Safe Travels, Dad

My Dad

I spent a lot of time with my dad this weekend. Dad is 85 and lives in a locked nursing home unit. He is locked in because my mom is fading away with Alzheimer’s, and my dad cannot wrap his head around the idea of letting her go. Dad literally cannot conceive of allowing her to go without him. He has had multiple strokes as his body-mind fights against the inevitable.

Dad obsesses about my mom’s deterioration, he yells at her and even smacks her because she no longer knows who he is. All this craziness from a calm, gentle soul who adores his wife. This from a man who rarely raised his voice before my mom got sick. Now Dad tries to guard my mom. He constantly worries that someone on the nursing home staff will hurt her or kill her. His behavior has gotten so bad, that my siblings and I reluctantly moved him to a locked unit. Now Dad rarely gets to see the love of his life.

This move has been another heartbreak for Dad. And it is heartbreaking for me to watch. Now that he’s separated from my mom, he is rapidly deteriorating physically. This man who never took medications and was always strong and tough as nails is fading fast now that his last job – the job of protecting his wife – has ended.

I sat with my dad as he slept this weekend. I watched him sleep and thought about everything that he has been through. My dad is strong willed and tenacious; he doesn’t give up easily. As a young man, he pushed and worked and became the first person in his family to go to college. Then he pushed and he worked and he became an award winning engineer with patents in his name. He pushed and he worked and he went much further than his parents every dreamed was possible for him. And then life threw something at him that only got worse when he pushed against it. Life threw something at him that demanded surrender and allowance.

I have not seen my dad for about  6 weeks, and there has been a big shift in his appearance and his behavior; he has transformed in just a few short weeks. He has stopped trying to halt my mom’s deterioration. He has finally stopped pushing. He has let go. I sat and looked at my dad’s body that has aged so much in just a few weeks. I sat with Dad and watched his peaceful face as he slept. I sat with Dad and I knew that he will soon let go completely and leave this body and this life that had become so painful for him. I sat with my dad and I cheered him on; YES!  Let go, Dad. Surrender. Allow life to be however it is. Let go and leave all the pain behind.

This could be a story about the pain of love lost or the harsh realities of aging and dying in America today. My Dad’s past few years have overflowed with both of those things. But for me, this is a lesson in how life can deteriorate into pain and pure misery if I grasp at it and try to hold it still. My Dad’s story teaches me what can happen if I resist and refuse to flow with whatever life throws at me. It’s a lesson about how I can create huge problems and pain when I resist the change that is an inevitable part of life.

I love you, Dad.  Leave this painful place.  Let go and go.  I will miss you so AND it’s OK to go now. Safe travels, Dad.

Don’t Pitch a Tent in Hell

Dory from Finding Nemo

I heard something once from  a Unity minister named Mary Omwake, that has stuck with me for years. Mary said, “If you’re in hell, DON”T pitch a tent!  Keep moving!”  I love the visual image in that – that image fills me with the energy of get up and go! Don’t just sit there – do something! Move!

That idea of keep moving, don’t pitch a tent in Hell, comes back to me now as I think about choice and the power in choosing.  How often have I sat, locked up and unable to choose something? How long did I sit there in discomfort or pain – “in hell” – unable to choose, unable to move?  And what keeps me locked up and sitting there in Hell, unable or unwilling to make a choice to move?  Well, for me, it’s usually fear that I will choose the wrong thing.

“Choose the wrong thing” – whew, can you feel the weight of that?! Choose the wrong thing – make a “bad” choice – mess up.  Wow, so instead of choosing anything, I will sit in pain and discomfort and discontent. I will pitch a tent and stay in my personal version of Hell.  Being wrong – choosing the wrong thing has a HUGE heavy, yucky energy to it. Do I actually abhor being wrong so much that I will sit in pain and disease; I will pitch a tent in Hell??!

When did choosing becomes so heavy and serious and difficult?  Do little kids have difficulty choosing and keeping moving?  Heck no! Try stopping a 2 year old from choosing – and choosing again – and again – and again!  Kids are like sharks; in a constant state of motion and choosing all the time. Kids stay in choice and keep moving no matter what.  Do they sit down and contemplate that last choice they made to grab that toy and whap their brother upside the head with it? No way! Do they stop and beat themselves up about how bad they are, what a bad choice that was?  No way!  Mom or Dad may put them in time out and try to force them to ruminate on their bad-ness, but it’s not something little kids waste much time on.

