From the Sanctuary

Solo road trip along the lake, Cleveland bound. This journey begins with my being on the receiving end of a random act of kindness when I reached the toll taker arm outstretched, money in hand. She told me to keep my change and proceed on through because someone had “taken care of me.” I continued on in joy; vintage CD’s in tow. These include Queen’s A Night at the Opera, which allows me to perform my personal rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody belted out word for fabulous word with unquenchable manic enthusiasm. This, by the way, is as intuitive as Mooing when passing a field of cows. It’s a rare moment of pure unadulterated satisfactory expression.

My purpose for this adventure is to meet with a likeminded professor at Case Western University who not only understands, but preaches the power of positivity. A historic Gothic hotel is my stay of choice, where I arrive early afternoon and spend several hours writing uninterrupted. Nice. In the evening I turn the television on (I don’t have one at home, so this is an act of bravery) and surf around, landing on a National Geographic interview of the Dali Lama. His words and message send me to a peaceful meditative place before I settle into slumber.

Too cheap to spend the fourteen dollars for the hotel breakfast buffet the next morning, I head to Case Western three hours before my appointment. The campus is much different than the University at Buffalo I’m accustomed to, nicely interspersed with the local community and featuring as many modern buildings as old ones, adding a lot of character to the locale. The nature is different as well. There are groves of fascinating trees with pretty-colored peeling bark that I can only identify as River Birch. I also encounter several red squirrels and a skunk safely observed from afar.

After I wander for a bit, I ask a student on a street corner where the best place to get a cup of coffee is. His friendly response doesn’t disappoint. When I arrive at The Coffee House, I find the perfect spot to my personal liking. No franchise here, instead a quaint local shop in a restored old house, clean with antique furniture and run by a local owner (in our short “small world” chat, we discover that his wife grew up ten miles from me). And they have Jamaica Me Crazy flavor! I hang out there and write some more before taking a long walk, exploring buildings and engaging in people watching.

At noon, I am warmly received by both the Organizational Behavior Department and the professor. As part of their MS in Organizational Development and Change program, he teaches a course and concept called Appreciative Inquiry, a process that focuses on an organization’s and its employees’ strengths to be built upon rather than problems to be solved. This is done through a series of inquiries and storytelling to invoke positive emotional responses. After taking the course online, I know the material and his intense wisdom and insights will add significant value to the work I will be doing in my program coaching young adults diagnosed with mental illnesses to thrive.

Dining over the best college food I’ve ever tasted, we talk about topics that aren’t often strung together… joy, neuroscience, compassion, Alzheimer studies, coaching, how words create worlds and the importance of listening. I show him the draft of what I am working to accomplish and he gives me more contact names and offers to review it and send feedback as I move toward implementation. My serving heart is working its way into a plan, and I am grateful for the encouragement and support.

Spirits elevate after our meeting; I head out into the sunshine to enjoy the waterfront and a stop at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame where I read about the history of Bohemian Rhapsody. I don’t sing it there, at least out loud. My visit provides a fun jaunt through music history and memorabilia and my favorite display cases exhibit the first handwritten drafted lyrics of some of the most famous songs ever written. Words create worlds.

My evening ride home is more passive, with instrumental synthesizer music accompanying my smile, the dimming sunset and some contemplative thoughts.  Reflecting back to seven months ago when I received word that my job would not be renewed, I thought, “When one door closes…”  And then I said out loud, “Let us keep inspiring one another.”

 

 

 

 

 

I prefer Shaman, Thank You

If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; if God talks to you, you are a schizophrenic.” – Thomas Szasz

More than eighteen years after earning the label, “bipolar disorder,” I’m ready to trade in the title. After further review, I’ve found that it doesn’t really suit me. It served its purpose for sure, calling my attention to how misunderstood the mental health concept is in our society, and giving me a fresh awareness to just how embedded the stigma is because I’ve lived it on the other side of “sane.” The usual kind and sympathetic response I get when people hear of my diagnosis is, “I never would’ve guessed that about you.” A well meaning reply that translates to “sick, crazy, beyond your senses, out of your mind, lunatic, insane, deranged, unhinged, off your rocker, stark raving mad.”

My humorous side does not reflect any of these so it’s much more fun to think of myself as cockamamie, batshit, half-baked, cuckoo, nuts, daft, kooky, creative, loco, bananas, loony, unique and genius. That’s more like me, Certified. Yet of all the terms that could be used to describe my condition, “illness” or “disorder” do not factor in at all. As a matter of fact they defy it. I prefer the Shaman diagnosis, prevalent in history and Eastern traditions.

