A Whole New World

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What if when you woke up this morning, you found a whole new world?  What if the magic carpet ride with unbelievable sights and indescribable feelings was real, and you could climb aboard anytime.  Would you come along?

What if your dreams are guiding you as to how to see this whole new world?  People you run into unexpectedly, street signs, weird thoughts that pop into your head are all messages on how to reach this brand new world?

What if in this new world, you find magic and miracles.  The flowers blooming in colors so vibrant, you almost need to shield your eyes, and the brilliant skies make you stop and stare in awe.

What if it is only your beliefs and limits you place on yourself that keep you from seeing this world?  We have the power to see this whole new world now, to feel the truth of how we are all capable of loving beyond borders, to understand that everyone we meet, we are to help in some way.

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I can see this whole new world, now.

I can feel the care we take in treating our animals with respect and dignity, the cleanliness and wholeness of our foods, the honor of our natural wonders – the oceans, forests and the sacredness of our land.

I see a place where cooperation and compliments replaces competition; where love replaces fear.  In this space, we love ourselves and each other so deeply, that our addictions have nothing more to teach us.  That we give ourselves everything we never received, instead of looking for it from another.  That the one who was abused, neglected, judged and taken advantage of, is loved so deeply, there is no space left for blame.

A place where all our children are raised equally, fed and clothed.  One is not viewed as being better, for being stronger or smarter.  That we look at all of our children with how we can help them have the best experience they can, for they are the ones who are already living in this brand new world, and are here to help us see it for ourselves.

In this whole new world, we know that each time tragedy and terrorism strike, we look for the helpers.  And we keep our hearts open, so there is no more need for these atrocities as a reminder to love one another with reckless abandon.  We send love to everyone, even those we feel have wronged us.  We open our hearts to the person we see crying beside their car because her mother is dying.  To the child being bullied because of how he is different.  To the person in front of us in line at the post office because we have no idea of the suffering they have endured.

In this new world, the colors are brighter, the laughter is abundant.  We trust ourselves because we know that what we used to see out there – the hatred, lies, bigotry, racism – all the labels we used to place on ourselves and others, but have no place in our brand new world. We celebrate our differences.  We love our bodies, our minds and our hearts no matter what.

Will you take the first step within yourselves, your families and communities? Is it not time to come aboard this magic carpet ride? This is your invitation.

One one heart, one light, one person at a time.

This whole new world is already here.  We just need to open our eyes, and follow our hearts.

 

 

 

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The Light of Darkness

How easy is it to love and feel good about a random act of kindness?  But what about extending our hearts to those that want to do us harm?  Those who open fire on innocent victims? Those that abuse, rape, and display actions of bigotry and hatred?  It is not easy to open our hearts in these times on our earth, but that is what is asked of us as human beings.  To love those that seem unloveable.  And if we start with our own hearts, our own transgressions, love ourselves no matter what, we can begin to change the world.

Loving our own hearts is like lighting a candle.   At first, we are all walking around in the dark, fumbling because we cannot see.   We hold our unlit candle tightly in our fist, gripping it with all we have.  For some of us, the wick is not visible and we need to peel back some layers of the candle. This takes patience.  When we have the candle with a wick, we need to find a match, a spark.  We need to seek out what inspires our passion, lights the fire in our bellies. We need to find the light in the darkness. In our search for a match, we somehow stumble upon the dimmest light at the other end of the darkened room.  While this may seem like a coincidence, it is our destiny dressed up as a random occurrence.

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Now, we are faced with a choice.  We can welcome another into our world, whose candle has already been lit. This is the quickest and most direct path in finding a way to light our own, or we can judge and turn away.  When we choose the help of another, we form a bond of unity that is stronger than each of us as individuals.

Now our candle is lit, yet, the room, feels dark still because the light of two candles does not illuminate such a vast space.  So we wander with our lit candle, often bumping into things and others whose candles are not lit.  We ask others if they want their candle lit, and when they say no, we continue on, sometimes wondering why we are carrying a lit candle at all.  We continue to bump and stumble and there is a tendency to give up, but then we suddenly are asked for a light.  We share our candle as we share our love.  And the more we help others light their candle, the more we notice that the room looks a bit brighter. For everyone whose candle is lit is sharing their light. Soon, if we are patient, the room begins to fully illuminate. Even those that did not want their candle lit, cannot resist the brightness, and ask for a light.  The more candles that are lit, the more we see the unlit ones still milling around in the dark. Yet it is hard to stay in the darkness with so much light surrounding us.  Those that candles are not yet lit will eventually ask for help, or leave the room.  Both is fine.  Both is divine.  Both is perfect.  This is how we find the light of darkness.

