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Monday, December 23, 2013

Finally, a Christmas to fill my Heart


               Every moment that anyone invests in waking up and remaining aware will always result in a life of bountiful joy and happiness.  I’ll walk through the fire of transformation any day of the week because I know that I will always land on higher ground, and experience greater joy and bask in my emotional freedom.  This year, I am having the holiday season of my life and all if it because I chose to stay awake. 

               I’ve been married with children, divorced with children, single for a long time, mothering as a single mom. Over the years my home has been filled with people: friends, family, and neighbors; sometimes a lot of people that called for a lot of cooking, baking and cleaning.  Invitations were offered for Christmas Eve, breakfast, dinner and more, sometimes I would go just to prevent being home alone. Sometimes I did all the inviting so I would stay busy and distracted.  I would always bake way too many cookies, buy too many presents and spend way too much money.  I would put my tree up after cutting it down, of course, this was supposed to make it feel more like Christmas, more special. And I would listen to as many holiday songs and carols as possible.  I would pressure my kids to help, driving them mad at times, beg them to hang lights outside, and harp on them until all the Christmas boxes were taken out of the attic and hope they would help create Christmas atmosphere.  I would display all of my Santa, snowman, angel and tree collections. Whew – is it over yet?

               All of this effort fell totally short of any delightful experience – all of it.  The only joy I had was giving my children the presents they asked for and the time that I did spend with family, friends and neighbors.  I carried a pocket of sadness, loneliness and melancholy around and would whip it out at every quiet and non-busy moment.  I couldn’t wait for the day to be over so I could just feel done.

               Now here it is 2013, still single, although in a relationship, my house is still empty since my partner is 2700 hundred miles away, but many, many other things are different this year.  I spent less, shopped on line – never even went to one mall, baked so much less, said no to invites, bought a small, cheap tree that was easy to decorate, and barely displayed any of my Christmas treasures.  I’ve had plenty of time to maintain my spiritual practices, move slowly and do only what I felt called to do. And even though I sit here by myself, I am not alone, my heart is full, I am calm, plugged in and fully present.  This year I cultivated a joy and presence from opening my heart, making choices that support my sanity as I remain grounded.

               This year – there’s no melancholy hanging in the crevices of my mind waiting to be expressed.  This year, 2013, I find myself feeling full, alive, and filled with joy.  This year, I thoroughly took my own advice and invested time in being the presence more than giving presents.  This year my heart is open, happy, light and available.  How silly all of that effort seems now, such a wasted investment in time, money and my sanity.  I am so blessed to feel the fullness of my heart in the way that every song promises.  This year my prayers are answered and active in me. This year my Spirit centered life has provided me with what I have wanted and dreamed of my entire life.  Ah, sweet Spirit, thank you.

               From this place, I say to each of you, whether Christian, Jew, Metaphysician or Pagan, may your heart remain open and warm during these cold winter months letting the love and light of Spirit to accompany you in your waking and sleeping moments.  May you know JOY as never before. 

Happy Holidays, happy Love, happy Joy now and throughout the New Year!

Michelle

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wearing Your Commitment on Your Sleeve

Traveling as often as I do to California, I am consistently amazed about the amount of people who choose to tattoo themselves out there; although it really is becoming by far more common in all places. I've had a couple of small and no-so-obvious tattoos for many years now but before now I never considered using my body to declare my beliefs.  I see moms, grandmas, corporate types and bikers all walking around with their body as a canvas of their belief systems.  We humans are fascinating, aren't we?

As you can probably imagine where this entry is leading. . . I did it, I took the risk and placed on my body reminders that really matter to me, that reflect who I am and that I can appreciate each moment of each day.  Yes, last week I went and added not one but two tattoos to my body; on the inside of both of my wrists.  On the left is a lotus flower and buried within it, the word EASE, in a beautiful font surrounded by pinks and on the right wrist, within a lotus flower, the word GRACE in an equally beautiful font surrounded  by blue and purple. 

I love them, I love the message, the reminder and the fact that not for one second can I forgot about what matters to me.  I've been saying if I had a third arm, I would have added elegance because of how I am now choosing to live my life is with Ease, Grace and Elegance.  When I think "elegance", I remember back to watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (I know, my age is showing) as they would float so elegantly across the dance floor; their feet appearing to barely touch the floor and they never broke a sweat.

So now as move through my days, make decisions, and choose what to pay attention to or not, I am reminded - does this reflect ease, grace and elegance - and if it does not - I think again about whether or not, I want to keep moving in that direction.  The other day, we ran into a bit of chaos at my Center regarding a project, it was only that I had my "reminders" staring at me that I paused to consider my options.  Then a friend helped me to reconsider what was possible and what was possible showed up with Ease and Grace. 