The definition of Shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits. Typically such people enter a trance state during a ritual (or naturally), and practice divination and healing. Indigenous people, including Native American and Eastern Cultures observe that individuals who have experiences that in America today are considered delusional and psychotic were nurtured and revered, because they had transcended into the spirit world, or that spirits had chosen them. In the Shaman world, these chosen ones are assigned a mentor, cared for and looked up to for their wisdom or spiritual connections.  Their gifts are nurtured. If you’re only accustomed to knowing about, experiencing and familiar with the traditional Western concepts of mental illness, that won’t make much sense to you. But if you do some research and look into the history and practices beyond the U.S. paradigm, you’ll find an ages-old, accepted and entirely different perspective. Who’s to say who is right?

I first became acquainted with the Shaman concept after taking a workshop and in a college course about science, religion and nature. As I researched and explored culture and anthropology further, I adopted it. It fits who I am. From birth I have felt guided by a force, which I once referred to as “God” and now call the Universe. And I have close connections with nature and my ancestors. Sensing that calling, I have studied Shamanism further, which draws me closer to the spiritual world. Driven by love and belief in the power of energy, I now have an appreciation for the more holistic approaches to viewing and treating mental “illness.”

Bipolar, Schizophrenia and related Disorders, are merely words to describe conditions that fall under the category of severe mental illnesses, a U.S. term that was born of a complicated layer of laws, policies, government, physician associations and medical codes, the mental health system. I understand the good that they attempt and the patients that find solace in them. And I don’t wish to take treatment choice away from anyone. But as someone who falls under this category, I feel pretty damn good, and not the least bit out of order.   We deserve the experience to be truly who we are and not what the system makes us out to be.   If we are only able to bring ourselves back to the perfection we were before our diagnosis and look forward from there with a different lens, we could see what is right about us rather than what is wrong.

I for one am definitely not out of order. Just deeply in touch with nature and my spiritual self. Shaman. Perhaps a little half-baked, too.  And I think those who know me closest would agree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Writer Speaks

This writer is transitioning. Perhaps a better word would be metamorphosing.   Working on blossoming from caterpillar to butterfly, breaking out of her cocoon.

Writing has been my forte since I was a little girl. I’m grateful for the gift, having touched many people with my books, essays, stories, quotes. I’ve also mentored several writers who have gone on to be published through the years. I’ve written stories for my children that I spent many evenings reading to them as they curled up on my lap. Putting words together has been my most gratifying lifelong activity. It is still one of my greatest passions to take what’s in my heart and transcribe it through pen or keyboard to share with others, strictly for the generating joy factor. After some reflection, I think it has been as much of an escape as an interest. Over time, it has become much easier for me to express my true feelings in writing than to speak them, even (especially) to the people I am closest to. I want to change that about myself.

Here’s where the drum roll comes in and Monty Python’s John Cleese stands over my shoulder (my muse is a shapeshifter) and shouts, “And now for something completely different!” I’m going vocal, personally and publicly. Both are new experiences for me, and I can feel the awkwardness propelling me forward into something exciting. I have written my program proposal to help teens and young adults diagnosed with mental illness shift their attention away from label to discovering their important attributes. Talking with others who share the same urgency for the need and philosophy behind it is helping me forge ahead. Reaching out by phone and traveling to different cities for face-to-face conversations with likeminded supporters is helping me find a way to best introduce and implement this. Toastmasters International is giving me the practice I need to spread my message to groups: That diagnosed or not, our young people have the ability, right and need to be given the chance to pave their own path and shine their gifts on the world; to create their custom-made destinies; and it is my intention to help them.

I’m enthused about taking this giant leap into the speaking world. For someone previously accustomed to sharing my creative ideas and true feelings in the sheltered arenas of coaching calls, counselor’s offices and journals, it’s refreshing to openly share for the mutual benefit of myself and others. Shaking off the few skeptics and naysayers is the hardest part. When those come, I keep in mind one of my favorite Facebook posts, “Underestimate me. That will be fun,” and I remember that this prospect and process of unblocking my throat chakra is one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.   First of all, because it allows me to express my true self for the first time that I can recall. And second, because at last I will be able to verbalize all of the good feelings I have for those closest in my life. Real time.

