Best Birthday Gift Ever

19 May

I awoke this morning to Winter Wonderland. It is snowing in May in Colorado.

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I wanted snow all year. I thought I was going to spend time on the East Coast during winter but it didn’t happen.

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So what do you know. God answers our prayers in other ways. My birthday is later this week and look what the Big Man Upstairs delivered. Quite the delightful surprise! I realize God always gives us what we need when we need it most. It isn’t always on our time table.

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He knows best. Not I.

O’ Majesty

18 May

There is a wonder in nature that surpasses man’s sky scrapers and strip malls.

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Blessed to be teaching this week in a place so far removed from road rage, traffic and nonsense.

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Life gifts us at times with surprises that are exactly what the doctor ordered.

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For this I am grateful beyond measure.

 

 

 

Rain Come Down

16 May

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In Southern California, rain has always been a treat but now, it is even more so. The last two years have brought such chronic dry conditions that many of us have forgotten what rain, fog, and moisture feel like.

I have begun to dream about water like someone in exile.

I fantasize about fields of green and landscapes of snow.

The last few days we’ve finally had some cloudy skies.

Variance in weather is a good thing. Too much perpetual sunshine gets old. Rain gives us permission to pause. To hole ourselves up inside and hibernate. Rain, like crying, flushes everything out. It cleanses the earth, refreshing things.

Storms remind us that life is not one eternal day of sunshine. Life is filled with loss, heartache, unexpected winds, and things becoming completely uprooted. Sometimes life is also a period of winter where everything is dead and frozen.

Southern California defies these truths making it hard to come to terms with them.

Weather is natural. Weather is part of the life cycle.

I am glad for the weather that mirrors my soul.

Believe it or not, drought can be hard on the soul. It creates thirst and a deep longing for relief. Oh how we need a drink of water after wandering about too long in the desert.

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Thank you. May the rain come down. And down. And down.

May it wash out the debris and create new life.

What I Learned From A Horse

12 May

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I worked with a horse named Gracie yesterday. This was my first experience with something known as Epona Equestrian Services. Epona explores the healing potential of the horse-human bond.

Who would have thought that a horse would reveal so much about the human heart?

Who would have thought I would go to see a Horse Whisperer? Or think about becoming one?

Horses are sensory based beings. They intuit, perceive, and respond to their environment. They mirror back deeply emotional parts of ourselves, as well as our negative and destructive relational patterns. The horses do everything by instinct and help us start paying better attention to our own. Horses become uncomfortable if we hold our breath or are thinking too much. They help us become more integrated and transcend the linear mind. They help us be less over-reactive and live more from our hearts.

After interacting with each animal at the rescue ranch, I chose Gracie as the horse who I hoped would teach me a bit more about connection. I stood in the ring with her. I didn’t know what to do. Could I walk right up to her? Would she let me? Would she trust me? Would I trust her? Could I touch her or would I need her permission?

At just the slightest bit of tension or cogitation within me, Gracie turned away. When I relaxed and opened my heart, or spoke to her in the soft gentle voice that is mine, she would turn towards me and take steps in my direction. At one point, she came a few feet from me and then stopped and stared. It was most intense communication with an animal I’ve ever experienced. In that moment, she felt more like an other-world-being than a horse. For about 30 seconds, time stopped and she penetrated my soul.

About horses, Linda Kohanov writes: “To horses, emotion is neither good nor bad; it’s simply information. As animals that are preyed upon in nature, it behooves them to know when another herd member is feeling afraid or playful, angry or in pain, depressed or content. Though they ultimately strive for well-being in their relationships, horses don’t consider so-called positive emotions any more important than the negative ones humans routinely try to suppress. To these animals, the ability to intuit fear in a distant herd member and act on this feeling without hesitation is a life saving skill. The innate aptitude for resonating with another being’s trust, joy, or confidence is a life-giving skill. These mindful creatures have developed a magnificent capacity for responding to subtle changes in the arousal of other horses as well as predators, a species-wide talent they easily transfer to interactions with people” (p.105 in The Tao of Equus).

Gracie taught me quite a bit about myself yesterday. She revealed to me how I hesitate at times instead of moving forward with complete conviction and commitment. She also revealed how I sometimes can’t sense my inner knowing and/or negate it. Most important, I recognized yet again, the power of the breath to push us through any sensation and move us into a state of strength, calm, tranquility and love.

Thank you, Gracie. I will be back.

 

Love Is A Selfie

8 May

The other day I was talking with a friend. He mentioned a photograph he’d seen in a collection entitled “The Ten Worst Selfies.” The picture he described was of a woman scantily clad in underwear and bra taking a selfie while her six year old son looked away towards the wall. If a picture says a thousand words, this one sums it up.

I didn’t even see the photograph. I can imagine it though. I know the scenario all too well.

When my parents were alive, no one took selfies. My father however was the poster child for narcissism. True to the myth, he was in love with his own image.

I might as well have been in the bedroom watching my dad take a picture of himself in his underwear with my head turned to the wall. I saw my dad in his underwear many times. I also heard him making love with the girlfriend of the day, week, month or year, as his bedroom was right above mine. I heard him call each of them “honey” as if she was the most gorgeous, wonderful and ONLY woman on the planet. In reality, she was always one of MANY. I recall a Christmas Eve when we went to two different women’s houses where my dad wooed each. Then Christmas morning we went to a third girlfriend’s house. I agued with my dad in the car that he needed to pick amongst them instead of stringing them all along. Lying to each was cruel.