We have a choice everyday to turn away from those who need our love the most.  We have all come here to light our candles.  And to help others who cannot find theirs.  When we see an act of violence, do we want to retaliate?  Do we want to meet hatred with hatred, darkness with darkness?  Or do we offer our light to anyone who needs it?  Do we scorn those who are in such fear and pain or do we offer another way?  When we offer guidance without judgement, we light another’s candle.  When we help an elderly person across the street, we light their candle.  And yes, when we send compassion and love to those that hate, we light their candle.  Whether or not they accept it, their hatred fades, if only for a moment.

When faced with adversity, as what is happening across our planet, our light may flicker, and we may even wonder if it will burn out.  But it is not adversity that blows out our candles, it is the closing of our hearts.  An open heart will always shine brightly.

I am an Angel

I am an angel. I live amongst you. But if you look for my wings, you won’t see them. But I am here. I am everywhere. I sit beside you on the subway. I stand in front of you in line at the grocery store. I idle behind you in traffic.

I am a teacher.  I am a waiter.  I manage your money. I pick up your garbage.

I am a wife.  I am a brother. I am a child.

I am heartbroken. I am homeless. I am distracted. I am in physical pain. I am paralyzed. I am an addict. I am diabetic. I have ended my life by suicide. I live alone in the woods. I am medicated. I am mentally ill. I am divorced. I have lost a child, a friend, a pet. I am a refugee. I undergo biopsies. I miss game winning passes. I am a monk. I am adopted. I have a disease.  I am infertile. I am jobless. I have been abused. I have been raped. I am penniless. I am you.

Because of all that I am, I cry. I scream. I blame. I curse the injustices of life. I am impatient, frustrated and jealous. I lash out. I gossip. I hate.

And then I remember, I am an angel. I know that everything I experience is here to help me find my wings. And when I am no longer afraid of the depths of my grief, and the waves of my anger. When I forgive, release blame and judgment, I realize my higher purpose, and find my wings.

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How will you know me?

When adversity strikes, you may most easily recognize me. I am the one flapping my wings, allowing all my feelings to both gracefully emerge, and leave when they are ready. I welcome all that arises in my life to stay as long as it wishes, knowing that chasing or wishing it away, is but an invitation to linger.

Written on my wings is the saying, All is Well. When life goes my way, and also when it does not. I am at peace in the face of war. I am curious, not fearful. I am aware, not asleep. I pray. I light candles. I volunteer. I love without borders. Fate guides my minutes, hours and days. I walk the path from breath to breath, from beginning to end, allowing whatever is in my heart to arise. I understand my choices will not dictate my life, but will impact how little or greatly I will suffer.

As the wind increases and remits, as do the tides, I allow life to unfold as it is meant, and this is when you will see my wings spread far and wide. For I know, all that I go through is for a higher purpose. And I begin to see life in all its beauty – the depth of love, the glorious colors of autumn, the awesomeness of the human heart that sheds tears as it heals. I share. I help others. I let all the angels whose wings are hidden, know that all is well.

I look like you. I act like you. And that is because you are an angel, too. Until you find your wings, I will share mine.

 

Inspired by the teachings of Matt Kahn.

The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made

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I was blessed to have grown up in the seventies.  I was able to play outside until dark, walk downtown to the local candy store, and I was lucky enough to not have a cell phone.  My parents did not know where I was or who I was with.  It was up to me to figure out how I was to act, think and feel.

Did I make mistakes?  Of course.  I made a lot of mistakes, but I am here.  I am alive.  I survived.  And I learned a whole bunch of life lessons that have served me well.

I am an adult now, and have children of my own.  Teenagers and a seven year old, to be specific.  I do not envy them, growing up in a world where safety is even a question when they go off to school or to the movies.  Where I grew up in the disco era, they have grown up in the mass shooting era. As parents, all the violence makes us want to wrap them up, keep them safe, know where they are at all times.  I get it.  But we cannot control if something horrific happens to them, or even more likely, if they make a mistake.

With the development of technology, parents have been able to know where our kids are at all times.  We are able to track their cell phones, knowing if they are where they said they would be.  Now, we can hover even more.  As discussed in the article, How to Monitor Your Kids iPhone or Android This new device created by “Teen Safe,” now allows you to know every single text they send out, even those that they deleted.

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What is the result of tracking our kids to closely?  Children do not learn how to make their own decisions, navigate the world, and yes, break the rules.  We are attempting to prolong something inevitable.  It is called growing up.  We are so laced in fear, so afraid of our child making the wrong move, becoming disappointed, or not living up to our expectations, that we want to do whatever we can to prevent this from happening.