Try something new today, just for the sake of the joy it will bring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I celebrated my graduation from my life coach last week.  This was a gradual process and was so subtle I barely noticed the transition because it came in baby steps that added up to one leg of my awesome journey. Using a life coach was a foreign concept to me when a friend told me about his experience with his coach.  She was especially versed at relationships, and when he would share the wisdom he gleaned from her, I began to admire her views, so I set up a phone appointment for myself.  Accustomed to face-to-face counseling, I felt awkward at first, but by the end of that first hour I could tell we were likeminded and she would be able to enhance my life.  That was an understatement. She didn’t offer advice, listened and allowed me to speak openly which gave me the opportunity hear myself.  When I came up with something surprising, I would laugh, sometimes cry and she would say gently and simply, “Sit on that for a minute.”  I likely paid as much for our silent moments as the conversational ones, yet I found them to be just as enlightening.

 

My coach hosted a long healing weekend in Florida during one December, so I made the trip to attend.  “What’s not to like about a peaceful retreat from Northern weather,” was my initial thought. Climate aside, those four days were life transforming. As inspiring as she was on the phone, in person I found her to be one of the most reverent individuals I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  Her loving embrace when she welcomed me at the door radiated ambiance and comfort, something that I have since learned to generate on my own, but was far removed from me back then.

 

At the retreat, our small group talked of how we are all like a metaphorical orange, buried in layers of emotions that need to be peeled away until our inner being is exposed, ready to be enjoyed. We traded ideas about recognizing our emotions and facing them head on, becoming friends with the bad as well as the good.  On my own, I developed a habit of naming mine, a technique that ended up being very therapeutic and I now share with my own clients.  We spent quiet reflective time alone on the beach and also in group discussion, all helpful.  We were encouraged to select a word for the weekend to take home with us.  Mine was “Believe,” which reflected a revelation I had that weekend and plays a big part of each of my days still.

 

After I returned, we continued our calls as needed, my doing my homework, she guiding as we went.  I conquered my demons and confronted my emotional baggage, one suitcase at a time on my own, reporting back to her as I went.  As I strengthened, she noted my drive to help others (described it accurately as a serving heart) and saw me drifting toward healing work and steered me in that direction.  Book recommendations, encouragement and a nonstop reminder to let my love shine followed. When I knew I had made the jump from healing to healer she pressed further. I thought I had made considerable progress when I met my spirit guide, yet she sent me exploring deeper.  Her genius intuition knows how to get me to challenge even my divine self.

 

Last month I experienced the moment when I knew I was ready to release myself from her care. Through her methodical prompting and my journaling work, my metaphorical orange exposed itself one day through an epiphany that stunned me. The last and thickest layer to go wasn’t a demon at all. It was my deepest love never acknowledged and abandoned. The forever kind that has transcended space and time, came in the form of a gift from the Universe decades ago and never left. There it has remained, suppressed by denial and stifled words that got stuck in my thoughts and throat when my heart needed to speak them time after opportune time. When realization settled over me, I gathered it up in my arms like a long lost child and choked out those unspoken words one at a time, then repeated them confidently out loud, crying tears of joy. As soon as I stopped, I scheduled a celebratory graduation appointment with my coach for Valentine’s Day.

 

On February 14, 2017, she patiently listened and laughed with me as I declared those words during the most beautiful love story I have ever told, my own. I live it now with an open heart, carried not buried. Orange peeled, heart cleared, truth admitted, I walked across that stage into the waiting audience of serving others (my Sacred work as she calls it). Just as I intuitively knew when to begin with her and every time I needed to hear her voice in between, I knew when I was ready to leave the comfortable nest of her guiding wisdom to venture out on my own. My clients were waiting, and others asking. She gave me a blessing to go out into the world and shine for others as she has so brightly done for me.  “The Universe needs you.”

 

From one beacon to another, Angel, genuine thanks and blessings for bringing me out of the dark by always listening, guiding, supporting and especially for believing in my idea of living and loving happily ever after. You are the most beautiful spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes in life we have to be daring in our manifestations.  I finally have the courage to dream big about my future.  Why not.  My life has been fantastic up to this point so why shouldn’t I expect that to continue.  I’ve always had a roof over my head, food on my table, money in the bank, people who love me; everything and everyone I’ve dreamed about has come into my life in perfect time. There’s abundance in every area.  I used to think that circumstances in life were a matter of luck and that you jinxed it by speaking about how good it was.  Not any more. A few months ago I found myself contemplating suicide, trapped in the most desperate time of my life.  My reflective side had to think back and find out how someone that thrives in the light and has become such a beacon to others had sunk into such a dark place.  And I found the answer.  It was during one of the few times that I did not follow my heart.