No, I am not suggesting that you go out and get tattooed; but I am suggesting that you take time to get clear and decide what matters to you and your soul and live by those standards.  Let those things guide you.  It is about collaborating with your highest expression.  

Signing off for now with Ease and Grace and in Elegance,
Michelle 
Couldn't attach a photo but you can see them on my FaceBook page if you are curious.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Saturday Morning!


Saturday morning. So much to do.  Food to cook for my ex-husband’s 70th birthday party—yes , I said ex. -I am helping his wife, Marilynn, prepare for the celebration.  Providing rides for my son to and fro because he doesn’t yet have his car.  Cleaning out and purging items that must go now that I’ve made the decision to sell my home.  Had to break an important date to support my nephew tonight because I need to be ready for our very special Sacred Sunday tomorrow.  Wanting to visit with my step-daughter but probably won’t be able to because of all the other stuff. Whew!
Wow and holy cow!  When did this become my life? I find solace in knowing that although my life often seems mildly insane, it does not resemble in any way my mother’s life.  Why does that please me?  Because my mother lived a simple life that was all about raising her seven children.  Honorable, yes, but once her children left, it appears as if her life also ended.  I cannot remember my mother doing anything fun or creative that wasn’t attached to family.  Maybe that is okay (it was certainly more common in those days) but with the richness of life, it isn’t what I want.  Actually I don’t really remember her smiling too often either.  Maybe that was because in being so deathly afraid of doctors and dentists, she allowed her teeth to rot and simply drank away the pain. Oops didn’t know I was going there.
Took a break from cooking to write this post because it was burning to be put down on computer keys. (Can’t say on paper anymore.)  While contemplating what to write, I couldn’t help but notice what a false sense of security four walls and possessions create.  As I sit in prayer to know the strength and courage I require to release so many personal possessions, I can see how much my identity has had to do with what surrounds me. It is a distraction from that which is within me.  It is not that I own things of great value; I do own things of great sentiment. Face it, after thirty years in a house with an attic, a basement and a garage, I have THINGS, and these things have memories attached.
I have always loved all the windows in my home; it was one of the things that I loved best about it.  Every day I take time to look out to the green that surrounds my home. This green, in all its horticultural varieties, lifts and comforts me. The strength of the aging maple right outside my living room window as it pushes up the deck we built around it so many years ago; the cedars that provide shade in the front; the oaks that provide some natural privacy between us and our neighbors.  This green is home to a wide variety of birds, squirrels, and chipmunks that I find great amusement in, as do my cats. (Yeah, sometimes it’s hard.)  When the winds blow, the sounds created from the rustling of the leaves of these long-familiar trees is like a salve that calms my nerves and keeps me grounded to Mama Earth.
All of this—the possessions, the house, and even the beauty of Mother Nature—is outside of me and is conditional and temporary. This is why it is a false sense of security.  Homes come and go; possessions come and go; trees fall to the ground and, yes, even my body is a temporary house to this life expression, as is yours.  My true security, my very real groundiness, and my sense of self can’t be touched or altered in any way because it is that place within me where I have learned to surrender and allow the grace of Life itself to be the beating of my heart and my breath.  So as busy as I am today, I take time to write so this pure moment of self-expression isn’t lost on baking cakes and making sausage and peppers.  Life is precious, let's catch the moments in the moment!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Here to Serve!


From behind my eyes, the world seems fairly simple in many ways. From this point of view I’m just like anyone else; from my view I’ve got the same problems and challenges, and I have the same hopes and dreams.  When I go home alone, I’m looking at all of the same issues as everyone else, including what bills have come in the mail, what laundry has to be done, and, of course, “What’s for dinner, Mom?”

Well, it seems like my world is the same, but is it?  After giving it further thought, I guess not, and I should probably never get confused about this.  Why? Because I have spent the bulk of my life on this spiritual journey of personal transformation and consciousness.  I have spent years in classes, trainings, workshops, and deep spiritual practice to free myself from the human elements of lack, fear, and doubt. I have forgiven everyone who ever harmed me in any way, including myself, and have made peace with those whom I have harmed. I have reaped the harvest of these years that I invested and have found freedom and a resource inside of me that I didn’t even know existed. Back to this later….

Every once in a while, I will be called to be in service in a moment when I least expect it—when I’m not ready, or distracted, or quite frankly when I’m not in the mood.  Yes, I said it out loud: everyone once in a while I am not in the mood or do not want to be asked for anything. Sometimes it’s because I’m busy, but there are definitely times when my own needs are distracting me and being available to give or serve just isn’t my first concern.  

