life.

And guess what?

I’m not ashamed of it.  I’ve earned it.

My friend June Eberle is a retired teacher and blogger (check out her blog Identity Streak).  Here she crafts true stories filled with wisdom for those with the ears to hear and prompts us to take the path of self-reflection with her queries at the end of each post.  Her latest post, “Don’t Let Them Lock You In,” talks about retiring, growing older, and embracing a phase (a way) of life reserved for those who dare to enter it.  Old age, as some would call it, is not about being less productive or simply rolling over and dying.  People who think this way are missing the boat of enlightenment altogether.

As I read June’s post, I thought about my own journey into “old age.”  It never bothered me to turn 30 or 40 or 50.  Each milestone year is not to be feared but to be worn as a badge of honor because behind each badge lies a treasure trove of experiences and the lessons learned from those experiences.  With each “badge” that I add to my sash, new levels of awareness open up, revealing things that young minds fail to grasp simply because they can’t.  Their young minds are not ready.

There are times, though, when I think of those who were not fortunate enough to live to my age. This is a humbling thought. And this alone creates a sense of urgency to try new things and to live more authentically.  Why waste my time in circumstances or relationships that no longer serve me? That will only keep me from growing, from learning, and from living.

    “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

There’s no need to “sweat the small stuff” because the bigger stuff is waiting to be explored and embraced.  And I now have the time to do those things.  If I want to paint, I paint.  If I want to write, I write.  If I want to travel, I travel.  I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself!

“I have reached an age when, if someone tells me to wear socks, I don’t have to.”

~ Albert Einstein

Some see growing older as a curse rather than a blessing. They fear it rather than embrace it, fending it off for as long as they can in anyway that they can.  They ridicule it.  They dismiss it. They ignore it.  Or they Botox it.  Whatever the case, they’d rather not deal with it as in June’s story of the daughter who swindles her father to lock him away in a nursing home.  “Old age” is an inconvenience to them.  How sad.

Satchel Paige asks,

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” 

I am just starting “the splendid youth of old age,” a phrase coined by June in her blog.  I am not “retired” from life; I have been summoned by it to be a member of an exclusive club of exceptional human beings who will “not go gentle into that good night.”  We will continue to burn with life.  It’s a privilege we have earned.

Problem? Or Opportunity?

Seek and ye shall find. . .

There is a way to get past your “troubles.”  Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

To find a solution, we must change our perspective of the “problem.”

When we view a “problem” as a “problem,” we find ourselves focusing on the “bad” that has happened.  Something inside of us senses a threat and we begin to panic.  We react or overreact.  We place blame on things or people outside of ourselves. We see ourselves as the victim.  And we get stuck in a pattern of thinking that only serves to exacerbate the “problem.”

Look at Uncle Al’s quote again.  He makes a very important point that we must keep in mind. We must understand that we created the problem with our thinking in the first place.  Since we created the problem, then we must own it before we can move forward. We must take responsibility for its creation.

So, how does one view a problem as something other than a problem?  Uncle Al tells us to view it from a different perspective.  In other words, see the problem as an opportunity in disguise. He encourages us to move beyond old assumptions in order to create new, improved results. If we look where we’ve always looked, we’ll find only what we’ve already found. When we switch our thinking from “problem” to “opportunity,” something interesting happens.  The brain shifts into a creative mode, and then options begin presenting themselves; creative energy is generated and released.  Seeing the problem as an opportunity opens the door to learning what needs to be learned and to discovering an effective way forward.  We become empowered.  We are no longer the victim.  We have taken responsibility.

Uncle Al’s words are not idle words. They force us to self-reflect on our part in what we are creating in our lives; they challenge us to examine our thinking and our approach to “problems,” and they direct us to take responsible action.

The Power of Detours

So. . .you’ve been detoured in life. . .

It happens.
planks-613020_1280

Enjoy the scenery anyway.

Sometimes detours in life are necessary.

There are always new things to see, new people to meet, and new wonders to experience.

When detours happen, the best thing we can do is to open our minds and our hearts to them.

The key to handling detours is our reaction to them.  We have a choice.  We really do.

You can resist, get angry, and allow detours to turn you into a bitter, depressed, unhappy person, or you can ease into the experience, go with the flow, and see what each detour has in store for you.  You will find yourself becoming a better, stronger, wiser person.

Embrace life’s detours.  Let them take you where they will.  You’ll soon realize that detours are part of life’s journey.  Without them we wouldn’t become the people we are meant to be.

Quit Your Addiction To The News

I quit my addiction to watching the news.

The news, whether on TV, online, or in a newspaper, is nothing but a collection of negative communication.  We learn about catastrophes, financial ruin, terrorist attacks, murders and all kinds of disasters and cruelties that leave us in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear.

Whenever I got caught up in such negative energy, I began to feel weak and powerless.  Before I knew it, my immunity (both physical and spiritual) declined, and I started drawing in the experiences that confirmed my fears.

Living with anxiety induced by the media activates stress hormones.  When this happens, we lose our ability to think clearly.  According to brain studies, stress hormones constrict blood vessels in the forebrain, suppressing the center of deliberate action (in the front cerebral cortex).  The energy of fear can paralyze us.

But that’s not all.

Falling asleep with fear and stress allows such energy into our sleep awareness, when we are most susceptible to suggestion.  Our brain (our consciousness) “stores” this information.  This can have enormous significance. meditation-1000062_1280

Consider your viewing habits.  Besides the news, what kinds of movies do you watch?  A movie that is well-done will seize your emotions.  A movie may last a couple of hours, but the information goes into our memory storehouse.  The subconscious mind does not differentiate between fantasy and reality; instead, it stores such information as “memories” thus directing future information based on these experiences, whether fictional or not.

Remember, like attracts like.  The more we watch the news or the kinds of movies that are full of violence or drama, the more we fortify a resonance field of worry and fear.

Instead of identifying more and more with what you DO NOT want, try identifying more and more with what you DO WANT.

How? Allow energies that are conducive to your health and well-being for a few days to see how it affects you, and then expand from there.  Try the following:

  • Limit your news intake.  Wean yourself.  Better yet, quit cold turkey.  The sooner, the better.
  • Read literature that uplifts and edifies you.
  • Listen to uplifting music, such as meditation, massage, or Reiki music.
  • Associate with people who support and encourage you.
  • Keep a journal filled with positive affirmations and thoughts.
  • Send letters/e-mails/cards filled with the energy of love.
  • Repeat positive, affirmative statements to yourself as you begin to drift off to sleep.
  • When confronted with the news, send blessings.  Send light and love in its direction.
  • Watch movies and programs that inspire and encourage you.

The more often you do this, the faster those influences will become your reality.

Let yourself be well.