 

We all have that inner voice that keeps us on our personalized pathways of truth, masterfully paved by our desires where we are watched over by the Universe and have our hands held by our spirit guides.  They reassure, like the canvass on my wall that my son’s girlfriend made me, “Everything will always be okay.” When we step off the pavement beyond that truth, the voice, or some other sign calls us back. I had turned my back on belief and put myself in a situation that brought me so far away from my path, that I couldn’t find my way back, choosing to ignore my guide. In this particular case, my friends, family, blogs, culture were telling me to behave a certain way when my truth knew quite another, and I was distracted to the point where my inner voice was merely a faint whisper, the feeling a mere twinge.  I couldn’t reconcile, so I gave in to the world, betrayed my heart and retreated into the blackness.

 

My spirit guide, of course, grabbed my hand and led me away from all of the comments, advice and opinions and I at last turned away from my despair and said, “No! My reality about this situation is different.”  And like a snapped rubber band, I catapulted back onto my path relieved, my sanity intact. My inner voice immediately responded, “Welcome Back, Mary.  What took you so long?”  Anger and sadness retreated, love flooded back to my heart, the light and joy returned and enveloped me. Harmony remains, and I wonder now, why do we sacrifice ourselves with that resistance of what we know to be right for us.

 

I love this bold new future that I’m manifesting, based on the unlimited boundaries of where I dare to let my heart go now, one that I created with my own idea of perfect reality. I know, because despite what the world would have me believe, I’m already there, and I feel it.

 

Just felt like plane old writing today. I live in close proximity to a major airport. The usual incoming traffic pattern brings the jets in view one by one outside of my living room window. In the wintertime when I am curled up on the corner of my couch on dark evenings with my notebook, I watch them. There are so many, starting out as small lights in the distance, then piercing the dark, getting bigger as they grow near.   In the summertime they are close and powerful overhead. I like that. Most head in via straight lines, yet some approach at such angles that I think the pilot and copilot must be engaged in some sort of a bet with one another or the control tower folks and that the passengers must be on top of each other sideways.

Whatever the situation, my overall thought when I watch them is how amazing it is that these instruments of wonder are transporting loved ones to loved ones all over the world in very short bursts of time. How cool is that. Make a decision to visit, click a few clicks, pick a date, head to the airport jump on board and you’re there. Nice. Even if your purpose is for business and less for fun, you’re benefiting your life by earning money through the convenience of getting from city to city quickly. No matter that many get aggravated by the inconvenience of long lines, delays and security.

During my lifetime I have been both fascinated by and phobic about traveling by plane. A few years ago my family and I took a trip (by car) to North Carolina where I insisted on visiting the place where the historic first flight took place. Risking nerdiness, I walked the path that the Wright brothers’ unstable airplane took, still feeling the energy and their excitement of the moment. It brought me chills, and gave me satisfaction as does every instance where someone has an “impossible” idea, becomes fixated on it, gets laughs at and bullied about it until they make it work. What an example of how the human potential is underestimated and underutilized. If we can take one small “hmmmmmm” and some canvas and wood and run with it (literally down a field) combine it with a few more thoughts and will to make it work and turn it into what air travel is today, just think of what else we can do.

For this most part we take air travel for granted these days until occasional tragic accidents happen and the media brings them to our attention. That did happen here a few years back and two miles from my house when a commuter plane crashed with all on board losing their lives. Those are events that bring about grief, awareness to policies ways to improve other lives. Devastation sometimes brings good.

Through time I have become friendly and comfortable with air travel, taking pleasure in the serenity of the cramped space and quiet time, now always seeking a window seat, even if it is near a wing. That way I can be on the lookout for the moon or special sunrise or sunset (no longer the hairy monster of the movies that I used to see). So line them up, plane by plane by plane big and small down from the sky and onto the runways and back up again. It’s a constant cycle of people meeting, corporate partners shaking hands and making deals, relationships being established, reunited and restored. Even if one is traveling to a funeral, without the need to focus on the drive, potential thought-provoking time is able to take place to process grief, consider amends or happy memory therapy if need be. Watching them from my house makes me smile, understanding that these are no longer just the giant hunks of suspended metal that I watched overhead in my youth, but family connectors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Season for Giving a Season Forgiving