Little kids are definitely noticing and logging when they choose something that gets them in trouble or ends up hurting, but they do NOT sit down and contemplate their wrong-ness and the error of their ways like I do!  We have to be trained to do that ruminate on your wrong-ness crap. So, when did I decide that each choice I make is so critical and so loaded with “don’t mess up and make the wrong choice” energy  that I better slow down, stop moving and contemplate each choice for hours or days?  And does that way of being in the world serve me?

Doesn’t the decision to stop and analyze every choice from every possible angle just keep me sitting in Hell longer?

How can I choose faster and easier? How can I unlock choosing, take the weight out of it, so that next time I’m in a painful, hellish place I don’t get stuck there pitching a tent?! How can I make choices more like a kid – with the energy of an explorer? Did Lewis and Clark sit and contemplate which path to choose for days?! Heck no, they kept moving or they would have never made it to the Pacific Ocean!

I would like to get back into that childlike energy of choosing. That “let’s try this and see what happens. and if it doesn’t work out, no big deal – I’ll just choose something different” frame of mind.  How can I do that?  Is that possible at my age?  Why not?

To start moving through life like a kid exploring, I going to have to choose to stop criticizing and judging every single choice I make. THAT’s what gets me stuck – that critical, look what a “bad” choice you made there energy.

Funny, as I write this, that critical voice surfaces in my head, saying “Oh Nancy, this entire blog post is just stupid. and nobody gonna get what you’re trying to say anyway. why bother? just delete this drivel and go do something safe.”  Whew, man that is some heavy, yucky energy!  THAT is the energy of being wrong, isn’t it? But you know what, I’m going to choose to blow off that yucky nasty critical voice and publish this anyway.

I choose to publish this even though it may be incoherent or incomplete or not quite right. I choose to put this out there anyway.  I’m going to choose and choose and choose again. Because frankly, the other way – the sitting in Hell, ruminating on which tiny safe little action will turn out OK wasn’t working for me.

Like the little blue tang fish, Dory in “Finding Nemo”, I choose to “ just keep moving!”

Relax and Allow

The only day that matters is today.
Be Joy.  Be Love.

Find someone or something to open your heart to.
We can change our world just by opening our hearts.

Pause, Take A Breath & Remember
How AMAZING It Is To Be Alive Now!

“Let go or be dragged.”
Zen Proverb

Accept vs. Reject… or Allow

I am a very willful and opinionated person. And in many ways, my tendency to know and  speak my own mind has been a strength for me. No one has ever accused me of being a lemming and just going along with the crowd.  🙂

But my willful, opinionated nature is also my Achilles’ heel,  a weakness that has gotten me into hot water again and again.   I tend to question EVERY authority and every point of view that is different from my own!  I have difficulty letting go of my way of seeing the world and making room for other opinions. And I tend to push away people who don’t hold my view of the world. So, the idea of allowing for different opinions and points of view can be a bit of a challenge for me.

Figuring out how to relax and allow may be one of my core  “life issues” –  an issue that I will struggle with and learn about my entire life.   What do I mean by “Relax and Allow?”   Being in Allowance means I don’t try to embrace or fight against people or experiences anymore.  I can relax and allow events to be however they are WITHOUT feeling the need to accept or reject them.  Accepting or rejecting things takes a ton of time and energy.  And acceptance vs. rejection is such a polarized black and white way of approaching the world. It’s the view that everyone and everything is either right or wrong, good or bad. It’s actually just flip sides of the same coin.

Allowance takes me beyond holding rigid black and white opinions. Allowance is the  third choice. And being in a state of allowance  is so different from the polarized, right / wrong energy of accepting vs. rejecting.  Allowance is a calm, open space  of no judgment;  a  space where nothing need be labeled right or wrong, good or bad.  Everyone and everything is just “allowed” to be however they are today. No need to agree or disagree with that person, just allow space for them to be different. No need to accept or reject that newscast predicting doom and gloom; just breathe and allow for many different ways of seeing the same events.

Being in allowance is like a revelation for me!  The idea of just allowing the world outside of me to be however it is today – the idea that  I do NOT have to align with it or push against things is a HUGE shift.   Allowance shifts me out of agreeing or disagreeing with people and events.  Being in allowance means that when a person has a different opinion than mine;  I don’t have to fight to change their mind or push them away!  I can just “allow” that their way of seeing the world is very different from mine.

Allowance  is at the heart of the middle path that Buddha spoke of. It’s also the space of non-judgment that Christ preached about in many different sermons.  And it’s the place Rumi  wrote so eloquently about:

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. 
I’ll meet you there.”

