I have never been one who believes that to solve another's problems I should preach to them about God.
I have always assumed a rather obscure position in that sense, even though those who know me are aware
of my beliefs, because "God" is often threaded in and out of my words in a rather organic way.
I am obscure because, even as a Christian, I have been approached and even confronted by well meaning Christians who quote scripture redundantly and question my beliefs to the point of repelling me.
I often wonder if anyone using this approach actually finds another's heart open to them.
For me, it is telling that they believe that my very personal relationship with God has little validity unless I subscribe to their verbiage, their way. And with that, then it becomes the issue that each church has their own culture as well. Am I "doing it right?" is how it can feel. (To which every hair on the back of my neck stands up.) No one will ever tell me that being close to God- feeling Him, seeing Him in everything and every part of my life- hearing Him... is not "enough" or "right".
My mother said these words to me as a young adult: Every church is a house of God- and if you ever enter one where someone uses God's name in relation to guilt or shame- you have my permission to walk out.
And so, I have.
Ironically, God has sent me a disproportionate number of clients who initially come to me for various reasons as a Life Coach, but whom share with me along the way their disconnect to their higher power and/or God.
What saddens me about this, is that typically it is because of an experience like above, or an injustice, abuse or hypocrisy within the walls of the church. And, in that experience, comes the severing from it all.
Here is the sweetest piece. They separate because their idea of God is so pure, so loving- so devoid of whatever they experienced...not the opposite.
I cannot fully understand their hearts, because I have not walked in their shoes. But I suggest to them that they simply start talking to God... in the forest, by the water, before they close their eyes. Keep talking until they hear or feel Him...and continue. Because when someone connects on that level, no one can ever take it away.
That relationship is yours.
I have an amazing client- a Pastor, who has reminded me again and again in our conversation that to
Love God and Love our Neighbor is the most basic simple truth and practice.
To which I say...
Things generally become polarized in the face of fear...of challenge...of loss.
But in the midst of all that we face today, still lives "the light". Hope, faith, love... & joy. -D
A life lesson...from my dog.
This is my dog Zoey. She is a rescue...deaf- dicey vision at best...
She was beaten with sticks (which I found out by walking her on the beach,
picking up a piece of driftwood and having her escape out of a harness in fear)-
chases cars and reflections...
And, I believe she may have been tethered, because she still will eat things that would
poison any other creature, but if she finds it first,
it's impossible to get it out of her mouth.
Zoey steals my socks if they drop out of the dryer,
swipes my dishtowel if I leave it on the sink...pulls the towels out of the basket in my bath...
And, if I'm on the phone,
she takes her bed cover, drags it into the living room and chews on it until I come.
We take long walks together almost every day-
And, she sleeps at the foot of my desk and next to my bed.
Lately my schedule has been rather hectic.
However, she falls sweetly into the rhythm of life's changes with me-
whether it's the hurricane, a move, or being gone most of the day for appointments and work.
I can leave her for hours and she will just curl up and snore in bliss.
Yesterday was my day off. I had a barre class, an appointment, errands...
I left at 8:30, was home by 3- ate, walked her and had to leave again.
I got home at 10. I took her out to pee, gave her a treat and put her back to bed.
She started to fake bark (to talk to me), and then real bark (which she never does).
I got up- thought she might be thirsty or have to go outside again-nothing.
I sat on the floor, and signed for her to come to me.
She started to play (which in an apartment is not a good thing at 10:30).
I opened my arms again and she came to me.
She literally nestled her head in between my shoulder and face, and as I embraced her,
I rubbed her body up and down, while she moaned in a sigh of contentment-
the same way I do when my body is sore and I get a good massage.
We did this for a few minutes- literally hugging one another.
Then I gave her a treat, put her back to bed and she went right to sleep.
I crawled back into bed with the insight that just because we are in the same space and sharing
the same walk doesn't mean that she doesn't need to be pet, stroked, held, touched.
I reflected on a time down south when my dear friend's husband used
to cross the lawn at church to give me a hug.
She would stand next to him with a big smile on her face as I hugged back.
One day I told them how amazing that hug was to receive.
Because no matter how social I am or how many people I love or who loves me-
living alone meant that some weeks, that was the only hug I'd received.
It was such a gift. It was as if God whispered in their ear.
It continues to amaze me how this dog named Zoey that I rescued from
the shelter- rescues me in so many ways.
Today, another reminder...another lesson that I do not take for granted.
The Fisherman & The Businessman
A Classic Brazilian Story as shared by Paulo Coelho
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
He saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore
having caught quite a few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, "How long does it take you to catch so many fish?"
The fisherman replied, "Oh, just a short while."