To prepare for an upcoming call with my life coach I followed my usual routine, preparing written notes on what was weighing heaviest on my mind. Note: Yes I do use a life coach. I find that the combination of her wisdom, daily journaling and the occasional glass of wine keep me moving on my path of joy and positivity. I’m not quite sure whether this time of year factored in at all, but my topic was forgiveness. I needed to forgive some people in my life for the perceived wrongs they had committed against me. Since I did not have the opportunity to do so one on one, I role played with my coach. Visualizing my “offenders” sitting across from me in my living room, I began with the most recent, rattling off a list items and scratching them off line by line. It was cleansing to think them, write them down and read them. When all were expressed, I firmly declared, “I forgive you.” It was more powerfully immediately healing than I imagined it would be.
For the next person, I did the same thing. Her list was much smaller, consisting of only one item, but that had invoked a feeling of trauma within me. While I was writing it out, a strange thing happened. A conscious thought came to my mind about how after she did what she did I had behaved pretty badly myself, dragging her name through the mud by reporting the story to whomever would listen, and many people did. It was an eye-opening moment, which resulted in my remorse. Despite her behavior, I wasn’t proud to act that way; it wasn’t at all in line with the compassionate person I strive to be. After I wrote “I forgive you” under her entry, I added “and I ask for forgiveness. I am sorry for what I did.” An amazing feeling of calm overcame me (it wasn’t the wine) and I wished that these two people were standing in front of me right there and then.
I found this forgiveness activity so successful that I grabbed a fresh piece of paper from my notebook and visualized my life’s worst “offender” from my past (my ghost of Christmas past?) and bravely began to write. I completed an entire side of the page before I was mentally exhausted and he was forgiven. Woah. In that moment I was thinking that sometimes the best of the written word isn’t reserved for the New York Times bestseller list, but in my own damn journal.
I’m glad I took the time to do that clearing of my heart Chakra. I feel like I shed every Holiday pound in the process. I learned so much. First of all, that I’m grateful to have so few people in my life that I feel I need to make amends with. Next, I gained an understanding that each of us has a different interpretation of what is necessary to receive or give forgiveness for. I am only able to understand those concepts according to my own values and beliefs, not other’s. Which is why it pays to communicate more in the moment when I have been hurt, or the other person walks around clueless. If anyone needs to forgive me for something, visualize me in the living room, or better yet, step forward, let’s talk. We all will work better if we learn to share the love. Time and relationships are too precious to hold grudges, and forgiveness is a mighty elixir.

To all for 2017: Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy with lots of Love thrown in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to write in the language of beauty and love, nature, life. Some call this fluff, I define it as the wonderful things that happen every day. I don’t know much about the scientific perspective of nature. I’m not a botanical expert by any means and I have a difficult time identifying flora and fauna, especially by their Latin names but I am able to describe to you the awe I experience when strolling beneath a canopy in a forest or walking through a grove of palm trees or down the shores of my favorite beach as the shells wash between and beneath my toes. I can tell you about the excitement of a toad as he becomes startled and jumps out of a leaf pile, and I sense the feeling of the creek bed as the stream of water runs along it. I believe all of these things are here for us to notice.

I’m not adept at Search Engine Optimization or keywording to lift my content to the top of a Google list, but I can tell you what it feels like to witness the smile of a child as he receives a gift from a loved one or two people in love as they gaze into each other’s eyes or smile in connection. There is so much love here on this planet, so much kindness, so much giving, yet there is so little time and so many barriers in the way. Somehow I am drawn to point it out and write about it, love it, live it.

Today on the commute home I took a moment at a red light to notice my surroundings. The falling snow was shimmering in the glow of the streetlights with the black sky as a backdrop. That, coupled with the house displays brightened the night. Some were intricate and precise while others consisted of a single strand of lights randomly tossed over a small tree and an ornament propped up on a porch light; possibly a lame attempt by a teenager to appease his nagging mother. I am intrigued by the row of inflatables on one front lawn with a penguin situated behind a drum set in the middle. He waddles back and forth swinging his green vinyl sticks. He is silly and amuses me. It makes me happy that so many people still take the time and make the effort to decorate.

And so flows the humor of life, wrapped up between all the beauty. Like beauty, humor is found daily, also worthy of the writing. It is offered everywhere and a gift to all willing to receive it. It is easy to miss, overshadowed by the distraction of screens. But they are all there, nature, beauty, love, kindness, humor, waiting to be noticed by onlookers like me and you, and enjoyed. Have fun.

