Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days Of Spiritual Growth

Join me for my new series "31 Days Of Spiritual Growth."

Beginning October 1, 2013, I will post 31 days of exercises and activities (see below for links) designed for your spiritual growth. This will be a hands-on, heart-centered approach to heighten your awareness of the Sacred in your life.

Every day we encounter opportunities, or spiritunities as I refer to them, that call us to our highest good and that call us to witness how all things are interconnected by and with Spirit.

But we miss them when we aren't mindful.

All too often, we are in too much of a hurry in life, and as a result, we lose moments of insights, epiphanies, grace, beauty, and joy. We take things for granted, and we close ourselves off to the world of the Sacred.

To grow spiritually, we must consciously choose to put ourselves in a place where we are open, receptive, and totally present in the moment. We do this by asking and inviting spiritunities to reveal themselves. Once we open our spiritual eyes, we see a world of wonders that has been around us all along.

For the next 31 days, use these spiritual practices to deepen your relationship with the sacred. "We are what we practice," Jewish writer Avram Davis reminds us. "If we become angry a lot, then essentially we are practicing anger. And we become quite good at it. Conversely, if we practice being joyful, then a joyful person is what we become." 

Be sure to come back to this page for links to all 31 posts. I will link them each day for your convenience.

Day 1:  Attention Deficit or Dividend?
Day 2:  Becoming A Connoisseur Of The Commonplace
Day 3:  Hungry For Meaning
Day 4:  Letting Silence Speak
Day 5:  Co-Partners In Creation
Day 6:  The Sacred Institute For Spiritual Studies
Day 7:  Making Peace With The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Day 8:  Making Friends With Frustration
Day 9:  Gettin' Your Vibe On
Day 10: Put On Your Wonderwear
Day 11:  Yes Yes YES
Day 12:  Mountaintop Message Up Yonder
Day 13:  Avoid Spiritual Suicide
Day 14:  Your Chariot Awaits
Day 15:  Getting Your Emotional House In Order
Day 16:  Victim or Victor?
Day 17:  Scratching That Spiritual Itch
Day 18:  Be A Prophet of Play
Day 19:  What's Love Got To Do With It?
Day 20:  Dog Day Afternoon
Day 21:  From Underdog to Top Dog
Day 22:  Mountains and Rivers and Valleys, Oh My!
Day 23:  Staring Down The Barrel of Truth
Day 24:  Taking The Plunge
Day 25:  Muskrats, Microscopes, and Mystery
Day 26:  Catapult Your Desire
Day 27:  Your Divine Design
Day 28:  Downgrade Fear By Upgrading Your Thinking
Day 29:  Watch Your Language!
Day 30:  Coming Out Spiritually
Day 31:  Break the Spell and Go to Health


Thursday, September 26, 2013

The ABC's Of Dealing With Negative People Part IV

We've come to the final installment of the series "The ABC's Of Dealing With Negative People." We've looked at various ways to protect and conduct ourselves when faced with negative people. 

Here are the final strategies:

T. Tap into the wisdom of your Higher Self. What would your Higher Self do? What would it say? Trust your inner wisdom. It will guide you to make decisions from an authentic place, rather than from the ego.

U. Understanding. Examine why negative people act the way they do. What motivates them to be so negative? There may be hidden issues like low self-esteem, insecurities, an abusive past, low self-confidence, frustration in life, or having no purpose that make people act out in negative ways. When we have an understanding of where their negativity originates, it makes it easier to deal with. This helps us to be compassionate but not to a fault else negative people take advantage of that compassion and drain us of our energies.

V.  V is not for Vendetta. Negative people can push our buttons to the point that we want to retaliate. If we are not aware of their tactics, we soon find ourselves embroiled in an emotional (and in extreme cases, physical) battle. When our ego feels threatened, it wants to attack and defend. Rather than be ensnared by the ego's need for vengeance, choose to value the other person as a divine creation. We are not perfect as human beings, but our divine essence is. Look past their imperfections, their hurt and their pain, and know that they were created from the same Loving Essence that created you.

W.  Wake-up to your part in this. If you are surrounded by negativity, ask what you are doing to attract it. Like attracts like, and if you see only negativity and unhappiness around you, what does that say about your own mental state? Examine how you have been feeling on regular basis. Have you been feeling cranky, judgmental, or frustrated? If so, then it's time to make some changes within yourself to stop the cycle of negativity.

X. X Factor. "X" is often used to symbolize the unknown. We may never fully understand why some people choose to remain in negativity or choose to do or say horrible things to others. It's part of the human mystery we must accept, like it or not. The best we can do is to learn from the experience, bless it, and move on.

Y. Yield to the spiritual guidance of the universe. Give the situation to the universe, and let go. Maybe you feel you have to solve their problems, maybe listening to their complaints is your way of feeling valued, or maybe you feel guilty for their unhappiness. If this is the case, it's important to let go of trying to fix or help them. It's not what they want anyway. They want your energy, and they want you to feel as miserable as they do. Misery loves company; don't give in to them. They have to take responsibility for themselves, and they won't if someone is always there to fix everything for them. With some people, you may have to let them go altogether; the universe will understand.

Z. Zap the negative people in your life with blessings, many of them. Rather than sling curses and badmouth those who have hurt you, realize that with each negative comment you send out, you will attract more of the same. This cycle must stop, or you will never see an improvement. It's easy to get addicted to negativity, but the only antidote is to focus on the things that bring you joy. Send blessings their way. Pray for them. Wish them well in life. Repeat the mantra, "Love, love, love," whenever you think of them, or quietly whenever you are in their presence. Allow the energy of this mantra to defibrillate the situation, bringing joy not only to your life, but to their life as well.