Mistakes are our biggest teachers in life.  They allow us to figure out what we think, feel and believe.  But society does not allow us to make mistakes without paying for them.  We shame and we judge.  Remember Monica Lewinsky?  How can we forget the national stage in 1998, that showcased her mistakes.  Do you know what she said about it seventeen years later?  It was not the affair, but the humiliation she felt, the judgements and the ongoing criticism she received, that nearly killed her.  “One of the unintended consequences of my agreeing to put myself out there and to try to tell the truth had been that shame would once again be hung around my neck like a scarlet-A albatross. Believe me, once it’s on, it is a bitch to take off.”

If we release judgement about making mistakes, allowing our children to fall down, brushing themselves off can be the biggest gifts a teenager can receive.  Psychologist Wendy Mogel’s book, Blessings of a B Minus she goes on to say, “As leaders of our children, it is essential for us to step back from the urgency, the mistakes, the heartbreaks, the rejection. “By taking a deep breath and withdrawing, you make space for your child to grow.”

Adolescents need compliments, attention and family dinners.  They need supportive, experiences of independence – taking the train by themselves, flying to another state or country, volunteering and hanging out with their friends.  Adolescents need guidance, not constant monitoring. They need to hear, “I love you no matter what,” as often as possible.

Yes, with cell phones, the stakes are higher for them to make a mistake.  In their fast paced technology packed world, they have little time to think about what they want to say before they hit send.  But that is not a reason to monitor their every move or text.  We need to reach down within ourselves, take a deep breath, and release the control.

We are trying to lock them up in a safe little box, so that we will not have to feel any pain at their mistakes, or God forbid, something worse happening to them.  But we cannot control any of it.  It is an illusion to think we can prevent our children from experiencing pain, sadness or disappointment.  We are all here to learn, grow and experience life.  It is not about good or bad, but how we grow, what we learn.  We had many years to teach our children, by the time they are teenagers we need to release our grip, ease up on the reins, give them some lee way so that they can develop their own moral compass, not continue to rely on ours.

The biggest challenge and yet most important job we have as parents is to learn how to let go.  The biggest mistake I ever made was not wanting my children to make the same mistakes I did. They just might, or even make a few of their own. We just need to love them no matter what.

 

The Myth of Attention Deficit Disorder

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My seven-year-old son, Drew wandered into my room the other night.  I had been listening to a webcast of a spiritual teacher, Matt Kahn, who teaches about many things within the realm of life, love, and spirituality.   Matt has a certain transmission that after a few minutes you feel like you have just received a two-hour massage. You can literally feel the energy running through your body.  Sound strange?  Well, we all have energy within us.  Just close your eyes and sit for a few minutes.  With practice, you can feel your hands and feet begin to vibrate.

Without saying a word, Drew wedged himself between our dog, Bella and me. The three of us listened, our minds busy with our own interpretations, thoughts and dreams. Drew asked what some words meant, and then offered up the information that Matt felt calming to him.

While this all sounds fairly ordinary, there is something you should know about Drew.

Drew struggles at times. He is smart and sensitive. He is often behaves remarkably, one on one.  What we know is that is has actual physical sensitivities. He doesn’t like tags on his shirts, pants that don’t fit right, blankets that are not soft. And we know he is a very loving, sensitive child emotionally.  To help with these sensitivities, we have enlisted the support of an occupational therapist who has worked with him on gross motor, balance and a few other areas of developmental lagging.

Where he also struggles is in school, in large groups, anywhere where it is loud and chaotic. In kindergarten, he often got riled up, wound up. He was the class clown.  Yet, all those behavioral charts that came home last year, were fruitless.  What has always worked best at home when he is over stimulated is encouraging him to build a fort and spend some quiet time, alone.  Not usually possible in school, though.

Fast forward to one year later, one month into first grade, we began receiving the emails again from his teacher.

“Drew does not sit still during lesson lectures.”

“Drew has a hard time in recess keeping his hands to himself.”

“Drew always seems to be talking in class.”

It seemed that Drew’s inability to sit still and focus in school was destined to be labeled, ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder or ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  Or was he?

That night, while Matt was speaking, and Drew was snuggling, and Bella was dreaming, and the teacher’s emails were spinning around in my head, it hit me.

Drew sits for hours playing Legos.  Drew feels better after jumping on the trampoline.  Drew likes to light candles, smell sage burning, and enjoys calming music.  Drew is smart, creative and loving.  Drew is affected by listening to Matt.  Drew is very sensitive, and this goes beyond the physical.