 

Sharing my calendar today: Kisses and hugs forgive and love

A little meditative humor for the holidays: take a deep breath and stay in the present moment

Peace and Joy everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just finished reading a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Excellent read by the way. The first agreement is “be impeccable with your word”.  As a writer, I found that statement really made an impression on me.   Words are very powerful.  You can choose the wrong one and alter the meaning of something important or say the wrong thing and change someone’s life forever.  I choose the words I use very carefully when I am writing.  Not so much when speaking because of the spontaneity of the moment and tendency to respond on a quicker basis. To know my truth, to live it and to speak it every day in every situation is whom I strive to be and worth the challenge. Claiming to live under the pretense of joy, love and compassion, I’d better put my money where my mouth is.

I am grateful to have a gift to put words together in a meaningful, constructive and entertaining way when some people struggle to assemble even a sentence.  I feel a responsibility to be a woman of my word and stick to it.  I need to be better at that, and spend less time passing judgment on others and situations.  I will start in my thoughts first, long before they become my words, especially on paper.  I often wrongly pass judgment on myself, so I must start a great big campaign to toss out words of encouragement and kindness to myself.  If I don’t matter to me, how can I possibly matter to others.  And I will be conscious of practicing that theme of joy, love and compassion until it’s expressed every time I speak, write or think.  I’ll be impeccable.

Culture and social media make it easy for us to throw our opinions out quickly without thought. Surveys, comment, reviews on everything imaginable. Life rated. Very few opportunities exist for us to just stand back, watch and listen without distraction of phone or computer. I’m taking every chance I get to slow myself down to the point where I’m ready to remember the importance of my word. To think before I speak. People often pay me compliments on my writing, calling me inspirational and funny.  Before I am any of that, I’d like to be known as someone who is impeccable with my word, for this by default can only result in natural transition to speaking and writing the language of love. And I want to make it my purpose to do that loud and clear and consistently. I can only imagine how satisfying that will be in the effort to being at peace with myself. What a goal.

 

Sharing a Little Joy:
Waking up and hearing a lawyer commercial: “We have all of the extensive resources you need.” And thinking I just heard, “We have all of the expensive resources you need.”

Going out for lunch when it is 20 degrees outside and returning to the bonus of a second row parking space, only to forget after work and doubling your walk backtracking when you remembered!

 

 

Project ideas:

Not normal…don’t wash vegs before I eat them, laundry don’t sort, don’t iron,

 

Remember the story of guy who was going to stay in the house and see if he could live by ordering things off of the Internet for a year. Now people live like that

Love & Oranges, Tribute to a Life Coach

I celebrated my graduation from my life coach last week.  This was a gradual process and was so subtle I barely noticed the transition because it came in baby steps that added up to one leg of my awesome journey. Using a life coach was a foreign concept to me when a friend told me about his experience with his coach.  She was especially versed at relationships, and when he would share the wisdom he gleaned from her, I began to admire her views, so I set up a phone appointment for myself.  Accustomed to face-to-face counseling, I felt awkward at first, but by the end of that first hour I could tell we were likeminded and she would be able to enhance my life.  That was an understatement. She didn’t offer advice, listened and allowed me to speak openly which gave me the opportunity hear myself.  When I came up with something surprising, I would laugh, sometimes cry and she would say gently and simply, “Sit on that for a minute.”  I likely paid as much for our silent moments as the conversational ones, yet I found them to be just as enlightening.

My coach hosted a long healing weekend in Florida during one December, so I made the trip to attend.  “What’s not to like about a peaceful retreat from Northern weather,” was my initial thought. Climate aside, those four days were life transforming. As inspiring as she was on the phone, in person I found her to be one of the most reverent individuals I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  Her loving embrace when she welcomed me at the door radiated ambiance and comfort, something that I have since learned to generate on my own, but was far removed from me then.

At the retreat, our small group talked of how we are all like a metaphorical orange, buried in layers of emotions that need to be peeled away until our inner being is exposed, ready to be enjoyed. We traded ideas about recognizing our emotions and facing them head on, becoming friends with the bad as well as the good.  On my own, I developed a habit of naming mine, a technique that ended up being very therapeutic and I now share with my own clients.  We spent quiet reflective time alone on the beach and also in group discussion, all helpful.  We were encouraged to select a word for the weekend to take home with us.  Mine was “Believe,” which reflected a revelation I had that weekend and plays a big part of each of my days still.