Negative people are going to appear in our lives at various times. We can avoid them for the most part, but there will be times when that is simply not possible. Rather than perpetuate the negativity, it's always better to take a look at what you could do to increase the positive vibration instead of lowering it. We may not be able to change negative people single-handedly, but we can model positivity by becoming self-aware, tapping into our compassion, and protecting the positive space we attract and create.

To catch up on the series, click on the following links:

Part III

Your comments are valuable. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The ABC's Of Dealing With Negative People Part III

In this series of "The ABC's Of Dealing With Negative People," we've covered many strategies to help us cope with those who are chronically negative so that we don't become infected with such energy.

We've looked at abstinence, breath work, communication, detachment, employing a buffer, and forgiveness in the first part of the series. 

In the second part of this series, we've looked at giving gratitude, using a "hot-word" or code word, imagining a protective shield around you, journaling your feelings as an outlet, choosing kindness, and learning about yourself in the face of negativity. 

Having an action plan that allows you to act in a way that doesn't reinforce their negativity and one that may even help them is key. Let's examine some more strategies.

M. Model positivity. Energy is contagious. Focusing on the negativity of others will only create more negativity. You will only be brought down when you allow it. Instead, focus on your own energy. Keep your enthusiasm high. Whenever you are presented with negative information, put a positive spin on it. Make your positive energy bigger than their negative energy.

N. Numbers don’t lie. Research shows that negative people have significantly higher rates of stress, disorders, and disease. Our mental state plays a huge role in our physical health. Take time to engage in activities that keep your stress levels under control.

O. Ownership. Own your thoughts. Own your emotions. Own your life. Instead of pointing out what the negative person is doing wrong, ask yourself what you can do to better the situation. Shift your focus from their negativity to your positivity. Own what you are feeling and maintain a positive boundary. If you have been enabling the situation, own up to it, and then make the necessary changes for positive growth. Remember, you are not responsible for their behavior, only yours. Empower your life by owning it.

P. Perceive the person in a more positive light. Be willing to see and focus on the good qualities in that person. Sometimes people trap ourselves when they focus only on the person's negative attributes, thus perpetuating the negativity. If you aren't ready to change the way you look at him or her, give it time. Trust that you'll make this step when the time is right.

Q. Quiet your emotional response. Negative people feed on strong reactions from others. They will poke and prod with their comments because they want a reaction. They look for ways to push our hot buttons, and if we're not aware of their actions, they'll push them every time. Why they do this could be because they lack love, positivity, and warmth in their own lives. Resist the urge to return judgment by keeping your own emotions under control. Any emotional reaction from you gives them the go-ahead to continue because it lets them know that they can depend on you for a reaction.

R. Refuse to take things personally. Negative people can be quite critical with their insensitive, hurtful, rude, angry comments, especially when directed at you. Rather than let those comments infect you, remember that words in themselves have no meaning, until you apply meaning. Objectify the comments by saying, "That's a different perspective," or "That's a point of view I've not heard before," or "You are entitled to your own opinion," and leave it at that. Deflecting or neutralizing negative comments puts you in control, and when negative people see that they can't get a reaction out of you, they will move on to someone else.

S. Smile and remain completely detached. Whenever a negative tsunami hits, just smile and don’t say anything. Excuse yourself and leave the room if you must. Just don’t get involved. Negative people want to stir you up, catch you in their web, and start draining you of your energy. Remember, they want you to react; it gives them all the power. To detach, step back inside of yourself, find your center, and simply observe what is unfolding. Pretend you are watching a reality TV show, and smile, knowing that their unhappiness has nothing to do with you.

The healthiest approach you can take is to examine your actions and conduct yourself in ways that do not reinforce the person's negativity.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's final post in this series. 

To catch up, please click on the links below:

Read here for Part II.

Your comments are valuable. Please share your ideas to help others.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The ABC's Of Dealing With Negative People Part II

This is a continuation from a previous post. Read here to catch up on the ABC's of dealing with negative people. 

In the last post, we started to cover some strategies to help us to deal with the negative people in our lives, especially when we can't avoid them. We covered the importance of abstaining from engaging in negativity, breathing our way through it, communicating our feelings, detaching ourselves emotionally and distancing ourselves physically, employing a buffer, and practicing forgiveness

What else can we do to protect ourselves, especially when someone repeatedly drains us? And how do you maintain a sense of compassion without getting ensnared in their web? Here are more strategies:

G. Gratitude. Negative people are so busy complaining, criticizing, and chastising that they leave no room for gratitude. To combat their negativity, practicing giving gratitude, appreciation, and love for the people and things around you. By acknowledging that you are grateful, you'll become a deliberate attractor of positive vibrations. If anything, be thankful for that person serving as a reminder to you to remain positive.

H. Hot-Word. If the negative person is willing to change his or her ways and thinking, agree on a “hot-word” or code word to use whenever that person says something negative. In the movie, Meet the Fockers, Dina uses the code word "muskrat" whenever Jack is being inappropriate or rude with Greg. It was her way of telling Jack to be quiet.

I. Imagine a protective white bubble or shield surrounding you. This is a simple exercise that has surprising results. Visualizing a protective force field around you helps you to feel that their negativity can’t penetrate you. This can be done beforehand or in the presence of the negative person without his or her knowledge.

J. Journal. After spending time with a negative person, it’s important to decompress. Sometimes it takes hours to rid yourself of their energy. Write down your feelings and concerns. Journaling about it helps to alleviate the pressure. Keep a small notebook handy, and when you begin to feel overwhelmed, excuse yourself to the bathroom or somewhere quiet, and take a few minutes to write it out of your system so that you can recharge.