 ✧

Here are a few mental tools to help you access and explore the open non-judgmental space of Allowance:

When your boss / mother / teen aged daughter / TV news anchor / neighbor shares their opinion with you and you feel yourself start to react and bristle, say to yourself,

“Interesting point of view that they have this point of view.”
Repeat it several times and feel yourself shift and calm down. You may even get to where you can smile about their interesting view!

Try this mental clearing:

What would it take for me to stop labeling everything in the world right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, loved vs. hated, wanted vs. not wanted? Every bit of  heavy, yucky, sticky energy that brings up, unravel and destroy it now.

When you catch yourself arguing with someone and trying to change their mind, try the wonder question:

What else is possible here?
or,  Interesting point of view that I have this point of view.

A Love Letter

A love letter to my fellow therapists, doctors, nurses, healers

I know how much you want to help each client who comes to you. I know how hard you work and study to help them. I am right there with you; I have been a healer of one sort or another for over 25 years. I know how much you care for your clients and want to help them heal.

You love them and want to help. But what if you actually have very little control over whether your client improves and heals or not? What if your clients are in charge of what happens in each and every healing session, NOT you? And what if being a healer or therapist no longer meant you were supposed to have the answers, or know how to fix your clients’ problems? What if being a great healer / therapist / doctor does NOT involve dispensing advice and healing wisdom to the suffering masses like some kind of Healer Dear Abby?

How would embracing your lack of control change your healing practice?

Each client holds the keys to their own healing. Every client has their own answers – even if they don’t believe it yet!  At best, you can be a helpful conduit or sounding board – someone who helps your clients find a new perspective on their personal journey of self-discovery and self-healing. At worst you will try to take charge and actually get in the way of their healing.

Stop and take a breath. Give yourself a moment to grasp the idea that you are NOT in charge and you CANNOT CONTROL if and when, much less how your client heals. Each client is responsible for whether they heal or not. Does this lack of control and responsibility for your clients’ healing fill you with relief or infuriate you?

No matter what you do or say, no matter how many classes you take or how good your therapy techniques are, your client will choose whether they heal or not.  You don’t control that, they do. If one of your clients heals, it is NOT because you did an absolutely flawless massage, gave them the perfect pill or performed the best sphenoid release in the Midwest. It is not because you said just the right thing or executed a flawless lymphatic drainage routine.  People have been healing from all kinds of illnesses and pains for thousands of years before your favorite drug or healing modality was even invented.  And isn’t obsessing about technique how we healers handle our own discomfort with not knowing how to make everything all better for everyone? Honestly?

This idea of the client being responsible for their own healing probably bursts all your fantasies about “if I just get really good at the right and perfect technique, then my clients will heal.”  In my experience, there is no silver healing bullet – so stop looking for the “perfect” therapy, the “perfect” medication or herbal remedy, the “perfect” modality.  Besides, that search for the perfect healing tool will only make you feel like a failure over and over and over again.

Open to the possibility that you have never been in charge of anyone else’s healing and see what happens for you and your clients. Remember that it is their body, their mind, their emotional reactions that determine how much healing happens in each session with you.  Each client comes to you with a unique set of issues and strengths. Each client will heal in their own unique and unpredictable ways. If you want predictable outcomes, give up healing work and become an engineer.

So, if you cannot control the outcome of healing sessions with your clients, why be a healer at all? What is the point? How can you help anyone?

Before you throw in the towel and completely give up healing work in despair, try a few radical healing acts in your sessions. Shift your focus and see what kind of healing magic is possible:

  • Consciously turn control of the session over to your client and their spiritual source. And share with each client how large and in charge they actually are! Help them to access their own wisdom and their own power, rather than relying on yours. Every time you feel shaky or uncertain about what you are doing and if you are helping, take a breath and turn control over to your client and spirit.
  • Your mental and emotional state matters way more than ANY therapeutic technique or modality you use in a session. Keeping an open heart and an open mind has a big impact. Be aware of how you approach each client – what thoughts are running through your head, what emotions are surfacing? Are you getting caught up in needing to find the answer – or can you take a breath and let your client flounder around and discover for themselves what they need?
  • In each session, hold space for what else is possible. No matter what has happened for this client before, lasting healing is possible now. Hold the knowing that your client can heal whatever is ailing them – even when they have lost faith. Even when neither one of you has any idea exactly when or how healing might occur. Even when healing seems impossible, you can hold the memory of how other clients have shifted and found balance and healed. Hold the awareness that human bodies heal in amazing and miraculous ways every day. Set an intention in each and every client session that healing is possible, that healing is just a breath away – even when you have no clue how it can occur. Set a healing intention that your clients truly can shift and heal now.
  • Shut up and listen. Do you know how rare it is to find someone who will actually LISTEN? The simple act of listening is profoundly healing. Try listening instead of grasping for answers. Try listening and NOT giving advice! And try asking your client what they like, what feels good and healing to their body, what would help them right now. Can you stop assuming you know what they need?   Can you respect and honor your clients enough to put your ego aside and follow their lead? Make it your priority to create a space where clients can find their own answers.