Technically, I suppose this is okay. I suppose that I have a right to be unavailable or at the very least not want to be available.  This seems reasonable; after all I’m human, aren’t I?  Well, human yes, but do I really have a “right” to be unavailable?  No, not really? It took a while, but I have come to this after much contemplation.  Healthy boundaries are good for everyone—this is so true—but I choose my path. I took on the cloak of ministry not as a yoke about my neck to weigh me down, but as a lift to fly from.  When I stood to have that stole placed around my neck at my ordination, it was a sort of silent, sacred covenant that silently says to those whom I serve: I am here for you; I am here to listen to you; I am here to serve. And for that rare occasion when I am asked to be in service when I don’t really want to be, I will have to just get over it, pray more, process in a healthy way, and be present. 

To those of you who have promised to lift, love, and serve, isn’t this what we signed up for? Aren’t we here for others?  Here’s to the call to service. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

When does it hurt enough!


I have been a minister for twelve years now and a practitioner for a bit longer than that—teaching classes, speaking on Sundays, offering workshops, seminars, and retreats.  My goal is to offer tools and skills that reflect the Science of Mind teaching to individuals so they may experience their own personal freedom.  My ego is healthy enough to believe in myself as a facilitator of good.  Sometimes I wish I could go to myself as a practitioner because of my faith, devotion to the teaching, and deep, deep conviction.  I believe and teach with all of my heart and beingness that there is no-thing outside of me that causes my reality; there is only the One and the Only acting in, through, and as me.

Having said this, I admit to my frustration and disappointment in my lack of influence on the world around me, but especially within my own spiritual community, when it comes to how long one will choose to suffer or delay reaching out for help and support.  I don’t get it.  Is this a conversation about ego; is this a lack of belief in the magnificent, potent, power that we as metaphysicians know that we can wield?

Why would one delay in reaching out for support and healing?  Are we waiting until it hurts enough? Okay, I admit that I am not a stranger to this practice.  I have had some pride in my ability to: withstand pain, be strong, or show that I can handle anything. Sound familiar?  Wow, this resembles suffering way too closely!  So I have to ask you, and I invite you to ask yourself, do you believe in suffering?  Is that what it is?  Does centuries-old conditioning still have its talons in you?  Do you take just enough?  Is it normal to always give away the biggest piece of the pie? 

As a counselor, coach, and practitioner of the healing arts working within consciousness, I have seen it over and over again: an individual will have an inkling that “something” is up, but of course, you ignore it.  It shows up as a small and annoying pain, one easy to ignore. Then over time, after ignoring it or worse, diagnosing it (which gives it an identity and power), the pain grows.  Now this person will be convinced that something is really wrong, and very possibly because of the delay, it does get worse, sometimes turning into an emergency.  What if you didn’t wait until it hurt so much; what if at the first sign of discomfort, you said to yourself: I need to pay attention here. Instead of ignoring it, what if you turned into it, talked to it, prayed on it, meditated on it, or journaled about it and then listened for your inner wisdom and guidance? WHAT IF YOU GOT AHEAD OF THE DISCOMFORT INSTEAD OF WAITING?  Just a thought!

What if you could finally turn on a button in your consciousness that says: no more! No more suffering, no more delaying my good, no more waiting for help, or taking what’s handed out.  No more!  Imagine that you approached whatever was happening in your life assertively but faithfully, knowing that you could get ahead of your pain, concern, or discord – however it showed up!

This is my plea for you to pay attention, listen deeply and carefully, and act immediately.  When it comes to healing, immediate is the only time. It is possible to respond to life’s hiccups before they grow out of control, needing medical intervention, counseling, or medication.  Yes, it is possible to interrupt old patterns with a new idea, new zest, and a new understanding of Truth, for in Truth there is all things that are for us. 

Please do not mistake immediate with an idea of emergency.  Immediate is the state of taking something on before it takes hold in your body, before you believe it to be real, and before you think that it is bigger then you.  Taking the initiative puts you in the driver’s seat and frees you from being at the mercy of anything.  You are more than your circumstance.

So, no more suffering, no more pain, no more tolerating. Instead, with faith and taking initiative, you will be activating good in all places in your life. 

I love you!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

THE MOVE!

           You can’t live to my age without having made numerous difficult and life-changing decisions.  Tuesday morning’s decision to sell my home of 31 years was not the least of one of those decisions.  Goodbye 42 Riverside Drive; hello new world—ugh!  I’ve been standing on the precipice of this decision for four years.  Now, why would anyone avoid making a decision, even one this serious, that would relieve them of tremendous pressure?

           I’ll tell you why: 31 years of memories, of holidays, of my boys coming in the front door, the back door, mass numbers of sleep-overs, neighbors coming over to jump in the pool, probably a couple of hundred parties, gatherings, meetings, barbecues, and birthday parties. There are memories of blizzards and being snow-bound when we could only walk to our neighbors home to share a meal because of road closures, a fire, and a game of Scrabble because we couldn’t go anywhere.  I spent years bringing my boys to the local schools, served on the first aid squad for six years, and probably attended at least 25 years of July 4th parades and fireworks – sometimes so devoted to it that we stood in the rain hovering in rain ponchos, under umbrellas.