K. Kill ‘em with kindness. This does not mean to act kindly outwardly to the person while inwardly judging them. When we do this, we are trying to manipulate the situation or someone’s opinion about us; we are coming from the ego, rather than from the heart. Instead, apply kindness to yourself and coax yourself off the high horse of “they’re wrong and I’m right.” Let go of the attachment of wanting any kindness in exchange. Be kind from an authentic place.

L. Learn. If there is one particular person who drains you the most, examine why it is affecting you so much. Rather than let that person throw you into an emotional tizzy, analyze what feelings are being brought up within you, and use them to learn about yourself.

Dealing with negative people can be quite challenging; they have the ability to change the moods of others in an instant, but only if we allow them. As long as we are aware of those influences, we can prepare and protect ourselves so that they don't infect us. It's our choice to let negative people infect us or not.

This series will continue tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you'd like to share some of the ways in which you deal with negativity, please post your comments below. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The ABC's of Dealing With Negative People Part I

They are around us.

At work. In the neighborhood. At family functions. And, at times, in our own home.

Sometimes they come out of nowhere and just suck the life out of us. You try to remain positive and strong, but their negativity drains you, exhausts you, and may even depress you.

Call them Energy Vampires. Call them Emotional Terrorists. Call them whatever you will. But whenever you are around a negative person, you experience what Judy Orloff describes in her book, Positive Energy, "a sense of being demeaned, constricted or attacked. You intuitively feel unsafe, tense or on guard. You sense prickly, off-putting vibes. You can't wait to get away from them. Your energy starts to fizzle. You may feel beleaguered or ill."


Becoming aware is the first step. That's one helluva wake-up call!

Spotting them and gaining an understanding of how they operate is the next step (refer to my post "Do You Affect or Do You Infect With Your Energy?" ). You may know this kind of person as the drama queen or king, the criticizer, the complainer, the blamer, the fixer-upper (needs A LOT of help); you can probably add more to this list.

When you are aware of who they are, you can actually work on protecting yourself from them. Here's how:

A.  Abstain. Don't engage in the negativity. You may have provided a listening ear, offered help, and provided support in the past, but if the person continues to harp on the same issues, it's time to disengage. Try switching the topic to lighten the mood. Make for light conversation by talking about new shows, new books, daily occurrences, hobbies or happy news. If that doesn't work, then it's time to excuse yourself.

B.  Breathe. The simple act of deep breathing connects you to your essence. Take a few minutes to ground yourself by inhaling calm and exhaling negativity. This helps to neutralize fear or other difficult emotions. As you exhale, visualize negativity leaving your body. Send it to the light for healing and transformation. As you inhale, visualize peace entering your body.

C.  Communicate. Tell the person how it makes you feel when s/he is negative around or toward you. Do this gently as people don't like to be lectured on how to behave. You want to avoid inflaming the situation. Every time s/he tells you something negative, say, "Now tell me something positive." This serves as a neutralizer and as a gentle reminder that you will not tolerate negativity.

D.  Detach. Sometimes you have to distance yourself from the person, either by reducing contact or dropping them from your life.

E.  Employ a buffer. If you can avoid being alone with this person, do so. Being alone makes you the receiving end of all the negativity. Make sure you have another family member, your spouse or partner, or a friend with you in the presence of a negative person. The more, the better. Having others around may bring out a different, more positive side in that person.

F.  Forgive them for they know not what they do. Some people have no idea how negative they are. You can bring it to their attention, but that does not mean that they will change their ways or thinking. Understand that you are not responsible for their behavior, but you are responsible for yours (for more on forgiveness, read my post here).

No one can tell you that dealing with a negative person is a pleasant experience. It is downright uncomfortable at times. But when we build our awareness and develop an understanding, we can take steps to protect ourselves when we do have to deal with them.

Tomorrow I will continue the ABC's of dealing with negative people. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Do You Affect or Do You Infect With Your Energy?

"Energy is contagious: either you affect people or you infect people," says T. Harv Eker.


There are two kinds of people in the world.

There are those whose energy encourages, uplifts, and strengthens us whenever we are around them. They are the "affectors" because they affect us in positive ways.

And there are those whose energy discourages, downgrades, and weakens us, especially if we are in a vulnerable or unprotected state. These are the "infectors" because their negativity contaminates us if our "immunity" has been compromised.

Personally, I'd rather be around people whose energy leaves me feeling more energized than depleted, but sometimes these "infectors" can be hard to avoid. 

Just the other day I told a family member that I found a pair of Yellow Box flip-flops on sale at a local store for nearly half the original price. Knowing that she is a fan, I wanted to pass the information along to her. She looked at the pair on her feet, then looked at mine, and said, "That store only carries seconds." 


I shook my head. She just couldn't help herself with that comment. 

Our shoes were the same brand name, identical, except for the color. 

While I was happy to have found such a deal and willing to share it with her, she couldn't wait to qualify it with a negative remark. 

But I chose not to let her energy infect me. Instead, I quietly blessed her and moved on.

While dealing with negative people can't always be avoided, there are some things to understand about them to help you in your dealings with them.

First, they are creatures of habit. Their negativity is part of a pattern, and criticism is part of their character. These are not isolated incidents. Recognize the pattern and realize that you can't change it. They have to want to change their way of thinking. 

Second, more often than not, they are against things, rather than for them. Do they know what they stand for? Rarely, if at all. But they will certainly tell you what they stand against. 