Each client who comes to you is on THEIR own personal healing journey, not yours. So, take a big breath, smile at your silliness and learn to let go of control. You never really had it anyway.

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Our beliefs become our thoughts…
Our thoughts become our words…
Our words become our actions…
Our actions become our habits…
Our habits become our values…
Our values become our destiny.
-Author Unknown

I intend to plant a seed in your mind today and encourage it to sprout. And today’s seed is… Change your mind, change your life.

✧✧✧

What if I told you that your biggest block to health and happiness lies in the beliefs you hold; beliefs that shape your every thought and emotion; beliefs that define your every reaction to life? If you are open to the possibility that your beliefs are really that powerful, then read on…

Your beliefs can help you or hold you hostage. Do you realize that your chronic health issues are chronic and difficult to heal because an old belief or emotional pattern is probably getting in your way and keeping you stuck in pain and out of balance? I’ve witnessed this over and over in my healing practice; I will treat two clients of the same age and sex with the same physical issue, but only one of them will heal while the other stays stuck in pain and misery. Why? Because these two clients hold different beliefs about the world and how it works. They hold different beliefs about what kind of healing is possible for them. So one of them heals while the other stays stuck in pain.

Your perceptions and beliefs about the world create your reality. Your perceptions and beliefs can limit you and close off amazing options – or open doors for you and expand what’s possible in your life. Unfortunately, your core beliefs were put in place when you were a very young and vulnerable child. What that means is, some silly idea you formed at the age of 2 about life and how it works may still be pulling your strings and affecting your health and happiness years later when you are an adult. And if you had a traumatic childhood, just imagine what kind of crazy ideas are still mucking up your life today from deep within you!

In my healing practice and in my personal life, I have witnessed the effect people’s beliefs have on their health and happiness for years. And I have found shamanic techniques that can be used to shift beliefs and emotional patterns. No matter what you’ve been taught in the past, I am here to tell you that you truly can release those old outdated thoughts, emotional reactions and beliefs from your system. Yes, you can change your mind! And when you change your mind, you can change your entire life.

☾☽

Change your Mind, Change your Life, Change your World.

What’s Your Line?

If you were to choose one phrase that describes your life, what would it be?

What’s your Line?

 
These days, every corporation has something called a Tagline. A corporate Tagline is a short phrase that’s supposed to make all of us want to buy their product. Ideally, a Tagline is a catchy slogan that defines the business in a unique way. Think of Nike and “Just Do It”. Or Wheaties, “The Breakfast of Champions”. Join the U.S. Army and “Be All That You Can Be”. Remember DeBeers slogan; “A Diamond is Forever”? Of course you do! A great corporate Tagline is catchy and memorable.

Every person I meet has a personal Tagline, whether they realize it or not. The difference is your personal Tagline is not really about selling yourself. It’s more about consciously defining yourself and what you choose to create in your life. You may call it your creed, your motto, your philosophy of life. A consultant I know calls it defining your True North. Whatever – your have one whether you know it or not. EVERYBODY has one. Kids seem to absorb and live by their parents’ Tagline until they consciously create their own. So, even if you haven’t consciously thought about it, you have a Tagline buried in your psyche that is influencing how you look at life and what you think is possible for you.

So, I think it’s important for each of us to spend a few minutes thinking about what our personal tagline might be. I don’t know about you, but my parents’ tagline is DEFINITELY NOT the line that I want defining my life! My dad’s Tagline goes something like, “Life is a struggle. You have to work really hard just to survive.” Wow – what a downer! Can you tell he grew up poor and hungry in the depression? And in his late 60‘s, even after making piles of money, my dad would NOT stop working. Work defines his life – he has never created much room for hobbies or goofing off – or even traveling for pleasure. His motto doesn’t allow for much fun or ease in life, does it?