Drew is sensitive to others’ feelings and moods.  Drew can walk into a room and feel the intensity of what is happening. Drew can feel good because it is Friday and people are excited the weekend is coming, and yet has no idea what day of the week it is.  Drew can feel frustration from a teacher, parent or sibling and resist going near them.  It is very common for all children to absorb and act out the energy of what is happening within a family.  When parents are fighting, we don’t have to look hard for a child who is misbehaving.  This is increased ten fold by sensitive children.

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Drew’s empathic nature may sound strange, yet he is not any different from many adults walking around the world who prefer to be alone, don’t like crowds or loud noises, get riled up by others, and are very sensitive.  These are people who can sense another feelings. Barrie Davenport lists traits of these sensitive, empathic people in her blog post, Empath Traits: 22 Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person.

Karen Goode goes on to describe children who are empathic in her blog post, Living with an Empathic Child  “Just imagine what it feels like to be an intuitive or empathic child and not have the language to explain your experiences to your parents or teachers. A child who is overloaded with the energy of others may have on-going illnesses, show depressive episodes, lash out in anger, cry without reason, or try to “fix” things between adults who argue or do not get along well.”

These sensitive, empathic children are not only overloaded as they will take on or absorb the energy of others, but in order to feel calm and peaceful, they need to get this energy out of their bodies. Many empathic people love exercise for exactly this reason.  In an interview, Debbie Phelps had described her son Michael, an Olympic champion, who was labeled as ADHD, as needing to “channel his energies into swimming.”

Like Michael Phelps, and Drew, there are approximately four million children and adolescents who are energetically sensitive.

Drew is not ADD or ADHD. Drew does not have a “deficit.”  This beautiful child is an ESEC- an energy sensitive empathic child. When he is in a crowd, he is actually helping by absorbing some of the energy around him.  In a way, it is like taking someone’s anger, and saying, I got this, so you can feel better.  Only this is not deliberate or understood by most, especially not a child. And unless this energy is expelled, it builds within us. The only way these children know how to “get rid” of what they absorbed is to move, speak, jump, run.  Of course, they cannot sit still for a lesson!

Sensitive children in how they absorb energy are similar to animals.  How we handle our animals is that we say they need to exercise, to get it out of their system.  The only difference is we do not force our animals to sit still for hours on end in a classroom, nor do we medicate them.

Sean, who is an adult now, was diagnosed ADD in 7th grade was put on medication and describes his experience. The medication “helped me focus in school, but I felt like a zombie and not myself. Since then I’ve been able to become more aware of things and am able to focus when need be and yet not lose myself. I’ve created kind of an on/off switch.”

Like Drew, most sensitive children simply do not have the awareness or tools to help. These children are all so misunderstood and they need to be nurtured, validated and helped in a completely different way. The first step is awareness.

It takes a village to raise a child, so let’s all begin to help these children by becoming aware, and celebrate them as beautiful, sensitive, empathic human beings.

Parking Outside the Lines

As my day was winding down last Saturday, I hastily pulled into a very empty parking lot outside a grocery store. In a rush to pick up my son, I threw the car into park and ran into the store.  When I came outside, I found this note on my car:

THANK YOU

YOU INCONSIDERATE BASTARD

NEXT TIME PARK IN BETWEEN THE LINES

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I took a deep breath and asked myself, what message is the person who wrote this note sending me? I hear you laughing. I mean pretty obvious, right? I looked at my tires. Perhaps I was a bit over the line, but not by much. And the parking lot was empty. This note was not about me.

As I got in my car, I began to wonder what this person’s life has been like that he needed to take the time to write a note like that and stick it on my car. Who was he yelling at, really? Who had invaded his space? Who was the inconsiderate bastard?

Driving away with the note gripped between my hands and the wheel, I thought about a life teaching that says people are showing you where their pain is when they lash out at you. They are actually screaming for you to help. If you can appreciate this, give them a compliment or just acknowledge them you will help them tremendously. In my opinion, a much better alternative to screaming back, right? So was I holding a reminder of this lesson?

Perhaps.

When I got home, I went back to the note and was struck suddenly by his first words: Thank you. While he may have written this with sarcasm at heart, maybe not. Perhaps he was really thanking me for allowing him to vent. What if I had given him the perfect opportunity. What if that is what we are here in life to do – help each other unleash our buried emotions so we can all breathe easier? Today we are the windshield and tomorrow, the bug.