Third, they can't give compliments. What starts out as a compliment is always followed by a qualifier. For example, "I enjoyed dinner, but..." That qualifier negates whatever positivity was intended. 

Fourth, they lack passion. They aren't accomplishing much in life. They don't have a vision for the future. There's no attempt at or no room for personal improvement. Trying to involve them in activities is met with criticism, defiance, and in some cases, anger. Since they are against so much, few people want to be around them or work with them.

Fifth, they gossip about and criticize others. If they talk about others in front of you, chances are they are talking about you to others behind your back. 

Sixth, they are master complainers. Sadly, nothing is ever good enough for them because they will always find fault. On the road of life, they focus on the potholes instead of the beauty and excitement of the adventure. 

Seventh, they bring the past into the present. They refuse to let bygones be bygones by continually rehashing incidents that have happened. Forgiveness is not their forte, unfortunately.

Try this little "test." The next time someone's name shows up on an email, text message, or caller ID, note your immediate emotional reaction. If the person is someone who energizes you, you will be happy to respond to that person, but if that person's name makes you wince or curse upon seeing it, that's an indication of the negative influence this person has in your life. 

We're not always going to be able to avoid dealing with negative people, but we don't have to let them infect our lives. When we have an understanding of their actions, then we are more equipped when we do deal with them.

In my next post, I'll examine what we can do to handle negative people in our lives.

In the meantime, what are some of the ways in which you deal with such a person? Please share in the comment section below. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

The "F" Word

Recently, someone wronged me.

And it's been going on for years behind my back. I thought this person had changed her ways, but apparently she has not. Unfortunately, the misalignment of her own life causes her to take it out on others in calculated ways.

When word got back to me, I was angry. Very angry. My mind flirted briefly with thoughts of revenge, but I knew that wasn't the answer. 

Instead of reacting and seeking vengeance, I knew my best course of action was to step back, take a deep breath, reflect, meditate, and let go. 

As much as I didn't want to, I knew I had to employ the "F" word. Forgiveness.

Damn it, why is it so challenging at times? Grrr...

But, I found my center, and I resolved to move forward because my happiness is more important. 

Some may see forgiving someone who has done irreparable harm as condoning that person's action. Forgiving that harm is like saying what was done is acceptable.

Others feel that some acts should not be forgiven. If someone has taken a part of your life away from you by a criminal offense, perhaps you believe it's okay not to feel forgiveness toward that person.

Valid points.

No one said forgiveness is easy. It's an internal process. It can't be forced. But it can be done.

The first step is to get your own ego out of the way. The ego likes to dwell on past traumas and before you know it, you are entertaining thoughts of vengeance and hostility. As they take root and grow, you find your own bitterness consuming you. It won't let you feel any compassion, just unadulterated pain and rage. 

To get your ego out of the equation, it's important to forgive yourself. I know...not easy at times, but when you face what happened to you, you can mourn the pain, and then release it to the past. Staying stuck in the past robs you of enjoying the present. 

Realize you have a choice. You are not responsible for someone else's behavior. You can't control the actions of others, nor should you try. But you can control your actions and your thoughts. You can choose to stop reliving the hurt. You can choose to focus on the present, finding the joy in the moment.

Commit yourself to letting go. When you commit to letting go, you commit to a process of changing the energy of the situation. It may not happen overnight, but the very act of making a decision to let go allows for forward progress. 

Try to see things from the offender's perspective. This is not to say that what the person did is right. The person may have done you wrong, but this doesn't make the person a bad person. Try to understand why the person did what s/he did. Know that everyone carries his or her own pain, which influences the decisions s/he makes. This doesn't condone thoughtless, selfish, insensitive decisions, but it does help you to understand that person. Having a better understanding helps you to protect yourself in future dealings with him or her.

This is a tough one, but try to understand your responsibility for what happened. Ask yourself what you could have done to prevent it, or what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future. This is not about taking responsibility away from the offender or taking all the blame, and it's not about being a victim. It's about moving beyond feelings of victimization and claiming your share of responsibility for your actions.

You have every right to even the score, but that will only compound the pain. It may make you the one who pays most dearly. Send the offending person blessings instead of curses. Hope for the best for him or her. This helps to neutralize ill feelings. It may feel contrived at first, but keep at it. Such a technique allows the mind to overcome the cognitive dissonance between hating the person and acting compassionately toward him or her.

Forgiveness is not about erasing the past or forgetting what has happened. It doesn't mean the offending person will change his or her behavior; we have no control over that. It means letting go of the anger and pain and moving on to a better place. What happened can't be changed. 

By taking the path of forgiveness, you will show yourself and the person who offended you that the obstacles s/he tried to create were not significant enough to destroy you. Forgiving someone may be a lot harder than holding a grudge, but that would mean living life chained to the past. Interestingly, the Aramaic word for forgive is "shbag," which means to "untie." When you untie yourself from your hurt and pain, you are free to be happy once again.

Please share your wisdom in the comment section.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.

We all have our dreams.

We all have our realities.

But for the most part, those dreams remain dreams...until we act toward them.

So, why is it so hard for some people to act?

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins will tell you it's because of fear and certainty. Fear, whether it's the fear of failure or the fear of being ridiculed, is paralyzing. Certainty that a goal is unattainable or impossible is another factor that keeps people from taking action.

It all comes down to YOU.

You can have the best intentions in the world. But if you don't back up those intentions with action -- inspired action -- then you are reinforcing a belief that your goals are not possible.