When we met, my husband’s tagline was, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” Lucky for me his overdoing includes fun stuff and not just work! This man has taught me the value of having fun. And he’s a complete hedonist about food. 🙂 I actually think my hubby may have shifted his tagline a bit – he’s not quite so intense in his approach to work or play anymore. Maybe living with me all these years has mellowed him. LOL – He will find it hilarious that I’m wondering if I mellow HIM out!

Remember Dory from the movie Finding Nemo? Dory’s Tagline is:
“Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming.”

And who can forget Ferris Bueller In the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?? Ferris’ Tagline is one of my all time favorites. It’s funny, catchy, thought-provoking, irreverent… It truly catches the essence of who Ferris is:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Great words to live by.

・・・
So, what is YOUR Tagline? What phrase defines you and your philosophy about life? Is it the same as your mom’s or your dad’s? Or completely different?

And does your Tagline define the life you desire, the life you crave? Hopefully it doesn’t describe a life that’s not working for you!

What would happen if we each created a personal Tagline that describes the life we crave rather than a life we feel stuck with? What would shift inside our world then?? Food for thought…

I’m still crafting theTagline to define my life and my future. It’s a work in progress. I guess I REALLY should decide what I want to be when I grow up! But maybe a Tagline can change and morph over time – God knows I certainly keep changing with the years. Today I’m mulling over three or four possibilities;

I could keep using my favorite Joubert quote:
“You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you.”

I could try my favorite Bill Murray (Tripper) line from the movie Meatballs:
“Repeat after me – it just doesn’t matter!”

Or how about something short and to the point:
“Life is Good”

Last but not least, I wonder what my life will be like if my line becomes:
“WoW – What’s Next?!”

The Solution to the Problem

Oil Spill photo by Gay, AP May 28, 2010
Oil Spill  by Gay, AP May 28, 2010

It does not take a genius to know that this country is in a deep financial mess; billion dollar bank bail-outs, massive numbers of mortgage foreclosures, record debt levels for both individual Americans and our government as a whole – we have dug quite a deep hole for ourselves. And it’s not just America, the crisis is worldwide.

And it is not just financial news. Add to that my worries about the sickening state of this country’s food supply and healthcare system, and oh yes, let’s not forget global warming and the state of the world’s oceans. Just 15 minutes with the news and I may decide to curl up fetal and never leave my bed again.

How does a reasonable adult deal with the state of our world today? What can I possible do that will help turn this mess around? Anyone with a firm grasp of reality would look around and be very worried. But spending my days in a stressed out, worried state is NOT going help me or anyone else. And I don’t want to ignore the problems either. That would be like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. So, what’s a woman to do?

Well, my solution is mostly spiritual; I spend way more time in prayer and meditation. I increase my connection time to God. That might seem to some people like running away from the world and our problems. But I think it’s just the opposite. Connecting with God or Spirit calms me and keeps me grounded in a reality beyond all the horrible news. It reminds me that I never see the entire picture and that God has got this. God has got this under control, even when it looks like everything is going to Hell.

The other thing that happens when I take time to meditate or prayer is that my mind clears; I stop pinging from one problem to the next. And I find that I can calmly get out of bed and happily go out into the world and face our global problems without panicking. But if I don’t stay “prayed up”, I am constantly freaking out about the future and predicting gloom and doom. Connection time with God is key.

One of the thoughts that keeps coming to me in meditation is that the solution to our problems will not be logical at all. The solution to this mess will NOT come from logical, linear thinking. A right-brained, holistic view of this mess is needed before the solution will become apparent. My left brain looks at the mess we’ve created and screams in panic because the hole we’ve dug is so deep that my logical brain cannot conceive of a solution. But my right brain intuitively KNOWS that there is a solution to every problem – even this one. My right brain also knows that the Universe is a helpful place, not a malicious torture chamber. We will figure a way out of this mess. And the solution will holistic, global, non-linear.

I look around at my kids and their friends and I see the PERFECT minds to tackle these global problems. Please don’t send the straight-jacket, I am totally serious. This is a generation that excels at right-brained thinking. They may lack in the linear thinking department, but right-brained networked thinking is their forte. Attention Deficit Disorder gets a bum rap, in my opinion. ADD should be called Extraordinary Right-brained Thinking! It is a strength, not a weakness. Unfortunately our schools are using 19th century methods to teach 21st century thinkers.

This generation surfs the internet and intuitively knows that there are no national boundaries. They know that we are all in this mess together. My suburban kids have friends from every ethnic group and sexual persuasion. A global economy makes complete sense to them. A global solution will come naturally to them.

So, I read the news and still I am filled with hope. I cannot WAIT to see what happens next. God (and my kids) have got this one under control.