The note didn’t seem half as bad all of a sudden.  In fact it felt like a blessing in disguise.  I was about to toss it when I was reminded about a friend of mine who had been going through a challenge over the past few weeks. She had turned inward and quiet, and this had caused me to feel helpless. The more I tried to help, the more she withdrew. So, I kept trying.  She is not a yeller, but if she was, I bet she would have yelled, THANK YOU, YOU INCONSIDERATE BASTARD!

Have I been invading her space? I have certainly not been staying within the lines. And because I did not get it at the time, some very considerate gentleman helped me out by dropping a not so subtle hint on my windshield.

So, while I was helping out the person who wrote the note, was he not also helping me? Can we not in every interaction be both the windshield and the bug?

I have driven enough to know that receiving a note on your windshield is not unique. We have all been told off in traffic. But what if we all saw anger as a blessing, knowing in some way, we were helping that person?  And what if we needed help back?  Were we speeding?  Distracted?  What if at that moment we needed to slow down, put down the phone, get out of our heads?

If we are always here to help each other, there is never any reason for anyone to feel like we have done something wrong, or to judge another.  No reason for guilt, blame or hatred.  The next time you receive a ticket for speeding from a police man, he may have been saving your life, averting an accident.  Detoured by traffic, life put you out of harms way of a falling tree limb.

When life does not seem harmonious or when something pulls us out of your normal routine, if we stop to pause, there may is a message there. An opportunity to help, make a difference.  Just beyond our frustration, lies a beautiful garden of understanding, forgiveness and grace.  Perhaps next time we get rear ended or told off at a sporting event, even quietly to ourselves, we can say, thank you.

I know I am saying thank you to the beautiful person who left the note on my car. For, we never met but we indeed helped each other out. We are truly all connected, if by nothing else, than by simply being human.  Just being ourselves is all we need to do to begin to change the world, one note at a time.

Letting Go

Is it not a mother’s job to protect her children no matter what?  I say no.

There comes a time, when we need to allow the disappointments, the judgements, the unfair accusations. Allow the difficulties in life to wreck havoc on our children’s hearts, breaking them, wide open, so that it may put itself back together with insight, understanding and maturity.

It is truly the job of a mother to step aside, and allow life to slowly, or swiftly do its damage.  For a life filled with receiving only beautifully wrapped offerings, teaching nothing.  The passing over for a job, rejection by a crush, loss of a leadership position – all of these occurrences are gifts in disguise, and are there for good.  They are messages letting us know, we are knocking on the wrong door.  That we are stronger than we know.

Our children need to receive these messages, more than we need to save them from experiencing them.  We spend our years praying and hoping that only good fortune is dropped at their doorstep.  We feed, clothe, nourish and teach our children, but we don’t let go.  And so our children do what they can to help us.  They push us away.  They say no.  Stop.  It is enough.  During adolescents, they engage with us like fighters, turning against us, challenging our authority.  And suddenly, we feel as if our children are crazy, and know nothing about life.  And yet, they are wiser than us.

Our children want to invite the challenges, the hurt ,that can only help them in the best way possible.  They invite those nuances and challenges into their lives, as if they are welcome.  Because they are.  They are the doorway to everything we have always wanted for our children.

As mothers, with all that we do, the most profound act is to guide, allow and wait with an outstretched hand when our children need help getting back on their feet.  For to control, change, alter the outcome of life will only set them back  They need to navigate storms, and be able to call upon the life jackets that we, as mothers, have sewn into the seem of their minds and hearts.  Calling upon our love, not if, but when life happens.

We, as mothers, have survived our own hurricanes.  Had we not had to buckle down and do what we can to protect ourselves while the storm damages all that is in her path?  Are we not stronger, smarter, more aware because of the rain that pelted us relentlessly?  And is it not time for us to release our children from our grip.  To allow them to take their hard knocks because that is what we signed on for; and at the very least, that is part of life.   To allow their disappointments to become gifts.

As hard as it is, we need be the stump that our children learn upon for support, or just to rest.  We no longer are The Giving Tree that feeds them with apples, or shades them with our branches.  We are not the trunk that provides them with the vessel to go off to far away places.  We are still useful, but must be not get in the way.  For we are doing more harm than good when we reach in and try to change the outcome; to pull them out of their wold.

For each disappointment, argument, break up, rejection is but a death of what was, and an opening into a future of everything we have ever wanted for our child.  We just need to cut the cord – again.  We do it when our children are born, and must do it when they emerge as adolescents with their hearts wide open, ready to break.  And in the place of the cord, we connect through letting go, a stronger and more resilient bond that lasts forever.

It is time to let go.