You see, Florham Park is a bedroom town located just close enough to everything that matters, made up of winding tree-lined streets where kids leave their bikes on the front lawn at night without worry of theft and a place where we live with unlocked doors, trust our neighbors, and can walk the streets alone at night.
Now, that is why!  But the nature of memories is that they are not limited by or to a location. They come with me wherever I am and will live for as long as I think about them.  Of course, the thousands of photos that were taken while living here will help.
Sometimes we have to do not what makes us feel “happy” in the moment but what makes sense.  Oh, I am definitely not happy about needing to make this decision, but the beauty of the situation is this: I am no longer conflicted, which is another way of saying that I am clear and peace always follows clarity.  I can see to the other side now.  I can sense the ease that will come as I practice detachment because that is definitely what is being called for here: total detachment.  One must feel through this type of decision and lean into it, and I will. If one wants to be healthy, one must be willing to grieve and process, and I will.  And one must be willing to ask for help and support, and I have.  Mostly, I must detach and trust that my good is not an address.
Detachment sounds like such a Buddhist concept, and it is, but it is not Buddhist alone.  With each attachment to a person, a thing or an outcome, you are surrendering your power to the object of your attachment.   While attached, it can be so easy to find yourself in upset or disappointment should something interrupt your possessions or the outcome.  Anytime we invest our peace and happiness in a particular event or person, we are taking the chance of personal disaster.
This is no different for me and my home.  I have a home; I am not my home.  I have memories; I am not my memories.  When I leave, I leave intact, out from under the pressure of holding down this major responsibility which never ends when you live in a private dwelling with property. I complete my financial responsibilities and pave the way for new good, new love, new memories to come.  No, I am not happy but thank you God, I am no longer conflicted. I am ready for the adventure.  Ready to discover what’s new out there for me.  So I gather my courage, breathe a deep and fulfilling breath, take one step and then the next.  For now, that next looks like signing a contract on Sunday with the real estate company and starting to clean out and pack.  Here I go to the next chapter in my life.  Wish me luck (as if luck had anything to do with it).
Feeling blessed, I sign off and will let you know as the road opens up before me.

 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Life Can Change On A Dime – So You Better Be Ready! IS THIS FACT OR NEGATIVE THINKING?

Life can change on a dime, so you better be ready.  Is this fact or is it just negative thinking? Well, what if it is both? Let’s see….

It’s true that life can change on a dime. The weather can change rapidly; we’ve seen this in a catastrophic way over the past few years.  People do tend to die, sometimes without warning, and you are left standing with only your memories. People leave for good and not-so-good reasons, and you are not always informed. Even if you are informed, it doesn’t prevent the pain.  Jobs are lost for all sorts of reasons, sometimes when you don’t see that coming. Oh yes, and there is pregnancy—talk about a sudden life-changing experience. Or how about a diagnosis for an illness that you would never think you or your loved one would have. 

All of these things happen all the time, and there is not a darn thing that we can do about it, most often because we don’t see it coming.  I don’t think that you can argue that these are simply facts.  Am I a naysayer for saying life changes on a dime? I think not.   Life will never stop being life. Life will continue to happen all around us and to us all the time, but truthfully it happens for us, in our favor, for our good, for our growth and expansion.  For every seemingly negative, hard, personality-stretching thing that has ever happened to you, if you embraced it with grace you grew and got stronger. If you resisted, you probably felt run over by each and every event.  The difference is you and how you handled what came in your direction.

This would be a different article/conversation if I were saying to you:  Never get attached to people; they will leave on you, die on you, and disappoint you. It is better to do things on your own and not expect anything from anyone.  Everyone should move inland, because now we know we will never be safe from the storms; you’re crazy if you rebuild.  You have your mother’s/father’s genes; of course you have that horrible disease. There just ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.

Now, THAT is negative thinking.  Negative thinking comes from the filter that we look through.  Negative thinking is when we use what has affected us painfully in our lives to assess either what is happening or what might happen and to hover under a false shield of protection.  Negative thinking is the element that influences us to avoid taking chances, to avoid that next relationship, and to avoid asking for help or a raise. We avoid allowing the miracles of life to meet us upon our own doorsteps mostly because we won’t even open the door. 

Negative thinking is a habit, a pattern, a false sense of safety, and until you cast this habit from your life, you will find yourself being overrun by your own self-fulfilling prophecies.  Because you believe in a negative universe, you will feel affirmed and cocky because you saw it coming.  Really, can you see how ridiculous but how very human this is?

Soooo, you choose.  Change the filter, alter that point of view.  And as you look out of your eyes, see what is and call it good.  Good opens doors.  Good blesses and Good multiples.