After I returned, we continued our calls as needed, my doing my homework, she guiding as we went.  I conquered my demons and confronted my emotional baggage, one suitcase at a time on my own, reporting back to her as I went.  As I strengthened, she noted my drive to help others (described it accurately as a serving heart) and saw me drifting toward healing work and steered me in that direction.  Book recommendations, encouragement and a nonstop reminder to let my love shine followed. When I knew I had made the jump from healing to healer she pressed further. I thought I had made considerable progress when I met my spirit guide, yet she sent me exploring deeper.  Her genius intuition knows how to get me to challenge even my divine self.

Last month I experienced the moment when I knew I was ready to release myself from her care. Through her methodical prompting and my journaling work, my metaphorical orange exposed itself one day through an epiphany that stunned me. The last and thickest layer to go wasn’t a demon at all.   It was my deepest love never acknowledged, instead hidden and abandoned. The forever kind that has transcended space and time, came in the form of a gift from the Universe decades ago and never left. There it has remained, suppressed by denial and stifled words that got stuck in my thoughts and throat when my heart needed to speak them time after opportune time. When realization settled over me, I gathered it up in my arms like a long lost child and choked out those unspoken words one at a time, then repeated them confidently out loud, crying tears of joy.  As soon as I stopped, I scheduled a celebratory graduation appointment with my coach for Valentine’s Day.

On February 14, 2017, she patiently listened and laughed with me as I declared those words while admitting the most beautiful love story I have ever told, my own. I live it now with an open heart, carried not buried. Orange peeled, heart cleared, truth shared, I walked across that stage into the waiting audience of serving others (my Sacred work as she calls it). Just as I intuitively knew when to begin with her and every time I needed to hear her voice in between, I knew when I was ready to leave the comfortable nest of her guiding wisdom to venture out on my own. My clients were waiting, and others asking. She gave me a blessing to go out into the world and shine for others as she has so brightly done for me.  “The Universe needs you.”

From one beacon to another, Angel, genuine thanks and blessings for bringing me out of the dark by always listening, guiding, supporting and especially for believing in my version of living and loving happily ever after. You are indeed the most beautiful spirit.

Manifesting the Future

Sometimes in life we have to be daring in our manifestations.  I finally have the courage to dream big about my future.  Why not.  My life has been fantastic up to this point so why shouldn’t I expect that to continue.  I’ve always had a roof over my head, food on my table, money in the bank, people who love me; everything and everyone I’ve dreamed about has come into my life in perfect time. There’s abundance in every area.  I used to think that circumstances in life were a matter of luck and that you jinxed it by speaking about how good it was.  Not any more. A few months ago I found myself contemplating suicide, trapped in the most desperate time of my life.  My reflective side had to think back and find out how someone that thrives in the light and has become such a beacon to others had sunk into such a dark place.  And I found the answer.  It was during one of the few times that I did not follow my heart.

We all have that inner voice that keeps us on our personalized pathways of truth, masterfully paved by our desires where we are watched over by the Universe and have our hands held by our spirit guides.  They reassure, like the canvass on my wall that my son’s girlfriend made me, “Everything will always be okay.” When we step off the pavement beyond that truth, the voice, or some other sign calls us back. I had turned my back on belief and put myself in a situation that brought me so far away from my path, that I couldn’t find my way back, choosing to ignore my guide. In this particular case, my friends, family, blogs, culture were telling me to behave a certain way when my truth knew quite another, and I was distracted to the point where my inner voice was merely a faint whisper, the feeling a mere twinge.  I couldn’t reconcile, so I gave in to the world, betrayed my heart and retreated into the blackness.

My spirit guide, of course, grabbed my hand and led me away from all of the comments, advice and opinions and I at last turned away from my despair and said, “No! My reality about this situation is different.”  And like a snapped rubber band, I catapulted back onto my path relieved, my sanity intact. My inner voice immediately responded, “Welcome Back, Mary.  What took you so long?”  Anger and sadness retreated, love flooded back to my heart, the light and joy returned and enveloped me. Harmony remains, and I wonder now, why do we sacrifice ourselves with that resistance of what we know to be right for us rather than trust our intuition?

I love this bold new future that I’m manifesting, based on the unlimited boundaries of where I dare to let my heart go now, one that I created with my own idea of perfect reality. I know, because despite what the world would have me believe, I’m already there, and I feel it.  Deeply.

My Thing-a-Ma-Jig

I have one of these novelty thing-a-ma-jig toys on my desk that is filled with clear liquid. When you flip it, blue and green colored streams from the top trickle slowly down to the bottom in a process that produces pretty relaxing bubbles throughout. It is an appreciated gift from a co-worker, something I wouldn’t have thought to buy on my own, yet it brings me a few moments of daily joy.