Let's say you want to run in a marathon. Announcing that you will run in one is a start, but if you don't train for it on a daily basis, you'll never qualify to enter. So, what can you do? You take action by researching and finding a training program, following it, talking and training with those who have run marathons, and visualizing yourself crossing the finish line. Each time you train, you are reinforcing the belief that you can run in one.

What does it take to act?

1.  Believe in your potential. We are designed with unlimited potential. The amount of action you take depends upon the amount of potential into which you tap, and it determines the results you get. The results you get reinforce the beliefs you have. Believing that you have limited potential is going to bring limited results. Likewise, believing that you can tap into an unlimited reservoir of potential is going to bring bigger results. If you don't believe you can reach a certain goal, then you won't tap into your full potential; this affects the amount of action you will take. Ask yourself what beliefs you have about your own potential.

2.  Condition your mind muscles. You want to create an environment inside your head that is conducive to achieving peak performance. This starts with your self-talk. Whenever you say something to yourself, your mind tries to build a case for it. Our words have the power to condition the mind to succeed or to fail.

3.  Visualize the desired outcome as if you've already achieved it. Successful people will tell you that a big part of their success comes from visualizing the outcome. The more they visualize, the more energy they give toward its manifestation. Creating a vision board and displaying it in a prominent place is one way to keep your mind focused on achieving your dreams and goals.

4.  Surround yourself with successful, positive people. Learn from and mimic the action steps they've taken. Being around their energy naturally elevates our own, inspiring us to move forward. They become our guides and mentors.

Courtesy of
Turning your dreams into reality starts with you.

Now is the time to act.

Not next week.

Not next year.

Not when the kids leave for college.

Not when you retire.


What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moving Mountains

"When we move in love, we can move mountains," says fellow blogger Suzy.

Whatever "mountains" we may be facing in our lives, we can overcome them.

Facing a "mountain" in your own life?

Staring at it won't move it.

Ignoring it won't move it.

Cursing at it won't move it.

Taking action will. Fearing it will only make it grow bigger, making it even more of a challenge to overcome. And the sooner you act, the better. You can stare, ignore, and curse all you want, but until you take some kind of step toward removing it, it will loom over you indefinitely, haunting you like some specter.

Mountains give the illusion that they are large as they cast their dark shadows over us. We are so busy cringing in fear that we fail to see the possibilities. We see only impossibility.

But no mountain is too large. Confucius said moving a mountain begins by carrying small stones. In other words, start by taking small steps. Approach it systematically, not fearfully. Break it down into manageable units so as not to overwhelm yourself.

Understand your part in creating it. If you are facing a mountain of debt, examine the actions you took to build it.

Understand your part in dismantling it. After you examine the actions (and beliefs) it took to grow that particular mountain, it's time to take responsibility by reversing those actions. Own them and move forward by changing your perspective from one of fear to one of acceptance. Becoming aware of past actions will help you to avoid repeating them in the future.

The most loving thing you can do is to take action. With each step you take, that mountain begins to disappear, until you are back on top of the world.

What "mountains" are you facing in your own life? And what steps are you taking to overcome them?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Overcoming The Bully In Our Brains

Some of my best conversations are with myself.

Sure, "we" have our differences at times, but they always resolve themselves after more thought and discussion.

When I talk with myself, I am my own cheerleader, and sometimes (rarely) I am my own worst critic.

But for the most part, I practice positive self-talk.

Practicing self-talk does not mean you are losing your mind. We all talk to ourselves, if not verbally, in our own heads.

There are two types of thinking: positive and negative. These are our only two choices. And the beauty (and simplicity) of this is that we get to choose. No one else does our thinking for us; if they do, then we are nothing more than their puppets or slaves.

If you're a glass-is-half-full kind of person, you know that positive thinking (self-talk) reduces stress and allows you to live a much happier, fulfilling, healthier life.  But if you subscribe to the half-empty style of thinking, don't despair; you can learn positive thinking skills.

We generate between 12,000 - 60,000 thoughts per day (depending on the depth of our thinking), according the National Science Foundation, and about 80% are negative. Whoa! That's A LOT of thoughts. And if a high percentage of those thoughts is considered negative, how sad! That's like having a full-time bully in your head.

But fear not. Here's how to take control.

1.  Practice awareness. Become aware of your type of thinking. Root yourself in the moment and examine the kinds of thoughts you are having. Once you have awareness, you have control.

2.  Identify areas in your life that need a positive change. Examine those areas about which you tend to think negatively. Start with one small area and approach it with a more positive mindset.

3.  Visualize yourself as a magnet or a radio station attracting a signal. We are what we think. The more energy you give to a thought, whether positive or negative, the more likely it will materialize in your life, just as you've imagined it. Become conscious of the kinds of things you are attracting into your life.

4.  Do mental check-ins. Periodically during the day, evaluate the kinds of thoughts you are thinking. For each negative thought, replace it with a positive one. Strive to put a positive spin on each one. Be your own personal cheerleader.

5.  Surround yourself with positive-minded people. Being in the company of positive and supportive people encourages us to become more optimistic. These are the people whom you can trust for advice and feedback. They alleviate our stress; whereas, negative people may increase our stress levels, making us doubt our ability to handle stress in healthy ways.

6.  Lead a healthy lifestyle. A change in diet while adding exercise to your daily routine affects mood and greatly reduces stress. This helps to fuel your mind and body in healthy ways to reduce stress. When we feel healthier, we feel better about ourselves and our lives.

7.  Seek humor in everything. Give yourself permission to laugh, even during difficult or challenging times. Humor helps us to maintain our sanity.