"Then why don't you stay longer at sea and catch even more?", the business man asked, astonished.
"This is enough to feed my whole family", the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, "So what do you do for the rest of the day?"
The fisherman replied, "Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea, catch a few fish,
then go back and play with my kids.
In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife. And, when evening comes,
I join my buddies in the village for a drink. We play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night."
The business man offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
"I have a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person.
From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible.
When you have saved enough money, you can buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish.
Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company,
your own production plant for canned food, and a distribution network.
By then, you will have moved out of this village to Sao Paulo,
where you can set up a HQ to manage your other branches.”.
When the timing is right,
you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange. You will be rich."
The fisherman asks... "And then, after that?"...
The businessman says, "After that, you can finally retire, move to a house by the fishing village,
wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with the kids,
and have a nice afternoon nap with your wife.
When evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink- play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!"
The fisherman puzzled...asked "Isn't that what I am doing now?"....
I recently received an order from Amazon. And, I noticed something different.
Two vendors enclosed small notes.
These kind notes represent something that has been seemingly lost
in the fast moving, computerized, impersonal space we often live and do business in today.
Customer Service. Gratitude for business. Understanding opinion matters.
It was in fact one January years ago, when I made a New Year's Resolution to do business
only with companies that made me feel appreciated as a customer.
Discover and American Express were at the top of the list.
My credit union would be another- and so on.
It made a huge difference in my life,
and gave me a voice.
The Kombucha I drink daily, posts words of enlightenment shared by customers,
and a personal message from the founder who is proud to have his name on each bottle.
I am happy to give him my business.
Today's notes from Amazon vendors included the words
"Thank you...your purchase made my day"..."I hope this package brightens yours".
The fact remains that it does!
These small notes and words of human spirit between us, do make my day-
especially as I balance energy against hold times, computerized voices and lack of customer care.
These notes also invited me to call if there is a problem with their product.
(Aha...finally businesses have figured out that it is the powerlessness of unheard customers
that leads to retribution via negative review posting online).
Slowly there are signs of old-fashioned tried and true practices of kindness and human interaction.
These vendors stand apart and bring balance to a system that is failing.
Amen in 2020 to small companies (and large) who remember that
customer service is the pinnacle of true success.
I shall choose to do business with you.
Years ago I created a board for one of my photography exhibits stating my truth as an introvert:
"I am loneliest in a room full of people".
It is still true today.
However, if you stretch the boundaries of that room out into life- I am not. I am the opposite.
My exhibits were photo-journalistic in nature, and largely built upon the premise that we never know who may live among us- what someone's story is.
We assume there may or may not be any crossovers in our interests, our mindset, the lives we lead.
To open up to the idea that sharing in small pieces, is to live in the present and slow down.
This summer while I was on a bike ride, I saw a woman sitting at the edge of her driveway.
She waved at me and said "I sure would love to visit".
I turned around- (in part because I was worried about her, and in part because I was fascinated).
She is 92- appears ten years younger. She has blonde-grey hair, bright blue eyes, beautiful, taut skin
and rosy cheeks. She is articulate and spirited.
Her husband passed away a few years ago and while both her daughters live locally,
they are busy during the day and she is bored because she can no longer drive.
What I learn from her and am reminded of each time we talk is...
How beautiful it is that she will go out of her way to get her social needs met- and how it actually works.
How fear is not a part of her experience.
How alive, spirited and strong she is, still-
How much she loved her life and her husband...
And, how inspired I am to live life this fully every day.
I write this blog today, because I was reminded again-
when I met three different people while out running errands.
They struck up a conversation in passing- for seemingly insignificant reasons.
But, our exchanges touched each of us in some way.
A woman in a hot pink wool coat, with a Nike cap and Prius, asking about my recycled bags turned into a conversation about Florida, Chicago and the Museum of Art.
We are all so busy- leaving ourselves open to these conversations can seem like a waste of precious time.
But, we never know what they will share that can shift our perceptions, our day, our lives-
It is a moment of divine opportunity.
Next time someone passes you- dare to believe you each have a gift to share with the other.
Even if it's just a smile...and positive energy.
I recently had the privilege of attending this amazing conference.
It was one of the most powerful things I've ever experienced.
It seems that in many ways, we find ourselves "afraid".
We often assume that someone we know has no fear-
Or, not the kind that occasionally or regularly
causes us to question ourselves, and our lives.
As I work with clients, one of the things that continues to amaze me,
is that fear is an "everyone" challenge.
It is what stands in the way of true freedom-
and, it is a reality of being human.
It isn't something we simply rid ourselves of-
it is something to remind ourselves not to give power to...
and, to move beyond.