This amuses me occasionally when I am in need of a distraction during my workday or I need to fidget or am just absentmindedly losing focus on a mundane project. I also add it to my lunchtime meditation routine on the days when I stay in my office. The green bubbles make me think about the fresh opportunities, choices, experiences that are mine to embrace all the time. The cooling blue reminds me of all of my chances to take a few minutes out of my life here and there to notice and contemplate them. When they land at the bottom they combine into this fantastic blend of ingredients that I have come to know as my happy life.

It took some practice for me to recognize the simple perfection of myself this way. Once upon a time self doubt, indecision, negativity, inadequacy, victimization, etc. were all a part of my self-inflicted world. They were the solids that landed upon and crushed me. The right people, outlook and powers that be helped me climb out of the rubble, introducing me to the ebb and flow. Liquid is so much easier and pleasant to navigate, especially when you learn the tricks to stay above the water.

I have developed this habit of flipping the thing-a-ma-jig when shutting down my computer and leaving work every day like I’m signing out. It readies me for the evening, calling me to have some fun there, too. Enjoy whatever I’m doing, whomever I’m dining with, be thankful for the abundance of food, look up at the stars and hope to see the moon. If it’s cloudy, so what. They’re still there.

As I inspect the thing-a-ma-jig while writing this, I notice there is a label on one end that says “Warm and Fuzzy Toy” in tiny letters. I believe that’s the name of the company, but it suits me. Simple things for simple minds as they say.   So I flip it one more time and it makes smile again. When the joy arrives, I am reminded of a true pay-it-forward story a co-worker told me earlier in the day. Her son was having breakfast at a diner with a couple of his fraternity brothers over the holidays.   A man at the table next to them laid a $100 bill on their table as he left, telling them to enjoy their breakfast. Stunned, they in turn paid for their breakfast and for the family’s at the next table. Then they left the generous balance to the waitress.

I like my thing-a-ma-jig. Simply wonderful.

The Grand Delusion

A dialog exchange I heard recently:

“Do you think I’m delusional?”

“Only if delusional means seeing the world differently than most of the world sees it and differently than most of the world would like you to see it.” Followed by this statement, “I stand in the delusional place of mastery with all the greats.”

Me too.

As someone who is able not only to think out of the box but spent my entire life living and breathing out of the box, I appreciated that perspective. As someone with a mental illness who has heard “delusional” often associated with diagnosis and flawed perspective, I found it such a relief that it brought a smile to my face throughout the day every time I repeated it. You see, for as long as I can remember, the herd is not what I wanted to follow, the popular crowd has never been my destination and I don’t do trendy. Granted, there have been three weeks out of my life when my mental illness has brought me to the clinical diagnosis of “delusional.” But over my lifetime that leaves more than 2,541 weeks when I have been living it on my own terms.

This means finding alternatives when there are seemingly none. In my latest example, weary and discouraged from the traditional job search process, I told a friend that I am finding one-on-one networking and setting up my own marketing campaign to find employment because I just can’t bring myself to sign one more cover letter “Sincerely yours” when I’m not even close to meaning it, and nothing makes me feel more unproductive than hitting the “Submit” button on an online application for a job designed for hundreds and sending it into impersonal oblivion. She laughed and said she knew I would come up with a creative approach. And that I will succeed.

It is safe to say that somewhere along the line the brilliant minds of the past (Edison, Ford, Leonardo DiVinci, Newton, Goddard to name a few) must have had some level of delusion in order to manifest their ideas for the advances of mankind in such extraordinary ways. After that they were forever referred to as geniuses. When I was a child growing up in my neighborhood, we were delusional as well, only back then it was called imagination. Clouds were pictures painted just for us, back yards were campgrounds, picnic tables pushed together were pirate ships, we were whatever we wanted to be and no one could convince us otherwise. We were awesome.

I am blessed every day in my delusional state to see many things that others don’t.  Like St. Francis, another famous historical delusionist, I see hope in despair, light in darkness, joy in sadness, trust in the Universe which allows me to find alternate pathways to happiness, magic, miracles and a steadfast belief in unconditional love. And while my fellow human beings are enmeshed in drama, anger, gossip, mistrust, feeling victimized, complaining and negativity, I am busy being caught up in my delusion of inner peace and gratitude. That makes every day of my life worry, stress, doubt and anxiety free because what I see is seen through the eyes of my true heart; inner spirit, not clouded by exterior influences.

How’s your vision today?  May it be filled with joyful delusion.