Practicing these tools will help you to find and maintain balance and peace of mind. The bully in our brain will back down each time you throw punches of positivity. You'll be surprised at how much control you really have.

How are your inner conversations? What other tips can you share?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Seven Benefits of Going Inward

For those of us on the spiritual path, personal growth is a must. We may not like it at times, but as fire purifies gold, we emerge as stronger and better people. Personal growth becomes a priority because it allows us to bloom into our authentic selves. The more authentically we live our lives, the happier we will be with ourselves, with our relationships, and with our surroundings.

Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. When we take the time to examine ourselves ontologically, we realize we are part of something much larger than ourselves. If we are to find meaning in our lives, we must examine who we are in relationship to this larger existence. Life is what we make of it; we are active participants in the creation of our lives.

If we are to experience change in our outward lives, we need to examine our inward lives. Going inward is not a selfish act; it is a sacred act, no matter what your spiritual inclination or belief system is. Whether you practice a spirituality that is atheistic, agnostic, religious, secular, or theological, going inward opens doors to the expansion of our overall consciousness and awareness about our place and purpose in the world.

Here are seven benefits of going inward.

1.  Self-awareness and self-knowledge. As we examine our inner world, we come to know our thoughts and feelings, needs and wants, hopes and fears, strengths and limitations, and gifts and talents. We come to know our personality; we develop an identity unique to us.

2.  Inner strength and resilience. Life will throw some challenging and difficult times at us. How we handle them will determine the outcomes. Going inward helps us to tap into our innate wisdom. Here we find the guidance to help us respond creatively to difficult and challenging situations, turning crisis or tragedy into an opportunity to bring about change.

3.  Love and relationships. As cliche as it sounds, love is the energy that makes the world go 'round. Without it, nothing grows, and relationships can not survive. Love allows us to value ourselves and one another. It allows us to grasp another's personal world as if it were our own. It teaches compassion and motivates us to display goodwill toward others.

4.  Sensitivity and responsiveness. As we come to understand ourselves, we grow in our understanding of other's needs and wants. We realize the importance of keeping our word. Our lives become filled with gratitude and appreciation. Music, art, and literature move us to deep emotion, reflection, and/or action, as does poverty, innocent suffering, and injustice.

5.  Ideals and aspirations. As we get in touch with ourselves, our dreams, goals and visions make themselves known. Our creativity unleashes itself as we pursue those dreams. We come to know the depth of our beliefs and values, and use them as a compass for our future.

6.  Seeking and striving. As we discover our connection to a bigger reality, we seek to be the best we can be. We seek meaning in our experiences and allow that meaning to influence our lives.

7.  Reflection on your experiences. Reflecting on our experiences, choices, attitudes, values, and beliefs gives us perspective and provides a platform for moving forward in our lives. It allows us to make adjustments when needed and gives us the confidence to improve ourselves.

Traveling the spiritual path calls for authentic living. Living authentically requires going inward on a daily basis, be it through prayer, meditation, contemplation, journaling, or any other method that helps us find our center. The more we know ourselves, the more authentic our lives will be.

Thoughts? Please feel free to share below.

I'm taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Seven Traits of Generous People

I love spending time with generous people. There's a magic and a charisma about them that can't be denied. Their energy elevates my own, inspiring my own generosity.

In talking with them about generosity, I've found that they share seven important traits.

1.  Generous people care about the welfare of others. Their altruism is genuine, stemming from their love for others.

2.  Generous people give to give; they don't give to get. They give without expectation. Personal gain is not a motivating factor.

3.  Generous people are optimistic. They view the world through a positive lens. Even though we live in an imperfect world, this doesn't stop generous people from giving their time, energy, or money. They believe in making a difference, no matter what.

4.  Generous people share the quality of trust. Their giving is an investment in happiness for all involved. If they are giving to a cause, they trust that it is a worthy one. If they give to others, they trust those people to use those gifts wisely.

5.  Generous people are energetic. Their passion for doing good energizes and revitalizes them to do even more good.

6.  Generous people are satisfied with what they have. They don't complain or feel that they are lacking. Instead, they see the universe as abundant. They view what they have as enough and feel compelled to share it. They also practice gratitude and hold a high appreciation for their circumstances.

7.  Generous people are humble. They are not ego-driven people who are out to impress others, and they don't give to buy someone's love or loyalty. They operate from a "give forward, not back" philosophy, with no strings attached.

Photo courtesy Google Images
There are a couple of "downsides" to being generous. Because generous people tend to see the best in people, they could be misconstrued as naive, and if they are not careful, they can open themselves up to being taken advantage of by those who are unscrupulous.

Some generous people may give to a fault. When this happens, they endanger their own welfare. They may find it difficult to say no and may overextend themselves. This could hurt their relationships if they do not find balance. It's important to exercise caution at times.

Generous people are gifts in themselves. They make the world a better place. They give others a sense of importance through their acts of love and kindness, and they certainly help to restore faith in humanity.

What act of generosity have you experienced? What are other traits of generous people? Your comments are always welcome.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st-7th September 2013. Visit the website at for more information.

Seven Ways To Become A More Generous Person

In yesterday's blog, I wrote about receiving generosity. I summed it up by saying that generosity is more than just a decision; it's a lifestyle, especially when we approach it without any fear, without any thoughts of unworthiness, and without any reluctance. It is a spiritual quality.

Most people want to be generous. It's in our nature.

A truly giving person does so out of desire, not out of duty. Gifts of duty are ego-based and are not of the heart; they are conditional and subject to entitlement. The generous person never expects anything in return; they give because they believe in investing in someone's happiness.