My dad needed multiple women. One pussy wasn’t enough for him. His ego needed constant stroking. That he was a divorce attorney served him beautifully. He always had vulnerable, broken women before him whose husbands had broken their hearts. He would be that great guy who would treat them better.

In his mind, he loved them all and treated them well. Yet if one got upset with him, there was always someone else waiting in line next for him, so he never had to experience any kind of genuine loss, remorse, or heartache. He also never had to be accountable for his behavior.

My dad was truly evil. But I look around me and see mild versions of the same behavior happening everywhere in our society. A relationship doesn’t work out but no matter. We can just start texting and instant messaging someone else. Why not cultivate something new and improved? Heck, let’s do that while we’re in a relationship so that if things fall on rocky ground, we’re already planting the seeds for our next venture. We might be bummed initially at the time of a break up, but those endorphins from the first flush of attraction are quite the rush. That sparkle is so much better than the hum drum of a long term relationship, the bickering, and the tending to each other’s needs. Not to mention how cool we look when we can bag another babe or guy instantaneously. That’s quite the super power to have. Why not post a picture of our new situation  and see how many likes we garner, as if we’re all the prom king and queen from high school?

We justify our actions by saying we want more, we want something new, it’s not healthy or normal to practice monogamy. We say we had a right. We did nothing wrong. We didn’t hurt anybody. It’s all good. Be a little more open minded. These things just happen.

We live in a carpe diem society high on instant gratification and low on emotional maturity or self-sacrifice.

We all yearn for contentment and love and relationship and yet we’re doing very little to learn how to sustain long term care and appreciation of one another. I think we’re all guilty on some levels, myself included.

I am that young child watching her parent take a selfie in a sexual, seductive pose. I am that child who witnessed so much crap that I feel I could vomit. I am that child who vowed I’d never be treated like a disposable object or commodity. I am that child who declared no man would ever define whether I was beautiful or not. And I am that child who grieves for what I see in the modern world wondering if love is real or a mirage in the desert.

Perhaps love is a selfie. And it’s very selfish these days.

Longing for Simplicity

7 May

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Last May I spent time in Lancaster, PA, home of the Amish and much beautiful farmland. What drew my attention wasn’t the attire of the Amish or the sight of horse drawn buggies chugging along the roads. Instead, I was struck by the beauty of the landscape and families working together in fields.

I spent my childhood summers in Wisconsin so this terrain was somewhat familiar. While staying with my grandparents, I visited many farms and sung songs to myself while playing in cornfields. Lancaster reminded me of this and left me with a haunting longing for a life more attuned to nature. Looking at some cows sitting in a field of flowers, I thought, “Wow. What a nice gig.”

It is a year later and although I am in a radically different place, the same yearnings persist.

Like last May, I continue to struggle with social media.  In fact, I actually de-activated my FB account. About social media, last May I wrote, “What the hell? What price are we paying for our obsessions with the Internet community? On my deathbed will I care how many followers I have on Twitter? Or will I instead be glad that I produced quality work, even if it never gets recognized? I have no answers because as much as I longed for simplicity as a child, I also yearned to have influence. Yet I wonder if ambition causes us to miss the mark all together.”

Last year the gifted Maya Angelou passed away – a woman of remarkable talent and endurance. How did this woman leave her imprint? When I think of famous people I wonder if they desired to be players on the world stage, or if they yielded power because they acted from integrity. If we embody the vision, does visibility organically follow?

And in the end, what is it that we’re living for anyway?

I ask the same questions and I still want simplicity, serenity, and farmland.

You Can’t Get Bread From A Hardware Store

2 May

This year, I’ve watched two friends go through divorces. Even to the observer, the pain of this is excruciating. As I’ve listened, I’ve witnessed each friend struggle with accepting his new reality.

All  humans resist dramatic change. We kick and scream when we see it coming and howl when we have no control. How can what was once so certain and part of day-to-day life now be gone? How can affections be here today and gone tomorrow? Why does the sun rise and set? Why does life include pain and why do good things have to end?

I have absolutely no answers. I only know that from the outside looking in, we cause ourselves tremendous pain when we refuse to let go. When we expect things to be different than the way they are, we ultimately hurt ourselves.

We have no control over people, places, and things. The only thing we have control over is ourselves.

Years ago I heard a phrase that beautifully sums up our very human tendency to effort change in places we can’t. The saying is, “You can’t get bread from a hardware store.”

Whenever you want someone to give you something that he or she simply isn’t capable of, you have to remind yourself that you’re shopping in the wrong place. The hardware store is not bad because it doesn’t provide bread. In fact, if you’re working on a home improvement project, the hardware store is great! Yet if you’re hungry, you need to find a bakery or grocery store.

I am also reminded that at the end of the day, no one can really satisfy our deepest needs. Jesus said, “”I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” If we’re turning to other people to be our bread – to be our life, we will always be hungry. When we finally turn to what satisfies, we find that we no longer have intense hunger pains.

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The Serenity Prayer – Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

 

 

 

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