The day before this conference, I had fear in my heart- in my body-
Fear that was triggered inside of a situation that caused me to question myself,
my passion, my direction- all the things I am most sure of when I'm not in that state of mind.
I prayed deeply that morning- I was in tears- humbling myself for the clarity and strength
to embrace all that I'd trusted just 24 hours earlier.
At times I have heard God's voice so clearly- and in that, been able to hear and trust my own.
But, on this particular day, He would speak to me in a way that was nothing short of miraculous.
I'd decided not to cycle that day, but instead, take a long walk in the woods and by a small lake.
As I left on the trail, I questioned whether or not I needed pure silence, or... inspiration.
I looked at my Youtube playlist.
The very first one, was a famous life coach (Rich Litvin) that I deeply respect and admire.
I felt compelled to listen.
As I began to hear his conversation with another consultant/coach-
it was the exact topic in my own heart. It was as if I was sitting in that chair.
The words that he had for this conflicted consultant/coach were the words I'd told myself
and believed just the day before.
My body immediately felt light-my heart opened, my spirit felt alive with this clarity-
The magic of divine intervention- never to be underestimated.
The unexpected affirmation was as if God was reminding me-
You are not alone;
follow your heart...
trust your inner voice;
Do not give your power away.
This, I believe is an empirical truth for us all.
We need to simply remind ourselves, and be reminded.
To be unafraid.
I can clearly hear my father's words..."You know how much money you need...? You only need enough."
The messages I received about money as a child, were both beautiful and limiting.
Without realizing it, they've played a part in my
challenge to envision abundance outside of my comfort zone.
I have lived in large houses and apartment attics.
I have owned a Mercedes and a VW bus.
I was always the same person- and grateful.
But, to be honest,
when I had more money in my life,
I was sometimes uncomfortable-
almost pushing it away.
Mom had a saying as well. She'd say, " Isn't it great that we can be happy with so little?"
Twenty years ago, before I opened my photography studio,
I said a prayer:
To always have enough money, but to never let it be about the money.
And, I did, and it never was.
However, I must admit that I was afraid to believe in a dream for myself that was bigger...
And, to do so without judging it.
Using our inner voice as a compass
beyond external pressure and limiting beliefs always leads
to an authentic and connected life.
What are your limiting beliefs?
And... what would life look like if you allowed yourself to dream bigger?
and m"LISTEN TO THE SOUND OF NOTHING" -D.
What does quiet sound like? Do we even know?
It is peace, it is calm, it is serene, it is without noise.
Well known life coach Rich Litvin said something that captured my attention and heart,
taking this to a deeper place...
He said "magic occurs in the white space".
Immediately, I embraced this as truth. As an artist and introvert, I crave, I protect, I have even
defended alone time as a place to create, to think, to feel.
How little or how much "white space" our spirit might crave only we know-
but it is essential to the balance of life to sometimes be in silence, or to be still.
In today's world, it seems near impossible to manage this- and we are often interrupted by
things that we don't even hold in esteem, but rob us of time.
Rather than thinking about eliminating these things, perhaps we can begin by
prioritizing even just one thing that feeds us.
I am a fan of the word "routine" instead of "schedule", because it has a flow. When life
is busy and there seems little time, flowing from one thing to another causes
a feeling of movement instead of rigidity.
I also love the word "protect" instead of "schedule". I will protect time for a walk
in the woods; I will protect time for lunch; I will protect time with my clients.
Protecting is a gift- not a to-do.
We live in a culture that makes it very challenging to step back and listen to our own voice.
It is something we have forgotten to make time for, or teach our children.
What is it that you crave?
How much time do you protect to listen to the sound of nothing...?
I wrote this quote many years back as part of a postcard series. It still speaks to my heart.
I believe it to be true.
When I look at this nude sketch, she embodies that for me.
I bought this piece of art years ago at a "First Friday" Art Exhibit. The gallery was nice,
but all the other work was different-safe- paintings of landscapes and farms.
This large nude sketch in comparison was so raw. I stood in front of it and I couldn't leave her.
When the artist came over, I literally reached out for her hand, held it,
standing in front of her sketch in silence together.
The woman in this sketch is somehow so strong and so vulnerable to me all at the same time.
I love her long bony hands. The arthritis I imagine in her body I can almost feel.
Her body so long and lean,
but somehow it feels tired- and yet, she is still so beautiful, comfortable-humbly looking down.
So simple, all the black lines telling what seems like a layered story.
No matter where I move, this piece comes with me. If I had to choose just one thing,
I would always choose her.
When I came back to my cottage after the hurricane, she was still on my wall.
She is with me today, continuing to remind me of strength and...yet, vulnerability.
A perfection of the soul.