How can you become a more generous person? Let me count the ways...
  • Set the intention to be generous. Make the conscious choice to be generous on a daily basis.
  • Start small. One does not have to be wealthy to be generous. And one does not always have to give money to be generous. You can be generous by giving things you can make. You can also volunteer your time, your compassion, or your expertise in a certain field.
  • Notice the things you could do to make someone else's life a little easier and happier. Develop an awareness of what other's may need.
  • Think of specific ways in which you can help the people you know, and then do them without expectation. Be sure to tell them to give forward, not back.
  • Let your generosity branch out to strangers. Hold open that door at the store. Pay the toll for the person behind you. Compliment someone you don't know. 
  • Serve a cause that is greater than your own life. You can help fund it, or you can offer your time and energy.
  • Let your gratitude lead to generosity. Be grateful for the things you have. As you experience generosity in your own life, you'll find yourself becoming more generous to others. 
Being generous is not difficult. Practicing generosity is an intentional, conscious decision we make in our lives, not out of duty, but out of love. The generous person is one who believes in the unlimited abundance of the Universe, finds success in helping others succeed, and believes changing even one life is worthwhile.

The generous person gives because s/he is a reflection of the Universe. As we grow in generosity, so does the Universe as it expands through us. All it wants to do is give because all it can do is give. Let's give our thanks for such love, and let's start giving. 

What will you do to foster generosity? Please share your comments below; they are always welcome.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013. For more information, visit

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Seven Ways To Receive Generosity

Life is most generous.

When you stop to think about all that you have and all that is available to you, you realize how bountiful life truly is.

Look around at all the things you have. Consider all the hard work that went into creating these things -- your favorite chair in which you sit, the computer you use to communicate with others, the cup in which you enjoy your morning coffee or tea, the fountain that flows continuously in your garden, the wind chimes that sing in the breeze, the novel that you are reading or the music to which you are singing or listening -- all of these things were created for your comfort, convenience, and/or enjoyment. They were created for you.

Consider the natural world and what it gives -- a cool breeze on a hot day, the invigorating scent of a pine forest, the hypnotic sound of rain, the vividness of a rainbow after a storm, the sweet taste of wild berries you picked on your hike -- all designed for you in that particular moment, and all designed to keep the circle of giving going.

From the beauty of nature to the inventions of mankind that make our lives easier to the kindness we receive from others, life gives to each one of us in so many ways. Life's generosity pulls us in, allowing us to connect more deeply with it, thus making it a sacred adventure.

The magic of generosity is that it invites us to become more generous. The more we receive and accept openly, the more we want to give in return. Generosity, as defined, is freely sharing what we have with others without expectation of reward or return.  When we give, we reap the pleasure of knowing we made someone else's life a little happier.

How do you receive the things life gives you through nature or through others' contributions? Do you accept openly? Or do you pull back in trepidation?

Some people have a difficult time receiving generosity. Here are seven ways to receive it:

  • Let go of reluctance. Any sign of reluctance is letting you know that there is a deeper issue when it comes to accepting generosity. Were you taken advantage of in the past because of your generosity? Were you expecting something in return and didn't get it? Become aware of the issue, work through it, and then let it go.
  • Let go of thoughts of unworthiness. Feeling unworthy is a surefire way to push away what you deserve to have. Know that you are worthy and deserving. You were given the gift of life, were you not? Treat yourself as the gift that you are.
  • Let go of the fear of dependence. Accepting a gift doesn't make you dependent. Instead, let it motivate you toward a feeling of freedom. 
  • Let go of the idea that if you receive, then you'll be obligated to the other person. A truly generous person doesn't expect anything in return; instead, s/he sees it as investing in your happiness.
  • Practice openly receiving everyday gifts. Start small. When you awake in the morning, instead of blindly pouring yourself a cup of coffee or tea and taking it for granted, contemplate what went into bringing that beverage to your table. 
  • Be open to the feeling of being given to.  The pleasure of receiving elevates our mood making us feel happier in the process. "Happy hormones" such as serotonin (it's actually a neurotransmitter) release into the bloodstream thus increasing our mood; without it, depression sets in. When we open ourselves to seeing all things as gifts and receiving them as gifts, we increase our serotonin levels and our happiness.
  • See the Universe's resource pie as unlimited in its servings. The Universe is always open for the business of giving. All we have to do is ask and give our thanks. 
Generosity makes the world a better place for both the giver and the receiver, and it doesn't have to be restricted to birthdays and holidays. Every day is a day to give and to receive. Generosity is more than just a decision; it is a lifestyle. 

How has life been generous to you lately? Your comments are most welcome!

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013. You can check out the website at

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Seven Ways To Nourish The Soul

To keep growing on our spiritual path, we must continually do the things that sustain us. 

Nothing lives without nourishment. If we do not take the time to nourish our soul, we begin to wither like a neglected flower. 

Mother Teresa once said, "To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it." 

She's right.

If we don't take the time to fuel ourselves on all levels, we burn out like the lamp without oil.  We no longer give light.

There are many ways to nourish the self.  Here are seven of mine:

1.  Morning meditation. As soon as I awaken each day, I open the blinds, let in the light, and sit in the Lotus position to meditate. Sometimes I listen to soft music; other times I listen to the rain, or nothing at all.  I also burn a stick of sandalwood incense to cleanse and purify my sacred space.

2.  Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed Oolong tea. There's something sacred about the first sip of tea after a night of rest. Sipping my tea becomes a meditation in itself. I embrace the warmth of the cup in my hands. I breathe in the delicate aroma. I watch the steam swirl into the air. It's divinity in a cup.

3.  Sit on my patio where I listen to a fountain of flowing water, surrounded by various plants that I inspect and care for each morning. I watch hummingbirds zip back and forth to the feeder. I listen to bees buzz from flower to flower. 

4.  Read uplifting passages. I am a collector of inspirational quotes. Words excite me. They pump me up when I need motivation.  I also recite affirmations at various points during the day.

5.  Go for a run or walk in nature. When I spend time in nature, I hold the hand of God. 

6.  I write. Words are my passion. I journal about and analyze my dreams. I blog about living the spiritual life. I create various posts for my Facebook page ( to encourage and inspire others on the spiritual path.

7.  Give gratitude. I give thanks for what I have in my life. I treat my belongings with respect. The more I give gratitude, the more I am blessed in return.  If I find myself feeling down, I start giving thanks and remind myself of all the good in my life.

Nourishing the soul is an act of self-love. It is not selfish in any way. Without nourishment, we grow spiritually anemic. 

What are some of the ways in which you nourish your soul? Your comments are always welcome.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Seven Ways To Surprise A Woman

Gentlemen, this is addressed to you.

Taking care of your woman is a sacred act.

It requires thought, observation, and pure stealth.  Your goal is to catch her off guard.

Below are seven ways to surprise your woman.

1.  Listen to her. And listen intently. Women air their feelings by talking and venting. This does not mean for you to spring into action and solve everything. It means to listen. It means to look directly into her eyes and hear her words. Don't let your mind wander. Don't try to get her into bed. Don't have an A.D.D. moment. Practice patience and you will see into her soul in ways you never expected. Listening to her is a show of respect and appreciation.

2.  Give an unexpected gift at an unexpected time. This is truly a key to her heart. It doesn't have to be an expensive gift. Keep it simple, yet thoughtful, not, "Oh Honey, I bought you some antifreeze!" Plan a romantic weekend getaway (be sure to consult with her friends or employer so she has no excuses).

3.  Compliment her. Flattery will get you just about anywhere. Women love compliments. Find balance in giving them though.  Too many and she will think you are up to something. Not enough and she will think you've lost interest. Make compliments count.  Is she a great cook? Compliment her. Does she take good care of your children? Compliment her. Does she have a beautiful smile? Compliment her. Always look for things on which to compliment her. Avoid saying things like, "Wow, that dress doesn't make you look as fat today!"

4.  Become a chore whore. Help her with tasks around the house. Cooking, cleaning, and laundering is time-consuming, especially after a long day of work or caring for the kids. If she's showing signs of exhaustion or frustration, that's a cue to step in and help.

5.  Go out for a night on the town. Take her to dinner at her favorite restaurant. Go see a show. Go dancing. Take a carriage ride.  Whisper sweetness in her ears. While men are more visually stimulated, women are aurally stimulated. Romance her the way you did when you first met.

6.  Do things she likes to do. Allow yourself to enjoy the experience. Do it with an open mind. Don't worry about not appearing manly in front of your friends (if your friends are smart like you, they are doing these very things without your knowledge). Get a pedicure together. Go to the spa with her. Get a couple's massage. Go shopping and be sure to compliment her on her choices. When you do the things she likes, chances are she will reciprocate by doing things you enjoy.

7.  Change your plans to be with her and only her. Take a night off occasionally from your manly activities with your man-friends to spend quality time with your woman. Of course, don't tell her you are doing this in advance. Just do it. And be sure to turn off your phone so there will be no interruptions.

Guys, it really isn't difficult to please your woman. She is not as complex as you'd like to believe. She wants love, she wants attention, she wants your help, she wants your friendship. She wants acknowledgment as your partner and lover. All the things she does, she does for you because she loves you.

And of all the things she wants, she just wants you.

Your comments are always welcome. In what ways do you surprise your partner? Please share.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013 at  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

For The Love of Cleaning



The seventh day of the week...and a day of rest.

Well, not really.

I've had family visiting all week from out of state.

My house is a mess.

And before I can do anything else with my life today, I need to go through my house-cleaning ritual to keep my sanity intact.

Cue the music. Classic Rock. And away I go, singing to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Clapton, Tom Petty, and others. In this ritual, I:

1.  Strip all beds, put on fresh linens, and wash blankets, too.

2.  Scour bathrooms.

3.  Sanitize kitchen.

4.  Dust all furniture, including blinds and window sills.

5.  Swiffer all floors, vacuum them, then wash them thoroughly, including baseboards.

6.  Open all windows while cleaning to let in fresh air and remove staleness.

7.  Burn a sage smudge stick and sandalwood incense to remove any trapped or negative energies, then bless the house.

And, yes, I do use the mop handle as a microphone when I'm singing.

Cleaning the house may seem like a chore to most, but I find it liberating.

I know. Odd choice of words. Liberating is probably the last word people would use to describe the cleaning process.

But when people visit, you never know what they are going to bring energetically. Sometimes their energies change the whole dynamic in the house, and when they leave, that energy lingers, making things feel a bit crowded...until I go on my cleaning spree.

As I cleanse my house, I reclaim the energy it is used to living with. I reclaim the peace and calm I'm used to living with. I free myself in the process after having had to change my routines to accommodate others.

Don't get me wrong. I love when my family visits. But I'm glad to reclaim my space when they leave so I can continue to do all the things we do in private but never admit.

Maybe cleanliness is next to godliness.

Or maybe I'm just a clean-freak at heart.

Whatever the case, there's a certain sacramental quality to cleaning that leaves me completely cleansed despite the sweat and Pine Sol that drips from me.

Your comments are welcome!

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013